Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Upper Arms Only a Child Could Love

I went to a local musical a couple of weeks ago to see one of my favorite people in the world, Shannon, as she sang and danced her way through Pirates of Penzance.  I sat next to her little brother, Cooper, also one of my favorites. Cooper is very hands on, shall we say, preferring to sit as near you as possible, usually just short of sitting on you.  So the minute the musical starts, he scoots over, leans his little mohawked head against me, and then for some reason begins squeezing my upper arm.  Not sure what started it exactly, but he was very enthusiastic. Felt as if he was trying to plump up my arm like a couch cushion.  After a couple of minutes, Cooper looked up at me and said "This is just like a hot squishy pillow".  Then he  went back to leaning and squeezing.

Normally I would not enjoy being compared to anything hot or squishy or pillow-like, but this was different - the reason behind the squishiness is weight loss (plus it came from Cooper, who was just happy to have a good place to rest his head during his third viewing of Pirates of Penzance).  And anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight knows that sometimes things snap back, and sometimes they don't.  In the case of my upper arms, I'm sorry to report that all snap has left the building (if I could run while flapping my arms, I'm positive I could get one, maybe two feet off the ground).  There are ways to deal with the extra skin issue - my doctor told me to do all I can to increase the circulation in my skin, and to moisturize heavily. And I can't say enough about Spanx. But the reality is that I will need plastic surgery at some point. I hate going under the knife, and it aggravates me that I let my weight be so out of control for so long. The good news is that they are making great strides in that type of surgery.  I'm hoping by the time I need it, they can insert a drawstring into the top of my head and just pull.

So I will happily put up with the skin problem.  And to all the kids in my life, the well-padded Aunt Suzy is on her way out.  But never fear- I'm getting  Grandma Jan to sew up some pillows in the shape of my flabby upper arms, just to help you with the transition.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It Takes A Village...And Some of the Villagers Have Pitchforks

This week is my one year anniversary on my wellness program. I initially told no one except my mother that I was starting Fit Life.  Since I'd been down this path before, I was fearful of failure and fearful of others' expectations. Then the pounds started to fall off.  My confidence grew, and I slowly told more and more people. The program encourages you to do just that - the more people who know what you're trying to accomplish, the better.  Not only so you can get advice and encouragement, but also for the accountability factor.  I will tell you that not everyone has been positive.  Back-handed compliments of the "Gee you don't sweat much for a fat girl" type abound.  You have to ignore all that. Or do like I do, which is tell the naysayers to just plant one on my ever-diminishing hind end.
So I've gone from telling one person to putting it all out there in this blog. As my confidence grows, so does my need to talk about my process.  In fact, I can't seem to stop talking about it. I just feel so fantastic (I'm reasonably sure I will have super powers by the time I get to my goal weight).  Of course, not everyone is that interested. To the lady in the grocery store who asked me if pita chips were good, please accept my apology for the 5 minute infomercial on how tasty they are with Laughing Cow cheese.  And to the gentleman at the gym who asked how I was doing, I'm guessing by the way you slowly backed up that you didn't really want that much detail on how much I can leg press. 
So no longer fearful, just extraordinarily thankful for the support I get every day.  And to all those who have helped me over the past year, from my wonderful family, friends and coworkers, to my trainer Kaly and nutritionist David, and the rest of the great folks at Cox Fitness Centers, right down to the wait staff at all the restaurants who put up with my "no cheese, no croutons, no butter, dressing on the side, extra lemons please" special instructions on every order, thank you, thank you, thank you. 
But you aren't off the hook yet because it's not over - I'm hoping a year from now, this blog will read "Today I reached my goal weight".  Followed shortly thereafter by an invitation to a huge party, where I will happily serve pita chips and Laughing Cow cheese... no croutons, no butter, dressing on the side, and extra lemons.    

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Diary of a Mad Fat Woman

Dieting just pisses me off.  The next person who says "Oh I can just eat anything and never gain weight" is going to get gum in their hair.      

I failed at this weight loss thing before, and it was in part because I got mad and felt deprived.  I would get to a certain point and then totally fall off the wagon and eat whatever I wanted. It was almost childish-a "why can't I eat what everyone else is eating" attitude (cue whiny, irritating voice, foot stomping, and me holding my breath til I turned blue).  Then the guilt would set in, followed shortly thereafter by total abandonment of my efforts. 

So I'm doing things differently this time, thanks to my nutritionist David's advice.  He says if you want a piece of cake, eat a piece of cake. Just don't eat the entire cake, and be sure to count it in your daily calorie count.  And be realistic about the results you get when you maybe eat a cookie instead of an apple. Then buck up and live with those results. I am not perfect, and I don't eat perfectly all the time. I do eat much better than I used too, and I'm hyper-aware of everything that goes into my mouth, but I do not eat organic spinach sprinkled with lemon juice, grilled chicken, and whole wheat bread, plain with no butter, at every meal. 

I've also learned that if I'm going to eat something that is not exactly nutritious and healthy, then it better taste pretty freaking good.  I'm not wasting calories on mediocre food. That cake is going to be the best piece of cake I can lay my hands on. And I have found that if I eat these types of foods with a crowd, then I can control myself better. Especially if I can get my skinny friends to share the treat with me (thanks LeeAnna and Laura).

That being said, there are certain foods I can not eat. They are, in my mind, the devil's snacks,...donuts and real potato chips. These foods set up a craving in me that is persistent and unrelenting. The baked chips I can eat a few of and be fine, but hand me a bag of Lay's Salt and Vinegar chips and all hell breaks loose.  Donuts are the same way.  If fact, if I could find a potato chip-filled donut, or conversely, a donut-covered potato chip, I might burst into flames on the spot (either from joy or from all the grease from the chip/donut combination,or maybe both).

So what's my lesson from all this? Don't get mad. Get realistic.  And also get yourself some baked chips and Special K 100-calorie pastry strips. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jet Propulsion for Humans

A brief, but critical, post today.  No matter what, do not, DO NOT, eat spinach and broccoli for dinner, then have a fiber bar for dessert.  I don't care if it is the last broccoli and spinach on earth. Resist the urge. Your family, your pets, and the ozone layer will thank you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Walk a Mile in My Shoes...the ones with the orthotic inserts

I changed the topic of my post based on a story I saw on the news. A young female reporter received a negative email from a viewer who told her she was a bad role model because she was overweight. She responded very well, I thought, basically saying that he knows nothing about her other than her outward appearance, and so should not judge. 
 It made me think of all the things people have said to me over the years, reminded me of the looks and giggles that I still get.  You would not believe the things people feel free to say. My favorite is the lady in the mall, no petite flower herself, who walked up to me and said "Have you ever thought about getting gastric bypass? It’s just that you have such a pretty face".  My response was first asking if she knew me.  She didn't.  Then I asked if she said that kind of thing to every overweight stranger or just the ones she felt had pretty faces, and therefore must somehow be redeemable.  Well, no, she just thought she would be helpful.  I am afraid it snowballed downhill rather quickly after that, ending in the poor thing scurrying, nay running, away from me in the mall as I shouted after her "So I guess that thing about fat people being jolly is just a myth!"
 Did I overreact? Yeah, probably so. Do I wish I could apologize to her? No, not really. My physical health was none of her business. Her comments didn't help - they just made me angry. Angry at her and at the person I'd let myself become. I am basically a happy person, but being morbidly obese made maintaining that happiness pretty freaking hard.  Just typing the words "morbidly obese" makes me cringe. Knowing you are in that state is one thing, facing it and taking action is another.  It really is a vicious cycle. You need to exercise, but you're exhausted and your knees hurt. Then you get down because you didn't exercise, so you eat to feel better. Even though you know it won't make you feel better. 
 So how do you break that cycle?  I did it by finding a wellness program that seemed to fit me - fit my personality, my schedule, my budget, so that there would be no excuses. Then I dove in headfirst. That may not work for everyone. You have to be truthful with yourself, set goals you can achieve. If you feel overwhelmed, start small. But whatever you decide to do, just start.  And even more importantly, don't give up. You will have days where you follow your plan to the letter, and days where you don't.  That is normal.  Just see the end result and keep at it. 
 And one more thing, then I promise I will get off my very sturdy, steel-reinforced soapbox: when you see someone who is severely overweight, don't judge.  You don't know what they are going through unless you've been that way too.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Veggie Burgers- Delicious Treat or Crime Against Nature?

I grew up on a cattle farm. I am without a doubt a carnivore.  However when I started my wellness program, I knew I had to find a suitable fill-in for red meat. Not a replacement - I have found many ways to work beef into my plan- but I did need to find a good substitute to eat on occasion. So I asked all my vegetarian and vegan friends about veggie burgers, and got many suggestions. Some good, some bad, some really, really bad. Seriously, really, really bad.

 Luckily I did find one brand that is delicious - Guiltless Gourmet.  However, if you are looking for a true burger taste and consistency, these are probably not for you. These veggie burgers are more like a crispy vegetable souffle.  I would be interested to hear if anyone out there has found one that actually tastes burger-like.  And FYI- I am allergic to soy, so tofu is out.  And even if I weren't allergic to soy, tofu would still be out.  Way, way out.

Big Girls DO Cry

Nearly one year ago, I started a wellness program. Not calling it a diet - my history with that word has been spotty. Very up and down (pun intended).  To date, I've lost 103 lbs with at least that much more to go. I was huge when I started. Could barely walk. Was hot all the time, out of breath, either couldn't sleep or wanted to do nothing but sleep.  And I'm not even going to tell you what would happen during a good sneeze or coughing fit.  Women of a certain age, I'm sure, are feeling me on that one.

I started down the wellness path out of fear- fear of being in a wheel chair, of having to rely on others for help, of having a heart attack, and fear of dying young. I was lucky to find such an incredible program (Fit Life through Cox Health in Springfield Missouri).  I cried during my first appointment with the nurse. I had not weighed in for many months, and I was horrified at my weight.  HORRIFIED.  I would have to be around 8 ft tall to be in proportion with what was on the scale. I felt overwhelmed.

But after meeting with my team (a nutritionist and a trainer), I started to feel better. Felt a glimmer of hope - like maybe I could really do it this time. And so I began.

The first year has not been easy, but it has been successful.  I decided to write this blog after being a year in to help with stress and to keep me motivated. I also lost a very dear friend 2 weeks ago in a plane crash. In my past fat life, I would have completely gone off the rail. Eaten my way through the pain and stress, but I managed to hold it together.  Not saying I didn't eat some of the cupcakes or cream cheese pinwheels that came in the door. And also some Doritos and Reese's Pieces. I did. The difference is that I counted them in my daily allowance and I didn't eat all the pinwheels or cupcakes. Can't tell you how big a change that is for me.

So I hope anyone reading this enjoys it. I would love to hear from others who are going through the same experience.  I need all the help I can get.

And by the way, the " 2 x 4" name refers to a childhood rhyme "Fatty, fatty, 2x4, can't get through the kitchen door"... I know, catchy.