Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pact? What's That?


I am so excited to be the featured Pact user on the site's blog today! Have a peek over here.

This smartphone app has been played a major role in my success so far, and is helping me to build new, healthy habits. Check it out!

Oh! and I just realized that today is my first monthiversary of blogging here again after a two three year hiatus. High fives all around. Major smiles.

More to come...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Down 15 pounds!

That's really all.

I guess that all the physical activity I'm getting is finally kicking in.

Seeing the numbers is great and all, but what really counts is that I am really getting into all these positive changes I am making for myself. I want to get better and stronger at everything I do, and I want to give it all the nutrition my body needs, and take care of it in the best way I can.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Stroll

It was a fabulous weekend. I achieved my fitness goals for the week, finishing off with two walks, one each on Saturday and Sunday. I ended up doing one walk at the gym, and one at home walking around the neighborhood. I thought it was interesting how different the experiences were, and thought I'd talk about them here.

Saturday ended up being a little bit lazy – I didn't exactly get as much stuff done as I'd planned – but one thing I knew I had to do was get my 30 minutes of exercise in as part of my Pact commitment. I wasn't really in the mood for a neighborhood walk, though. I'd had a really good treadmill experience earlier in the week and kind of craved it, so I drove to the gym and did just that.

My treadmill workouts have been all over the map, quite honestly. One day my "bones" just won't stop hurting (I often get pain along the sides of my calves), and it makes for challenging workouts. Other days it seems like I glide through the 15 to 30 minutes, depending. (I usually warm up for my training sessions with Rick, my trainer at LA Fitness, by doing a fairly easy 15 minutes, some seated exercises, and some bicep curls on alternate feet, for example.) Of course, as time goes on, it gets generally easier, and yesterday was soooo nice. I did just over a half hour but I pushed myself a little more than usual to start getting my speed up. I've been building really slowly since I started coming to the gym regularly, so I am still doing not much faster than 2.4 mph – I know, that's a snail's pace to many of you! But this time I wanted to see if I could run for any length of time, just to see, and I did it! Of course, 3 mph might not sound like running to you, but for my body it was. And it felt good! I did just a couple minutes total in between walking, but was very proud of myself.

Today, on the other hand, I just didn't feel like driving and stuff, so... neighborhood, begrudgingly, it was. I got started and set my Pact app to track the exercise, as usual. I decided that I was going to try not to watch the clock and just enjoy a leisurely stroll until I thought I'd reached the halfway point of the workout. Well, was I ever surprised to see that the darn thing only counted four out of what should have been about 15 minutes! Argh! Well, I needed that workout to register in order to avoid paying a "fine" so I had to trudge on for an extended walk.

It turned out to be a really good thing. I did a route that was sort of my old stomping grounds when I used to do C25K a few years ago. I felt pretty good and it was nice to see the scenery again – that part of the neighborhood has lots of greenery and pretty houses – and, before I knew it, I was finished. When I got home, I was interested to see how far I'd gone and figure out an approximate pace, etc. so I turned to my old friend, MapMyFitness online. I tracked the route, entered the time information, and blammo! It turns out that I walked 1.78 miles in about 40 minutes, which translates to a 22 minute pace! It's not great, I guess, but not bad for someone who really got out of shape for a few years.

I tell you what, I don't think I would have even attempted to walk that far or even dreamed I could do that much yet. But there you have it.

The thing that really struck me was that for my treadmill workouts, it's often a challenge to get to one mile, much less almost two. Obviously, as I saw with my MapMyFitness stats, it's something I can do, and beyond fairly easily. I'm not sure what is at work there, but it's interesting enough to me that I will continue to do both and reap all the benefits.

P.S. The weight loss hasn't been a fluke – I am still below 360 as of this morning. It feels so good. Amazing what a difference that 10 pounds can make!

Friday, June 20, 2014

And The Doctor Says...

Relaxation? I can dig it. Now I need to do it. Photo by Dedda71 via Wiki Commons. 

I had follow-up appointment with my GP today. It's been about a month since our initial meeting, and as you may recall, I had a full menu of blood work done to see where I stand health-wise. As I suspected, I do NOT have an expert eye at reading these reports, which I was able to do through my lab's website online a few days ago. Well, it turns out that everything is better than normal! Like, way better in many cases. The only thing that is slightly off is my estrogen levels, which is to be expected as someone with PCOS, like me. However, even that, the doc said, seemed to be on its way out the door. He feels that with more weight loss it may not be an issue for much longer. Same with the glucose measurement, which found me at just between normal and pre-diabetic... which I guess makes me PRE-pre diabetic. Again, this is something he is confident will go down to normal as I lose more weight. No medication needed.

He was very pleased, and I was super psyched and really proud of myself.

The only thing that was cause for concern was my blood pressure. I had hopes, but it just hasn't budged from 146/90 in a while, and that's not great. He wants me to go on a low-dose medication and see how that works, and go from there. He said he does feel that I will be able to go off medication if I continue taking good care of myself. This includes not only diet and exercise, but also stress management, good sleep habits... which leads me to the last piece: a sleep assessment. If I do have sleep apnea, getting treatment will help me get better rest, have more oxygen flowing through my system, and let me body do the things it needs to do while I'm sleeping. Doc said it can affect metabolism as well! So, I will have that test done and see what happens. Then, I'll have more blood tests done for another meeting in three months.

I must say, I am so excited about all this! I must confess that I was pretty worried about my overall health. This puts me at much greater ease and gives me a good boost of confidence as well. Not to mention, it's proof that yes, fatties CAN get good bills of health as much as the next person!

The biggest thing that is next on my list to address is my stress level and ability to truly relax. This has definitely been a challenge for me as I am so often busy and have stuff that must get done. It's hard for me on a day off to not feel like I should be doing something meaningful, you know what I mean? Establishing a meditation practice is something I have wanted to do for a long time now, and yoga has been on my mind... onward and upward. Focus.


In other news, I've had not just one, but TWO hour and a half long workouts at the gym this week. Wow, I tell you what, it feels really good to accomplish that, but at the same time? I totally zonked out today after my doctor's appointment and napped for hours. My whole body is sore and tired. This weekend I have some activity planned for each day (probably walks around the neighborhood again, and maybe some more gardening and house work), but next week I'm sticking with the two hour-long workouts for now. I gotta build UP to it, man! It's just so hard to not be so enthusiastic when I can sense so many positive changes happening. I know it's just a drop in this big old bucket, but I can see little changes in my body already! It's amazing.

Oh, and by the way? I'm down just below 360 as of this morning. YES.

Hey, do me a favor and share with me your favorite ways to relax?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ten Pounds!

Ten pounds plus down, people! Finally.

It feels nice. My first big goal has been to get back down to 350, which was my previous high weight. I have another 11 pounds to go for that, not bad! Once I hit that, I'm aiming for the 10% mark that's supposed to really help for overall health. That would put me at 37 pounds lost, or 335.

Beyond that, I guess I will take things 10% at a time. (Aha! See where my blog title came from?) I do have a strong feeling that this is going to be it – it's going to be the time that I finally succeed at my efforts, and it's all because my reasons for wanting to do this have crystallized in a way that they never have before. It's a holistic thing, it's everything, not just one piece of the puzzle. It feels real, it feels true.  I don't know what weight I will settle on. It could be anywhere from 150 to 250, quite honestly. I know that sounds like a cop out, that 250 number, but honestly the last time I weighed that after losing, it felt like a pretty good place to be. (On the other hand, I can remember when 250 was a terrible, awful number – it was a high that I never thought I'd go beyond at the time. This was 16 years ago. I remember crying about it.)

The real test will come when I'm six months in. In the past, that's been the breaking point in which something happens that causes me to give up, or when I just run out of steam. Fortunately, I have six months of training sessions left to commit to (which will put me at the seven month mark), and I will have my gym membership as long as I have my current health insurance, which pays for it. I have a good doctor who will be there to guide me along and encourage me. I have important health issues to consider.

I feel that no matter what, I MUST make it past six months this time. I am determined.

Last night I had an hour-long training appointment for the first time. I couldn't really imagine how we would fill that much time, not to mention how on earth I would be able to keep going for that long. Long story short, I did it! And I had fun, and I felt powerful. Big props to my trainer, Rick. His enthusiasm and trust in my abilities is a real boon to my confidence and willingness to go a little bit past my comfort zone, without getting hurt. We did a bunch of stuff, like variety hour at the gym! One of my favorite things turned out to be some squats with a kettlebell, of all things. It's amazing what changes I'm experiencing not only physically, but also mentally. On my rest days, I'm starting to miss having some sort of workout, whether it's at the gym or in the garden or a stroll around my neighborhood.

I my gosh, I just want this so bad now. I really, really do.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Blood Work.

Clint Eastwood in Blood Work.
When I had my first new doctor visit last month, he ordered a bunch of blood work, naturally. One of the nifty things you can now do at the place where I get mine done is view the results of the tests online before your next office visit. I'll be seeing my doc again this coming Friday but have been curious about how bad some levels might be and wanted to prepare myself for the conversation I'd be having.

It turns out that I don't think things are so bad. Almost everything came in a normal range, including my cholesterol (yay!). But, there were a couple red flags that I could speculate about, but will leave up to Dr. S. to interpret and diagnose. My glucose was on the high side (like pre-diabetic, this is not new), and something else to do with my liver, which I am guessing is because I have so much fat on my body and which I am hoping will not be something serious as long as I continue on the path I am on. I will see what the doc says about all this and I pledge to do what he tells me is best for my health. I want to feel better!

See? This is becoming so much more than just about my weight or vanity. I literally have no choice but to stay on this path for as long as I live.


I had a good weekend and accomplished a lot – house cleaning, gardening, and two walks around my neighborhood. I did these things in lieu of the gym workout I had scheduled on Saturday morning, having decided that weekend morning workouts don't really work that well for me. I usually end up feeling super tired all day, and taking a nap or just lazing around. I finally figured out that scheduling my training sessions on weeknights is far superior – I come home, relax for a while with my partner, and then sleep like a baby. It makes much more sense. That way, my weekends are free and open to catch up on stuff that needs catching up, and I can take half hour walks on each weekend day, too.

It's been all about figuring out how to fit this lifestyle into my life and tweaking it until it works for me and my little family (my partner and four cats, by the way). Restructuring it like this will also allow me to easily get FOUR activity days in a week instead of just three, which is awesome. I'm making progress! This week on Pact, in fact, I've committed to four "gym" days, the usual seven days of tracking food, and... get this... 23 fruits and veggies! That's up from 21 this past week. I'm feeling chuffed indeed.

On that note, I'm going to leave you with one of our favorite recipes that also happens to be pretty darned good for you. It's a stir fry chicken dish that's very easy to make, not to mention very delicious. The original poster uses ground chicken in her version, but I've always just cubed the chicken breast into one inch chunks and it works fine (I usually end up "cutting" them in half with the spatula as they are cooking, so they are even smaller in the end). If you love garlic and basil, this is a dish for you.

Thai Basil Chicken

You should definitely add more basil than you think you should – it cooks down quite a lot! Oh, and, I usually end up using a bit more chicken than the recipe states. I don't measure by weight but end up using three trimmed boneless skinless breasts, and it's perfect. By the way? Four little hot chiles is more than enough if you like hot and spicy food, which we do. Personally, I think the six that are called for is overkill. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014


(The post in which I bitch about a lot of vanity-type stuff.)

I don't know what else I have to do to drop some pounds here.

Look, I know that I have been saying that weight loss is merely one reason that I am doing what I am doing, and not even the most important reason. And it's true. But I have big plans stemming from that expected weight loss – clothes wearing, traveling, feeling less pain, more able-bodied, etc. – and I just want to get going.

I mentioned that I finally lost another pound or so last time and was really happy about it, only to weigh in today and see that I am still stuck at 366. I'm down from about 372 at my highest before I started back on this over a month ago, which is great, but argh! I have so much to lose and I usually lose much faster in the early stages of my attempts. I'm getting really pissy about this.

But, I can't give up. As I said, this is not just about losing weight. This is about my overall health. Blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, joint and bone health, etc. etc. etc. et cetera! And it truly is, which is good because to tell the honest truth I just might be discouraged enough to say f&% it right now. On the other hand, I am truly loath to go back to my old ways. Fast food, on the whole, is gross. Overeating makes me feel awful. Eating foods that are good for me makes me feel good in more ways than one. Incorporating exercise into my weekly routine makes me feel powerful and capable. So these are things I don't really want to give up... I guess what it is is that it's not as easy or what I am accustomed to, making an effort. It's definitely becoming more and more of a default, and with the financial impetus of Pact I especially don't want to crap out on myself. (Boy! Has that ever been something to keep me on track to my commitments.)

As a refresher, here is what I have been doing:

• Tracking my food and water intake every day (I'm on day 27 doing this!)
• (Corollary to the above) Sticking to just under 2,000 calories a day, and the proportional nutrients
• Committing to eating a certain number of fruits and veggies every week (I'm at 21 now)
• Doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity three days a week (usually it's at least an hour each time)
• Trying to eat fewer and fewer processed foods, reading ingredient labels carefully and avoiding food with too long or too unnatural a list
• Taking seven vitamins every day
• Drinking at least 80 oz of water every day (usually I hit 96, sometimes more)

The number of calories I eat is automatically calculated by MyFitnessPal according to my age and weight and the desire to lose two pounds a week to start. I eat more when I exercise more. I have my food diary open to the public if you'd like to have a look and comment accordingly. I think I'm high on sodium, yeah. But could that cause so much trouble?

So anyway, all this effort and I can't help but feel like it's getting me nowhere, even though that is most probably not true. I'm likely doing myself a world of good, but for now it's not showing up on the scale.

In the meantime, I've been finally getting the hang of Pinterest and have created a board trying to figure out what my style is based on things I like. Yes! For those who have only known me in recent years and may be surprised to hear it – I love fashion. I've just felt really down about shopping and getting dressed, so I've been keeping it simple for a long time. I'm anxious to get back into that stuff again and have my outside reflect my inside. It's not that it's impossible to do as a plus-plus sized gal (see here, for just one example), but it's much harder and more expensive and I just get really discouraged about it, so I just don't bother so much.

Anyway, so that puts me in a place where I am drooling over wanting to dress to my style. And wanting to get the weight off so that I can more easily do that – I am talking about getting down to 300, you know what I am saying? Ugh. I can hardly stand it. I need to go look at at these ladies more often to start.

Dudes, even my feet! Even my feet. Shoes have been tough finds – lots of sneaker-type stuff – and my feet hurt a lot from supporting so much weight. I love ballet flats and they are doable, but they aren't always comfortable.

There is so much more to say, but I will stop here for now.

All I can do is keep doing what I have been doing. And I will. I have to.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Body in Motion

In the month or so since I started back on a concentrated attempt to change my life, the weight loss has been slower than I usually experience in the early stages – plus or minus eight pounds. I was sort of stuck around one weight for what seemed like forever, when this morning I finally saw what seems like meaningful movement in the right direction. It was just a pound or so, but it really made me happy. If you're reading this, you probably know what I mean. Drops in the bucket? I'll take 'em.

On top of that, I was also able to throw on a pair of jeans that were getting uncomfortable enough that I didn't wear them for a while. They're still on the snug side, but didn't gouge into my flesh anymore. Hooray! I have another pair of jeans hanging in my closet that I have my eye on next. (And there are some after that, and after that – I have many sizes of clothes hanging around that I want to fit into again.)

I had a great workout with my trainer, Rick, yesterday. Just when I feel like I'm going to have a crappy time, I surprise myself. He really helps me push beyond what I think I can do (though always safely), and I love the variety of activities he has me try. I do have things I do automatically when I come in for a session. I get to the gym at least a half hour early so that I can warm up and get a head start on the day's workout before he's on the clock: 15-20 minutes on the treadmill at a fairly easy pace, then a three sets of 15 each of three seated exercises (these look easy and are easy to do, but get me sweaty and my heart beating!), then 3 sets of bicep curls on one foot, alternating left and right feet, using 12.5 pound weights in each hand. After that, Rick takes over and we go through a series of whatever's on the menu that day. Sometimes it's strength training on machines, sometimes dumbbells, sometimes throwing the muscle/medicine ball around, using the ropes, or using my own body for core exercises. It always, always ends up being great, though.

I work with Rick twice a week right now because I had accumulated some extra sessions during my hiatus. Soon enough I am sure I'll be limited to once a week, but already I have a great list of items to do by myself when I come to the gym on non-session days. My plan is to get used to doing this so that once my year commitment to training is up in December, I can go it alone confidently.

Thanks to the Pact app, I have been logging physical activity three days a week now for three weeks, whereas before that I was happy to do that once a week. I'm starting to find that on my off days, I wish I could go and do something! That's a really positive change in my attitude.

I'm going to leave you with a link to a video that you may have already seen, but is new to me. Rick told me about it and when I finally found it to watch myself, I realized how right he was about it being a tearjerker and very inspirational. Those times when I start to feel sorry for myself will be countered with a reminder that I can reach the goals I set out to achieve, no matter what.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Got To Admit, It's Getting Better

I have been meaning to post and meaning to post... then the pre-birthday weekend hit, so all bets were off. Well, I turned 44 today and things have been going well since my last miserable little check-in.

Nothing specific has happened, and I still don't feel great – the pain and fatigue remain – but it seems like I'm hitting a stride in my routine and habits. I know that things will always be hard for me in terms of what I am trying to do here, but at the same time, the small changes I am making are working. For example, after having started to use the Pact app three weeks ago, I have worked exercise into my life three days each week, which is a major achievement for me! Not to mention tracking my food consistently and adding more and more beneficial whole foods to my diet and limiting the processed crap. Every day it seems that the choices I am making are becoming more natural and require less thinking. I take this as an excellent sign!

I think what is making a big difference so far is the fact that I'm not doing this only to lose weight. I'm making these changes as a result of my concern for my overall health, really and truly. Middle age has a way of scaring you into it, don't you think? I envision myself as someone who is strong and capable, but as the weight piled on that just became less and less true for myself. This doesn't mean that I felt I should love myself and my body any less, but it made me feel sad that I was being limited by my size to do many things. That is just the reality of it and has little to do with body politics, at least on the surface (you could probably dig deeper and get to that, too, I suppose).

Progress is slow. I've dropped about seven pounds so far, which on a frame like mine is but a mere drop in the bucket. So, I am trying not to pay too much mind to that, knowing that the longer I work on changing the way I live, the more certain dropping the weight will follow. In the past I have truly made myself crazy focusing on the scale and on the size clothes I wear. I am just not interested in doing that anymore – obviously in the past that mentality got me nowhere. In the past few months I've been making really gradual changes in my activity level and my eating habits. I log my food intake whether I had a "good" day or not, and I make sure to include everything. Doing this generally has helped me to make better, more informed choices – almost like dealing with a household budget!

As I mentioned, it was my birthday weekend and I did indulge a little bit. Anything a little "crazy" was balanced out with activity, though, like Saturday's pretty awesome workout with my trainer and yesterday's afternoon playing in the garden with my mom – and if you garden like me, you know that that can mean some pretty intense strength and cardio work!

I'm wrapping up a long weekend off from work, ready to head back to the 9 to 5 tomorrow, and feeling good about where I am headed. On a day like today, a platitude like slow and steady wins the race feels like something so much more.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's So Hard.

I've been feeling good about the choices I've been making – the foods I eat, the increase in physical activity, etc. But today I had kind of a day, if you know what I mean. After I got out of work I had to walk a city block to my car because of temporary parking limitations, and it totally sucked. It was actually painful. It was intensely discouraging.

How can it be that I took a leisurely half hour walk around my neighborhood last night and I did relatively OK, or walk on the treadmill at the gym for at least 15-20 minutes, sometimes more, yet I had trouble with this five minute walk? Ugh. I was in pain and I was practically limping.

It's so hard to take sometimes, knowing that I brought myself to this place by choice, essentially.

I'm glad that I haven't given up trying, and I have no intentions of giving up, but man do I feel demoralized today.

(I'm guessing that not enough sleep last night and a little more stress than usual today contributed to this?)


Sunday, June 1, 2014


One problem I really have is being able to visualize myself at a "normal" weight. It's hard to imagine that my body can look like anything except what it looks like now. Even though I've been every weight between 120 and 370 pounds at this height, I just can't imagine it anymore. I've weighed at least 250 pounds for about 15 years, and at least 300 pounds for 10. It just seems like I'll never be anything other than morbidly obese, even though I've experienced every other state on the BMI chart since age 16.

It's also funny to me that when I was a teenager, that 120 pound self couldn't see anything but a big whale in the mirror, or when she took a bath (I've always been a bath person!). Unfortunately my teen self also did really bad things like starve herself, take laxatives, and exercise obsessively. I still don't remember how I could make it through a day at school like that, but I guess I did.

Nowadays, I definitely know I am fat, but I am still startled when I see full-length photographs that show big I have really become. Hey, I am not laying judgement down on that as bad or good – I'm just saying. In my head, I see myself as looking much different, but unlike my younger self, it falls down on a more positive view. I guess that is progress?

I don't really know what's going on with my body. I am hoping my new doctor will help me find out more about it and how I can feel better. I feel achey and tired a lot, for example. Many days begin with a dose of ibuprofen so that I don't feel so creaky. My boyfriend of 14 years thinks that it's the extra weight that's doing it, but I always brush it off. However, since I've been back reading other weight loss blogs (a tidy label, maybe not totally accurate in all case – health and fitness blogs, maybe?), I see that many people who've been writing about the differences they experience in the after part of their journey say that those aches and pains are gone, or at least greatly diminished.

My body might be saying, "Hey! ~370 pounds is a LOT of weight to carry around! It hurts!"

Arthritis runs in my family, though – I have family members who are not fat who feel similarly. So I don't know.

So back to the visualization thing. Because it is so hard for me to imagine my body looking any different, I think it makes the idea of doing what I am doing harder, as in, what's the point? It's hard for me to explain. And there's the point of me knowing that how I am trying to live now is the best way to live whether I am big or small, whether I lost any weight at all  – the exercise, the eating, the water, the vitamins, etc. etc. is something that I should always, always be doing not just as a means to an end but a means to survival and a means to a good quality of life.

But still, I wonder: What will I look like next month, next year, in ten years? This is me a couple months ago, and I look just about the same now.

Tipping the scales at my heaviest weight ever. I'm cool, and I'm big. And yes, it's almost always art school black.