Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year 2009

Status Report:
I weigh 315 pounds. From January 1 of this year that is a net loss of 20 pounds. 20 freaking pounds! What have I been doing? I've still got nearly 200 pounds to lose! At this rate, 10 years from now I will reach my goal. Oh wait, I have actually been doing more than sitting on my tookus all year. (Or actually I've been sitting on my tookus a lot more--but it's been really productive sitting.) Applying to graduate school. Going to school. Pushing myself to change career paths. Seriously, how have I survived this year? Instead of beating myself up I should be congratulating myself. I'm a known emotional eater. I bury my pain with food. I've had a lot of pain this year. A lot of sacrifice, hard work and struggle. My typical modus operandi would have been to gain 50 pounds in the process. And let's be honest, my typical modus operandi would have been to not even attempt this radical change.

So, I'm happy. With a net loss of 20 pounds for 2009 and a net loss of 20 pounds for 2008, I'm currently 40 pounds less than my highest recorded weight of 355 pounds. It has been a stable (albeit slow-going) process. I'm not scared of those 40 pounds coming back. I think my life has changed enough and I've changed enough and I understand my body enough to feel good about where I am at right now.

For most of the year, I've been hovering around the 300 pound mark. I see myself back there very quickly. I also have a strong sense that I will get to 240 pounds rather quickly. Then the goal will be to get past 210 pounds. Then under 200. After the under 200 mark, I think I may either have gathered so much steam that I will reach 145-150 without a lot of fuss or I will put on the brakes and go into a holding pattern if my life feels like it is careening out of control. I don't know. I just know I'm feeling much more confident about the eating, the intolerance-free diet and the cooking. That all feels like it has fallen into place this year.

So, here is a recap of what occupied 2009:

1. Getting into graduate school: I continued to work full-time and went to school part-time trying to change my future. I want to wake up every Monday morning EXCITED to go to work. Excited to work hard. Excited to do something I love each day. I believe those future Monday mornings include: loving people through therapy, spending time in nature, writing, and raising a houseful of my very own littles with a TDH man that shares my goals, dreams, visions of our life together.

2. The intolerance-free diet: Most of 2009 I spent NOT eating things like wheat, dairy, sugar, HCFS, corn, soy, MSG and most processed foods. After three or four months of strict adherence to this plan I started to feel incredible in a way I have not felt in a long, long time. There is something absolutely magical about energy and I seemed to have energy in abundance, something that has rarely if ever been true in my life. I admit that those initial three months at times felt like I was white knuckling my way through the diet each day but I began to feel amazing and that feeling just kept building and building and building. I played around with my intolerance-free/elimination diet during the summer, got back in track (somewhat) in the fall, and then totally abandoned it for the incredibly stressful month of December as I finished the application process for graduate school. All in all though: I would not have a net loss of 20 pounds for this year without that plan and I REALLY would not have been able to face down all the fears and issues in my life without it.

3. Far too much avoidance-related coping while watching TV shows on Hulu: I guess I'm also an emotional TV watcher. Which is why I don't own a TV because I know how I am around one. But thanks to the Internet and explosion of TV shows on the world-wide web (I'm looking at you Hulu) my TV habit is alive and well. If I'm not eating my way through pain, then you will often find me immersed in pop culture oblivion to ease my way through it. So, yes, despite having an incredibly busy year, I've spent far too many late nights easing my way into dreamy sleepiness to the incandescent glow of shows like Greek, Bones, Supernatural and Glee. I've always been a sucker for a good story.

4. Cooking: I do like cooking. I always have. I've just never felt totally, 100% comfortable cooking in a traditional manner (meaning white flour, sugar, etc) because I've never been sure if that was how I wanted to cook. This year I became confident that with lots of fresh foods, alternative flours and creativity that yummy, delicious food was in my future forever. I embrace all the deliciousness of good food and I now know that I will not be deprived of any of its goodness in years to come. I have my own versions of chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate, chocolate turtles, brownies, cake and even bread. All delicious and enticing and very, very good. I am much more confident about how and what I will be cooking for the next 40-50 years of my life and I'm excited.

Those four things along with work, school, church and family and friends. That has been my year. All in all I think that 2009 was a good year. I jumped a lot of hurdles, faced a lot of issues, realized my weaknesses more acutely and accentuated my strengths more frequently. I'm more aware of how much I still have to learn and more accepting of the process by which I will learn it. I'm kicking against the pricks less, accepting more of life and more excited for the possibilities that this year may bring.

To an excellent 2010! My all of our dreams come true.

Monday, December 28, 2009


My entire body is swollen. Everything hurts. Everything is inflamed. My emotions are off-kilter. My sleep needs are about 10 hours a night right now. My diet is in the garbage. My exercise in non-existent.

It's time to reclaim my health and sanity.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

November-December Oblivion

Weight: 317

I've been in a bit of oblivion the past couple of months with school. Well, I've really been feeling it in the weight department lately. I feel different. Not as strong and I can tell I've gained weight in places because my body feels strange to me.

The intolerance diet went out the window a few weeks ago which is when I really started to feel it.

But I'm not depressed or bitter or anything. I'm ready to get back in the saddle again and really push the exercise this time and see where it takes me.

Ready to come along for the ride?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

October 2nd Weigh-In

Weight: 298 lbs.
Waist: 47.5 inches

Exercise this week: 4 mornings averaging about a 30-45 minutes. Doing the first 2 weeks of exercise plan in Jillian Michael's book Losing It. I really love the variety and intensity of the exercise.

Sleep: I went to bed between 10:30 and 11:00PM each night this week and was up at 5:00 or 6:00AM every morning. Lots to do.

Stress level: I had two tests this week and was very, very busy. But I think I handled the stress better than I have in a long time.

Food: Had meals planned and cooked. Took lunch and dinner and snacks with me every day which really helped me hit the hunger early in the morning when I most need to be on top of it. That was great. It was the end of the month and funds were tight so I was making do mostly with what was in the pantry and I was very, very pleased with how things turned out. I owe many blessings to heaven.

Overall: I'm feeling really good. Strong. My body feels strong. I'm lifting things with more ease. I like working out and feeling my body grow stronger each day. I really need the food early in the day. It helps calm my body down.

P.S. Would love to run the St. George Marathon one year from now at a fighting weight of 135 pounds. Wouldn't that be a trip?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Back at 299!

Saturday is the day I weigh. I want to do it at least once a month and certainly not every Saturday. Well, I decided to weigh this morning just to see what my week of exercise would bring and I was 299! I was so thrilled. It isn't often that I look down at the scale and am shocked (in a good way) by the number there.

After my six-week hiatus from eating intolerance-free (does that sound right?) and consuming all kinds of wheat, dairy and sugar, I was actually very surprised that I only gained 5-7 lbs. It made me realize that maybe all of the hard work I had done for the six months previous was really going to pay off and my body was really responding to and healing from all of my food intolerances.

So, I've dropped a few pounds over the last month but certainly nothing like this week. I think three big things changed.
  • I ate breakfast every day and I packed food each day and ate all day long. In other words, I didn't spend most of the day starving and then come home and eat a big meal late at night. I was on top of my hunger--especially during the morning hours--and I had great food to eat all week an my body loved that!
  • I exercised four morning a week at 6AM. I love working out right now and my body certainly seemed to respond to that as well.
  • I was in bed by 10PM six nights this week. Getting enough sleep definitely affects weight loss.
So, all three of those things are things I wanted to improve on to see if they made a difference in my weight loss because it had stalled. I think they did! The next plan is to continue this trend and see what the next few months will bring.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm Exercising Again

Some brief thoughts on exercising which is my big goal this fall.

I've been to the gym for three mornings in a row. That is serious progress. Especially that I get up at 6AM to do it!

I finally figured out exactly what plan to follow at least for the first few weeks. I'm following the eight-week exercise plan outlined in Jillian Michael's Winning by Losing. I'm really excited to try it because it has variety, is very specific, has changes in intensity, duration, sets, and weight load, and I feel good doing it.

I'm going to make copies of the workout for each week along with the exercises outlined. We will see how this goes.

I also have picked out a trainer at the gym that I want to pay for a half-hour appointment to work with me on technique, form and my plan. We will see how that goes too.

I really like weight lifting. I have a body built for weight lifting. I've always been strong and flexible and I get a kick out of lifting weights. Future plans include trying out some cardio classes, pilates and yoga. Pilates and yoga especially interest me.

I feel gooooood. I've had this big endorphin rush the last few mornings and I love it. I'm sleeping better. I've lost 5-7 pounds. I feel stronger. I feel better.

Here's to hoping this trend can continue.

What about you? How's your exercise routine going? Exercise plans? Exercise dreams? Exercise pipe dreams?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Progress in Month 9

For all of you devoted reader(s) out there (hi, Sis!), I am keeping up with this blog. I really am. I'm just not doing it very well. I'm going to chalk that up to the fact that I'm currently so focused on getting into graduate school that I've begun scheduling my bathroom breaks and daydreaming time into the 6 minutes of free time I've been able to carve out of my daily life right now. But this blog is in my heart often because I feel a bit more honest, a bit more dark and twisty, a bit more real here than anywhere else. So, know that of anywhere I write, this place has my heart.

I've been back on the allergy-free (now changed to intolerance-free) diet for several weeks now and once again my energy is good, my emotions stabilized (except that once-a-month roller coaster so many of us deal with), and my future is feeling bright again. Yeah! In the last week, I've had several people tell me that I look "bright" and "happy" and "good." I'm taking all of that to mean that this food thing really does have an affect on my mental/emotional state. Yes, I know, big surprise there.

It has been quite a journey so far since last January when I started this thing on my fourth attempt and finally had the skills and knowledge base to succeed at eating so differently from mainstream America. I feel like those first three months was more of a white-knuckle experience where I had to encounter the mental, emotional, physical, and social changes that eating like this handed to me. I had to learn how to cook more, how to cook differently, how to prep food for a full day, how to manage social situations and food and how to deal with my own emotions/grief around giving up the familiar, known ways of eating.

The first few months also brought a great sense of RELIEF. I felt like finally, finally, finally after years of trying to figure it out, I had a plan, a vision, a method for how to cook and eat throughout my life. A blueprint for what my kitchen and pantry will look like; a dream for how I will manage Halloween, Christmas, and every celebratory food event; an idea of how to manage this gigantic, overwhelming, emotion-crusted, darkness-infused, gut-busting experience of food/weight/depression in my life.

And I finally feel like me again. A feeling that I first truly encountered 12 years ago when I was serving a mission for my church and really learned a lot about myself and my strengths. It was a golden period in my life full of truckloads of learning and I ratcheted up several truckloads during that eighteen months of service. I learned that

  • I'm a people person
  • I work really well with others when we have a common purpose
  • I love planning
  • I enjoy teaching
  • I love talking to people about their lives, their hearts, the things that matter most to them
  • I like public speaking and singing
  • I have a brain for remembering the gospel and an aptitude for study
  • I do really well on a schedule fueled by a deep purpose
There was much more that I learned as well, but throughout that eighteen months, I repeatedly had the feeling "This is me. This is me. This is ME." It was like I was meeting myself for the very first time.

What I really think occurred was I went from a lifestyle where my weaknesses were highlighted to a lifestyle where my strengths were utilized, accepted and wanted. It felt amazing.

All of that is just to say that the first few months after starting this intolerance-free eating plan, I started to feel many of those feelings again. Like my strengths were no longer cloaked under a mantle of darkness. That my mind and spirit were no longer cloaked either. And like I said, it brought a great sense of relief.

The next few months of summer after that initial white-knuckling phase were a bit more difficult after some of the initial euphoria wore off. I quit cooking as much or even doing much meal planning. That really tends to sink me. As a result, I spent a lot of time being hungry, hungry, hungry. And wishing I had good food. And wishing someone would make it for me. And wishing it would magically appear in front of me. Thus the summer was comprised of
  • a stall in weight loss
  • constant hunger
  • wishing that I didn't have to cook so much every day just to feed little old me
  • mourning that food wasn't convenient or easy any more
  • challenging the elimination diet which turned into an eating free-for-all and a full return to my previous life of wheat, dairy, sugar eating.
Ahhh, the summer. Lessons learned. Time passed. Boundaries tested.

Once again, after plunging back into old eating habits, I was in the midst of that big, loud vortex that takes over my body, spirit and mind. Depression, weight gain, fatigue--it all came roaring back into my life. And when I'm there, no matter how hard I try to convince myself, it is very, very, very difficult to believe that food really affects me so powerfully and that I really do feel much better when I'm not eating those foods. I'm sure it sounds crazy. It feels crazy. I'm not laying all of my problems at the feet of food, but I am saying that eating intolerance-free removes a huge layer of difficulty in my life. It makes my life run more smoothly all around. It helps keep me strong, focused, sane and happy.

So, what is fall going to become? Well, I'm feeling really great about the diet. What needs work in my life is exercise. So, the fall I want to be comprised of working out five to six days a week. I want a plan, a purpose, a goal in my exercise. I want to feel good afterwards. I want to be thrilled to get up each morning and get moving.

So, to fall and to exercise! Here's hoping it will be a success.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Not so Gold

This is to you, little 25-year-old beefy personal trainer at Gold's Gym who tried to shove a personal training plan down my throat today.

I'm sorry I ticked you off when I said, "I didn't realize I would get a sales pitch today so I'm not ready to purchase." I did enjoy the 20 minutes of workout that we actually did. I went into this appointment with the distinct impression that Gold's Gym was offering to give me complimentary workout plan because I forked over far too much of my discretionary income for the "privilege" of becoming a member there. I'm sorry that I didn't realize beforehand that you were going to try every manipulation technique in the book to get me to fork over an extra $100 a month as well for personal training. No. Thank. You.

Not to mention the fact that you hound me every few months for "improvement" fees. After three experiences with your establishment trying to suck me dry financially, I've come to the conclusion that Gold's Gym has one interest and one interest only--getting as much of my money out of me as possible.

You threw out lines like "Why can't you commit today?" and "You should make a decision now." and "I will have to talk to my manager but if you don't act now, this special will go away."

Yes, yes, I hope it will. And you along with it.

Do I have to get mean? I felt so uncomfortable through that whole meeting today once I realized all I was to you and Gold's was a dollar sign. I watched you try to maneuver a commitment out of me. You challenged me, you questioned me, and I felt I had to reveal far too much of my personal reasons simply because I wouldn't commit financially. This is not respectful. Not nice. You get an "F" on the good company report card in my book.

Let's just say, Not Impressed. Not Impressed in a VERY big way.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's About Gym Time

I updated my stats on the sidebar today. Looking over them I see that my weight has pretty much stabilized over the summer--despite my 6-week plunge off the allergy-free lifestyle. I chalk that up as a good thing that my weight can actually stabilize. What a treat! What a joy! To actually be moving down the scale and not have my weight ping pong right back up the scale the minute I eat the tiniest little thing off plan.

Now for the bad news: My weight has pretty much stabilized over the summer. Same news, different take. What's that all about? I was losing pretty consistently there for a while. Being back on the allergy-free diet, I think the losing will start back up again too. Obviously much more slowly than I would like, but it is going just the same. What I want is to add two more items to the mix for the next four months and see what kind of difference they will make. Those two items are:

  • Meal planning=equals regular meals=stabilized blood sugar
  • Daily exercise
I think these are the areas that I have to make the most improvement health-wise. The eating thing goes really well when I have a menu plan and I've shopped and prepared for the week. Then I don't spend hours each day trying to figure out what to eat the is convenient or I don't spend half the day starving and wishing I could eat something delicious.

The other thing is exercise. I know exercising every day will help stabilize my blood sugar, boost my emotions, help me sleep better and help me lose weight. At least that is the practicing theory I am going on. I'm assuming that more regular exercise will assist me greatly in losing weight.

So, that is the experiment for the next four months. Stick to the allergy-free lifestyle, get daily exercise, have a menu plan so I eat regular, well-balanced meals. I'm interested to see what the next four months will bring.

Monday, August 31, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday, I got ready for church and ran out the door late. Unfortunately, the chapel was jam-packed and I spent several fruitless minutes searching for a seat until my sweet niece G (otherwise known as Baby Girl) came and took my hand and pulled me to where her family was sitting.

The only problem was we had to transverse most of the chapel to reach said seating. Which forced us to walk in front many in the congregation. Which made me horribly, gut-wrenchingly aware of just how unflattering I must look lumbering in heels across the room. Three-hundred pound woman doth not equal a charming picture. Even if she spent half an hour primping in front of the mirror.

Oy vey! The eating disorder mind is rampant with self-hatred once again.

Yes, so I spent most of Sunday feeling the "ugly" syndrome.

Then up I awake on Monday morning feeling not so much better and I get dressed, go to work and try to start a bleh Monday with a smile on my face.

It is the start of fall semester and since I work at a university this affects me. I'm taking classes myself and I have students that work for me. Well, one of my students has returned after a summer internship and I go down the hall to speak to him and walk in and he stops and . . . gives me the once over! Like looks me up and down. Which in fatland never ever happens to a woman. Ever. At least it never happens in my fatland. And what I realized is it has been four months since he has seen me and maybe I am looking better, you know? Like maybe some of these changes are showing up in my body and face.

Except then I go look at the stats on the side of this page and I realize, my weight went down a few pounds this summer but I'm pretty much exactly where I was four months ago. So, what is that all about?

Then I realize, I do have a new wardrobe--at least clothes that fit me--and though my weight hasn't changed drastically the last several months, I did get a lot of very positive comments about my looks for a couple of months there. Most of which I attribute to dressing for my size rather than wearing clothes that were too big for me.

So, between that tiny moment this morning, then my new shirt, and getting my hair done on Saturday, I was feeling rather fetching today. Isn't that funny? All a matter of perception and the change of just a few short hours.

Nice. Now if I could just feel good about myself like this ALL day. Every day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Changing My Perspective

After my moaning and groaning about my weight and why oh why me, I came across this post from a young mother who was burned last year in a terrible accident. For the first time in a year, she has shared a photo of herself on her blog.

A courageous and noble act from one who could spend the rest of her life saying "if only" and who is trying hard to move into a healthier perspective of her purpose in life after her own aching sadness.

I commend her and others like her who remind me to not give up hope. And who also remind me to be grateful each and every day for a strong, healthy body with eyes that see clearly, a heart that beats continuously and two hands that can care and love and tender kindness to those around me. Meaty thighs and round tummy included.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

True Confessions: Will This Ever Go Away?

I've felt for several weeks now that I am at a crossroads in my life. A place of choice where the road is forked and I can make the decision to walk into the darkness one way . . . or the other. And because this decision feels so big, so monumental, so very, very LARGE, I have done the only rational, sane, sensible thing available to me.

I haven't made a decision.

I've sputtered and puttered and cried and cajoled myself to make daily better choices, in fact to make the right choice and choose a better future for myself. And then I've done nothing. If I choose the way I think I should go, the way I really want to go, the way that holds the most promise, it is going to be very, very hard. And I don't seem to do hard things very well.

I'm scared. I feel alone. I wish I was better.

Most of my life has been spent wishing for a different life. Wishing for a different body usually. I've felt that life dished up a big, fat serving of unfairness and I've been wading in it all of my life.

Do you sense the overpowering self-pity here? I didn't come equipped with "let-it-roll-off-your-back" attitude that might be a life preserver to me right now. I tend to let life's injustices and petty issues sour and curdle in my gut until they affect my outlook, my focus and my beliefs. And the biggest one, the one I always hang my hat on, the one I return to over and over and over again is: my fat body.

I never had it easy in that department (I know, strike up a thousand tiny violins for the woe-is-me party that is coming down the pike like a freight train). I never had a "thin" life. Never had the ease of a lithe, supple body as a child, never had the glory of a tight, lovely body as a teenager, never had the attraction of a gorgeous, womanly body as an adult. My reality has been filled with meaty thighs, a too-generous tummy, and a full double chin. And I have always struggled with that reality.

I've hated myself and wished thousands upon thousands of times for a different reality. A chance to wake up from this very bad dream. An opportunity to live out the life I was meant to live in a beautiful body that is my rightful inheritance.

It hasn't come. And I've spent my life wishing away the life I have.

It is painful for me to be in my thirties, unmarried, unhappy with my work, and still struggling with an overweight body. If I could snap my fingers and change my reality, I would have a lithe, beautiful body, a strong work ethic, a sunny, effervescent personality, and a gem of a husband with a few darling children as accompaniment. I would always be organized and my house would be clean. I would have a PhD in counseling and be an established author. I would spend my days caring for my family, decorating my home, seeing clients in my private home office, gardening in my lush outdoor backyard, and writing compelling, bestselling books that would make me independently wealthy. I would even have time for some radio work and television appearances.

Oh, and let's not forget that in all times and in all places I would look amazing and beautiful and strikingly gorgeous (I'm sorry but now it seems that my alternate reality has dipped into a Harlequin romance-esque type of universe). Oh, and I would cook tempting, delightful, wholesome meals for anyone who stepped a foot over my threshold. And be beautiful while doing it.

Yes, wouldn't that be nice.

But for all of my wishing, my moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth, I am still just me: chubby, too-thoughtful, easily depressed, tree hugger, messy, bad-at-motivation-and-discipline, struggles with commitment, not-living-up-to-my-potential, totally imperfect me.

If I'm going to get anywhere in my life, I think I've got to learn how to embrace and love this version of me. Or I'm going to make myself sick and miserable by wishing my life away.

Yes, sick and miserable. It sounds like a charming way to do life, doesn't it?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Where Have You Been?

I've been away. Not geographically but nutritionally. I've been away in a little land called Binge and Repeat. It is a land I've grown familiar and comfortable in over the past twenty years of my life. It is a place that while miserable and dark and cold brings me some measure of relief and comfort albeit of the nutritionally unsound kind.

I did so well--remarkably well--for SIX WHOLE MONTHS on my allergy-free diet. Six entire months in my life where food was not my addiction and my solace. And then it all came banging back as I delved into a world of treats and drinks and drive thrus and fast food. I reverted so quickly to all of my bad habits, poor patterns and secret eating. All of it came back from late night splurges to mid-day descents into a world where I rarely cook and most of my food comes hot and ready through a drive thru window.

What the bingeing did for me was ratchet up the guilt level in my life and ratchet down the deprivation level. In some ways, I think it was good for me.

(I know, can you believe it? Here I am putting a positive spin on it.) I think it was good for me because I'm going to have to deal with this whole thing sooner or later. I can't assume that one day I would just start eating perfectly and then BOOM after that it would be easy peasy.

No, we wouldn't want this part of my life to ever go easily, because then I might not have any idea where to hang my self-pity. Gotta keep that oh-so-helpful part of my life alive and kicking.

So, the cold hard facts about where I've been? Mostly at fast food joints, often at a convenience store, too little over the stove baking or cooking something delicious and nutritious. I've gained about fifteen pounds and my clothes are getting tight.

And now that I know where I've been, the next question is: where am I going?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Climbing Back in the Saddle

A month ago, as I was bending over and shaving my legs, I felt a pop in my hip and a sudden, acute pain. Immediately it hurt to stand, bend, sit or walk.

I've spent most of the last month dealing with and avoiding the outcome of that Saturday morning.

Most of this month has been about pain and injury and healing and adaptation.

And I'm not gonna lie, friends: It's been about bingeing too.

I spent most of May and June fighting my lack of desire to cook and trying to figure out how to feed myself. Then this injury put me in a place where most movement hurt and I took the familiar, easy road for me. I started eating out again.

I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'm not going to whine and moan and complain either. And I'm also not going to go all self-righteous and declare a moratorium on all treats and indulgences and allergy-ridden foods.

I'm just going to breathe through it and not go anal-retentive or perfectionist. The only place that has ever gotten me in the past is smack dab in the middle of another binge.

I'm just trying to own up to reality and deal with it differently than I have in the past.

So, in the spirit of good fun and because I love details, here are some of the things I have consumed the past few weeks that haven't been a part of my normal lifestyle for several months.

Chocolate: and by that I mean milk chocolate, candy bars, peanut m&ms--you know, the kind of stuff you pick up in the checkout line at the grocery store, not the good, expensive, dark chocolate that I tend to prefer when I'm eating clean.

Soda: I've never been a big pop drinker but I certainly have partaken of a few this past month. I think I really like to do this because pop has no redeeming nutritional value and when I indulge it is usually because I'm in the mood to flip the bird at myself and my sometime- sanctimonious attitude about all things health.

Candy: The stuff you buy at the convenience store. All high fructose corn syrup and air--you know what I'm talking about. The funny thing is that when I'm really miserable, this stuff provides some of the sweetness I am so craving out of life.

Chips: I go a bit crazy with the chips too. I start dreaming about Barbara's Cheese Puffs. I don't know what the deal is with those things but they are cheese on crack. And I want a bag a day of them. Fortunately, the bag says "all natural" which gives me a strange sort of comfort.

Bread: All things bread. All kinds of bread. White bread. Brown bread. Homemade bread. French bread. Any bread. Bread, bread, bread. Bread makes me happy. I just saw again that scene of Julia Roberts in America's Sweethearts where her character went off the low-carb bandwagon and ate a huge breakfast of waffles, toast, muffins--basically a pig out on all things bread. And I had to laugh because--been there. Done that.

Fast food: I'm going to clump all the neon-sign, drive-thru, caloric-killing wasteland that litters modern suburbia under this one heading. There are too many of them and sometimes I just can't fight their regime any more. At times I spend weeks there on the dark side. Hands down favorite? Wendy's or Carl's Jr. With the occasional jaunt to Taco Bell--you know, just for variety.

Somehow I have survived my wild plunge into Noshing Neverland and I've come out on the other side a bit war-torn and limping but still alive. Ready to fight the good fight again. I just have to remember--it isn't about attaining perfection but about making progress every day.

I'll do my best to keep that in mind.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Horror

I've been absolutely terrible at posting lately. Could it have anything to do with the fact that my clothes are getting tight and I have had two major three-day binges in the last two weeks? Or that I have not done a lick of exercise? Or that I want to lose weight without trying? Or that bariatric surgery is looking really, really good all of sudden?

Yes, I'm dragging in the healthy focus department lately. Anyone have any insight, advice, wisdom or motivation to share with me?

Anyone? Anyone?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Have You Always Been Fat?

I have always been fat.

My tendency now is to let this dip into a "Woe is me, look at my horrible life" kind of monologue. I'd like to stay away from that. Yet, I have been thinking a lot lately about men and women who spend childhood and significant portions of their adulthood with only a skinny or athletic body.

What is that kind of life like?

I don't even know. I've always been chubby. At least as long as I can remember. There were brief periods of forcefully imposed slenderness--6 months when I was 11 years old, another year when I was fifteen years old and a dip towards normal body proportions when I was 22 years old. Other than that I've always carried a tummy, meaty thighs and a round face.

I grew up with five brothers and two sisters. None of them have ever been a hundred pounds overweight. Some of them in adulthood have edged up the scale thirty or forty pounds but no one has ever approached morbid obesity like me. Why is that?

What is so different about my body, my habits or my chemistry so that my body stockpiled weight? I have asked myself similar questions most of my life.

Right now, my theory tends towards a disruption in my endocrine system, an insulin sensitivity and food allergies. All of these natural tendencies leant themselves to a chubbier frame which induced some emotional eating as a way to soothe myself from the negative attention that my looks presented. Like I said: just a theory and likely one that leans a bit too heavily on the "woe is me" category that I vowed to stay away from earlier.

I think why this has all come up is that I look at adults around me, ones who have never suffered with a weight problem and I wonder What happened to me? Why am I so different? Why didn't I ever have a skinny time in my youth?

I don't know the answer to this and many other questions. I also don't know if the answers are really that important. I just know that these thoughts have occurred to me more and more often over the past few months.

Likely because right now, the fat thing seems patently unfair to me. It is unfair that I am still dealing with, working on, and learning the whys and hows of living in a fat body. I'm still uncomfortable in it, I still wish I didn't have to go down this road, I still wish things had turned out differently for me.

But the reality is, this is my life. This is my body. This is the hand that was dealt to me. And none of my whining or crying or pleading is going to change that. I can't change the past, the future is unknown, and all I have is today.

So, yes, I've always been fat. Even today. And some days it feels harder than others. And some days I barely notice it. Mostly, it is a topic that fills my mind constantly like a bad rerun. But I refuse to believe that it won't change. I've always felt like a big change is just around the corner.

At least that belief keeps me hoping and smiling through the ups and downs.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why I Didn't Weigh In the First Saturday in July

I realized that the weekend had passed me by and I entirely forgot to do a weigh in on Saturday. Nice. I'd like to blame it firmly on the fact that it was a holiday and I had been sick the day before and call it good. But the whole story is that I've had my first major binge in the last week and even though I did forget to weigh in on Saturday, I think it had to do more with the fact that I didn't want to see what the scale had to say rather than that I was ill and busy.

Before I left for our family reunion the last weekend of June, I weighed 295 lbs. I was fitting into a size 20 (yeesh!) and I was feeling svelte and spectacular. While the reunion itself was just fine, the post-reunion binge I indulged in wasn't so fine. Then I got a phlegm-filled cold and wanted to sit in my misery for a few days and get nursed back to health.

Friday morning when I was in the throes of the headachey, runny-nosed misery, I thought "I'm supposed to do my monthly weigh in tomorrow" and that was the last time it occurred to me.

Here it is Tuesday and no weigh in. I guess I will postpone it until this coming Saturday and see what 7 extra days will buy me. Between the binge and the cold, I was 304 this weekend. My pants are tighter all of sudden. My stomach is pooching more. I even felt like my face was rounder and fuller. All in all not my most productive week. (Seriously, sometimes I wonder if "productive" can even be paired in the same sentence with my name.)

So, we shall see. This month might have a net gain or I might even out. Whatever happens, I've got to start taking my food and exercise a little more seriously if I want to see more drastic changes around here. But really after a week like last week, I might just settle for slow and steady wins the race. After all, as long as I'm headed in a downward trend on the scales, something is going right.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Confession Session: The Bingeing is Back

I really am a recovering binge eater. It's been six months since my last experience. I've had a treat here and a splurge there in the past six months but I finally fell head long into a binge the other night.

It happened right on target for me too.

Usually when I start to feel really good about how I am doing or what kind of progress I am making I head straight into a binge. That is because the minute I realize things are going well or I am handling the pressure of my life I also simultaneously start to sense that now everyone is going to expect me to perform at this higher level of functionality from now until eternity. That puts a lot of pressure on me. Who wants to perform well all the time? Certainly not me. And I certainly don't want anyone to expect me to perform that well all the time.

Hence, the binge.

Bingeing gives me a headache. Literally. It plunges me into a place where darkness descends and I feel muddied and ill and terrible. It puts me in a place where all bets are off and I can't expect myself to perform because I feel so yucky, hence, no one else can expect me to perform either. At least that seems to be the nonsensical logic behind my binge. So, I get myself off the hook by bingeing. I get to step out of the racing current of life and check out.

The problem is that I have become the unmitigated master of checking out. I'm so good at it now that it nearly happens automatically. I live half a life, at half-speed, only doing things halfway. Otherwise I experience the shock, horror, pain and terror of having do things well on a consistent basis.

Bingeing gives me a chance to wrap myself in a little cocoon of oblivion and let go of the pain and the anxiety of living life at full speed and fully engaged.

It is a nasty little habit born of my unending love of avoiding all things anxiety-inducing. It is a coping mechanism that makes my life more miserable instead of better.

Yet, I went back to it this week. With all the anxiety in my gut, the terror of choices ahead of me, the pain of mistakes behind of me, this allowed me to try to disconnect from it all for the night.

It certainly gave me empathy for anyone who deals with alcoholism. Yikes! What a scary, hard place that would be. I felt like I needed to call my own sponsor last night and talk to her. Not have her judge me or flagellate me or even coax me away from my binge. But just someone to talk to about the knot in my stomach and the ache in my heart and see if they could go away without the assistance of the candy and chocolate and junk food that puts me in a state of semi-consciousness.

The truth is the binge has been coming on at least since Sunday and part of it happened Monday night and again a bit more on Tuesday and finally, finally, I did a full out binge last night.

Now, the question is: What am I going to do about it?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shopping for Summer Clothes

I went out shopping tonight for summer clothes. I had a specific plan: 1 black pair of capris and three shirts. I needed at least those minimum clothes to get through a family trip to California this weekend.

My current clothing situation is pitiful. I do have two pair of pants for work that are okay and I have a couple of shirts. Everything else is too big. Just like wearing clothes that are too small, wearing clothes that are too big is uncomfortable. I'm constantly adjusting clothes and feeling less than my best. I went shopping a month ago and came away with one shirt. That one shirt at least made me feel better but truly the situation has gotten desperate again. I knew that I would be uncomfortable on this trip unless I had some clothes that were appropriately summery and fit well.

So, in my typical fashion, I left it all to the last minute. I had about an hour and a half to accomplish my purchase of three shirts and a pair of capris. First, I went to one side of town and hit a department store that I like. I could see like the last time that I was there that it was likely going to be slim pickings for me. I guess this assessment made me brave. I had to try anything that looked even reasonable.

I approached a rack of clothes that had tan and black capris. The largest size was a 20. I really have no idea what size I am right now but I didn't believe it was anywhere near a 20. But with a load of gall and bit of arrogance I picked up the size 20. It couldn't hurt to try, right? At least it would give me a benchmark to assess my current size. I grabbed another pair of pants in a size 20 and then found some capris in size 24 and a few shirts. All of these I took to the dressing room and proceeded to try on.

The size 24 capris fit fine and were a bit roomy. Okay, that was positive. One of the shirts was a possibility. Then I reached for the other black capris. I put these on and as I slid them up and over my hips I thought "You have a lot of gall to try this size, girlie. Like they would ever fit."

Shock and awe when they did. They fit! My word, was I reading the label correctly? Was I actually wearing a size 20? Was it possible that I wasn't completely insane to have picked them up off the rack? Was this really happening to me?

I took off the black capris and tried on the size 20 blue slacks. Again, success! Again, I was fitting into a pair of pants that just moments ago I was mocking myself for even pulling off the rack. I could not believe it.

Of course, the rationalization started after that. This was a department store and I bet the sizes ran a bit large. It was likely a rather big fluke that I was fitting into a size 20. These particular pants were probably just cut generously. Who was I kidding to believe that I might actually be wearing a size 20?

But time was running out. So, after trying on a few more things, I raced up to the cash register and paid for the black size 20 capris and a shirt. Total purchase? $79. (Those capris were $45!) Then I headed to the other side of town to the other mall. I had about a half an hour and I was hoping to find at least one or two other shirts.

I hit the other "fat" store that I have frequented throughout my years of obesity and I realized with distinct sense of distaste that I just hated their clothes for the most part. They are cheaply cut, cheaply made and often too wild for my sense of style. Fortunately, I found a store right next door that was newer that I had not noticed before and also sold up to size 24. I raced through that store and tried on a few shirts and left without a purchase. Then I remembered the department store just a few doors down had a section that held promise for me a few months ago. This is the section of most department stores that they call the "Woman's" section and they run sizes 14-24. Like anyone in the store who doesn't wear a size 14-24 is not a woman?

I had fifteen minutes left and I still needed a shirt. I raced through the department store and found a few possibilities as well as another pair of dark brown capris. I quickly tried everything on and decided hastily on the capris. If I raced back to the newer store before they closed, I could buy a shirt that I halfway liked to go with the capris. Total cost of capris? $25.

I made it to the newer store with just three minutes to spare before closing. I tried on the shirt that I halfway liked and realized that what I didn't like about it was the sleeve length. Fortunately the saleswoman found another option with longer sleeves (my upper arms are one of the areas that needs the most camouflage) and I again quickly decided on two shirts in that style. Total cost for two shirts? $25.

In less than an hour and a half I had hit four stores, spent $130, and came away with three shirts and two pair of capris.

I was going to be well-attired for my little jaunt down to southern California. And I at least had made a dent in a realistic summer wardrobe for myself.

In the last store, I put on the dark brown capris I had purchased and just left them on. Then I ran to the grocery store. The shirt that I had been wearing that day was two to three sizes too large for me and after my successful shopping trip, I just couldn't stand to wear it any longer. So, when I parked at the grocery store, I hopped into the back seat (tinted windows there) and pulled out one of my new shirts and changed. Then I nearly skipped out of the car feeling cute and summery and smaller than I have felt in a long, long time.

It certainly made grocery shopping a perky experience.

All in all a great night. One that has left me feeling very grateful. Despite what I perceive as the slowness of this weight loss an experience like that reminds me that my body is responding enthusiastically to the six-month long change.

And I grow more and more grateful for that evidence each and every day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Body Report: Recent Changes

The weight loss is going much, much slower than I expected. I chalk this up to three things:

1. Not eating regularly--especially waiting to eat breakfast and then postponing lunch and finally consuming most of my calories after work.
2. Lack of exercise: I do now have a gym membership but my stress level has been pretty high for a while and I have not been getting to the gym regularly. Or even walking outside. Or doing Pilates or yoga in my house. The exercise thing has REALLY got to change. 
3. My stress level: With school and work and many issues that those have brought up, I've been feeling overwhelmed. And I don't do overwhelmed really well. My coping mechanism is then to avoid, avoid, avoid. So, I'm not doing so well with handling the stress of it all. 

So, I have not lost any weight in the last few weeks. And now it is the week before my period (sorry if that is TMI) and I often hold on to or gain weight the week before it and then the week after I suddenly drop a bunch of weight. Seriously, that is the week that my weight loss for the month usually comes in. 

Yet despite the slow weight loss, I know things are changing in the body department. 

Pants are looser: I put on a pair of pants the other day and they were loose and starting to fall off my hips. I bought these pants just a couple of months ago and they were tight when I bought them. It was only a month or so ago that they started to feel really comfortable. Well, they have suddenly passed comfortable and they are now loose. Loose enough that if I put my hands in my pockets I can pull them down off my hips if I'm not careful. 

The clothes department in general needs a lot of help. I'm wearing clothes most days that are far too big for me and I feel uncomfortable in most of my wardrobe because of that. I'm always having to hike up something here or adjust something there because they don't fit properly. I've taken to safety pinning a few of my skirts so I can get a little more play out of them. And I have gone shopping a couple of times but I can't seem to find a lot of clothes at the moment. I will have to keep going though because really it isn't fun to get dressed in the morning when you feel uncomfortable at the starting gate. 

Waist measurement changes: I lost another inch on my waist. I can usually sense this when I wake up in the morning. This morning was one of those mornings. I could just tell that things were different so I pulled out the measuring tape and what would you know? Another inch. That feels good.

Standing, lifting, turning, moving: I was in traffic the other and at one point I had to turn to look behind me at a rather awkward angle as I was merging into traffic and I turned my head and body back to look and I felt strong and flexible. I suddenly realized that I move with so much more ease than I did a few months ago. Gaining and losing weight is often a process of minutia. When you gain weight your body slowly loses different kinds of movements and degrees of movement. You don't notice a whole lot until you suddenly can't do something like you used to. You adapt and adjust to the lack of movement or the new force and effort it takes to do something you once did with ease. 

It is the same with losing weight. You are constantly accessing a new normal when it comes to movement and just like going up the scale you forget rather quickly what it was like "before" as your body quickly adapts to its increased range of motion and movement. I do things now like bend over when I'm sitting in a chair and pick something up off the ground. That used to never happen. If I dropped something on the ground it had to stay there until I had the energy to stand up and bend over and pick it up. 

Now, I squat down to look at prices of food on the bottom shelf at the grocery store. I pick up and lift things with more ease. I climb stairs without getting winded. I actually climb stairs instead of taking the elevator. 

Standing is also different. When I'm heavy, I'm always noticing my feet. They are a constant source of pain. Every step makes you feel like you want to sit down. Standing for long periods of time is out of the question. Yet, now I'm standing for longer and longer periods of time and not noticing my feet. I'm walking further and further. I'm simply more active. 

So, yes, the body is changing. 

The only other thing to mention on the body report is what I've been moaning about on here for a few weeks. HUNGER. I am hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry on a nearly constant basis lately. I'm also not doing a great job of cooking interesting and exciting meals. So, I know the two are combined. I'm existing on a lot of salmon, turkey burgers, roasted veggies, apples, almonds and coconut milk smoothies. The food has got to get interesting again. 

I'm sure part of my hunger issue comes from my heightened stress level and how poorly I've been handling it. I have no doubt that plays a role in my sometimes out of control hunger. And also the fact that I'm not feeding myself regularly because of my stress level. It is all combining into a symphony of nonstop hunger pangs. 

Yet besides the hunger and the slow weight loss, I still feel like things are progressing and moving right along. Now, if I can just get them to move along a little bit faster. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My hunger is a sharp thing. It sits in the pit of my stomach, at the back of my mind, in the tense light of each of my waking hours. Relentless, unbidden, persisting. Ever present.

I try to assuage its pangs with food. I feed the sharpness, I cool the hot thirst, I stop and acknowledge its presence.

My hunger does not leave.

It rakes my belly most days through the ticking of the clock and the white heat of a shining day. It accompanies me into the dark hours of night and snakes its way from the soft folds of my center up through my chest, behind my eyes, throughout my brain.




My muscles tense, my head aches, I seek comfort and solace away from this growling burden, this constant pull inside of me. I push it away hoping it will disappear.

It does not.

It slices neatly through my meager defenses, assaulting me through the thrum of my heart with words that batter me.

I am so hungry.

I am so hungry.

I am so hungry.

I must spend time, hours, days attending to its pressing need, its near-stifling presence, its overwhelming load.

Feed me. I am so hungry.

In morning, its sharpness is muted, softer in its approach. Exhausted from its pursuit, I unwisely ignore its gentle reminders and benign probings, glad for a break as I throw it a morsel here or a drink there. It roars to life again within hours rearing its tyrannical head as my day progresses, beating every other thought out of my consciousness.

I succumb to its violence, its heat, its oppression. I seek to soothe, to calm, to comfort through taste, texture, smells and colors. Sometimes it abates allowing these things to sate its appetite. Allowing me some peace and solace from its clawing, voracious need.

Those are the days I breathe with joy.

Other days I cannot contain it, approach it or help it.

Those are the days it seems my hunger may end up eating me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Now we know that chronic inflammation, caused primarily by exposure to incompatible foods, is at the root of metabolic problems like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. The immune system chemicals block insulin receptors; so, guess what happens to the sugars we eat? They get stored as fat. Cut the inflammation, cut the fat storage," said Roger Deutsch, co-author of the excellent book, "Your Hidden Food Allergies Are Making You Fat." 

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How to Help an Eleven-Year-Old Girl with Weight Issues: Part I

At church the other day, I saw a two little girls sitting near each other who were both chubby. They both looked to be about 11 to 12 years old. They both had skinny siblings surrounding them. They both were facing years of struggle that I so wanted to take from them. I know that isn't the best parenting technique--children need to struggle and grow from their challenges. I just so wished that I could reach out and teach each of them and their families a few things so maybe, just maybe, these girls didn't have to struggle quite so much. 

I remember being eleven years old and chubby. I remember wishing desperately that this wasn't my challenge. Over the years, I've thought often about what I would do if I was the mother of preteen chubby girl. How would I help her? What would I do? What would I make sure I did NOT do?

I'm not sure that I know much about this topic but I certainly have a few ideas. I certainly have some experience living this reality but sometimes it almost makes me more shy about offering my opinion because I know how royally screwed up you can become from people interfering in the wrong way. 

Yet, I can't deny that I just wished I could help in some way. With what I know today, here's where I would begin when talking to each girl's mom and dad about what changes need to occur.

Family Eating: The first thing that must change is how the ENTIRE family is eating. If you want to guarantee failure in helping your daughter then single her out, tell her she has to eat differently, and then proceed to make "special" meals for her. Your girl will turn into an emotional secret eater with that kind of encouragement. Eating will become more powerful and more dangerous for her because now food will be her only solace as everyone gangs up on her and her "issue." Not the way to go, my friends. 

What needs to take place instead is a complete and utter overhaul of family meals as well as the pantry and refrigerator. Look to someone like Dr. Oz for inspiration. Remove all fake food from your house. Get rid of packaged products. Remove everything with high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil and white flour. That means out goes most of the cereal, all of the soda, and all those boxes of crackers and cookies that are taking up space in the pantry. You must return to real food, whole foods, pure foods. If your 11-year-old daughter is gaining weight like crazy then likely she is having severe hormonal issues as well as blood sugar problems as well as endocrine problems. Fake food, chemicals, additives and pure junk food is only exacerbating the problem--as well as her emotional state. 

Then family meals need to change as well. They need to primarily feature vegetables, whole grains and lean meats and good fats. Foods that are whole, sustaining, and fresh. If the food has been through any kind of processing then it is suspect. Yes, that means things like pasta and cereal and even breads. If the food hasn't been processed by your own hand then it shouldn't be at the dinner table. So, get cooking Mom and Dad. 

Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities: Get her tested for food allergies and food sensitivities. Go to a doctor with medical and alternative health training and ask for an IgG food sensitivity test. This will help pinpoint the foods that are causing your daughter's body to react. Read some information from Dr. Hyman on this topic. Once you've barred high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and white flour from the house, the next main three culprits are likely dairy, wheat and corn. All three are highly processed and the most common allergens in our food system. Cut them out next. At least for two month to three months. Watch all of your children react to food that is real, whole and full of excellent nutrients. See what behavior problems, emotional issues, and attention disorders disappear from your home. 

Set an Example as a Parent by Actually NOT Eating Junk Food: This is where the rubber hits the roads in most families. Mom and Dad this is your family. You set it up, you buy the food, you set the example. If either of you are eating terrible food then you can guarantee that your child is going to eat it too. This can't just be mom's crusade for health or dad's push for family wellness, this has to be both parents eating good, whole foods that are nourishing and healthy and very, very yummy. 

If mommy has a secret candy stash or a daily Diet Coke habit, I can guarantee that every child knows about it. Those children will be craving sugar and treats and soda pop as well. They will soon develop their own secret candy stash or daily soda habit as well. But if mommy has rid herself of her own food cravings and is making a fruit smoothie every morning and eating a veggie omelette, then suddenly the kids will start wanting smoothies and eggs themselves. 

If daddy relishes eating vegetables every night at the dinner table then the children are going to pick up on that and start relishing vegetables too. But if daddy's plate mainly features meat and bread and he turns up his nose as the veggies are passed around then all the kiddies are going to follow right along and turn up their noses as well. Food, really, really good food will not make much progress in your household unless mom and dad learn how to welcome it whole-heartedly. 

So, Mom and Dad get eating and cooking food that is palatable, delicious and nourishing. 

That is all for now, folks. Take a minute to digest that information. I will share more ideas soon. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Peeling the Onion: I Haven't Been Self-Medicating with Food

Great. Now that I've announced that I haven't been self-medicating with food, I may just go on a wild binge soon and start self-medicating with food. I just like to clear the air beforehand because in no way do I want it to appear like I've actually learned how to control myself. That is a complete and utter fantasy. 

Let me begin at the beginning though. In the past month I've had two highly anxious, kind-of-dark weeks. Meaning I was panic stricken about some work and school responsibilities and I spent a couple of days holed up in my jammies watching nonsensical movies to ease my troubled mind. My typical modus operandi has been in the past to eat my way through such a week. To eat and eat and eat and eat and then eat some more to distract myself from the pain and dark misery that I'm experiencing.

Then I went on the allergy-elimination diet and my dark weeks turned into semi-troubling and painful kind of weeks where I still wanted my jammies and movies but no longer was their misery and pain and intense darkness because there was no fallout from my out-of-control bingeing.

Cue a complete and utter miracle in my life. 

Yes, I still have bad days and bad weeks and no, things are not always hunky dory in my life, but my miserable weeks just don't seem to produce the high emotion and spectacular drama of misery that I used to be able to wrangle out of them. 

I think I was a bit shocked this last time that I wasn't bingeing. I was surviving on the grapes and rice cakes and almond butter. And I was getting hungry one day and didn't want to cook and thought "Who cares? I'm just going to go buy whatever I want and eat it." Which got modified to "Well, at least if I'm going to buy something, I want it to be pretty spectacular food because if I have to feel miserable for two or three days after that food I want it to be really, really good." Which got modified to "Well, if I really want to eat something spectacular that isn't made out of factory-farmed, antibiotic-laced beef, I should just make it myself from grass-fed beef. Those taste better anyway," which moved me to "Well, if I'm going to all the trouble to make this burger than I'm going to go whole hog and do it up right with fresh guacamole, nitrate-free bacon, sauteed onions and mushrooms and almond cheese," which brought me right back to the fact that making it myself was likely going to taste better and I would be happier with the end result than going out and buying a greasy burger and trans-fat full fries. 

Which meant I wasn't going out to buy food. Which nixed the bingeing in the bud. 

I have plenty of options at home if I want really good food: coconut milk smoothies, spinach turkey burgers, almond butter brownies, almond chocolate chip cookies, roasted potatoes, fried onions, salmon with avocado slices and the list goes on. I've already vetted every ingredient in those meals and know exactly what I'm putting into my body. I don't have to wonder if the guacamole has a gluten filler or if the sauce has high-fructose corn syrup or if the potatoes were deep fried. I don't have to pull cheese off the burger or wipe away the bbq sauce that I asked them to hold and they forgot. I don't have to wish that for all of my effort and time I was eating something that actually tasted so amazingly good that it lit up all the cells in my body with good vibrations. 

Plus, when I do eat food that is full of sugar, dairy, corn and wheat and all kinds of other additives and chemicals, I get started on this pretty awful treadmill that is hard to get off. Those foods set off cravings in my brain that tend to overpower every other thought inside me and turn on powerful biological and chemical components in my body that make me want those foods over and over and over again all the while making me sick and unhappy and unhealthy. 

It is such a powerful cycle too that it is hard---very, very, very hard--for me to pull myself out of its vortex as I get brain fog, feel depressed and feel lethargic. Then nothing tastes good or sounds good or is good for me. Right now, it just isn't worth it. 

All of that logic and reasoning and suddenly I realized that I had talked myself out of bingeing. 

It doesn't mean that tomorrow I won't binge. It doesn't mean that I won't ever eat a greasy burger and fries from a local burger joint sometime soon. It doesn't mean that I have it all figured out. 

All this story is for me is about one time when I was stressed and overwhelmed and tired I didn't choose into my old behavior pattern because suddenly the cost of that behavior was much higher than the benefit. 

Really though even for that to happen one time for me is a miracle. So, I had to document its reality because I know that sometime in the future when I'm brain fogged and lethargic and full of cravings, this kind of stuff will help remind me why I'm choosing to live the way I'm living and why it really does matter after all. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Hunger Pangs as My Allergy-Free Life Continues

I've been hungry for the last week or so. Not always hungry, not constantly hungry, not famished either. Just hungry on a consistent, daily, never-ending basis.

Surprising, isn't it? I mean none of you have such an experience on a daily basis, right?

I think I'm at a bit of a crossroads or a learning curve in this whole gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, corn-free, oats-free, HCFS-free, partially hydrogenated oil-free lifestyle. I'm to the point where the romance of this whole journey is wearing off just a bit and I'm feeling the day-to-day reality that if I am hungry I must cook something. If I don't cook something, I don't eat. Simple, right?


You are talking to the former Queen of the Drive Thru. If it has been served through a window, I've likely eaten it. If it comes in a box, I've likely eaten that too. And if it contains flour or sugar, I've definitely consumed it at some point in my previous life.

Not so now.

Now, I have to cook breakfast. I have to cook lunch. I have to cook dinner. And if any snacks are to be had, I've got to make those too.

You see why almonds and apples are my favorite food friends? They are fast, convenient and packaged by nature and they take little or no effort from me to prepare.

The only thing is I can't seem to subsist on just apples and almonds all day. I need taste and texture and something yummy and juicy in my mouth at some point or the hunger pangs don't ever completely subside.

Last night that meant a roast chicken at 10:30PM. The day before that was grilled trout. Then a whole pan of roasted veggies. Tomorrow it will likely be a fresh fruit smoothie, then as many cherries as I can stand, then maybe some beans with onions and tomatoes topped with fresh guacamole. Everything made from scratch because that is the best way to go when you have a food sensitivity to nearly every packaged food in America.

Before I used to buy crackers and cookies and pasta and bread. I had no idea how much I really relied on foods that had been in some way pre-processed for me until I found that I could not eat most foods like that.

Here is what I buy that is processed or packaged now (not including oils and spices):

  • canned salmon and tuna

  • almond butter

  • organic brown rice cakes

  • juice-sweetened jam

  • raw nuts (I mean that I'm not cracking them out of their shells--that is pre-processed, yes?)

  • almond flour and coconut flour

  • Dagoba chocolate

  • canned beans

  • almond milk and coconut milk

Also, I buy organic popcorn and pecan nut crackers for the kiddie winks when they come to my house each weekend, but I can't eat either of those things.

Why am I telling you all of this? Really, just to highlight for myself what a big change has been brought about in my kitchen and in my life because I no longer eat things like

  • corn or flour tortillas

  • bread

  • bagels, French bread, English muffins

  • cereals of any kind

  • crackers or cookies or donuts or baked goods

  • cheese--glorious cheese, wonderful cheese (some days I really miss you)

  • corn chips or potato chips or even Barbara's Cheese Puffs--I used to have a clandestine appointment with those things each week in the car after my grocery shopping. As long as the entire bag was disposed of before I got home, I could pretend that I never actually consumed them.

I think I'm missing the convenience of having a food on hand that I could just pull out and eat without any thought towards preparation. Now, if I don't think about preparation then there usually isn't food. Meaning, I put off eating much more simply because food takes time to prepare and sometimes the hunger pangs can be pushed back and ignored for another half hour because of the effort involved in making food. I certainly think that anyone who wants to lose weight or improve their health should be reduced to little or no packaged food like me because it makes you consider carefully every food choice. If we all had to make nearly every morsel that went into our mouths we wouldn't be consuming so much junk for food. Most people likely wouldn't be consuming nearly as much food. It just takes time.

Even though I prepare most of the food that I eat from scratch, my weight loss hasn't gone at quite the clip I expected. I'm sure that is part of what has taken the bloom off this rose too.

So, what do you do?

Well, right now, I'm hungry, so I've got to go contemplate whether it is worth the effort or not to feed myself.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Go-To Food for the Very Hungry among Us

So, I was STARVING the other night--you know, the kind of hungry where you begin to believe that your innards are slowly metabolizing your entire body. My eating had been haphazard for a few days. I get into this particular cycle where it is just too darn much trouble to make something or eat something. It's like I believe in food fairies--these kind, loving, unseen friends who will perceive that I'm too busy to make anything or too busy to eat anything and they will suddenly appear out of the woodwork carrying delicious, scrumptious meals that tantalize my tastebuds and fill my hungry stomach. 

Just so you know, the food fairies have yet to show up. But in the fantasy land of my brain, when I'm in my "too-busy" cycle, I seem to believe that this time if I just get hungry enough one of them will show up and feed me 

chipotle grilled chicken and avocado salad with a lime ginger vinagrette 

juicy baked chicken drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a honey glaze

seared flank steak with red peppers, asparagus, sweet peas and yellow onion

almond chocolate cupcakes with a dark chocolate ganache

nourishing lentil soup with sweet potatoes and curry

Hmmmmm. Anybody hungry yet? 

Well, that night when I came home starving, no food fairies showed up. That meant I knew I had to make something in 10-15 minutes that was plain, earthy, fill-your-gut kind of food or I just might begin and all-night and all-out, I-will-eat-sugar-corn-dairy-wheat-or-die kind of nosh. 

This is what I made that night: Mom's ground turkey recipe from I also chopped up a sweet potato, some red potatoes, and a sweet onion and tossed them in olive oil and baked them. The ground turkey took about 15 minutes and the roasted veggies about 30 minutes. And then I proceeded to do such a serious nosh that I ate EVERY LAST BITE of the turkey and the veggies. Yes, it took me about two hours but I ate it all. It was a great meal that filled up my very hungry tummy. 

This food is what I call peasant food. It is food that is fast, filling and fabulous. It is food that can be made over and over again. It is food that you can make out of the usual staples that you keep on hand all the time. 

It is good food. 

And I went to bed very full and very happy that night. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spotting the Cravings

Yesterday was Sunday dinner with the family. It was a good day and I was feeling good. In fact, as the day was winding down and I was getting ready to go home, I remember thinking "Wow, I feel good today. I haven't had the usual cravings that I experience when I am around a bunch of food that I can't eat and watching other people enjoy that food." 

I think that thought came too soon. At least I should have paid attention to it. 

One thing I have figured out about myself and cravings is that the moment I start to believe I have it all figured out is the exact moment that I'm headed off on another binge or crave indulgence. It's like I'm moving along quietly just doing my thing and trying to improve my life and all of a sudden a thought occurs to me like "Wow, I'm doing really well with holding off the cravings lately. That is awesome." 

That is the moment that all trouble breaks loose. 

The minute I become conscious of doing well with cravings or fighting off binges--that is the exact moment I become most vulnerable to them. 

It has taken a long and storied career of experience for me to figure this out. The exact moment I become proud of myself is the exact moment I am set up to take a nosedive. 

So, imagine after dinner on Sunday when I suddenly became conscious of my perceived "success" dealing with cravings that day is the exact moment I should have been on the lookout for a craving to hit me full force. 

I happened to be near the extra fridge in the house looking for something. When I opened the fridge I saw my mom's stash of juice in there. She buys the Dole juices like Pineapple Orange and Orange Peach Mango and I love them. 

But I'm supposed to stay away from oranges. For some reason I'm still having some food sensitivities with oranges and I knew this. But sometimes I like to flirt with the edge and that day I was in a flirting mood because come on! I was strong! I'd been doing such a great job with my cravings that day. I had been such a good girl. I deserved a treat. I deserved a little reward for staying away from all that other food on the table that day. Just a little swig of juice wasn't going to put me over the edge--even if it contained orange juice. 

So, I took a swig. And then another. And then a slight nip of the Orange Peach Mango juice as well. Just a taste. Just a slight indiscretion. Just a momentary flirtation with the food sensitivity line. 

And within minutes I was roaring with cravings. 

Shortly after my little indulgence, I began thinking of chocolate and cookies and candy and potato chips. Anything and everything. And the reality was that I wasn't even hungry! I was full from a great meal! Yet, that little nip of juice had incited a small riot in my body. One that I spent the rest of the night battling back from. Not because Pineapple Orange juice is bad--or really even chocolate cake or cookies--but because for some reason my body reacts so strongly to certain foods that it whacks out my whole emotional/biological system and one way I've begun to recognize those trigger foods is by the intense and overwhelming cravings that appear shortly after the consumption of said trigger food. 

It's like I'm finally starting to unlock the key to managing this whole genetic soup that I've been occupying for thirty years. 

All I can say is: Thank goodness. 

Drank orange pineapple juice and what it did for me. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why Diet Food Gets a Bad Name

My little sister graduated from high school yesterday and to celebrate we went out to lunch after the ceremony. 

She picked a great pizza/pasta place in town but I knew the second I heard where we were going that I would not be able to eat much. Eating out is usually fun and most of the time I can find something to eat but when you go to a place that specializes in all things white flour it usually means that most of the menu will be off limits to me. 

Not a big deal really. I called the restaurant a few days before and checked with their chef to see if their soups were viable options for me. They were not as most had a flour base to them. So, that left me with the salad bar. It really was a pretty good salad bar considering. I piled my plate with all sorts of veggies and sunflower seeds and kidney beans and sprouts etc. The kicker is when you get to dressings. Between the sugar and the dairy in most dressings they are also not options for me. I did find some olive oil to dress the salad but it wasn't terribly flavorful. 

And that is where the kicker comes in when it comes to diet food. I was eating this pretty good salad with all these different tastes and textures and I still knew that I would have to go back to work and pull out my salmon and almonds. While the salad was good it didn't satisfy me. It didn't do good things to me all the way down to my toes. It didn't make me sigh with satisfaction. 

Those feelings of satisfaction and good taste often come from the good fats we are eating. It comes from the juicy chicken, the avocado dressing, the olive oil and ginger/lime dressing. Fat is what satiates us and makes us thrilled with a meal. Fat is often what makes food go from good to great. 

That is why diet food stinks. If I was on a "diet" and eating that food I would leave lunch feeling somewhat full but completely unsatisfied. This is why diets don't work either. They leave you mostly unsatisfied and craving all kinds of things because your body is not getting the nutrients and essential fatty acids that it needs to function beautifully each day. 

So, remember if you are having a large meal of veggies that you also pump up the raw nuts and the good fats like olive oil or fatty fish or avocados. Make sure there is some part of the meal so tantalizing and yummy that you can feel it all the way down to your toes. Then you will leave dinner not only full but satisfied. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Official: Under 300 Pounds

It's official. I woke up today and got on the scale. I was 297 pounds. I've been flirting with going under 300 pounds for a couple of weeks now and it seems my body has finally arrived at a decision. I'm happy for that. While I continually remind myself that this journey encompasses much more than just numbers on a scale, it is nice to see progress in that area. 

The progress on the weight front has been slower than I anticipated. I'm sure that my poor sleeping habits, stress at work, and not eating breakfast or lunch and consuming most of my food after 5PM is not helping. When I'm stressed I don't sleep as well or pay attention to eating a great breakfast and lunch. I'm working on all of this. 

What I am happy about is the fact that I'm not self-medicating with food right now. That I haven't done that for five months--at least not on the scale that I was once accustomed to doing. That makes me happy. 

From a year ago, I'm down about 60 pounds. One year ago we were on a trip to Denmark--a fun, amazing, memory-making trip that I so wanted to enjoy more than I could because I was miserable. My body and my mind and my spirit hurt. I so wanted freedom of movement but that did not come on this trip. Each step hurt. Each adventure was exhausting. Each expenditure of energy was weighed and measured and contemplated. While it was a GREAT trip, I know that even at my current weight, I would have enjoyed and savored that trip so much more. 

I want more great trips in my future with a stronger, healthier body. I have had this challenge of obesity since I was young. I've spent countless moments wishing, praying, hoping and screaming for this challenge to be taken away from me. I did not want it. It was not me. It did not represent who I am. It has been painful in every aspect of my life. It has informed and molded nearly every decision I have made since I was nine years old. It is a burden that I just did not want to carry. Ever. 

After all this time, after all these years, I look at my life and wonder just how it would be different if I had not had to fight the battle of obesity. I'm not sure what it would like. I, of course, imagine that it would be better, but who can really say? 

What I do know is that all of that longing, all of that wanting, all of that wishing pushed me to figure out how I could have the healthiest body and the healthiest life amid the genetic and environmental soup I was given. I think that has made me passionate about health. And that passion is something that I want to talk about and think about and share for a long, long time. 

Maybe along the way, I can help some others in their journey on this path too. I think that might make all those prayers and hopes and wishes worth it. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A New Bite: I Ate a Hamburger and Fries

I ate a hamburger and fries this week--a real, honest-to-goodness, I-went-through-the-drive-thru-and-ate-way-too-much kind of burger and fries. 

The allergy-diet met its first challenge on the wheat and dairy spectrum. And I have survived. 

But before we get to all of that let me just begin with I've been out of commission and in bed for most of a week. Yuck and super yuck. Now that I'm blogging again I feel like I'm back up and raring to go. I don't plan time for blogging, but I get a certain itch when I haven't been blogging for a few days. So, I'm back!

The eating while I was sick went like this: don't eat, too tired to eat, don't know what to make, I'm hungry, don't eat, too tired to eat, don't know what to make, I'm really hungry, too tired to eat, now I'm really hungry, don't know what to eat, don't want to take the effort to make something, and now I'm REALLY REALLY hungry, drink some water, eat a handful of almonds, now I'm officially so hungry my insides are melting together because of the heat of my hunger, eat some more almonds, then an apple, hunger abates, sleep some more, wow is it really 9PM at night? no wonder, I'm so hungry, don't eat, too tired to eat, don't know what to make, what food could I buy? nothing sounds good, plus I would have to drive, deciding hurts my brain, oh, yes, I'm so hungry now the paint starts to look appealing, what can I make? cut an onion, sautee in grapeseed oil, poach two eggs, drink some water, now onions and eggs, hmmm, so good, oh, my word, I'm eating an entire onion out of choice! I've turned into my Grandmother, I don't care at least I'm full, it feels so good to be full, what it is 11PM? I'm so tired, must sleep, belly full, life good, feeling better, food is good. 

Yes, that was how each day proceeded. I would sleep, wake up hungry, sleep some more, wake up again, try to sleep and then fight my hunger the rest of the day because I just didn't want to make anything. Finally, sometime in the evening I would throw together some food because I was just so famished. Most often it was eggs or apples or almonds or a turkey burger and fried onions. Seriously, am I my Grandmother? This woman used to wax poetic about the wonders of the onion. She ate onions as often as possible and usually raw. I spent most of my life completely bewildered by this adoration of such a lowly vegetable until last year when I discovered Vidalia onions or sweet onions. Oh. My. Goodness. So yummy, so sweet, and so tantalizing. 

After a week of sleeping and eating onions, I needed to get out. Literally. So, I decided on a run to the grocery store to restock the cupboards. 

My eating over the last week was not spectacular: very few greens, not a lot of fruit, no regular meals, but let's be real here. I wasn't consuming crackers and cookies and cheese fries and soda and potato chips. I was eating whole, real food. I was a little shocked when Thursday rolled around to realize that for a week of not wanting to cook, I was still eating at least decent food. 

I think that scared me. 

I've had such a deeply ingrained mentality about the morality of food--that's a "good" food and that's a "bad" food--that I've had to be very aware of that habit. It is a habit that leads me down the road of disordered eating and aligning my self-worth with the kind of food that I'm eating. Like "Since I only ate broccoli and carrots and chicken today, I'm a good girl." Or "I was so bad I ate TWO pieces of chocolate cake tonight." That is kind of disordered thinking that leads millions of American women to hate themselves and their bodies. For me, it leads me down a road of obsession and compulsion about "being good" and "eating perfectly."

This new way of eating--the allergy-free diet--has forced me out of that habit of thinking this way because what I'm thinking about now is "How will this food help my body?" or "Will this food hurt my body?" and then I watch closely for reactions to foods. 

So, to suddenly find myself staring at a week where I was not in top form and still eating decently made me wonder if my body was suddenly inhabited by aliens. Or if I had had a brain transplant. Or if the world was about to end. Because when I'm hungry, I eat. And when I'm emotionally unhappy, I eat. And when I'm not feeling well, I eat whatever I want because why make myself suffer? 

Which is why I freaked out. 

I had spent a whole week feeling miserable--emotionally and physically---and I had not even attempted to binge or gorge or somehow deal with my emotional fallout by eating. And I just didn't. I hadn't even considered it. I had just eaten what was on hand and all of it was real, whole food. 

So, I did my little freak out and decided it was time. Time to buy a burger and fries and be okay with it emotionally and see if my body could handle it allergy-wise. 

Don't ask me what my logic was here just know that it sounded good at the time. 

So, when I finally made it out of the house that weekend, I drove over to a local burger place and order a double cheeseburger with extra sauce and wild fries. 

And then I took a big fat bite. 

I'm not gonna lie. Those first few bites were great--the salty and the sweet and the hot burger and the cold pickle and the cheesy cheese. Yum. I savored each bite. 

But really as I was eating it, I was feeling some disappointment. It didn't seem to be as good as I remembered. It didn't seem to hit all the right notes for me. It seemed somehow to be sadly lacking. It wasn't unbelievably great. 

But I kept eating because come one, it was gooooood. 

Bite after bite and one mouthful to the next I enjoyed the hot, salty gooeyness of it. And then I just kept going, going, going. And I started to feel a bit fatigued, a tiny bit bloated and definitely overwhelmed. 

I was overwhelmed by the salt, the sugar, the chemically something of the food. It just suddenly all became too much for me. Too, too much. For all of that wanting and hunger and wishing, the food just didn't live up to all of my expectations. I could have made a better one. 

At least that was my first response. A tad prideful, a bit much, but I've become so accustomed to really, really good food lately that I realized as I was eating this chemical-laden, pre-packaged, warmed-over burger that I could have made a more tantalizing and likely healthier burger if I had just made it at home. 

And my only response to that is that the worst part of this allergy-free diet is I'm turning into a bit of a food snob. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

To Buy a Gym Membership or Not? That is the Question

I've been trying to decide for a few weeks how to change my workout routine and what I need to do next. Just walking isn't cutting it anymore. Not that anything is wrong with walking but after hiking with Katy last weekend, I realized if I really, really, really want to climb Mt. Timp by the end of the summer, I better get a strong workout routine going quickly. In other words, I've got a lot of work to do if I'm going to get there. 

What seems to make sense right now is buying a gym membership. But I don't know that I would qualify as a gym girl. I also don't know that I want to spend part of each day locked in a room with a bunch of other sweaty people bombarded by thumping music. The natural world seems so much more appealing. 

I did go last night and visit the gym I have been considering. It is close to my house, full of all kinds of equipment, and certainly a decent possibility. I wasn't totally convinced one way or the other while I was there. I just know that I need a more consistent, reliable workout. And I'm hoping by having the right environment I can do have that kind of workout. 

So, is a gym membership the answer? 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Flirting with 299

I'm doing better at sticking to my "only weigh once a week" rule. It helps that I've been so insanely busy this week that I have not wanted to weigh. What I can tell you is that last weekend I was flirting with the going under 300 pounds. I saw 299 appear on the scale then 301 then 300 and when I kept hoping that 299 would just stick. It did not decide to do that but it does give me hope that very soon the 290s will be hanging out for a while at my house. 

The last time I was in the 290s was a rather unhappy period for me. It was about four years ago and I was quickly making my way back up the scale after what I thought had been a successful journey down the scale. I was regaining weight so quickly at this point in my life that I was bloated and angry and hurting and I seemed to just sneeze and I went up 20 lbs. on the scale. It was a cataclysmic and painful time for me. 

I'm still not sure I have all the answers to what happened to me then but I do know this: No matter what, I need good fats like olive oil and raw nuts in my diet to feel healthy and satiated and carbs such as wheat and sugar are like dynamite to my system--I blow up when I consume them. 

We will see if those theories continue to help me improve my health. 


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