Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Drive By

I'm not feeling so good today, but I didn't want to miss my Healthy You check in;

I'm down 1 pound this week. That's .4 pounds away from 75 pounds lost total. The wii-fit measures me (first thing in the morning, clothing optional) as being 1.1 pound away from "Normal" BMI. It also crosses me over the 4th 10% loss goal... (which is not, mathematically speaking, the same as 40% gone... but I've been counting down in chunks of 10%... )

Thomas is down like over three pounds this week, so once again, he sucks and I hate him. Just kidding.


I went for a walk on Sunday (got 5 miles logged) and found myself a hatchling painted turtle. So, now I have a turtle, and I am happy.

I had a dentist appointment today and I'm having a flake-o reaction to Novocaine that's making my fingers swell randomly. Quite uncomfortable and I'm spending most of my day in a benedryl induced fog.

Which is why this post is so disjointed and non-sensible...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pop It!

One of my gaming friends came into town to spend a few days; she flew in Saturday afternoon and left yesterday. We had a pretty good time, I think. She came walking with me on Sunday, and while she didn't last the whole 9 miles, I think she did a lot better than she thought she was capable of doing. Of course, I felt like a wretch when I found out she'd gotten a blister. I think nine miles is a good way into being prepped for this walk I'm doing in October. (Subtle Reminder; If you haven't taken a few minutes to read through my donation site and make a small pledge, please take a few minutes to do so, if you can. Every little bit helps!!)

Because I am a madwoman, we decided to go out kite-flying Sunday afternoon, and the gods of the parkinglots were definately not on our side, as we ended up parked right next to the steepest path up the hill. Which, of course, we went straight up! But it was fun, and Leslie met us there, and Toby showed up later at our house. We talked, watched a movie, and I cooked dinner for five adults...

Although after the last couple of weeks have been so busy, I was definitely at MFQ (Maximum Fun Quotient) before my friend finally left... I will forever be excessively grateful to Leslie for dragging her off to a country music concert Monday night which gave me a few hours being alone in my house to get my head back on straight.

Monday, I weighed in; we'll see if I'm past this plateau or not... I was down 1.2 pounds! yay! That puts me 4.2 pounds away from being "normal" weight and less than 20 pounds from my goal. (My Wii Fit tells me I'm like 2 pounds away from being normal weight, but I get to weigh in on the Fit first thing in the morning, without clothes.)

Yesterday, I had another meeting with my personal trainer. Oh my god, the woman is trying to murder me! (Seriously! She was throwing 8 pound medicine balls at my HEAD! More on that in just a minute...)

She said she could tell that I'd actually been doing my "homework" assignments; that I was loads steadier and faster than I was at our first session. I don't know about that, but I had done the assignments, and I'd also been using the elliptical instead of the stationary bike at her suggestion. I always have a little trouble with the elliptical until I get my rhythym down, and then if I have to take a drink of water, I have to get it back.

She did institute a "rule" during our workouts that I think will be good for me.

Absolutely no self-bashing. Any self-bashing results in my having to do 20 reps of something I particularly don't like. Yesterday it was side-crunches. Every time I made an excuse, snarked about my lack of balance, rolled my eyes or otherwise made a criticism, I had to stop what I was doing, grab a 10 pound weight and do 10 side crunches on each side. Of course, then I had to go right back to what I was doing before I started snarking in the first place.

Her code phrase to tell me I'd done it again was "Pop it!" "Pop out those crunches!" "Your body is stronger than you give it credit for being!"

Ok, so I probably did a few more sets of those than, really, I want to admit.

I think this will be good for me. I'm awfully hard on myself; to the point that I often go looking for more things to criticize. Some of my friends tag me on it from time to time, if I'm being exceptionally self-hating, but for the most part, it's considered a personality trait and they just let me get on with it. (That's ok. I don't yell at a friend of mine who's got some anger management issues, and I don't prod at the one who needs to grow some damn backbone, just once in a while!)

We did some crazy-planks (I don't know what else to call them...) that she was impressed with. The first was a regular plank, but balanced on one leg, with the other straight and up behind me as far as I could get it.

"That's really good," she said. "Most people sort of suck at planks."

Hah. I like planks. I love the way they feel, and I love trying to see if I can hold it just a little bit longer. Also, I can plank longer than my husband, and as it's one of the few areas in fitness that I vastly outshine him (also, determination. He might be better, faster, stronger, but it doesn't matter a damn, because I'm the one who's doing it regularly.) I practice. A lot.

Then we did side planks with a yoga-arm movement. First I held the arm straight up, looked up at my fingertips, then dipped the same arm into the gap between the mat and my planked up ribs... and again and again and again.

For cardio between sculpting excersizes, we did burpees in sets of 10. After a while, I really started complaining about these. They're painful and I always feel very awkward and unsteady doing anything that involves a lot of jumping around.

"So, what can you do?" she asks me, her hands on her hips.

"Pushups. I can do pushups." I lifted my chin.

"Are you sure?"

God, I hate being told what I can't do. Why I can say what I can't do and turn around and get hostile about someone else telling me I can't do it, I don't think I'll ever understand, but it's nonetheless true.

"Yes." I hissed the word out.

"Care to challenge me on that? If you can do more pushups than I can, I won't make you do any more burpees today."

"All right."

I didn't do as many as I'd wanted, but then, by that point, I'd been working out for 45 minutes or so (if I'd been really clever, I'd have realized that there were only so many more sets of burpees she could have made me do anyway...) but I made a good show and pushed out 57 of them. Then I got to take a quick break and let her do her set. She did 53 of them. I admit to getting a bit tense when she passed 45, and in all honesty, I expect she let me beat her. On the other hand, it still made me feel smug and obnoxious and self-confident for a while.

We finished up the session with these completely unreal crunches.

I sat on the weight bench and she threw an 8 pound medicine ball at me. I caught it, then rolled back and crunched up, then threw the ball back to her. Sometimes while I was in the down position, she'd yell out "Twist!" at which point I was to dip the ball from side to side before sitting back up. I was supposed to do this as fast as possible; a trick that made me exceptionally nervous, as catching and throwing aren't things I've practiced much and I entertained truly gruesome images of taking an 8 pound ball to the face, a picture that included broken glasses and a smashed nose.

That, however, didn't happen, and she swapped balls out on me from time to time; going from a 2 pound ball to a 10 pound ball and back. Finally I caught one ball, rolled back and couldn't pull back up again, and we were done.

I've got homework again.

I'm supposed to practice the burpees twice this week; do at least 4 sets in an hour work-out period. I'm also supposed to work on jumping in general; she suggested with a jumprope, or if I couldn't get one, to just bounce as if I had a jumprope. If I can afford it, she'd like me to buy some resistance bands with handles and do some of the rowing excercises and stretches. And she thinks I need to get some 5 and 8 pound hand weights.

On the way back home, I stopped at the Rite Aid to get myself a diet coke. Leaving the store, I walked right by a group of construction workers who are digging large holes behind the Rite Aid's parking lot.

One of them whistled at me.

I grinned the rest of the walk home.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Motivation Scmotivation

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.
Zig Ziglar
I've gotten that question a few times recently; where do you get your motivation? "I really admire your motivation," says a friend.

What motivation?

"You're walking how many miles? Oh, I couldn't do that..."

Well, neither could I...

Motivation isn't like an energy shot. You don't drink a tiny bottle of expensive, foul-flavored liquid and suddenly feel inspired. Hells bells, I don't feel inspired most of the time either.

Let me tell you a story; a few weeks back, at my Weight Watcher's meeting, a new lady spoke up and said, "I don't like fruits or vegetables. Like, any of them. Unless maybe catchup counts." Thirty pairs of eyes trained on her with expressions of mixed disbelief and amusement. No vegetables? Honestly, I couldn't figure out what someone must eat if they won't eat ANY plant material. That was my first reaction: sheesh, what do you eat, lady? My second reaction was, "Are you an adult or what?"

Look, I don't like peas. Or cooked carrots. Or corn. My husband doesn't like squash, asparagus, lima beans, or cauliflower. But you know what? I just eat them. It's half a cup of peas. It doesn't matter that I think peas are gross. I'm an adult, I'm perfectly capable of paying bills, putting on my scarf in the winter time, cleaning up my own mess, and eating a goddamn dish of peas.

Where do I get the motivation to walk nine miles?

I don't. I just go. If I sat around waiting to feel enthusiastic about exercise or waited until I really wanted that dry-chicken salad... I'd still be sitting around.

Yes, sometimes I feel enthused. And these days, I sometimes find myself longing for that gym time. But I didn't, at first.

Seriously, think about your day.

How many of you leap out of bed in the morning and say, "God, I really am looking forward to taking out the trash!" "I just can't wait for my 10am meeting!" "Oh, I totally adore my hour and a half commute time, sitting in traffic! And I just bet someone will cut me off at the light, won't that be great!"



You just do it because it needs to be done.

Brooke: "I don't want you to do the dishes, Gary. I want you to want to do the dishes!"
Gary: "Why would anyone want to do dishes?"
The Break-up

It helps, in the beginning of any lifestyle change, if you have some idea of what you want, and it definitely helps if you have a plan to get there. But day to day isn't about motivation; it's not about enthusiasm. It's about manning up, putting on your big girl panties, whatever you want to call it, and just get it done.

No one says you have to like it.

No one says you have to sit down to your egg white omelet and love every bite.

Some days you will, some days, you won't.

What's going to get you where you want to be isn't motivation. It's not inspiration. It's not willpower. It's not even determination.

It's simple drudgery. You do it because it has to be done, and if you don't do it, no one's going to do it for you.

Every time you put something in your mouth is another opportunity for it to be the right thing. It's not a race, no one is grading you. (Ok, well some people might be judging you, but really, you shouldn't care what they think. If you figure out how to do this, please share.)

Just do it.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Last week, I firmly stated to my friends: "I am going to do 100 pushups this weekend, because I am SO DONE with this challenge."

While in truth, doing my pushup training didn't really take loads of time (I could do my sets in about 10 - 15 minutes... perhaps the reason why it took me 10 weeks instead of 6 to complete the course is that I tended to take longer breaks than the 45 - 90 seconds between sets... in fact, from time to time, I've been known to take ten minutes between one set and the other if Darcy wanted juice, or I was feeling particularly wiped out...) it was tiring. It seemed to me that I was always either just doing pushups or feeling sore from doing pushups. Three days a week were dedicated to the training sets and one day a week was dedicated to the assessment test.

Problem: Working the same muscles two days in a row.

Somehow that just didn't seem right to me. In the information about the pushup challenge, it specifically says not to train on consecutive days. And yet, there are only seven days in a week, so when, exactly, was I supposed to fit in my assessment? It occurred to me that I could just skip around; which is to say, I could do pushups for week one on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, assess on Sunday. Then Week Two, I could Pushup on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, assess on Monday. Week Three... wow, that got confusing fast, didn't it? I was pretty sure that two weeks of that and I would be writing it off as a bad job because I'd never be able to remember what week or day I was on, and was I pushing up today, or... nevermind.

Solution: What I ended up doing was pushing up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, assessing on Sunday, and hoping that I wasn't too wiped out on Monday.

Problem: Monday's sets were the hardest of the week.

The first set of the week were comprised of four long sets and then one "as many as you can, minimum " Whereas the rest of the weeks' sets were 7 or 8 sets of smaller numbers, and then one set of "as many as you can, minimum "

Solution: I took longer in between sets to rebuild my strength. I also utilized what would probably be considered a "cheat". If I was too tired to finish all (40, 44, 36, however many there were in that set), I pushed all the way up (essentially into a downward dog position) and stretched my back out before continuing with the set. I found doing a downward dog in the middle of a set gave me some more energy to continue with the set without actually "resting".

Problem: I have a bone spur or calcium deposit in my right wrist.

This makes pushups particularly unpleasant, as it's difficult for me to bend my wrist all the way flat. On the plus side, my doctor told me that continuing to do pushups and other excercises that stretch that area will help "grind down" the spur.

Solution: On days when I really couldn't bear it, I did knuckle pushups. These are harder. So mostly, I just endured. On the plus side, the pain in my wrist is almost entirely gone, even though the bump isn't.

Problem: Now what?

See, this is the thing... the pushup challenge gave me a... something else. When my weight loss stalled out (and it has been completely crappy this year... I'll lose okay for a couple weeks, then I plateau for a few weeks, then I lose ok... my average weekly loss has been .6 pounds. At that rate, it'll take me almost as long to lose 30 pounds as it did to lose 65 pounds. And really, every week, my average gets worse... it's quite depressing really.) I had something else to point to. The pushup challenge was something I did every week, and even when I didn't improve much, I did improve. Every single week I was doing more pushups than I had the week before.

The other thing was, unlike my weight, the pushups were something I could directly affect, control, and practice. The old adage about eat less, move more and you will lose the weight. Well, everyone who's been trying to lose weight for any length of time can tell you that sometimes that shit just don't work that way. It'd be nice if it did. It really would. Seriously.

I'm eating around 1,200 - 1,400 calories a day, my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is like 1,407 (that's the number of calories I'd burn just laying around in bed all day.) Therefore, if biology was chemistry, even if I did nothing else, I'd lose weight eating what I eat. (Not much weight, admittedly... an approximate savings of 100 calories a day, it would take me 5 weeks to lose a pound...) But you know, if you've been following me along at all, that I don't lay around in bed all day.

Three days a week, I'm in the gym for at least 90 minutes a clip, burning between 400 and 600 calories, plus I clean my apartment every day, plus walks outside, plus errands and other running (well, walking) about. According to my tracker, NOT counting my housekeeping, I burn between 1,700 and 3,300 extra calories per week for working out, I should be losing between .8 and 1.3 pounds per week. Which, as we can all see, I have not been.

Pushups, however, didn't work in the same way that weight loss does. (Or, more exactly, the pushups worked in the way I wish weight loss did.) The harder I worked on the pushup challenge, the more pushups I could do.

And it gave me something else. Something to point at and say "I done good."

My weight loss is stalled out, and has been for the last three weeks. And really, all things considered, it's been sort of crap since the beginning of the year. My measurements haven't budged in the last month. (For that matter, my right arm measurements haven't moved in the last 7 months...)

But the pushups were good. I could feel impressed with myself about the pushups.

And now... I need something new.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wax On, Wax Off

Waxing Lady: So this is your first time getting body wax?
Andy Stitzer: Yes. Yes it is.
Waxing Lady: Take off your shirt.
Andy Stitzer: Ok.
[Takes off his shirt revealing a very hairy torso]
Waxing Lady: [to whoever's outside] Oh, we gonna need more wax.
Cal: I'm staying. This is gonna be good.
Waxing Lady: and clear all my appointments in the afternoon.
40 Year Old Virgin

There are some days when I look around and I have no idea who these people are in my life. I'm not talking about friends; I'm talking about the woman who's wearing the size 8 jeans and who spends 15 minutes in the evening doing facial masks and the guy who is waxing his back.


When, really, did we become so vain?

My evening routine gets longer, it seems, every month. Right now I have a peach scrub facial wash, followed by a moisturizer. Once a week I do a 10-minute mask. I have moisturizer especially for my eyes. (That costs like $25 for this tiny little jar...) I have a lip mask and a lip balm that I use twice a day.

What happened to brushing my teeth and going to sleep?

My husband is wearing $70 designer jeans.


He's also waxing his back.

Or, more exactly, I am waxing his back FOR HIM.

Now, the fact that my husband has hair on his back and chest has never particularly bothered me. It is what it is, and I don't worry about it... he's not furry enough to have that tuft that sticks out at the collar of his t-shirt, and really, that's all that's been important to me.

But, apparently, in addition to 1) not being able to swim very well, 2) not being able to see while swimming because my husband's eyesight is something scarily blind like 20/1000 and 3) being overweight, my husband has a phobia of the swimming pool brought about by the fact that he looks like he's got ursine ancestry.

So... we bought a wax kit and I have been learning the fine art of ripping someone's hair out by the roots.

Fun, fun.

Things to remember, if you try this at home:

- Pull the paper-strips off in the OPPOSITE direction of the hair growth. Otherwise, the hair (and wax) doesn't actually come off. And it's very painful.
- Do Not touch the wax. It's very, very sticky.
- The "after waxing lotion" doesn't do anything. Use mineral oil to remove excess wax.
- Be very careful where you put the lid. In addition to being sticky, wax... oozes. Everywhere.

All jokes aside, the results have been... very nice.

I'm just finding it weird how... image conscious Thomas and I have become.

I used to get up in the morning, and if I bothered to get dressed at all, I'd throw on my house dress. But usually, I just pulled on an extra long t-shirt and schlepped around the house in that, until shortly before Thomas would get home from work, at which point I'd toss on a bra, pair of shorts, use deodorant, and rake a comb through my hair. (Sometimes. Sometimes I skipped the hair-combing bit.)

My wardrobe consisted of a few dozen 3X t-shirts, whatever jeans I could find that fit, and step-in shoes. (Seriously, until last year, I didn't own more than three or four pairs of socks...)

These days, I have tops and coordinating sweaters. I have a pair of tights that are the same color as one of my shirts and a blue sweater dress. I have earrings and chunky bracelets that were bought specifically to match one of my outfits. I have three pairs of high heels that I wear regularly, very expensive running shoes, and a pair of step-ins that I often forget I have, since I'm too busy wearing my high-heeled boots.

My whole life has changed in ways that didn't seem important at the time, but lately have become noticeable as to how much has changed. Instead of leveling three alts to 80, I spent 3 hours at the gym per week. Instead of watching movies all day on Sunday, I walk seven miles. I went to the gym this morning at 6:30am because I won't be able to get in later today, and instead of resenting being awake that early, I more resented the fact that I could only spend 25 minutes in the gym, instead of my usual 90.


(Now, if only all these changes were adding up... my weight loss has been stagnant for the last three weeks. gained .2, maintained, lost .2. Gyah!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Egg Xactly

I am the master of the cheap-point breakfast. Unfortunately, skimping on points in the morning has a tendency to lead me to over-eat after 8pm while I try to get in the 3 or 5 (or sometimes 9) points that I have left over at the end of the day...

(My current favorite low-points breakfast is Fiber One cereal, 1/2 cup skim milk, and 1/2 cup sliced strawberries. 1 point.)

So, while I do eat the Twigs and Berries breakfast a few times a week, I also have made it an unofficial rule for myself that I have to eat 4 or 5 point breakfasts at least three times a week. Thought I'd share one of my typical breakfasts with you today.

I make a lot of omelets.

You've got egg, cheese, and vegetables all right there, and it's a good way to get in several of your 8 (9?) healthy guidelines in a single bound...

This particular omelet is a pizza omelet, because let's face it, everyone loves pizza, right?

1 egg
2 egg whites
1 slice low fat cheese
2 slices pepperoni, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms
2 tablespoons pizza sauce
garlic powder


1 - Mix egg, egg white, garlic powder and oregano together in a bowl. (I usually just sprinkle from the jar, if you need measurements, start with 1/2 tsp each and adjust to taste.)

2 - Coat frying pan with a little bit of cooking spray. Heat on medium high for about two minutes, then pour in the egg mixture. While eggs are cooking, prep your fillings.

3 - (Obviously, you can use any fillings you want, this is just an example.) I divide the cheese in half to better fit in the omelet and dice anything else that I'm going to use, then lay it out on a plate or my cutting board.

4 - when the egg mixture is mostly cooked through on top (not liquidy, and slightly bubbled up from the bottom, turn off the heat and add your stuffings to one side of the egg. Squeeze on the pizza sauce. Use a small spatula and fold over the second half. Cover for a minute to let cheese melt.

This omelet is 4 or 5 points, depending on how much pepperoni you used. For variety, try any of the below mixes:

Spices that work well in eggs:

Smoked Paprika
Chili Powder

Vegetable Options:
Diced Onions
Bell Peppers

Cheese and Meats:
Diced chicken
Diced Sausage
Turkey Bacon
Low Fat Cheddar
Cream Cheese
Pepper Jack

Mix and Match to your taste!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Planks Alot

Today was my first session with my new personal trainer.

I have to stop a moment and admire that sentence.

See, I never thought I'd have a personal trainer.

I couldn't really imagine it.

Me. Having a personal trainer. Me. Working out enough to think I needed a personal trainer. Caring enough about the quality of my workout. To invest the money into a personal trainer.

I'm often reluctant to spend money on myself. I'm much more apt to push Thomas into getting the new pair of shoes he needs than I am to be willing to spend money on myself. I always feel somewhat guilty about it; because I don't directly bring money into the household, it always seems that spending money on me is... frivolous. A waste. Selfish.

Convincing myself to hire a personal trainer... it's been a bit of a debate. I mean, I'm still not to my goal weight, so I'm already spending $10 a week on Weight Watcher meetings. Adding a personal trainer to that... (and admittedly, this particular trainer is rather inexpensive, for the service; she only charges $20 an hour) more than doubled my "health and wellness spending."

On the one hand, it's an expense we really don't need. Our budget is crunched pretty bad; Thomas's place of employment has yet to approve this year's pay raises, so we don't even know what the raises are, or when they're coming out... food prices are still on the rise and while gas prices did go down for a while, they're creeping up again now...

On the other hand, I have pretty much killed my soda habit. I still have a diet coke once a week when we go for an afternoon walk, and if we're at restaurants, but we are trying to cut down on eating out, to twice a month, at most. I've started clipping some coupons and trying to learn to budget our food better, which has dropped our grocery bills (between that and giving up the soda) from $220 a week to $160-$180 a week. Not nearly as frugal as some internet moms I know (I have yet to understand how the HELL a single person could eat on $40 a week, much less a family of four. I personally think they're LYING, but that's ok...) but still, $40 a week in savings is $40 a week in savings. And we're no longer paying for Thomas's Weight Watchers (as he's something like 13 pounds below his goal weight...) And since I'm done with my dental work and I no longer need $90 worth of prescriptions every month... that's another $32 a week that we're not spending...

So, it's not like the money isn't there, if we need it. It was convincing myself that I was worth spending an extra $20 a week...

So, allow me to say it again;

Today was my first session with my new personal trainer.

On Saturday we had a "free consultation" session, in which we talked about my weight and fitness goals... the excercising and workouts that I was currently doing, and what I wanted out of a personal trainer.

One of the big things that's on my mind is that, honestly, I don't know what I'm doing.

I walk. I ride the recumbant bike. I do some stretches, crunches, pushups. But I don't know if my form is good. I'm fairly certain that I don't even know if I'm working all my muscle groups, much less what excercises are good for what areas.

I'm afraid of the weight machine. I know how to do a basic bicep curl and I can read enough to do some of the other excericises laid out on the weight machine, but I wasn't sure which ones I should do, or how many, or anything like that.

I wouldn't know what to do with a medicine ball if my life was on the line.

So, I headed down to the fitness center to work with my personal trainer.

First, she threw me at the elliptical for some warm up; five minutes at a low resistance. Because, she says, I need to get out of my comfort zone. (Funny, I didn't think the bike was in my comfort zone. I certainly don't feel comfortable on it...) I hate hate hate the elliptical. I feel all off balance, like I'm going to smash my face into the control panel, or slip off the back, or do any number of embarrassing and painful things to myself.

After that, we did upper body sculpting with the weight machine; bicep curls, tricep extensions, and rows. I have a great problem with locking my knees; I just don't feel steady with my knees slightly bent, which seemed to throw a kink into everything I did.

We did some squats, both with and without weights. I had a great deal of trouble with a medicine ball squat that was supposed to work my obliques (whatever that is...) because I can't seem to figure out how to pivot on my foot. We had to try several different excercises until we figured out something that I could do that worked that area... she eventually found that I could do a side crunch with weights, so long as she was standing behind me to make sure I didn't fall.

Not that I was that unbalanced, but more, I'm scared I will fall, and if I feel like she's there to catch me, I'm more apt to do the exercise correctly than if she's not there.

She had me do some leg lifts and then we did planks.

A lot of planks. I did plank dips, then a straight plank and hold, then rest, then plank again... we did these on and off for about seven minutes, by which point my lower back and stomach ached rather impressively.

She rather accurately assessed my physical condition (better than I think it is, but not as good as it could be) and then stated that my biggest problem was that I'm afraid. I'm afraid of hurting myself, I'm afraid of not knowing what I'm doing, I'm afraid of being clumsy. I'm not shocked by this revelation; generally speaking, yes. Of course I'm afraid, it seems only natural. My bone density is screwed up from years of being on steroids. I fell in the street one time and broke my arm in three places. And that was just falling down, not falling OFF something, or falling with a weight in my hand.

She gave me some homework assignments; 10 of these, 15 of those, as many of these others... that I'm supposed to do at least four times this week, whenever I can work them in, even if I just do a set of the leg lifts between wipes in a Sarth Raid, and then go the side crunches before bed.

So... I'll be seeing her again next week.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dreaded Question

Of the five questions men most hate to hear (loosely based on a this article...) I probably ask my husband "What are you thinking?" and "Do you love me?" on a fairly regular basis.

He's a pretty typical guy, except for the fact that "Football" would never be an answer to "What are you thinking?" For Thomas, it runs more along the lines of "Stupid work stuff/stupid raid stuff/random observations about science fiction television/theoretical physics..."

I don't usually ask anyone the question "Do I look fat in this?"

The closest I usually get to the question is "Do I look OK?" By OK, I generally mean "Does this cover all the requisite bits of me, is it formal or informal enough for the event, is my fly open, and do I need to comb my hair again?"

I have always known the answer to "Do these jeans make me look fat?"

"Honey, it's not the jeans."


Just because I knew it didn't mean I ever wanted to hear it from someone. I already knew I was fat. I didn't particularly have a need to make someone I liked repeat it for me.

The problem is, I think my eyes are broken. I know I've talked about this before, but it seems to be a real problem for me, and I can't get my brain aligned.

Thomas talks about his mental woah moments... "I walk by a store window and I have to stop and stare at that skinny guy in the reflection."

I still walk past reflective store windows with my eyes downcast.

I've had woah moments, don't get me wrong. The first time Thomas and I passed each other in the hallway without one or both of us unconsciously turning sideways to allow us both to fit though... when I noticed the car steering wheel didn't need to be adjusted to allow me to fit behind the wheel... but they've never had anything to do with pictures, or reflections.

I'm ok, if I can compare myself to a space I didn't used to be able to occupy, or comparing my required Fat Girl pants to my current pants (I think it's mandatory, by law, that you have to save something from your Fat Days... mine are a pair of red capris, size 24) or looking down while I'm folding laundry and thinking "I fit in that shirt??"

But as soon as I see myself in the mirror, or a picture, I'm like "God, I look like a freaking beached whale!"

I really do think my brain is broken. I mean, I'm wearing size 7 jeans, and they're too big for me. (I should have gotten the 6s.) So, just recently, I've started asking a few, select people that question.

I'm still not getting answers that I'm happy with.

"You look thin-er."

Which is to say, you were such a disgusting pork before, and now you're slightly smaller than a freight train... but it's progress, right?

"Well, I don't know, really. I mean, your body type is so different from mine..."

I thought that was a really interesting way to avoid answering me with "No, actually, you do look fat."

I'm honestly getting a bit tired of this whole lifestyle change thing... My average weight loss for this year has been dropping steadily... it took me a year to lose 65 pounds, and it's going to take at least another whole year to get rid of 20 pounds. Somehow, that just doesn't seem fair.

The last twenty pounds is the hardest.

Unless, of course, you're my skinny-ass husband who had his last 20 pounds drop off in a whopping 4 weeks, and then lost another 12 pounds while he was at it.


Monday, March 2, 2009

95% of Statistics...

One of the worst things about being on a diet (or going through a lifestyle change, or slimming, or whatever it is you want to call watching what you eat!) is that inevitably someone just has to burst your bubble.

No matter how well you are losing weight, no matter how long you've kept it off, someone will eventually point out to you that "95% of all diets fail."

They usually have some sort of anecdotal evidence; "Yeah, my cousin, she lost 70 pounds, but you know, in three years, she'd gained all of it back and then some..."

Over the last year or so, that figure has haunted me. Particularly as I threw out or gave away my size 20's, 18's, 16s, etc. Will I just regain the weight? What am I doing this for? Isn't it worse to yo-yo diet and gain and lose the same weight over and over again?

The figure comes not from any kind of random sampling, but from a study of 100 patients treated for obesity at a nutrition clinic at New York Hospital in the 1950's. In 1959, its authors, Dr. Albert Stunkard and Mavis McLaren-Hume, published a paper in which they concluded, ''Most obese persons will not stay in treatment, most will not lose weight, and of those who do lose weight, most will regain it.''

That conclusion, Dr. Brownell of Yale said, has since become the most frequently quoted statement in obesity literature.

Dr. Stunkard, who is now a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, said the study was ''perfectly respectable'' for that period. ''The paper made a big impact because everybody thought obesity was pretty easy to treat,'' he said. ''This showed that, for whatever reason, it wasn't.''

But the study has little relevance to the current understanding of how to control weight, said Dr. Stunkard, who specializes in the treatment of obesity and eating disorders. The 100 patients in the study were ''just given a diet and sent on their way,'' he said. 1


So, this "dieting fact" that so many of us bump into on our journey is what... fifty years old, based on a very limited sampling size of 100 people who were just told "here's a diet, follow it." Yeah, I can see why that would probably not be successful.

More recent research has demonstrated that dieters find it challenging to maintain weight loss; however, it has refuted the 95% failure rate. In "Successful Weight Loss Maintenance" (Annual Review of Nutrition, vol. 21, no. 1, July 2001), Rena Wing and James Hill proposed defining "successful long-term weight loss maintenance as intentionally losing at least 10% of initial body weight and keeping it off for at least one year." Using this definition the investigators offered more favorable outcomes of weight-loss efforts. Wing and Hill reported that more than 20% of overweight or obese people can and do lose 10% or more of body weight and maintain the weight loss for more than a year. Analyzing data from the National Weight Control Registry, they also found that people who successfully maintained long-term weight loss—an average weight loss of 30 kg (66.14 lbs) for an average of 5.5 years—shared common behaviors that promoted weight loss and weight maintenance. These behavioral strategies included eating a diet low in fat, frequent self-monitoring of body weight and food intake, and high levels of regular physical activity. The investigators also posited that weight-loss maintenance may become easier over time because they observed that once weight loss had been maintained for two to five years, the chances of longer-term success were greatly increased.2
Ok, well, that's better. That means 20% or more people who have had successful weight loss will manage to maintain that weight loss. That's better. Even more encouraging is the posit that once the weight loss has been maintained for 2-5 years, chances of longer-term success are greatly increased.

Another problem with studies on weight loss is that it's difficult to track people over long term. The best place to get study subjects is either volunteers or through a medical program. Now keeping in mind that anyone who is seeing their doctor for help with their obesity problem probably has a really serious problem. I don't know about you, but I once didn't have a broken bone in my foot looked at by a doctor because I didn't think "it was particularly serious, I mean, what's he gonna do..." Likewise, most people would rather not discuss their weight with their doctor. (How many people do you know who have changed doctors, or just quit going to a doctor at all after being told they need to lose some weight?) (Which doesn't even begin to cover the fact that obesity is often cited as a reason to be denied health insurance, and I don't know very many people who can afford to see a doctor without it. And if you don't have insurance, your care is very minimal; make them stop bleeding and get the heck out of our hospital!)

Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and other various national diet industries like to spout their figures, but obviously their sample is not random or typical, nor do they reveal numbers that they don't want you to see. (Remember what I told you Beth said about the "typical" weight watchers member attending meetings for 2 months and then vanishing?) Here's an interesting post about what Weight Watchers does, or does not, tell you. (Not, mind you, that this blog is at all biased, being a Fat Acceptance blog, but hey, the diet industry spins the numbers one way, you should see how they can be spun back...)

Similar studies tracked smokers who had been in a smoking cessation program, then tracked these patients after they had successfully completed the program, to see where they were, 5 years down the road.

Of those individuals contacted five years after the clinic, 17.8 per cent were not smoking.3
18%. You know, with an 82% failure rate, I find it amusing to notice that no one discourages people who are thinking about trying to quit with the same sort of depressing figures. "Why bother to quit smoking, you'll just go back to it, and probably smoke MORE than you used to..." I've never heard anyone say anything like that.

I think the important thing to remember is that statistics don't really mean anything. If you want to get a given result, you can redefine your parameters to get that result. It's not to say that statistics are completely useless, but at the same time, you should always consider who is paying for the study, what their parameters are, and what size of a test subject group they're working with.

1 New York Times, 95% Regain Lost Weight, Or Do They?

2 Diet and Myths Weight-Loss Lore and Controversies - Why Diets Fail

3 Five Year Follow Up of a Smoking Withdrawal Clinic Population.