Friday, October 8, 2010


Ugh. Well.

The whole week went well... kind of. It was tough, I won't deny. Being in the middle of PMS doesn't help at all when I am trying to avoid what amounts to all my favorite comfort foods, you know? Today was the last straw, and I gave in big time. It involved pizza (which only violated my terms of the doctor's directive by the crust and some pepperoni, but I had quite a lot), and ice cream (which wasn't explicitly banned, but I was trying to avoid stuff like that as a bonus), and some fried items (onion rings, to be exact). Blech. I really just wanted to let loose, and did I ever.

It's not something I ever want to go back to on a regular basis, though -- holy cow, now I know why I felt so crummy all the time before. Seriously. And I was eating that way almost all the time, that's the scary thing!

Anyway. I am not beating myself up. I made a very deliberate decision about doing this today. I still have a bunch of delectable fresh veggies in the fridge to whip up into yummy, healthy meals, and I plan to do just that. I've made some positive changes in my life that I'm not just going to throw away.

How was your week?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Scratch that: What a GREAT day!

Well, well. Did I ever turn my frown upside down, so to speak. :)

My partner, C., has also been eating better overall (he loves having salads with meals, for instance), but is not following the same way of eating as I. Sometimes, the things that I want to eat (and can eat) are also things that he would like to eat, but not always. He's not so into vegetarian fare, for instance, and doesn't like to eat seafood as often as I do. So sometimes, I'll just go ahead and get some takeout for him if that's what he wants.

Today, he did get pizza and some hot wings. And I was totally OK with it.

Seriously! It was fine. I truly feel that despite some of the feelings I might have here and there are very real and palpable, I still feel that taking care of my health is way more important. I can't believe that I am saying it, but my health concerns are finally trumping my taste buds and cravings for the first time ever — and I didn't even have a "scare", except for worrying that I might develop diabetes. I finally seem to understand fully that it is up to me to make the choice to take care of my body, or not, and that if I don't, in ten years (maybe sooner!), I'll be in real trouble.

I don't want to be in real trouble if I can help it. Would you?

So while I enjoyed the smell of the food my partner ate, and even looking at that gorgeous pizza, I went on to make a delicious stew for myself from the recipe in Moosewood's Cooking for Health: Mushroom, Peanut, Tofu Stew with Greens. It was one of those recipes that had a bunch of stuff in it that I like, but it also sounded a little funky (read: hippie) for my tastes. The peanut butter and cilantro clinched it for me, though, so I gave it a try. Turns out that it is really, really good! Of course I felt the need to add a diced Island Hellfire chile, as well a healthy dose of Marie Sharp's hot habanero sauce. Yep, I like my food spicy. :) I also made myself a lovely little salad made of mixed greens, cucumber, home grown tomato, sweet pepper sticks, scallions, green olives, and the secret ingredients: sticks of just underripe pear (perfect crunch and slight sweetness in a salad!) and feta cheese. Topped with the usual extra virgin olive oil and balsamic, of course. So tasty.

For dessert, I had a delicious Empire apple, cut in quarters and each piece spread with either peanut butter or (even better, I now know) crunchy almond butter! Holy cow, the latter is delectable indeed. I'd never had it before and bought some on sale at the local gourmet foods shop where we often buy the microbrews we love so much. It's organic, too, which is great; I'm still eating Peter Pan peanut butter, I am sorry to say. In the future, I'll likely get organic, natural PB for myself, too. What a discovery!

One thing I'm realizing is that whenever I cook for myself now, it's a really pleasurable thing. It's a kind of meditation for me — I wonder if I can make it a more formal meditation at that, now that I am really thinking about it? So many times when I've cooked in the past, I've felt anxious or tired, or resentful about having to cook, etc. A lot of negativity surrounded the activity. How wonderful it is to look at it from a different perspective — one of taking care of myself and nourishing my body. What a gift to be able to do that, isn't it? It makes me realize how much I have to be thankful for.

I'm also enjoying making a conscious effort not to waste food. How many times have I (have you?) purchased fresh fruits and vegetables with the best intentions, only to find them rotting in the crisper drawer a week or two (or more) later? Since I've been eating in this new way, I'm also paying better attention to what I have immediately available to me and finding ways to use what's there before heading out to the store again. A very old zine and online pal of mine, Jeannette Ordas, wrote adeptly about this very topic for ReadyMade Online recently.

Finally, I would like to declare how frickin' awesome it is to not weigh myself every day, or even every week. Even though I know that everyone's different, and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another, I'd truly like to recommend to folks starting out on a new regimen to avoid the scale at all costs.

I know, I know! This is exactly the opposite of what I have in the past — that when you're trying to lose weight, weighing every day and logging the number as part of a set of data where you can track the "trend" is totally awesome (see Physics Diet). But dude, I've never tried this before. I have never not weighed before while changing my eating habits. In the past, it's always been about the number on the scale. But now? I know that I am probably losing weight still, but the focus instead is on the very important thing right now: Developing a new way of eating that is more healthy overall, not to mention sustainable. I think that is why my doctor told me not to weigh, not to look at myself critically, not to think about my weight if I could manage it. Because that is just not the point. I don't think so, anyway. I guess I really won't know until I see doc again in November.

Go figure. I have to remember that if I am having a hard morning, it doesn't mean that the whole day is doomed. It just means that I need to refocus and keep the big goals in mind.

And in my heart.

Another tough day

Ugh, can I tell you how badly I'd like to have something... that I'm not supposed to have during my experiment?

Oh gosh, big time.

I'm pretty hungry right now, too, so that is not helping. I'd like to cook a nice meal I've been planning on, but I don't know. *sigh*

I know that all of this is worth it to my health. I've been thinking about the fact that the COBRA plan I am on, while more affordable than many, is going to really strain my budget. I'm considering dropping it, to be honest. But the only way I can do that and feel good about it is if I really make the effort to take excellent care of my health.

Of course one meal of pizza (or whatever else) isn't going to make or break me, I know that. I don't know what's up with me. Sometimes I really miss the sensation of being completely and utterly satiated, a full stomach, I guess. Not that I have been starving myself — not at all, just that the feeling of full on things like the things I am not currently eating is a different kind of full, you know? It's hard to explain though I am sure many of you can relate to what I am saying.

On another note, one nice thing I did for myself today is sign up for The Token Fat Girl's Wear It Well e-course. Developing my personal style is something I've been wanting to do for a long time now, so I thought I'd give it a try. When I was in my 20s, I really enjoyed fashion on my own terms — kind of funky, arty, eclectic, vintage, thrift. Nice hairdos. Fun shoes. All that good stuff. In more recent years, that's taken a back seat to everything else, and as a large lady, I have a confession: I still kind of hate going into shops that cater to my size range. Certainly clothing choices have vastly improved, but honestly? I'm STILL displeased and just make due with the basics.

Anyway, it is my hope that Lorrie's e-course will jump start me into a new perspective on my style overall, to go along with my whole new life. It seems apropos. My first step toward that was back in August with some new glasses, which are vintage French, black chunky frames that look like they came out of a Fellini film — and now I've got to keep that momentum going beyond that.

And then walking, yoga, meditation, running... lots of things on the list. Baby steps, always.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What I ate today

Just a sample. This isn't necessarily a typical day, but I wanted to do this exercise because honestly? I couldn't remember what I ate today? So, without further adieu...

• A bowl of light yogurt with frozen raspberries and blueberries (SUPERFOOD for the win!)
• A bowl of microwave popcorn with the no-cal cheddar stuff on it (I know, it's my one regular indulgence)
• A few bite-sized pieces of Dove chocolate (literally, just a few — I don't do this regularly at all anymore)
• A banana
• Some Amazing Grass superfood stuff with water... more on that another time
• Out to dinner with my friend Ani for Thai food. I had some Tom Yum Goon soup with shrimp, and a tofu curry — no rice
• Some baby carrot sticks with garlic hummus
• Maybe another bowl of popcorn? Still hungry...

I'd also like to mention that for the past week or so, I've been experiencing something odd. I'm really itchy! It started off as a large tender, sore spot between my eyebrows along with itchy eyes. Since then, the soreness has dissipated but the itchiness has spread to the top of my head and occasionally elsewhere. It's mainly my head and my face from my eyes above, and it is the weirdest, most annoying thing. I have no idea if it relates to how I've been eating or what. I haven't changed anything about the products I use or what I am eating in the time since it started.

I may call the doc and see what he says... aside from that, things are going fine.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Three Weeks

Well, I've been at my new way of eating now for three weeks with barely a slip, and it's been great. It's really given me a chance to decide what kinds of things I NEED to include in my diet, and which I can decidedly do without, and I am grateful for that.

Just a matter of course, I've been eating a lot of vegetables and fruit and because of that, many of my meals are vegetarian. I'm not a HUGE fan of meat in general. I do like a good cut of steak anytime, but ground beef, any type of pork or poultry I could really manage without just fine. I do really enjoy fish, though.

I'm not going to declare myself a vegetarian or anything, but it seems natural that much of my eating veers toward that, and at the very least pescetarianism. That I could live with.

The one thing that I am looking forward to after the eight weeks is reintroducing bread, rice, and pasta into my diet once in a while. However, from now on I will indeed choose whole grain versions all the time. All the things I've been reading really point to that being crucial — eliminating those refined grains altogether if I can. I'm also aiming to cut out most processed, refined foods as well. It may too early, but I have a feeling that you'll be able to call me a whole food convert sooner than later. At the grocery store again yesterday? Just about entirely the perimeter of the store, with my little cart packed to the gills with fresh vegetables. I was beaming with pride.

I'm now drinking water all the time. Sometimes with lemon or lime, sometimes plain with ice, sometimes as seltzer. It's been an easy transition, even more so than the last time I gave up soda.

Tonight for a late dinner I made myself a stunning meal: A curry that I Frankensteined from this recipe and this recipe. I wanted to avoid using white potatoes obviously, but in my research decided that yams were OK as merely distant relatives of the potato AND a true superfood, so there. (Incidentally, and good for me — I love every single food on that list! Yum!)

Rather than saute the cauliflower and potato on the stove, I decided that roasting them would be a better option. I cut up just over four cups of florets and just under two cups of sweet potato, tossed them in extra virgin olive oil, and roasted them on a pan for thirty minutes in a 400 degree oven. Then, I set them aside while I prepared the curry sauce as directed in the shrimp curry recipe. When time came to add the shrimp and cilantro, I also added the cauliflower/potato mixture and some finely diced hot chile peppers (I like it HOT and SPICY!), let simmer a bit more, and that's it. It was a relatively easy meal to make and it was absolutely delicious. To me, it was almost better than the Indian takeout you can get around here. First, cooking at home allows you to customize and use the freshest ingredients, and second, it is SO much cheaper! I am very excited. Tonight, though, maybe a bit too much, as I ended up eating the entire batch. Oops. Yes, I still need to work on portion control when I am eating something that I really enjoy. I definitely know how to get carried away, but I guess at least it's better, healthier food that I am indulging on. Baby steps.

The best thing is that I didn't even miss having rice as an accompaniment! This dish didn't need it at all and was very filling on its own.

I am still really curious to know what the weight loss tally is so far, but C. did me the favor of hiding the scale. Yep. It was definitely for the better as I was getting a bit obsessed, and this is also a behavior that I want to eliminate.

Things are going pretty darned well. I am very proud of myself, and I feel great.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Raisin Monster

So, I found out that I have another food that I'm better off NOT having: Raisins.

I know. What?

After teaching this morning, I made a run to the grocery store to stock up on lots of veggies and fruits and assorted goodies. We had cleaned out the fridge recently and there was plenty of room for fresh, new stuff. So there I was in the aisle with the olives and pickles (I've been on a big olive kick lately) when lo, across the way? Raisins. A medium bag of Sun-Maid was on sale so I got some. When I got home and C. saw them, he was like, "Oh no! I turn into a raisin monster. You should hide these, or I will eat the whole bag." I thought this was really funny and odd, until I brought the bag to the couch with me as an after-dinner snack. A wee while later? I realized that I was a Raisin Monster, too. There was just a little left, and I tossed them over to C. to enjoy.

I couldn't believe it! Gobbled up like nothing. Sure, there are worse things to indulge in, but still. Any food that makes me eat like that has no business in my mouth, to be honest. It's no big sacrifice, since it is so rare that I'd buy raisins anyway, but still. What a surprise.

Dinner was great. It was sort of a late lunch that turned into an early dinner, actually. Roasted salmon with roasted asparagus (my favorite way to prepare veggies), plus some mashed acorn squash (dressed with olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper —yum!) and a lovely side salad. (I'm going to miss those heirloom tomatoes that we've been harvesting from our little garden the past couple months, by the way!) Delicious.

OK, so I think that I am noticing a difference in my energy level, finally! Case in point: Usually after any teaching day, I come home and crash. Literally. I'd come home and take a nap for a few hours. Well, not today! I went shopping afterward, and when I came home, I did relax a bit, but then got up to prepare dinner. And I am not half as tired now as I usually might be.

Of course, it could also be that I got a decent amount of sleep last night, too. Ever since school started, I've gotten to bed late on a school night. When you need to give yourself an hour before class time to get to school, and class starts at 8am, that is a recipe for disaster the next day. I always make it through teaching just fine, but by the time I get done at 12:30, I've had it. (I know, I sound ridiculously spoiled.)

Whatever the reason, it is nice to feel like I am going to keel over on Mondays and Wednesdays. I'll keep eating what I am eating, and drinking lots of water (I always get really dehydrated when I'm teaching for some reason, so I drink a LOT of water). The no soda thing has been SO easy, I can't even tell you. Sometimes I'll want to reach for a can out of habit, but it is not hard to flick that switch and turn on the tap. I got some fresh limes today to squeeze in, and I also got some seltzer water to try.

I'm excited about using the eggplant, spaghetti squash, and cauliflower I bought today. Not all in one dish necessarily. ;)

You should have seen me at the grocery store! Talk about shopping around the perimeter — that was totally me today.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Keeping It Real

Happily, I have had no problem going to back to the doctor's directive since Sunday's transgression. Funny enough, I am still feeling weird about eating popcorn and beans, even though they weren't on the "no" list, but I think that I really need to stop over thinking what he is asking me to do and be proud of the changes that I've been able to comfortably make in such a short time. I'm pretty impressed that I dug myself out of that hole I was in, to be honest. Before I went to the doctor I just really didn't know how I was going to start eating more healthfully and start doing other things for the benefit of my health.

It just goes to show when you have the right doctor who knows just the right things to say... and who knows not to be judgmental. Not to mention how wonderful it is to have the unabashed support of family and friends, which I have had not only in the real world, but here in the blogosphere as well. I haven't been replying to each individual comment, but trust me that they do get read and that they do keep me going. Thank you so, so much -- big shout outs especially to Stacie and Chrissy! Seriously, dudes. You've never given up on me.

I gotta say, I'm really getting into the concept of eating healthy -- not just the action. I've been doing a little reading here and there, including the Moosewood Restaurant's Cooking for Health, of which I have not yet delved into the recipes, but anxious to -- the intro and glossary alone was a good read! I'm also still thinking about meditation and yoga but haven't acted on them yet. Same with walking. I don't know why it is so hard for me to just get out there and do it! It feels a little overwhelming, to be honest.

Today I finally got around to calling my doctor's office back. They had called last week saying that the doctor wanted to see me about the results of my blood work, which kind of freaked me out, especially since I'd already had an appointment scheduled in early November. Long story short, I finally was able to talk to someone today and get a better answer about what the concerns might be. I was worried that it was diabetes, but also figured that if it was, he'd have had me in right away. Turns out, it wasn't anything I've not heard before: Cholesterol levels and vitamins. Same exact thing last time I had blood work done with the little neighborhood clinic. Phew!!! Here's hoping that both will be well improved by the next round of tests as a result of my better eating habits and the addition of some exercise to my schedule. All I can say is, thank goodness no diabetes -- I have a very real fear about developing it, which is one of the larger reasons why I am very happy to be doing what I am doing now. My mom developed it a few years ago, as did my dad's brother. Both are just taking pills for it, but still. I don't ever want to have to deal with that if I can avoid it.

Oh, and my moratorium on diet soda? No problem. I don't really miss it, to be honest! Every time I drink a glass of water, I enjoy the fact that I am doing something good for my body.

Feeling very positive about everything today.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another tough day

So, I would like to thank Lyn for doing what she's doing and sharing it with all of us. Lyn, you sort of saved me just now.

I was still feeling a little, well... not quite as committed today to my experiment. In fact, I veered away from my doctor's orders for the first time since I began over two weeks ago.

It was sort of planned. We were making the eight-hour round trip to Binghamton and back today to pick up some of my paintings from a gallery, and I happened to find out before hand that there is now a Sonic Drive-In there. Previous to this, there were no Sonics in New York state. Big deal? Well, my boyfriend and I LOVE their real fruit slushes, the lemon-berry in particular. For me, it had been years since I'd tasted one. We decided to stop there and I decided to get one.

Second mistake I made was to leave the house without eating, or bringing any appropriate snacks. By the time we got to Sonic, I was all like, "F%$! it!" and we shared a double cheeseburger and medium tater tot. I had a few bites of the burger, and about five or six tots. I didn't go crazy. The worst thing I ingested today was probably the large slush, to be honest.

This is terrible, I know, but — we also stopped at a roadside BBQ place after that. I had chicken (yay!) but also sampled some of C.'s pulled pork (boo!) on a roll (double boo!). I had a wee bit of potato salad, and some baked beans. Nothing in huge portions, but certainly some of the wrong stuff to eat.

I came home and had some popcorn. With ice water!

Writing this all out makes me feel a little better. I indulged in a few "forbidden" items today but I don't feel that I overdid it in the way that I know I am capable of, so that's good. I also feel that those little indulgences weren't really worth it — not even the slush! Lyn's post that I linked to really drove that home for me. Her "before" body is very similar to mine (I am a little taller), and I am just amazed at the transformation of her "in progress" body. I want that!!! I really, really do.

I think one of my biggest problems is that it is really hard for me to visualize what I can look like after losing a significant amount of weight. I have been "normal" and even thin before, but the last time was when I was in my mid-20s and so it is hard for me to connect to that person I was in the past, you know? That was a long time ago. I was also a very unhealthy person back then in many ways (not illness per se, but I did abuse my body from the time I was a teenager on). The person I am today desires to take care of her body, and even exalt it. I have a very different mind set from those days. But I still can't make that visualization.

Anyway. About today. I am not mad at myself, or even disappointed. The experience and the choices I made helped drive home the things that are most important to me. A tasty treat? Um, not so much. Feeling really good in my body and even looking really good? Yes, please! Not that these two things are mutually exclusive.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Some days are harder than others

Today has been one of my roughest days so far. I'm not really sure why!

OK, first thing's first. After having read Get the Sugar Out, I have decided to give up diet sodas again, and experiment with club soda for those times I want some fizz in my drinks. Reading about how NutraSweet and Aspartame are serotonin suppressors kind of freaked me out. Here's what sold me on giving them up, found on page 156:

"Without adequate serotonin, the body experiences intense sugar and carbohydrate cravings, which can lead to uncontrollable binge eating, which -- guess what? -- leads to more weight gain."

Wow, right? I mean, I've heard bits and pieces of info about how diet sodas don't do your diet (and I mean your overall eating, not a diet) good, but this really brought it home for me. I had been in the middle of a can of diet Pepsi while reading that, and decided right then and there that was going to be my last. It feels like a good, informed, intelligent decision that I know I can live with. The book also mentions how Stevia is a sweetener that can be used with no ill effects, so I may look into that more. I know, no groundbreaking news here...

I was invited over to lunch last week to my friend Anne's house, and she made an awesome fritatta that had shrimp, black beans, and corn in it (among spices and other good stuff, I am sure). It was delicious. I never really thought about combining shrimp with black beans before, but seeing how I love both, it made sense. Of course I had to try my own version at home, and I've already made it a couple times -- and believe it or not, it is as satisfying to me as the very fattening beef and black bean burritos I used to make. Here's how I do it.

Amy's Anne's Shrimp and Black Bean Fritatta


Olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pan when you swish it around (or, cooking spray)
1-2 hot chile peppers (I used Island Hellfire chiles that we grew, you can leave this out if you don't like spicy), minced
A clove or two of garlic, minced
1-2 scallions, white and light green parts chopped

1 can of black beans (15 or 19 oz.), drained (Anne used dried, soaked beans, I think -- they have a nice fresh taste! You can try that, too)
1/2 lb. cooked or raw shrimp, shells off
A few eggs (I've been experimenting with this and it seems you can do anywhere from two to five, depending on how much like a pie you'd like it to be), beaten
About a half dozen cherry tomatoes or a small tomato (preferably heirloom and freshly picked from your garden), chopped
A sprinkle of the cheese of your choice (or not -- Anne's did not have cheese and it was still excellent; I've been using a cheddar-jack combo)

Dashes of the following: salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin. I also have a wonderful cocoa-chile powder that I love to use in Mexcian-inspired dishes like this)

Optional: Sour cream, salsa, black olives, sprigs of fresh cilantro

To make:

Turn on your broiler.

In a large (12") oven-proof frying pan, heat the oil, and add the chiles and garlic. Let the aromatics sizzle a bit, and then add the green onion. When the green onion has softened, add the raw shrimp and spices and cook until the shrimp curls and turns pink. If using pre-cooked shrimp, you can add it now with the spices, but cook it just enough that it starts to curl and gets covered with the aromatics -- it obviously won't take as long as the raw shrimp.

Add the can of black beans and let simmer two or three minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour your eggs over the concoction as evenly as possible, and then sprinkle the tomato pieces on top. After a minute or two, add about a handful of cheese (or less, or none, if you prefer). Cover for two or three more minutes, until the cheese has started to melt. Remove from heat, uncover, and place under the broiler for another minute or two, until everything is pretty well set and very lightly browned.

I like to eat mine with a dollop of sour cream, some salsa and/or hot sauce sprinkled liberally, and a little dish of black olives on the side. I haven't had any at home, but I would also happily top it all with plenty of fresh cilantro, but I'll leave that to your preference.



It's like, my new favorite meal. I owe a big thanks to Anne for having me over for lunch one day and being willing to cook for me within my eating limitations, and totally inspiring me! Note that she also served hers with a some mixed greens on the side, which is very nice.

One other thing I've been eating that I realized wasn't exactly on the no-eat list is popcorn, which is filling and tasty.

Wow, can you tell that I am obsessed with food today? It's the first time since I started this experiment. I can't stop thinking about it. Well, anyway, for dinner we're getting the gyro place in town, only I am going to have the open chicken souvlaki, sans pita. That should be good and filling. I've been lazy today and just haven't felt like doing anything.

And, if you were wondering... um, I have not yet started walking regularly for no good reason. Didn't I promise? Ugh. I'd better get on that. Sometimes, though, I have to admit I get into the mindset of "One thing at the time". This eating thing is a challenge, you know? It sucks to take on everything at once. For now, I'm definitely eating less and eating much better than I used to, which is great. I'm frankly not going to beat myself up too much about everything else for now.

I will get through today without succumbing to my cravings, by the way. I'm pretty dedicated to doing this full-on, it's just that I'm having a hard day. This too shall pass!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Revisiting Life Goals

Almost two years ago, over at my old blog (see the link to it in the sidebar) I posted notes on my original list of life goals that I had drawn up about nine months before to see what sort of progress I was making on them. Having read the list and those notes now, it's pretty startling how many things I've actually been able to accomplish. I am very proud of myself, to say the least — I've done things now that I'd never, ever thought I'd be able to do in my life.

Goes to show the power of writing down your goals and dreams, yes?

Without further adieu, here it is! Original goals are from February 2008, notes from October 2008 are in parentheses, and notes from today are in italics.

1. I want to catch up on all the recurring household bills and always pay them on time from now on (I still very much want to do this, but it hasn't happened yet -- I think I am getting close, though!). Goal accomplished! I've been paying my bills on time for quite a while now. It's a great feeling.

2. Same for debts I have incurred (Ditto on this, though there has been progress; I've been studying Dave Ramsey). While I still have student loans, and probably will for a very long time, not to mention the mortgage, I have paid off my credit card debt minus one small one that I will take care of by the end of the year. This was totally thanks to a gift from my mom, for which I am endlessly thankful. It changed my life. I am proud to say that I have been living credit card free for a very long time now, and have no plans to get one again anytime soon.

3. I want to be able to be at home more often (This is something I am going to pursue at my annual review at work -- negotiating working at home a couple days a week). I finally made that happen in August. I now work from home and teach outside the home two mornings a week — the rest of the time is mine to schedule. It is as fantastic as I could have ever hoped or imagined!

4. I want to be free to travel (I'm not even sure how I could make this happen anymore, but it's definitely something that is still on my mind a lot). Working from home certainly opens this up as a possibility. Next year, I'll be traveling to England for a solo show, the first international trip I'll have taken since 1988! Later this week, we're going on a short road trip. Better than nothing!

5. I want to accumulate and always have on hand at least $10,000 as a cushion (Baby steps first, though! I'll start with $1,000 and work my way up). I have been able to accumulate the $1,000 and will do everything that I can to maintain it, and increase it as time goes on. This is a huge thing for me!

6. I'd like to have more time to spend with family and friends (Also tied to money issues... if I have enough money saved, I wouldn't have to work as much...). While I haven't had more time for family outside my house yet, I think within the next couple months after my life stabilizes from the big change, this will be true, absolutely. Also, my mom and I still have our dream of finding a house together, which would mean spending a lot more time with her (right now she lives about an hour and a half away)! Psst! We're looking at one this week! As for friends, yes, I have been able to get out more and have lunches and dinners at least once a week with someone aside from my sweetie.

7. I want to be rid of extraneous crap in my life, and in this I am thinking about hobbies I enjoy but aren't worth the time and expense to me (Blythe dolls, I am looking at you!) (I have been working on this. I still have quite a lot to liberate myself from; it's just making the time to do it). Done, pretty much. Do I have too many books on my "to read" pile? Yes, but that hardly counts as crap, does it?

8. I don't want to live paycheck to paycheck anymore (Again, the money. I'm getting there.) Wow. I'm there, and have been for a few months — it feels amazing and I hope that I can keep it up forever and ever. Seriously. This is the first time in my life that I have NOT had to live paycheck to paycheck. It is pretty f*&%ing awesome.

9. I want to focus on my art as my main pastime/hobby/vocation/whatever you want to call it (I go back and forth on this thought. It depends on the day, but yes, it would be pretty awesome to make my living as an artist above anything else). I feel like I have pretty much accomplished this now. Finally. Sure, not having to teach and only sell my work as income would be the penultimate, but doing what I am doing now is beyond all my wildest dreams to date.

10. I want to invest in other artists (I LOVE buying art, and do buy small, inexpensive pieces from time to time. I'd love to be able to really indulge in supporting my fellow artists someday, though!) I've been doing this on a small scale and will continue to do so! I love supporting my fellow artists.

So, there you have it! I guess I'll have to make a new list to conquer. And you can see why I feel so urgent and passionate about getting my health in order now, too, right? I've managed everything else on my wish list... it is just TIME.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thinking about the Future

So... one more thing. I wanted to write this down.

I've been thinking a little bit about how I'd like to eat after the eight weeks is over. Honestly, I do believe that I will keep doing what I am doing, with some slight modifications. One, I will add a little bit of bread back into my life, but try to make it a whole wheat choice whenever possible. It won't be the major staple that it had become before. And, of course... pizza. I would genuinely like to try some thinner, whole wheat homemade crusts in the future. Less cheese, more veggies. That's totally doable. I see much less sweets in my life — I had a pretty bad habit going. How about a piece of dark chocolate once in a while?

I can totally switch to whole wheat pasta, no problem at all.

Rice? I love jasmine rice. I can get used to brown rice with my stir fry, though.

Potatoes and all the aforementioned items: All less of them overall.

Dude, I don't know... I may want to just keep on keeping on, too. Of course I am always open to a special treat on occasion, but like C. was saying to me? NOT a whole day of binging. A treat during one meal, sure, but a whole day? I'd like to break that habit, too.

Of course, it is early in the game to be thinking about this now. But I have believed and will always believe that it is best to dream big. I will be really interested to see how I feel about all this come November, that is for sure.

The No Obvious White Starch Experiment, Day 11

Day 11! Almost two weeks under my belt. I still have not strayed from the doctor's directive. (Except, OK, I stepped on the scale very casually today and saw that I am down another three pounds or so — I honestly do think I'll have C. hide it for me. It's too easy to get obsessed and I'd like to break with that.)

I had another dinner out, yesterday with a couple good friends to the local Mafia haunt. (I'm half joking.) There were several things on the menu that I could have had, but settled on something that I don't usually have access to or would not be inclined to cook myself: Calamari á la Marinara. Simple, just fresh squid and marinara sauce. It was surprisingly good, and satisfying — the squid was almost like pasta, to tell the truth. I also has a dinner salad with balsamic vinaigrette (my preferred dressing no matter what), and a side of veggies (beans and carrots). My friends, on the other hand, ordered bruschetta, a whole order for the two of them thinking that it would be half a baguette loaf, or even less. No. It turned out to be a whole loaf of Italian bread, cut in half horizontally, covered in tomatoes and cheese and whatever else is in bruschetta. Oh dear god, did I ever want some bruschetta. But not really. I told them that it didn't bother me and I meant what I said.

Oh, and we shared a bottle of Riesling.

Point being, this was of eating is totally doable. Even at an Italian restaurant.

The other part of the directive that I also have not followed is the walking part. I did that one stroll a few days ago, and that's it. Since then, I have had one of the worst periods that I can remember and totally feeling like crap. It was all I could do to get myself out of bed today to go and teach, in fact. I have made a promise to myself, however, that as soon as old Aunt Flow decides to leave town, I will go on a walk every single day. I need to.

One more food note: I find myself eating MUCH less in general, and thinking about salad and feeling satisfied with a nice big bowl of it as a meal option. I genuinely enjoy the part where I get to eat healthy foods as a matter of course and thereby sort of honor my body and my health. I eat a lot of salad stuffs and a lot of low-fat yogurt, and some fruit and some eggs and chicken and shrimp. I'd like to start looking for more simple, tasty recipes for preparing these things, but lately I have a small repertoire that I feel comfortable with and reliant on — and, of course, not sick of yet!

More importantly, aside from my transgressions with the scale, I do feel quite different psychologically, and it is hard to explain. This is the feeling that is making it easier for me to get through this than I ever imagined — really positive stuff. It's something that I really want to hold onto, and making me re-examine how stressed out I make myself sometimes, and how I want to get in touch with myself on a much deeper level, too. I've been considering a meditation practice, as well as trying yoga on for size. There was a certain book I read recently (whose title shall go unnamed, as I find it slightly embarrassing) that really inspired me to this, and then all this stuff happened... it feels like fate is calling my name and lighting up arrows for me, all pointed in a certain direction...

On a good friend's recommendation, I picked up a meditation guide, and I also got a rec for a yoga studio right in town from another, so suffice it to say that I will be seeing whether these two things have a spot in my life and will be helpful to me — and soon!

I hate to be all Pollyanna all the time about this, but man! I haven't felt like I was heading in such a good direction in a really long time, if ever.

This is about so much more than my weight, or my issues with food. This is my life.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Easily Irritable

(The title of this post, by the way, is a nod to someone I consider to be a good friend in the online world, in addition to my state of mind.)

Day 8 of 56. I am indeed very irritable, mostly from getting my period, I'm sure. Nothing can seem to bring a smile to my face today, and it is certainly one of those days when it feels like nothing but some good old comfort food would really do the trick, you know? But it's not happening, no sir. I have no intention of going outside the parameters, so to speak. I admit, it is definitely harder on a day like today, but I feel fully dedicated to trying out this different way of eating and seeing how it affects me. I can't fully make that judgement if I go off it every few days, so for now and the remaining of the eight weeks, I'm in.

This morning I had my blood drawn for the tests my doctor requested. It'll be interesting to see what differences they'll be, if any, from now until the next time I have them done. I'm crossing my fingers that diabetes won't have to be part of that discussion in November. My gut tells me no, but adult onset diabetes is present on both sides of my family, so you just never know.

I am still wondering exactly what my doctor's aim for this whole thing is. To be honest with you, it's been bugging me. I've been doing research, but it hasn't really helped me to clarify what this is for, or why. Or for the specific limitations. Since he didn't say anything about no beans or cheese, I'm thinking that I might indulge in those things, even though they seem "wrong" to me. *sigh* I guess I am over thinking it. Doc told me all I had to do was follow his directive and let him carry the rest. I need to just shut up and do that.

This stuff isn't always easy, but I tell you -- getting to the really good stuff never is, is it?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Walk of the Experiment: Success!

Well, I am so pleased. I am in awe of my body. My poor, poor body which has been abused for so long.

She was able to carry me for 1.25 miles today, in the rain, on the first walk I've been on in months. This is drastically different from past "first walks." Usually my shins start bothering me almost instantly, and I'm only able to walk for ten minutes at best. Today, I did almost thirty minutes and I am certain I could have done more, but I was getting soaked. :)

It was wonderful.

Never underestimate what you are capable of. You will surprise yourself.

How I Lost Over 10 Pounds in a Week

Wow, talk about a salacious headline, right? Ha ha.

OK, so I cheated a little bit. My doctor did instruct me to NOT get on the scale at all in the eight weeks we're conducting the little No-Starch Experiment, and I thought that was a good idea. This morning, curiosity got the best of me, and I wanted to check what my gut was telling me (figuratively and literally) against the truth: Truth is, I've lost over ten pounds this past week, just by cutting out the obvious white starches and sugars, plus various meats.

I've mentioned it already, and it still remains true — it's really not been all that difficult, surprising enough. Sure, it is always hard to make major changes in your life (I think this qualifies), but I gotta say that there's not a whole lot that I am really missing. I eat the food I can eat, the stuff that is good for my body, and I am happy to do that for myself.

That is the key: I know that I am doing something good for myself in a very big way, so it makes it that much easier to comply with.

One thing that I still have not done is start walking seriously again. Doc wants me to walk three miles a day. I decided from the beginning that I am going to work up to that. No sense in killing myself here. But with all the stuff I had going on in my life this week, I was tired and worn out enough and felt that all the running around I was doing somewhat qualified for decent physical activity. Yesterday, I met a friend out for dinner (more on that in a minute), and parking was awful. I ended up walking a couple short city blocks there and back to my car, but it was more than I have been doing! I took it at a fairly fast pace and was pleased with what I could do so far. Today, I am going to get out there and test my mettle for sure. It's a nice, cool, drizzy day — perfect walking weather in my book. My plan is to take is slow and leisure and see if I can do one of my old, longer routes from back when I was C25King it up.

So last night, I had dinner out. I chose a place where I knew I could get a good seafood dish, and I had no problem eating within my new parameters at all. A lovely Ahi tuna with a sesame crust, plus some grilled asparagus and ginger and wasabi on the side. Perfect. Normally, the meal comes with mashed potatoes, but I just asked for my plate minus potatoes plus extra asparagus. The side salad I had with a balsamic vinaigrette was simple, but satisfying, sans croutons.

Oh, and did I mention that I withstood take-out pizza that C. got one night? On which the crust looked incredible? Didn't have any. I kind of wanted some, sure, but not really. I'm trying to see that stuff as... just not in my body's best interest, basically. Not bad food, per se, just not good for me at this particular time. These mind tricks seem to be working, and not so much tricks as a bit of common sense. x + y = z, yeah?

This has been an absolutely wonderful week, honestly. I am so thankful to my doctor, whose kindness and wisdom and willingness to take an active part in my personal health makes all the difference. I wish that this happened years ago, but I guess the reality is, I'm not sure that I'd have been truly ready for it. Now, at 40, I'm ready to welcome so many good things into my life.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day Five

OK. I'm making it through day five of my eight-week odyssey into the land of Much Less Starch. (I'm not sure if it's really no starch, but I do know that it is certainly much, much less starch, and certainly no white starch. I'm still a little confused on exactly what to call what I am doing. How about just, "Doctor's Orders"?) Things are... going well, much to my surprise! Is it easy? No. Is it really hard? Not really, though.

The worst part of adopting this way of eating is that it seems like EVERYTHING has some form of the stuff I'm not supposed to eat in it, and figuring out exactly what I CAN eat, and creating as much variety as I can. I have no problem not eating red meat, pork, lamb. I love fish and there are lots of things to do with chicken and turkey, and truth be told, I'd probably do fine without those, too. I love vegetables and fruits and I even like tofu! I've been eating low fat yogurt and adding extra frozen fruit to it. A quick little omelette is always good in a pinch, and a wonderful place to use our abundance of heirloom cherry tomatoes -- which, incidentally, are great as a snack on their own! Our various stir-frys without rice takes a bit of getting used to but are no less deliciosamente.

Many people are telling me that I will feel so much better that I won't want to go back to eating that white, starchy stuff. So far, I can't really tell a difference in my energy levels, which is probably due to all the running around I've been doing the past week -- I've been tired anyway, but now that I think about it... maybe not AS tired as I might have been? The coming week should be a better barometer for that. Those people may be right... but I have to be honest, I won't give up pizza completely after this eight weeks. Sure, I'll find a better way to make it, but give it up? I don't think I can go there.

I haven't really had cravings. I want things, but that's different. We went to the drive-in movies the other night. We always get popcorn and other treats at the drive-in. By the time we were getting ready to go, I hadn't eaten much during the day and was famished. Begrudgingly, I stopped at Wendy's on C.'s urging and got a salad to eat. Well, I must give kudos to Wendy's -- to my surprise, the Apple Pecan salad was delicious, and fairly well within bounds. Maybe the dried cranberries were an issue? Again, the plan given to me was so nondescript that I am not sure. Long story short, I ate my salad and enjoyed it, and I did not eat any of the popcorn or nachos with cheese that C. did. I really wanted to, but I also really didn't want to, you know? It wasn't really a tough choice, to be honest. I enjoyed the smell that wafted into my nose, and focused on Machete instead.

So, I don't really know what is going on with me, but I do feel a psychological shift. Maybe it's having the backing of a doctor who gave me parameters to work within and the expectation to stay within them? Maybe it is just that I know that I really need to make this major change in my life before it becomes really difficult, impossible, or plain old life-threatening. Funny enough, I don't feel nearly as obsessed with food as I normally do. Definitely closer to eating to live rather than living to eat. It's nice.

I want to do so much more with my life that this extra weight is, quite frankly, holding me back from doing — psychologically and/or physically. It's been a struggle for me since I was 9 years old, and I tried everything — except what I am doing now, which includes letting go of my baggage and letting someone else carry it for a while. I am hoping that this is the start of something really good for my body and my mind. It sure feels like it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Here's the plan

OK, I've done a little bit of research since my doctor's suggestion left me with a few questions. I found this No Starch diet that I think will serve my needs well during the next eight weeks. I'm going to stick with the no beef, pork, and lamb thing (something that this particular plan leaves in), but everything else? Looks like a keeper.

No Starch on Livestrong

I think it will be totally doable. My boyfriend's main question? "Have you ever gone for eight weeks without pizza before?"

It's... it's alive!

So... hi.


I'm back.

Today was a breakthrough. For whatever series of events or thoughts, I decided to see about having a physical and taking more active control of my health. I called my old doctor, whom I haven't seen in years, to see if he would take me back as a patient. He's this young, wonderful guy and my whole family has been in love with him since he arrived in my little hometown I don't know how many years ago, maybe fifteen or so? He's just two years older than I am and just has a lovely manner.

Oh, and by the way, I left my job last month, which has freed up most of my days and enables me to spend the time to drive the hour and fifteen minutes to my hometown to see said doctor. Since we moved here to Niagara Falls, I just never latched on to another primary care doctor, only went to a little neighborhood clinic for things here and there.

(So much to tell you about!)

Anyway, it feels amazing to have reconnected with my doctor again. He kept saying, "Amy G____ is 40 years old! I can't believe it!" So cute. We had a great chat about what it is I'd like for myself health-wise, and talked about what carrying this extra weight means for me. He does not demonize fat, by the way, which I love. He told me that I should get back on establishing healthier habits again (I told him about my past success with losing weight and walking and running a couple years ago), because now is still a time when I can do it on my own without medical intervention. He told me we could not have the same conversation 10 years, even 5 years from now.

He has taken the feelings of responsibility off my shoulders for doing this for the next eight weeks. He does not want me to get on the scale, look in the mirror critically, or even think about what my body is or isn't, or what other people think. "Other people do not exist from now on!" he said, which I thought was cool and funny. Obviously he's speaking figuratively, and I loved it. He said that all I need to do is the following, for the next eight weeks: start walking three miles a day (obviously I will build up to that) and cut out from my diet beef, pork, bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice. I can have seafood, turkey, and some chicken. I can have vegetables and fruit. He didn't say to cut out ice cream and cake, but dude, I get the gist of it. All I need to do is the work, and whether I lose weight or not is mostly irrelevant... and if I fail in some way, it is his fault as the doctor.

It sounds really weird when I was trying to explain it to C. and also now as I am typing this out. But let me tell you, when he was saying this to me, I immediately felt this huge sense of relief and happiness, almost to the point of tears. He was taking a big burden off me, and letting me just tend to the business I needed to tend to. No icky emotions, no self-judgement. Just matter of fact do this and this, and come back in eight weeks to talk about what happened.

I don't know. It makes so much sense to me, I am feeling elated. I am not even scared to try to eliminate those certain foods, because I really want to do something, and now I have this fantastic, caring, professional ally there to back me up and carry the huge bag of issues that I usually shoulder. It'll be interesting to see what comes of all this.


So, yes... I quit my job. I was offered a couple classes to teach at an area college this fall, and coupled with the online teaching I do is enough to keep us afloat. My career as an artist has also been taking off pretty well (small scale still, but making steady progress), and I really wanted to be able to focus more on my studio work, too. Doing graphic design in the capacity I was was just really making me unhappy, so despite the economy and everything else, I took the plunge. Daring and a little crazy, I know! Truth is, I've been as busy as I ever was before, but I love my new lifestyle. The only time I HAVE to be somewhere is on Monday and Wednesday mornings for teaching, and then for whenever I am teaching the odd workshop here and there. Other than that, my time is mine to shape it however I like. Obviously I still have responsibilities to my online classroom, but that is asynchronous and I don't have to be there at a certain time of day... plus, I can do it in my pajamas on the couch if I like.

I'm still getting used to things and I am still a bit connected to my old job, but man! Life is pretty darned good. It only seemed appropriate that I also take good care of my body while I am at it, so that I can also FEEL good physically.

I hope that some of my old friends here are still out there and doing well. I'd love to hear what you're up to!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More baby steps

I keep putting off, and putting off doing what I need to do. I don't think I can put it off for much longer, though -- I feel rather like a ticking time bomb.

Since I last wrote here, I haven't been doing much good for myself. Or for my partner. Poor guy, he wants to lose weight, too, and eat better foods but since I am the one who drives and does the shopping, he's stuck with the crap I've been choosing to buy. I keep saying, "Oh, we need to sit down and make master food lists -- things that are good for us that we will eat," and never do. Well, I feel like today is it. (Trying not to look back and see how many times I've failed... really.)

I never did order the new scale. Until just now. Yep, just after I wrote that sentence, I went over to Amazon, where I had the kind I wanted all selected and waiting in my cart for a couple weeks, and I finally bought it. It should arrive Thursday.

Last night I realized that to try to start exercising right now feels pretty overwhelming, especially since moving at all, period, feels pretty uncomfortable (can you believe it??? I can't!). So, I'm going to take the approach I took two years ago when I began to lose weight: lose some weight first, maybe ten pounds, who knows, and then start an exercise program to supplement the better eating. I mean, honestly? Gardening season quickly approaches so I probably won't even need to think about it because I'll just be out there toiling happily, but the thought of walking even those ten minutes is just... ugh. For some reason, my whole body has been in pain for the past week or two. I don't know if it is just from being so fat, or from all the stress I've had lately, or something else. It sucks. It also makes even walking sound like a horrible chore. I've never been like this before. It's just got to stop.

So I've got my scale on the way. That will be helpful.

Today I started tracking food again. I was totally unprepared to do this today, so I ended up with my go-to fast food meals that are fairly healthy: McDonald's for breakfast (the yogurt parfait and an Egg McMuffin with no meat), and Subway for lunch -- no meatballs though! And it's all logged. I'm thinking I will pick up some chicken breasts for dinner and some asparagus, maybe some oven fries like we used to have. And tonight, I'll make sure we have the food talk so that I have a good grocery list to refer to when I am out shopping.

I'm so sick of thinking about all the things that I'd like to do but can't because of how much I weigh or what my body isn't capable of doing. Not to mention the more practical issues that I've mentioned in the past. Just all of it. It's too much. It's too sad.

Too sad.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Positive vibes

I'm feeling pretty good today, which is always nice. Kind of a surprise, too, since it's pretty gloomy outside -- grey and drizzle.

Which is why I am that much more excited to share with you my achievement for the day: I went for a walk on my lunch break. You see, I almost didn't because of the weather, but I went ahead and threw my coat on and went for it, regardless. I am very proud of this. And I have to give credit where it is due; honestly, if it wasn't for the accountability I feel I have for you readers, I may have skipped it. In fact, I probably would have. But then I thought, "I promised them. I can't skip again," thinking back to Sunday when I did just that.

So I told myself to just go for ten minutes. I went to the bike path, said good day to a pair of Canada geese, and started walking. I felt like I was able to cover more ground than I thought I would; I was also surprised that I was able to make it back in the same amount of time that I went out. I thought for sure I'd slow down. It sure felt like it, but according to my watch I did five minutes out and five back. It was really the perfect amount of time for me at this stage. My goal is to make an easy twenty, and then try another round of C25K. I am definitely aiming to run again, oh yes. I have not yet given up hope to run a marathon before I die.

I've been eating pretty well today, too. Toast, yogurt, oranges (x2), and some leftover asparagus asiago risotto, maybe a cup or so? I have another yogurt with me if I need something more later. For dinner, I'm stopping off at the gyro place (C. is dying for one; it is his obsession right now), and I am not sure what I'll get. I may splurge a little, if getting a gyro as a meal is considered splurging.

Along with the whole Flylady thing, and some nice emails with an awesome co-worker, I feel like I am re-setting my brain for many aspects of my life. I'm trying so hard to stay positive and really enjoy things as much as I can. For me, having a cleaner (not necessarily always clean clean, but cleaner) house has a lot of bearing on my general happiness, so stupid old Flylady has made a big difference in my life even if I'm not in it completely. Making the bed first thing is now a habit; "swish and swipe (sic)" is, too -- it's wiping down the sink, toilet, and mirrors (and whatever else you have time for), and quickly swishing the toilet with the brush, just so your bathroom is always ready for company. What a concept!

I know, I am slow on the intake when it comes to certain things. Hey, I'm getting there!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ack, I almost made it through another day of not writing here, tsk. It was really by accident that I didn't show up yesterday... all the sudden, the day was gone. I also haven't been calling my mom like I keep meaning to.

I am, however,

• Making the bed every morning
• Keeping the sink clean
• Keeping the bathroom clean (well, I still need to do the tub, but the public parts of the WC are AOK
• Drinking more water
• Picking things up and putting them away, or dusting something with the duster if it needs it
• Getting dressed and ready, even if I don't plan to go out

I still am not quite where I hoped to be food-wise today, mainly because what remains in the house is mostly food that is not-so-conducive to losing weight, and I am extremely low on cash until Wednesday. It's all right though. Writing here regularly, and getting those stupid emails from Flylady and her fitness dude are making impressions on my noggin... and that's really what it takes. I must admit, though, I am feeling a bit pathetic having the Flylady on my mind most of the time.

Today wasn't such a good eating day, but I hope that tomorrow will be. I am finally starting to desire to make real changes in my life. Oh, how I need to, dear readers. My bones are aching and I'm not even 40 yet! I try my best to not act "like a fat person" (whatever that means—it's a stupid stereotypical idea I've created in my head about what I don't want appear like to other people, even though it is TOTALLY OBVIOUS that I am, like, really fat!). So, while I try not struggle getting up off the couch, or bend over to tie my shoes, or walk a certain way, or have a miserable/pained look on my face, or to dress too shabbily... I am still fat. Really fat. And all the pretending in the world isn't going to change that.

Only real action will.

I didn't go for a walk yesterday or today. But you know what? I am committing in my mind to do it tomorrow. On my work lunch break. 10 to 15 minutes. I'm going to drive to where the bike path starts and see what I can do. Because I have to do something.

In the meantime, I would just like to thank all the people who are my friends and who will hang out with me in public places and don't seem embarrassed at all by it. Having friends like you makes it easy for me to feel like a real person and to even forget that I really am a "big fat" person. So, so thankful for that. I know everyone's not so lucky.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Power of Friendship

Today I didn't do much thinking or fretting about the topic at hand.

Well, I was hungover from the bottle of wine I drank last night (not something I do often, by the way), so I slept in late, and then this afternoon an old friend came to visit from the next city over -- I hadn't seen her in almost three years! This is one of my best and oldest friends, too. It was definitely a special occasion. We had plans to head over to the Western New York Book Arts Center in downtown Buffalo together, where I teach workshops sometimes. She is also an artist and bookbinder and we had a great time.

One thing that stood out was that she told me that I looked really nice -- and stylish! She liked my hair, my clothes. I hadn't heard something like this in one sweeping statement from someone in so long, it took me aback. I was like, "Really?" And she was like, "Yes!" Her compliment meant so much to me. See, I work in an office where there is a group of women, 20-ish to 40-ish, who all happen to be quite stylish. Most of them are slender, but not all, though I am definitely the fattest person, stylish or no. On one hand, they all inspire me with their fashions (I actually really love fashion), but on the other hand in comparison I feel like a dumpy lump most of the time, and feel certain that I look like it, too. R.'s statement to me felt like more than just a compliment -- it was more like a lifesaver, an energizer. She didn't focus on how much weight I gained, or that I am still fat; she just saw me as the friend she always knew and loved, and noticed the positives.

She and I have made plans to do things in the next couple months together. I get a real sense that this renewed friendship will help me blossom, go out more, enjoy life more, enjoy myself more. We've been friends since we were 18 (so that's... something like 22 years!), but somehow this visit felt different, more positive than ever before -- she as a recovering alcoholic, and me as a recovering... overeater? We, as friends and as the strong, creative, interesting women we are.

P. S. I didn't go for a walk today, but I will tomorrow. Promise.

Oh, and as far as food goes? It was an OK day. Cereal for breakfast, and a gyro and fries for dinner. I just had a bowl of ice cream. No, I didn't make the best choices, but I also didn't have three huge meals...

My plan for my next paycheck on Wednesday, by the way, includes a new scale (I finally chucked the old one which just refuses to work properly, even with a new battery) and some workout clothes. I'm pretty excited.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Baby Steps

So, I've been sort of doing Flylady the past week or so. Nothing too hard core on my part, really -- just doing the making the bed first thing in the morning, and keeping the sink shiny (so nice!). These are small changes, but she really emphasizes making small changes a bit at a time only, so that they're more likely to become habits that are easy to keep up. I'm getting there. Tonight I set my alarm for 15 minutes and cleaned the bathroom, which I hate to say really needed it.

I did in fact go for a walk last evening. Holy cow, what an eye-opener! I did ten minutes and that was enough. It was just about all I could do, really. So sad to think about where I was a year ago. Or even more so, two years ago. But there's no sense in looking back. There's only now and the future. I did something, though, and that is what is important. Tonight, the cleaning qualified as exercise. I sweated enough to prove it, honestly.

Today I tried to make some small changes, continuing to remind myself that I don't have to do it all at once. I had a yogurt and whole wheat toast for breakfast and drank some water; for lunch I was back at Subway but decided no more meatball marinara any more. I had roast beef with red vinegar and the usual host of vegetables; one concession I did not make was to have cheese on it. I grabbed a bag of baked Lay's and, for the first time in a while, a diet soda. Somehow I had gotten into the habit of drinking regular soda, and that is something that is not hard for me to abstain from, so abstain I did. The rest of the day I had more water. Ultimately, I'd like to get back to all water again, except maybe at dinner.

Speaking of which, I honestly set out to make a relatively healthy meal. I bought scallops and asparagus. I had decided to make a risotto. Actually, the asparagus risotto was not too bad until I added a handful of asiago cheese to it at the end (which it probably didn't even need, it was so creamy), and the poor scallops, I baked them in some butter with a bread crumb topping.

*sigh* Well, I still consider it a good day looking toward change. Tomorrow's another day, we'll see what I can do then.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Obsession

That's what I have with food and eating: an obsession.

It's sad to admit, but I probably look forward to eating more than most other things in life right now. I don't know why.

I almost always indulge my cravings. I'm doing all sorts of things I don't know why I am doing. Then, I curse myself as I struggle to get up from the couch, or to TCB in the bathroom.

I don't know what I am doing. One thing I do know is that I will take a walk this evening. That is my promise to you, even if it just for 10 minutes. I'm confident I'll be able to do much more, but at this point I guess you never know.

I've been going through alternating wearing two pairs of pants, they're all I have that fit right now. One pair is some jeans that I thought I retired from public use last summer, when they were my official gardening and getting dirty pants. I've also used them to paint in and it shows. And I'm wearing these to work, for shame -- hoping no one will notice. That I am invisible from the waist down somehow.

Something's got to give. I see that, so do you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day Two

Reflection. That's what I've been up to. Dealing with my cumbersome body, avoiding mirrors even.

I don't know, I don't have much to say today. I actually almost forgot that I committed to write here regularly again! Baby steps.

One thing I did do is tell a friend who lives across the country and who is training to run a marathon that if she decided to go for the whole thing (she was debating doing the half instead), that I would start walking again. She accepted my challenge, so now it's something I've got to do... well, it's something I really needed to do anyway, so. I don't want to go back on my promise to her, and I owe it to myself to do it, too. That's something.

When I am going to start? Good question. I suppose tomorrow's as good a day as any, but I don't know. That's the best I can do right now... unless someone wants to kick my butt?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back to Basics

OK, so... I am nowhere near getting anything accomplished in this area of my life. But I know I need to, and soon. I am on a keen downward spiral when it comes to my health and well-being. I'm treating my body like a garbage disposal. Isn't that sad?

It really feels impossible to break out of this funk. Sure, I've done it before so technically I know I can, but this time around? I feel like someone dropped me out of a plane into the middle of nowhere with no compass or resources. It's scary.

I have a partner who also wants to start eating better and lose some weight. He is totally on board with it. But it's really up to me, because I'm the one who buys all the food, and lately when I go to the store, I find myself grabbing at least a few "treats". At work, I'm stopping off in the mornings for drive-through crap for breakfast, and I've somehow become addicted to meatball parmesan subs at Subway lately. Used to be I'd always get the roast beef and loved it. Not sure what happened there.

I decided yesterday that I would start writing here every day about whatever was floating around my head related to eating and my body. It's something. It's self-awareness at the very least.

Once in a while, now that the weather has broken into spring for the most part, I envision myself out there walking around the neighborhood again. I picture myself getting strong. Now? Walking up the stairs makes my knees hurt. How the heck did I get back to this state? Seriously!

Today is start. I'm not saying that today I am working on my eating. I already made a trip to Dunkin' Donuts. (I got a small strawberry Coolatta and three donuts, in case you were wondering.)

First thing is first. To get back out there walking, I need some clothes. No, really. You would not believe how beat up most of the wardrobe I am able to fit into now is. The pants I used to wear for walks and runs... ech. No shirts. I need a new hoodie. It's the only way I see myself getting out there again.

I'll put that on my list: new workout gear. That'll be a priority.

The good news is that for the first time EVER I have my finances in order. I'm also totally serious. Really. This is a huge thing for me and it does give me hope about my body stuff, because I always linked my eating issues with my money issues. What happened was that I started keeping my check register and wrote down all my debit card purchases along with any (rare) checks I wrote. Doing this enabled me to see exactly how much money I had at any given time, and helped me to avoid overdraft fees. Before that, I never had a clue as to how much money I really had available, and I was always hit with overdraft fees. It was pretty ridiculous. I feel like I owe my life to the bank officer who suggested that I start using a register back in August. For real.

That wasn't all, though. I was still struggling paycheck to paycheck. In January, I got another job. An additional job. It's a great one—teaching online—so I can work from home, and do it anytime I want to. To start, it increased my income by 50%; starting in April I'll be getting a full workload from them which means that, for as long as I can stand it, I'll be making almost double my salary at my day job. It's going to be a lot of work, for sure, but I'm going to double time it for as long as I can just to really get myself in a good place financially. I am still catching up with old past due bills, but I am almost out of the woods on that. Soon, all the extra money I make can go toward savings. I still owe my mom some money that I will work on paying back (though she said to take my time, so I will take her up on that), and of course the perennial student loans I'll likely be paying off for the rest of my life.

Point is, I've worked hard to get myself out of a bad financial situation. If I can do that, surely I can get myself out of a bad health situation? I know it will take hard work, and time, and sweat, but surely, SURELY I can do that, too.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Even in Second Life

So, I am actually pretty unhappy with myself.

I don't feel good being this heavy. It's not so much about looks as it is about physical comfort. I've talked about this before. At this weight, I really feel my heaviness. Gravity is doing its duty.

I think about how I've destroyed my body in some ways. Outwardly, my skin is stretched beyond capacity. Inside, my organs surely be suffocating beneath all the extra fatty tissue. Thankfully I can still move around easily, but do worry about fitting into chairs or booths in public places, and it is hard for me to put on socks and tie my shoes. The bathroom in various ways can sometimes be a challenge. This is no way to live.

I am a compulsive eater, and a secret eater. I certainly overeat most of the time. When I eat, it often feels like a desperate act, as if I can't get the food in my mouth fast enough (though, funny enough, I am often the slowest eater in a group, so maybe this is just an inner perception). I do enjoy food, but sometimes I eat something just because I know it is there and I just can't stand that it's there. Lately, a friend of mine on LiveJournal has been writing about her experience with Overeaters Anonymous, and it keeps gnawing at me. I've tried OA in the past—just once, really, some years ago when I don't I was really ready to make such a big change in my life—but didn't like it, or couldn't deal with it. Now at this stage of my life I wonder if I should give it another try. I need the help. One of the things that always puts me off about the 12-step programs is the submission to a higher power, but my friend is also a non-believer and has been able to frame it in such a way that is acceptable for her.

The other day, I visited the OA website to see about meeting locations and times. I noticed that you can attend online meetings, and one of the options was to go to Second Life and attend group there. I've been to SL before but decided to make up a new character and check things out. I wanted to be honest about myself to others and so designed my character, or avatar, to reflect how I look in real life—very fat, among other things.

It's amazing. I was poking around some location with my fat avatar (and by the way, I still don't really see the point of SL entirely), and as I walked into the area immediately someone commented, "Someone needs to go on a diet!" I was pretty shocked, but I suppose I shouldn't have been. Under the cloak of anonymity, it is much easier for people to say what is really on their minds and so this person, who had themselves dolled up as an Amazonian-like supermodel type in a flowing ballgown (no kidding!), was no exception—though I'd be really interested to see what they looked like IRL. I approached her and asked, "What's so bad about being fat?" and her response was, "Well, first of all, it is very unhealthy." At that point I kind of sighed and realized that no response I could have made would have made a difference, so after telling her, "I ran a 5K last year! Don't always judge by appearances!", I flew away. (Yes, you can do that in SL, which is very nice.)

But the whole exchange got me thinking. And made me sad. There's so much for me to say about this but it's all a big nasty tangle in my head right now. It's really too bad that all fat people get put into this "unhealthy" pigeonhole, or are seen with disgust by many. I mean, it's true that right now? I am, in fact, probably pretty unhealthy, but not too long ago that was not the case. I mean, look, I'm not going to say that having a large population of people in America overweight and obese is a good thing, but it is also not, like, the end of the world like some like to make it out to be.

And how funny is it that in the past, being fat was a status symbol? It showed that you could afford to feed yourself and your family well. Those who were thin were the people who didn't eat enough and who performed hard labor to survive. Of course, these days things are much different, but it makes you really question, Is this all just a matter of context and perception? Is fat really so bad? Why should we feel ashamed to be fat?

I want to make it clear that I am NOT ashamed of who I am and what I look like. My issue with being this fat is purely personal and a matter of physical comfort. Perhaps some people who are even bigger than me feel just fine, and I say, good for them! Others who are half my size feel the same way I do. All I know is that feeling like my body is a cage rather than a temple has really been getting me down... but somehow the desire to eat what I want keeps trumping that. After 30 years of on and off dieting/lifestyle changes/etc., I just want to know how to get some weight off (OK, I pretty much know how) and keep it off (not so much), and make peace with that inner self who just can't get enough (totally not at all, yet).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

(Almost) back where I started


I am here again. I think I'm going to stay this time.

Thing is, I knew that gained a lot of weight back in recent months. I even figured that I probably weighed more than ever before. I'm down to one pair of wearable pants that are suitable for work. This sucks.

I finally decided to get new batteries for my scale, and I changed them out last night, weighed this morning.

Turns out I was actually happy! 343.8.

I know. WOW. But at the same time, I was seriously thinking that I was in the 360s or something, so this made me very happy. I am still under my highest weight ever, but closing in. 350's not that far away. But hopefully it will never be so close again.

Other areas of my life (yes, my life is sort of in segments: the weight segment, the money segment, the work segment, the relationship segment, etc. etc. ad infinitum) have been pretty good lately. I actually have a better handle on my money than I ever have before in my life, and that is HUGE for me... nearly as huge as if I had gotten a similar handle on my weight. So I am thinking, surely I can do the weight thing now that the money thing is under control?

Anyway, I plan to weigh every day for the data (Physics Diet), drink more water, and eat less in general. I'm still thinking about going to the gym while I still have a membership there. It expires in May, but by that time the weather will be fine for walking and running outside again.

I refuse to give up, no matter how many times I have to come back here and do this.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year. New Me?

Hi hi. Here I am.

I LOVE the new year... fresh starts and resolutions and all that. I'm a total sucker for it. I daresay that I am ready for change across the board. There's all kinds of things in the works that I won't detail here (mainly because nothing is yet set in stone), but there may be indeed some major changes taking place in my life in 2010.

Getting back to healthier habits is among them, as ever.

So, I bet you're wondering what I've been doing so far this fair 2010?

Not much, really. The scale's battery died again, so I can't check in to see how much damage has been done in the past few months. I can kind of guess based on my clothes and just how I feel overall, and that would put me close to where I started two years ago, at 350 pounds. Bummer.

One good thing is that I think I have lost a pound or two in the past couple weeks, though not really on purpose; just that we're dead broke until next Wednesday and we're parsing out our stock of food in the meantime. So, trying to eat less, smaller portions overall. It's been going OK, but the whole exercise makes me itchy. It's nerve-wracking having less than $5 in your bank account to last you almost two weeks (we've made it through a few days already).

Whatever works, I guess. It's getting me into the right mind set. We don't have to be gluttons and still be satisfied with what we eat. And C. and I have definitely been gluttonous in the past few months, like monsters. Indulging whatever food whims we have, whenever.

So it is sort of a good feeling to be more... austere with our eating. The only bad thing about having so little money on hand has been that veggies and fruits kind of go to the wayside, and we've stocked up on various meats (chicken, pork, ground beef -- all on sale), plus other cheap and versatile staples, like pasta, bread and pizza dough (some homemade), potatoes, eggs, etc. Whatever keeps us satiated for a decent length of time. I'd like to reconsider this and figure out, when we have more funds and feel "safe", how to incorporate more healthy foods into a very small budget. While we won't always be in this financial situation, it is still good to learn how to be as resourceful as possible. Obviously. I've been working on this for as long as I've been working on my body issues, albeit with way more success. Sure, we're broke at the moment, but I have learned to track my spending and avoid bank overdrafts (a revelation!). That was a huge coup in 2009... so there is obviously hope for me yet.

Next payday I plan to get a new battery for the scale. I like tracking the data, as you probably know. I may or may not be as obsessive about it. I'd like not to be. In the meantime, I would still like to get my body to the gym and at least spend 15 or 20 minutes on the treadmill, at least once. Once a week to start.


I don't ever give up on this, which I think is very important. I still have faith in myself that I will finally find a total life system that will work for me. Each year that I invest in trying gets me that much closer. I've learned some things that work, some that don't. I take what I need and leave the rest. I'm giving myself time. I'm not on a deadline.

I'm not even sure I'll set a weight loss goal for myself this year. Rather, I'd like to be able to tie my shoes while easily bending over, how's that?

Sounds like something so little, so insignificant, but I tell you: It's HUGE. It will be huge when I can do that again.

Wish me luck!