Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Haters gonna hate

 Full disclosure...I don't actually think I have any haters (that I know of anyway). I just really like saying, "Haters gonna hate." For your enjoyment (and my own), please gaze upon this picture:

 While there are no actual haters, I do get weird looks or eye rolls every now and then concerning the changes I have made in my life. For example, I made an admittedly super-cheesy motivational poster to put on my wall. My sister could not stop cracking up about it. But you know what? That's okay, because as cheesy as that poster might be, it works for me and that is what's important. Another example would be food situations. Sometimes my orders at restaurants have to be really specific in order to get what I need. I felt really high-maintenance and self-conscious at first about this. I've made my peace with it now. I'm polite when I order and I leave good tips, so if the waiter wants to think I'm high-maintenance, that's his problem. There have also been situations where I choose to stay away from higher-calorie foods, and sometimes get comments about how I have to loosen up and eat that stuff. I guess peer pressure doesn't go away after high school! The truth is that sometimes I do eat higher-calorie foods, but when I do, it is because I planned for it and because I want to do that, not because someone else told me I should. I've found that usually when people try to pressure you to do unhealthy things like that, it is because they are on some level trying to justify their own unhealthy behaviors (hey, I took 2 whole psychology courses in college, so I totally know what I am talking about lol).

Anyway, the thing is, 6 months ago I could not have written the above paragraph (well, I guess I could have physically written it, but I wouldn't have meant it). I've been a people-pleaser my whole life. I have always cared way too much about what people thought of me. I would sometimes give so much of myself to everyone else so that they would be happy and like me, that there was very little left to make myself happy. I think maybe whether I admitted or not, I equated putting my happiness first as being selfish. If someone were to disapprove of something I was doing (like the situations above), I would pretty much automatically think that I was wrong and should change what I was doing.

Does this mean I think I'm always right now? As much as I wish I were always right, I know that I'm not. But there is a difference between taking others' opinions into consideration, and just taking their opinion as absolute fact. My opinion matters too. There is also a difference between helping other people out because it is just a nice thing to do, and helping people out to the exclusion of your own needs because you should and so that they will think highly of you. I know that sometimes my needs come first, even if other people disagree. Not all the time, but not none of the time either. Sometimes people will disagree with what I am doing to change my life, and that's okay. It doesn't mean I have to change my behavior to suit them. It doesn't mean we are enemies. It just means we have a difference of opinion. I can't change how other people act. I can only change how I react to their behavior (wow, that sounded kind of smart). In the end, I am the only one who has to look in the mirror and be okay with myself (because it would be really creepy if other people were looking over my shoulder at me in the mirror). For the first time in a long time, I am putting myself first and making healthy changes. And while it feels great to have so many people cheering me on, the truth is that even if there were no one cheering me on, I would still know that what I am doing is the right thing. For me, that is really something to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure

Whew, I got myself back on track this week! I lost 4.6 lbs, which is great, but even if the number had not been so good, I would have felt good about the effort I put in this week (well, honestly I probably would have been a little irritated too if the number hadn't been good). I wouldn't say that I was really that much off track before, maybe that I just had one wheel off the track. But that one wheel made me feel very off balance and uncomfortable. I think I just felt like it was important for me to be rock solid in my routines as we head into the holiday season, a.k.a. Temptation Hell. It is good to know that my past unhealthy behaviors are what make me feel uncomfortable now, instead of my new healthy habits.

Anyway, I wanted to write about something that I still struggle with sometimes, and that struggle has been highlighted somewhat by the holiday season. I struggle with the balance between cutting myself some slack and keeping myself accountable. .It's hard to be decisive about it. There are no hard and fast rules to use here, and a million decisions to make every day, each one different. The holiday season has really brought to light this daily fight, because now there are a million temptations around. It's easy to decide that I will not go crazy eating and not exercise, and it's easy to say that I will let myself eat what I want on Christmas Day. But what about all the decisions that lie between? For example, I have a Christmas party this Sunday that I'm sure will be packed with goodies. Should I only eat one thing? Can I let myself have two things? Just where is the line between cutting myself some slack and making excuses to pig out? Sometimes that line is very blurry. Sometimes it seems easier to just not give in to any temptation at all, rather than to have to agonize about the right amount of temptation to give into. But at the same time, I know that this is my life now and it is not practical to go through life never having any treats. That would make me very grumpy indeed.

Another example would be my workouts last week. I felt super guilty about not working out 2 days in a row when I was out of town for my grandmother's funeral. Even though I know it probably would have made me feel better, I just wasn't in the mood to try to run in the freezing cold (I admit that I am spoiled by the gym) during that sad time. But I still don't know if I should give myself a pass for that. Was it okay to cut myself a little slack then, or should I accept no excuses from myself? It's hard to know. I think my smarter side believes that it was okay to do that, as long as I got right back to my routine when I got home, which I did. The truth is that sometimes that weight loss cannot be your number one priority, and that was one of those times.  There is always a little voice in the back of my head telling me the reasonable and true answer, but sometimes that voice gets drowned out by all the other thoughts going on in there. I always will have to guard against extreme behavior by listening to that little voice, because if I'm not careful I could revert back to either extreme slothdom (actual word? not sure), or driving myself relentlessly. That's why my blog title is so appropriate, because when I take away all the calorie counting and workouts and scales, I am left with the one thing that it all boils down to: finding the space in between all or nothing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

You say poTAYto, I say meet my mortal enemy poTAHto

It's been a rough week, actually really just kind of a rough month period. While I am still proud of myself overall for losing weight during such a difficult period, I cannot ignore the fact that my weight loss has not been where I want it to be the past couple of weeks. This past week I mainly attribute that to not working out when I was out of town for my grandmother's funeral and an increased amount of, for lack of a better word, snacking. By snacking, I don't mean healthy snacks. That kind of snacking is fine. I mean, the grazing type of snacking where you take a bite of this and a bite of that, and don't think you need to include those little bites in your food journal. Well, as much as I wish those little bites had no calories, the cold hard truth is that they do have calories, and those calories can add up quickly. Anyway, I'm back home now, and I fully plan on killing it on the scale this week. Also, since I could use a laugh right about now, I will now rehash me cooking and eating Thanksgiving dinner while trying desperately to strike a balance between not shoveling crazy amounts of food in my mouth and not letting myself eat anything yummy and high-calorie food at all. Just FYI, my Thanksgiving plan was to eat what I wanted for that one meal, and then not have any leftovers (besides white meat turkey) and get right back on track.

0700: Alarm goes off, signifying optimistic resolution from the night prior to run outside since the gym is closed. Snuggle deeper in nice, warm bed. Chastise self for being lazy. Finally get up.

0715: Ssoooooooo cold. Missing climate controlled gym and elliptical. Treadmill, not so much. Keep trucking along. Add a few crazy dance moves in time to music to keep things interesting. Glance furtively around to see if anyone saw.

0900: Arrive at parents' house to begin my first year of being in charge of dinner since my mom is out of commission due to hand surgery the day before. Try to ignore the fact that I am freakishly tired due to severe sleep deprivation the past few days. Also try to ignore the fact that I have to go into work for 8 hrs at midnight. Briefly wish that I could even tolerate the taste of coffee, since caffeine is sorely needed at this time.

0915: Being slightly OCD, formulate exact plan of attack towards dinner with order of dishes being prepared and time put in oven. Put my sous chef (aka my sister) to work chopping various things. Recruit my dad to deal with turkey, since that whole thing perplexes me somewhat. Also, I'm not into reaching up a turkey's butt to get the giblets out. As happens every year, question what giblets are actually intended to be used for.

1130: Have my sister cook sausage since I know I would be sorely tempted to sample a few bites.

1145: Briefly scold myself for not taking my dad up on his offer to just buy a prepared Thanksgiving dinner this year, as I am beginning to wonder if the prep work and insane of amount of chopping will ever end. Remind myself that family traditions are very important to me, and I may actually be grateful for the experience later.

1158: Go see Santa on TV for the Macy's parade! Sadly, the only part of the parade I get to watch this year.

1245: Am absurdly grateful to my mom for having a plethora of both mixing bowls and casserole dishes, since they are all needed on this day.

1300: Get immense amount of satisfaction in my time-management-loving heart from seeing finished dishes all ready to go into the oven exactly on time, as specified in OCD list from this morning.

1305: Get down to business with the deviled eggs. Take 1 bite to make sure ingredients are in proper proportions. Pop whole hard-boiled egg in my mouth partially because I am really hungry and partially to block my mouth from inhaling anymore mayonnaise-laden deviled egg mixture. Scold myself for not eating breakfast like an idiot.

1315: Pop deviled eggs in fridge and away from my line of vision.

1320: Prepare to attack my enemy, the mashed potatoes. Realize that I have very little self-control when it comes to our family recipe for mashed potatoes, which involves a large amount of Duke's mayonnaise (sounds disgusting, but is completely delicious). Take one bite to see if ingredients are in the right proportions. Decide more mayonnaise is needed. In an attempt to regain control over this situation, recruit both dad and sister to taste potatoes as more ingredients are added. Successfully refrain from taking any more bites myself.

1330: Eye mashed potatoes with both longing and hatred. We now have a love-hate relationship.

1400: Get everything out of the oven and breathe sigh of relief that it all at least looks like what my mom usually makes. Get it on the table ASAP, so it will all still be hot, and so my routine-loving stomach that is used to both eating at noon and eating breakfast will finally be satiated.

1415: Take pics of my beautiful table. Duh, for posterity.

1420: Say what we're thankful for, then FOOD TIME!

1425: Get some turkey first. Opt for white meat, even though I really want dark. I mean, I'm not even that into turkey, so I have to save my calories for the stuff I really like. Spoon appropriate amounts of sweet potatoes, squash casserole, and stuffing on my plate.

1430: Square off against my foes: rolls, deviled eggs, and mashed potatoes. Take 1 roll and 2 deviled eggs like the disciplined person I am. Painstakingly spoon a somewhat smaller portion of mashed potatoes than I have taken in previous years onto my plate.

1445: Realize that while my body may still like the taste of all this rich food, after months of healthy food, it physically rejects rich food somewhat. Feel kind of like crap, even though I didn't actually eat all that much. Don't eat seconds, both because that was part of the plan and because my stomach cannot deal with anymore. Decide to eat dessert later.

1530: Try to take nap, hoping nausea will go away.

1615:  Give up on nap, but nausea has lessened somewhat. Realize that it will be a lllooooonnnng night at work.

1800: Freak out on my dad for buying iced sugar cookies that I used to love. Feel a bit guilty for pressuring him to eat them as fast as possible so that I can't. 

2000: Realize I need to eat something before work. Resolve to stick with my plan, and make white meat turkey sandwich on my normal double-fiber wheat bread, eschewing my normal turkey on leftover rolls tradition. Pass on calorie-laden casseroles. Decide I can have 2 deviled eggs. See mashed potatoes in fridge. Since my intention in this blog is to be totally honest, I will now confess that I succumbed to the allure of the mashed potatoes despite my previous no leftovers rule, although again I kept myself in check with the portion. The bitter taste of shame mixed with deliciousness in my mouth (haha, just kidding. They were just plain delicious, although I was a bit ashamed).

0000: Arrive at work to see that managers, no doubt attempting to be kind, have left chips, pastries, and candy galore for us to eat. I actually added decadent chocolate cupcakes to the mix as well. Resolve that I will not eat anything.

0300: Breaktime. So tired that my eyelids are burning, but even in foggy sleep-deprived state, recognize that I need to stick to my plan for my own self-respect. Also realize that I'm not even hungry, because duh, it's not like I normally eat at 3:00 in the morning. Have some water and rest head on table.

0600: Have co-worker tell me that my cupcakes are delicious. Resist eating one, equal parts because I want to stick with my plan and because I am so tired that I don't think I could lift one to my mouth.

0745: Drive home in sleepy haze. Consider sleeping in clothes. Put in on pajamas but leave contacts in because I don't even remember to take them out.

1230: Wake from coma-like sleep. Am somewhat confused about what day it is. Observe my cats giving me confused stares about why we are sleeping in the middle of the day. Fervently wish to go back to sleep, but get out of bed so I won't be unable to sleep that night and also to visit with my brother.

1245:  Don't really know what meal to eat. Decide night shift is definitely not for me. Eat some oatmeal.

Friday-present day: Succeed in resolution to not eat anymore leftovers!

So did I do exactly what I set out to do food-wise on Thanksgiving? No, I didn't, but I would say I followed the plan for the most part except for a few minor lapses, as outlined above. Best of all, I managed to lose weight in a week where the majority of Americans probably gain a pound or two. And I am happy to say that I think I have a pretty healthy attitude about holiday food now. It's important for me to keep in control with my eating, but it is equally important that I not feel deprived on these special days. Another win for moderation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some days you're the dog and other days you're the fire hydrant

My friends, it has been a while! Not by my choice though. Life tends to throw out curveballs now and then, and this time life was kind of a jerk and decided that what I really needed was a kidney infection and stone the day before I was set to hit my 100 lb milestone. One minute I was fine, and the next I was burning up and rocking back and forth in agony. Also, when trying to go to the doctor, I not only discover a flat tire, but my car battery died as well. Fun times! So sadly, on my weigh-in day, I kind of glanced down at the scale, saw that I had hit my goal, and promptly celebrated by dragging myself back to bed. Not exactly the kind of celebration I had in mind.

Being off my routine put me in a funk all week. Plus, to be honest, I was just really pissed at the unfairness of me getting sick during such an important week. I mean, I had been anticipating this milestone for 20 weeks, and then I couldn't even really enjoy it. But if I know nothing else about myself, it is that I am freakishly resilient and also usually manage to find some nugget of good in a bad situation, or at least a funny story. Case in point: As I sat stranded in my car, crying and sick, after the flat tire AND dead battery, I couldn't help but think that I would laugh later on about the sheer improbability of that situation. Because seriously, what are the odds of having both those things happen on the exact same day?

Anyway, like I said, I just felt off all week. I couldn't go to the gym. I couldn't eat much at all, and what I could actually manage to keep down wasn't the healthiest. I didn't feel like writing in my blog. Over the course of the last 20 weeks, I have formed all these healthy habits and when they were suddenly taken away, I was surprised at just how deeply it affected me emotionally. I have written before about my continuous great mood since I started this journey, but I didn't realize just how intrinsically that mood and my healthy habits were connected. Last week also taught me just how easily habits can be broken. After days of barely eating anything at all, eating some pizza didn't seem like such a big deal. I didn't think I really needed to include little things like mini Crunch bars in my food log. What was one more day of not going to the gym? Finally, I took a step back and thought, "Who is this girl and why the hell is she acting like a delusional idiot?" Stupid excuses like those are what got me to 328 lbs and miserable before. I simply refused to go there again. So I gave myself a firm talking-to and shook myself out of my funk enough to start eating my normal food again and get to the gym. And you know what? After a couple days of my normal routine, my funk is gone. I'm back to normal and super excited about my life.

While I won't say I'm exactly glad I had a little hiccup in my journey, I am grateful for the lesson I learned. Being so happy now, it's easy to forget just how miserable I was before. So I'm grateful for the reminder of where I never want to be again. After all, the saying "Those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it" is not just a quote that history teachers use in order to get kids to learn about a bunch of wars. I'm not a fan of dwelling on the past, but I think a little reminder every now and then does a lot of good.

I thought that my blog entry this week would be about reaching my 100 pound milestone and how I celebrated it. But as last week taught me, sometimes things don't go as planned. That 100 pound blog entry is without a doubt important, and one that will probably be written next. I had to write what I was feeling right now. Right now my feelings are all about falling down, getting back up, and the importance of remembering where I have been in order to better appreciate where I am now and where I am going. Wow, that last sentence sounded all introspective...kudos to me! Please feel free to insert corny life lesson music here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Losing weight without pills, a super secret magic spell, or crazy gimmicks? What a concept!

Recently, I've had a lot of people asking me how I am losing this weight. When I tell them that I am just exercising 6 days a week and eating an 80% clean diet, I get a lot of sad or disbelieving looks. Because sadly,  many people are impatient and/or lazy, and want a quick fix. The sad looks are mainly from people who were hoping I was using some pill or maybe a magic spell to lose weight, something that they can do too.  The disbelieving looks are from people who just can't believe that something they have pretty much known their entire lives (namely, MOVE and don't eat a bunch of fake crap), could actually result in real weight loss. And honestly, 96.2 lbs ago, I might not have said no to a pill or magic spell. And I had my doubts that exercise and good nutrition could result in the massive amount of weight loss I needed to have happen. After all, 200 pounds is a pretty overwhelming amount of weight to lose. Now, I would not ever doubt my method and most of all, I wouldn't trade the experience I am having for a quick fix. There is something innately satisfying to work hard week after week, to know that you are making your body healthier and stronger every day, to see those numbers start to add up to something great. I have really put my blood, sweat, and tears into doing this (well, not really my blood, but definitely sweat and some happy tears). Why would I deprive myself of the chance to see that hard work and determination can bring me results that some people thought were not possible without gastric bypass? Now this is a cliche that I hear all the time on The Biggest Loser, but it really is true, so bear with me. It's about the journey, not the destination. If I waved my magic wand right now and was magically 128 lbs, what would I have learned? How would I have changed beyond the physical? I would just be the same unhappy girl who used food as comfort, the same girl with terrible self esteem, the same girl with awful exercise habits, just in a thinner body. And let me tell you, I know for sure that weight would come right back on because I would have learned nothing. So I treasure the time it is taking me to lose the weight, because I am getting so much more out of this experience than pounds lost on a scale.

I believe the secret to my success lies in the title to my blog....the space in between all or nothing (handy how that worked out, huh?). I have always been an extreme girl, as I've said before. It was either leaving a permanent butt indention in the couch and eating a diet that relied heavily on fast food and the absence of fruit and vegetables, or staying in the gym for hours and hours at a time, and eating iceberg lettuce and canned crab. The word moderation was not in my vocabulary. It is now. I truly believe I can maintain my current diet and exercise habits the rest of my life. Now, I'm not saying I don't have to make some sacrifices, or that I don't have some hard days. I have to find new ways to stay motivated every day. I try to work out 6 days a week, but if I miss a day, that is okay. I just go back the next day. I try to eat mainly fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and low fat dairy. I try to stay away from food in a box. But this past weekend, I had some peach pie and ice cream. And that's okay! And also, I eat a low sugar fudgecicle as a treat 3-4 times a week. Is that the most nutritious thing in the world? No, it's not, but it has a minimal amount of calories and I really enjoy them. So I eat them and I don't punish myself for that.  The difference from my crazy extreme habits before is that this is not so hard and miserable that I want to slam my head against a wall when I think of doing this for the rest of my life. When I say before, you may think I am referring to just my crazy gym rat and canned crabbed days, but I am actually also referring to my couch potato days. Was it hard physically to sit on a couch and eat crap? Nope, but it was extremely hard to endure what that was doing my body and self-esteem. And it did definitely make me miserable, and I did sometimes want to slam my head against a wall when thinking about where a lifetime of those bad habits would get me.

I am so much healthier now physically, and just as important, mentally and emotionally. What am gaining through this journey so far outweighs the sacrifices I make that it was never even a contest. Whenever I want to eat something bad for me or skip my workout, I don't punish myself for these thoughts like before. I just ask myself if doing those things would be being kind to my body. My new philosophy is all about being kind to myself, and not tearing myself apart.

I feel kind of weird giving advice on how to lose weight. Mainly because, I by no means have all the answers. I'm still figuring out a lot of the answers for myself! But at the same time, I can't deny that I have had success. And losing weight this way has given me so much happiness and self-esteem that I can't help but want to tell others how to achieve the same thing. So thanks for allowing me to get on my soapbox (seriously, where did that term even come from?) and be a crazy proponent for the power of moderation. I leave you with this thought-provoking image:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On your mark, get set, don't get kicked in the face!

I have a secret ambition that I will now share with the world (okay, really just the people who read my blog). I have always wanted to do a triathlon. But the thing is, this dream was kind of like me saying, "Oh, I'm going to go to the moon and eat me some moon cheese." I didn't honestly think I could ever do it. This weekend, I got to thinking about it though (always a dangerous move). It's kind of silly that I really believe I can lose 200 lbs, but I still don't think I could do a triathlon. It makes no sense to believe that I could literally lose an obese person from my body, but that I could not train myself to swim, bike, and run. I have never before felt like I could lose all this weight before, but now it's not a question of if, but when I will lose all of it. So if I start having that same belief about triathlons, I'm all set. When I was in high school, I had a really great teacher (shout out to Coach Bo!) who could also be quite scary and demanding at times. But that was why I did so well in his class. He made me read this quote out loud in his class, and when I didn't read it quite dramatically enough the first time, he made me read it again. I never forgot the truth of this quote though:

So obviously, I'm not starting out doing an Ironman competition or anything. I've researched online and there are lots of triathlons for beginners, which is great because 1) I might not look like a complete idiot and 2) I probably won't die. The ones I've found are usually swimming around 1100 yards, biking 20 miles, and running 5 miles. No small feat, but also not so large that I feel like I can't do it. As I've painstakingly found out when losing weight, you just have to have a plan. For example, I didn't just say I was going to lose 200 lbs and expect it happen by magic. I have certain foods I eat as staples, certain foods I usually stay away from, a cardio schedule, a strength-training schedule, a scheduled day that I weigh in. Results don't happen by magic. They happen with hard work and planning. A triathlon is no different. I have to set a training schedule and set small, attainable goals for myself. Luckily, through the power of Google (seriously, what did we do before Google?), I have found tons of helpful sites about training for beginners. I'm pretty excited about this because I've always done better when I had something to work towards. I mean, obviously I'm working towards losing weight, but I think it's healthier to also have a focus other than that scale number that can be so fickle at times.

I feel okay about the swimming part. I've been in the water practically since I was born, and I am a moderately strong swimmer. The thing I worry about is getting kicked in the face and consequently looking something like this when I cross the finish line:


Although, come to think of it, I guess that would look pretty hardcore. The biking part, I'm less sure of, but still feel okay about. I just have a feeling 20 miles feels a lot longer than you think it would, but I have been doing a lot of spinning. Guess it's time to pull out my bike to practice for this part. Now the running is the bad part. Five miles is totally doable normally, but I'm not sure how I'll feel about it after swimming and biking 20 miles. Plus, I kind of look like this when I run:

Yes, sad but true. I look quite stupid when I run. Guess I'll need to work on form. But anyway, with some hard work, I'm now setting this is as my goal:

Only I most likely won't have nearly as well-defined muscles as she does. And hopefully my eyes will be open and I won't look constipated. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

100 pounds of fat on the wall, 100 pounds of fat, take one down, pass it around (wait, that just sounds gross)

So this week, for some reason, the fact that I am so close to losing 100 lbs really sank in. Only 11 pounds to go!  I'm super excited about it. I mean, I celebrate my weight loss every week, but a 100 pound loss? That is something special. That doesn't happen every day. I'm trying to decide what to do to celebrate, so any ideas you have would be welcome. Here are some funny and/or over-the-top ideas I have that will, sadly, not actually happen.
  •  Skydive while carrying 100 pounds of animal fat. While I'm falling, I could drop each pound one by one onto the ground in a symbolic gesture of shedding the weight. However, the people that the fat lands on may have a problem seeing the symbolism, and instead only focus on being covered in fat and/or knocked unconscious by said fat. 
  • Participate in my fave Biggest Loser "shedding the weight" challenge. And by this, I mean the one in season 5 where they have custom fat suits made to exactly replicate their former bodies. They have to run on the beach wearing the suit and then shed it and run up a mountain with a gigantic flag bearing their name. Although the flag thing may present a problem because all those contestants had very short names and mine is 7 letters. My flag would be so long that I may take off in the air with it. That would be kind of cool too, until the landing.
  • Swim in 100 pounds of jello. Actually, it would probably need to be more than 100 pounds to swim in, but it just sounds like fun. Annnnddd.....if it's sugar-free, it could double as a tasty, low-calorie snack!
  • Get a 100 second free shopping spree at a farmer's market. I could do some serious damage.
  • Weigh in on a gigantic scale wearing a sports bra and spandex shorts. Oh wait, that's a actually a nightmare. The fact that that NEVER has to happen is a definite plus side to not making Biggest Loser.
  • Attempt to eat a 100 pound cheeseburger. And then die trying. 
  • Get 100 letters of encouragement from my supporters. This one would actually be really awesome, but most likely not feasible. I could wallpaper a wall with the letters! Hey, I already plan to have a wall in my bathroom covered with my motivation poster when I finish it.
  • Magically develop 6 pack abs over night. Because right now, like my hipbones and collarbones before, those abs are still in the witness protection program. 
Seriously though, I just can't decide what to do. It can't be that expensive, but I do want it to be special. I've got a little time to decide still, so I guess we'll just see what real ideas come to me. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Forrest Gump, rediscovered bones, and the weirdest form of Tourette's ever: Just a few added perks to losing weight

This may be hard to believe, but it's not all about the scale for me. Yes, in true frenemy fashion, I do have a passionate love/consuming hatred for the scale, all depending on one little number. For evidence of this disturbing relationship, please read Holding my scale hostage under the bathroom sink. But losing weight for me has meant a lot of other kinds of victories too. So really as much to remind myself of them as to tell you about them, here they are:

  • Run, Kristen, run!--No, I'm not Forrest Gump. I'm also not that Olympic track guy with the awesomely appropriate last name Bolt. But I'm pretty proud of how far I've come with running. I could maybe run 2 minutes when I started, and that was with an end result of me looking like I might keel over and/or die. This past Friday, I ran 5k on the treadmill without stopping with a time of 26:47. I know that time wouldn't win me any races, but I no longer feel like I would look like a fool for entering a 5k. Plus no keeling over or dying! Always a plus.
  • No pain, no gain (only half true)--Let me be the first to say that I have definitely had my fair share of soreness from working out. But that is a good type of pain (usually after I pop a couple of ibuprofen) because it is a reminder of how hard I've worked that day. This type of pain is totally different from the pain I had before. Because I can say from experience that the pain I had before, pain in my hips and knees purely from carrying around over 300 lbs, in no possible way ever feels good. It felt like old age, which is ridiculous at age 27. I haven't felt that pain in quite a while, and I never plan to feel it again. Well, maybe in 4 or 5 decades. 
  • Food is food--This statement may seem idiotically simplistic. I mean, duh. But to emotional eaters like me, food has never been merely food. Food was a crutch. It was what I turned to during happy times, sad times, stressful times, angry times, pretty much any time. It was comforting, but that comfort came at a heavy price. I'm finally able to say that my first urge when I'm stressed is not reaching for a bowl of ice cream or a bag of chips. Now my first urge is to work out! Oh no, I sound like I've crossed over to the dark side or something. 
  •  Haven't seen those bones in a while--I've recently been able to be reunited with a couple of friends I have not seen for a while: my hip and collarbones. They have been in hiding. It's been so long that I actually suspect they may have been in the witness protection program. I mean this in the least freaky way possible, but sometimes at night I just like to feel those bones. Yes, I know how that sounds, which I why I wrote the disclaimer before. 
  • Just call me peppy (on second thought, please don't)--I can't quite say exactly what the cause is of my consistent good mood lately. Probably a combination of feeling great and the knowledge I am doing something so positive for myself. I don't actually care all that much what the cause is, just as long as it keeps up. All I know is that I wake up with tons of energy and feeling great about the day. I may have a bad mood every now and then, but it's quickly gone. It is really awesome.
  •  Self-esteem without the Kool-aid-- My self-esteem has gone up a ton. Along with my physical changes has come the emotional feeling that I may actually not be a fat sack of garbage. While having so much extra weight was not the sole cause of this feeling, it played a large part. Now, I think I deserve to be happy. I think that I have worth as a human being. And I think that if I want something badly enough and am willing to work hard enough, I can achieve anything. People who have not lost a large amount of weight may just see weight loss as a physical change. But I think it would be very difficult to lose a lot of weight without having a lot of different emotions. It's just an emotional process, one that all of you lucky people get to experience right along with me (you better count yourselves lucky, lol). I recognize that the above paragraph may contain phrases that sound like they come out of a bad self-help book. I assure you, I have not had any self-help cult Kool-aid (or sadly, any Kool-aid at all lately). It's just like all these corny phrases just burst out of me on their own accord. Please regard it as an odd form of Tourette's, just instead of profanity, I spout inspirational phrases.
Maybe I should write this stuff on my scale. Seriously, it may not be a bad idea for off weeks weight-wise.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A picture: Worth a thousand words, or merely a reminder of bad hairstyles, teenage desperation, and more than a few body issues?

So many people who know me also know that I really like to take pictures. And by pictures, I don't mean artsy photography of a lone flower in a meadow. I just mean, point-and-click pictures of friends and family. My love affair with pictures started back when I was only a wee lass of 9 or so. I got a disposable camera to use at camp. The first year at camp, I somehow believed that it would be more interesting to only take pictures of buildings and things like my bunk bed rather than actual people. Needless to say, it was not. So the next year I had someone take a picture of me standing by my bunk bed or by the buildings. Again, not interesting (apparently, I'm also a bit slow). It was not until the next year that it occurred to me to take pictures of me with actual people doing actual activities. And so my poufy-hair-bangs-growing-out-stage (I call it my bulldog phase due to this one unfortunate picture of me where I look somewhat like a bulldog, that everyone in my entire family has a copy of) was captured for me to remember for all eternity. This is not the actual picture, but it does capture the awkward bangs-growing-out stage.

Anyway, I continued to take pictures all through high school. And of course high school girls love nothing more than to try to look as seductive as possible in pictures. My friends and I devoted a disturbing amount of time to dressing up and doing our make-up for our little "beauty shots." I wasn't thin then, but I thought I looked pretty good. I liked having my picture taken most of the time. Just to be clear, I took pictures of normal activities too!

In college, I got a digital camera. That took things to a whole new level. I now had files on my computer to store all my pictures, which meant I could be completely OCD and categorize my pictures by event and year like the little organizational nerd I am. During this stage, my siblings got a bit tired of all the pictures. Thus began what I will refer to as the "hands in front of face" stage for my brother and sister. It continues to this day, despite my assurances to them that they will be grateful I took all these pictures when we are old and grey and enjoy reminiscing about the good old days. Luckily, my friends enjoyed taking pictures as much as I did. Unfortunately, that also included taking some extremely bad pictures that seemed like they were great at the time they were taken (usually around 2 am at a bar). My college years happened to fall during the age of MySpace. So when I lost weight, I took quite a few self-pics for my profile. Usually that just involved holding the camera as far in front of me as possible, but sometimes I would get especially motivated and use the timer feature. Yes, there were boatloads of pictures taken when I lost weight. It was great timing because there was graduation and a cruise to Bermuda to capture on film.

After college, there was still a good amount of pictures. The difference was, fewer and fewer of them had me in them. The more weight I gained, the more content I was just to take pictures of everyone else. Don't get me wrong, I love taking pictures of other people (contrary to what all my self-portraits suggest lol), but it's nice to see me in there too sometimes. It just got to be too much work to be in a picture, all for a photo that disgusted me. People with weight issues, you know what I mean. First you have to be sure the pic is taken from the waist up. Your stomach has to be sucked in, while sticking your chin out as far possible to minimize the dreaded double chin (which usually results in a pose that resembles a weird looking ostrich). And heaven help us if the picture is taken from below! It must be taken from above preferably. And if there is someone to hide your body behind, even better. Like I said, too much work and quite frankly, kind of sad.

I used to look at my pictures to remind me of fun times. But the pictures from the last few years mainly just grossed me out. It wasn't so much remembering fun times as it was critiquing my every flaw. So I just simply stopped being in pictures, which was easy enough because I am usually the one to take most of them anyway. This past Christmas, I wasn't in a single shot other than the one I had to be in because it was a family one.

Am I ready now to start taking countless bad self-portraits again? No, I can't say that I am yet (although, in hindsight, may that phase never repeat itself again). But I am ready to be in a picture again like a normal person, like someone who isn't terrified to see a picture of herself. I don't want to just observe through my camera lens anymore. I don't want to hide anymore. And yes, I will also make this a completely corny metaphor about my life too because it's true (and just too perfect to pass up). I don't want to just watch or hide in my life anymore either. And while there's more to that than just losing weight, it sure does help a lot to feel like you're worth being seen. Cue sappy life lesson music (pretty much any music from "Full House")...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sweat, decapitation, and Tigger: All in a day's work at the gym

I've had a quite a few weird moments at the gym this past week, so I think they need to be shared. Some of them involved my own weird moments, and some involve the oddities of others (yay, good alliteration!).

  • I'll start off with the guy I will will henceforth call Sweaty Grunting Man (or SGM). I was about to start on the elliptical yesterday when this older man came over and went on the elliptical beside me. SGM was very chatty and started going on about how he did the elliptical for 3 hours the day before (after seeing him in action, I have serious doubts about this story). I had no problem saying hello, but I am not a talker when I'm doing cardio. I become pretty antisocial for that time period, mainly because of that laser-like focus I have mentioned in earlier posts (actually, I originally said that jokingly, but it has kind of become true). So I put in my earbuds and all was quiet for a few minutes. And then, coming through the beat of my inspirational music, I hear grunting. And when I say grunting, I don't mean quiet, little grunts. I mean, OMG-this-man-is-going-to-die-any-second grunts. And along with the grunts, came the motivational talking. And again, not quiet phrases under your breath to keep yourself going. I mean an actual conversation with himself. It was quite disturbing to bear witness to. And then, as I glance to the floor beside me, I see the massive amount of sweat under SGM's elliptical. The floor is soaked, so I think that he must be going pretty fast, or perhaps have some sort of sweat gland dysfunction. But no, SGM is barely moving, which is why I have my doubts about the 3 hour elliptical story and why I feared he may actually die beside me, and not just make grunts alluding to that scenario.
  •  So as not to be a hypocrite, I will admit that I also talk to myself when pushing through a hard section of cardio. The difference between me and SGM though is that 1) I speak very quietly and 2) I speak only an occasional short phrase such as, "You can do this!". I also sometimes lip synch to my music. As I've said before, I have a somewhat embarrassing exercise playlist that mainly consists of inspirational and corny songs. As an example, I will say only that the old Biggest Loser theme song "Proud," as well as "The Climb," are on that list. To anyone who makes fun of my playlist, I say, you can't argue with the results! Most of the time no one notices my lip synching or talking to myself, but every now and then someone does and I get a weird stare. And sometimes I weird myself out by not just lip synching the motivational parts of a song, but also parts such as, "my humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps."
  •  The same day I had to deal with SGM wrecking havoc with my focus, I also had to deal with Brave, Yet Irritating, Handyman (BYIH). For some reason, the paneling on the partition in front of the ellipticals needed to be replaced that day. So all the ellipticals were moved back so BYIH could work on doing that. However, when actually using the elliptical, the machinery came disturbingly close to BYIH's head. He did not seem to be disturbed by this, which explains the brave part of his name (or perhaps just stupid). But it was really freaking me out  because I'm pretty sure decapitating BYIH would wreck my concentration, plus I might feel some amount of guilt and horror over that situation.  But it wasn't BYIH's fault that he was messing up my routine, because after all, he was just trying to do his job. So I decide to change ellipticals, so I can focus on my work-out rather than BYIH's imminent decapitation. And of course, he then moves down to work directly in front of that elliptical! I tell myself, maybe it's not so bad. But sadly, it is that bad. And so I move again. And 5 minutes later, so does he, right in front of me. At the point I add the "Yet Irritating" part to his name and decide to do the treadmill instead.
  •  At my gym, the treadmills are located directly in front of the ellipticals. Aside from the occasional eye candy, I usually do not really pay much attention to the treadmill people. But sadly, Weird Sweat Pattern Woman (WSPW) demanded that attention be paid. I see this woman all the time and she always wears these very tight, short,  light grey bike shorts. It's not really a good look, but she pulls it off as well as a 65-year-old woman could, so I usually silently applaud her fitness, dedication to the gym, and brave fashion forays. Anyway, when this woman is about 20 minutes into her run, I see a disturbing sweat pattern start to emerge. There is no way to describe it other than her sweat made a thong pattern on her butt. And as she worked out harder and harder, the sweat pattern became darker and darker until it was impossible to ignore. Then WSPW turns around to get off the treadmill, and I see the the weirdness continues onto her front. No thong pattern here, no, not nearly anything that innocuous. On her front side, it seriously just looks like she wet herself. And this is a pattern I see repeating itself day after day, week after week. And that,  folks, is why you will never see me in tight, short bicycle shorts even at my goal weight. Because I fear the same fate could await me or anyone else who attempts such fashion bravery. 
  • Finally, I will share the story of Freaky Running Boy (FRB). As I said, I do occasionally enjoy watching some nice eye candy on the treadmill. So when FRB came over to the treadmills looking nicely muscled and quite hot overall, I noticed. Unfortunately, the admiration turned into incredulity and confusion when he started to run on the treadmill. He ran at a pretty good pace for a pretty long time, so he's definitely in shape. I'll give him that much. But the only way I can describe his running would be that of Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh running. Every other step he took, he bounced. And not just a little hop. It was perhaps the weirdest running I have ever seen. But hey, at least FRB is pretty. 
The gym: Not only a place to get in shape, but also a place to observe some pretty weird crap. And to people I have described (not that they read this blog), I really do admire all of you for getting healthy. But sometimes weirdness such as this must be shared. And in a few cases, I mean shared with a medical professional because there is something weird going on internally. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Shame, self-criticism, and secrets: Not just an example of good alliteration

So you may have noticed (or probably I am thinking my blog is more important to people than it actually is) that it has been a little while since I have posted. That's because I have been struggling with whether to post about a particular topic that I knew would be hard for me to write about. I tried to get myself to write about other things, but it's like I just can't write anything else until I write this one particular post. It just demanded to be written.

I wanted to write about shame today. And with a post like this, it is necessary for me to reveal the thing that I have the most shame about: my starting weight. I have gone back and forth about revealing this. I didn't want to post my starting weight because of pressure from others, or because that is just what you are supposed to do when writing a weight loss blog. I wanted to post it because I wanted to, if and when it felt like the right thing to do. Of course, along with the shame, there is fear. Fear that others will judge me, fear that they will be disgusted over just how far I had let myself go. But you know what? I came to a conclusion last night. My conclusion is that if someone wants to judge me, fine by me. It's not like I have control over that anyway. Because the truth is, I don't need someone like that in my life. But what I do need to have is ownership over where I have been in my life. And part of where I have been is 328 lbs. That's right. I'm 5'1" and I let myself get all the way up to 328 lbs. I'm tired of being ashamed of this fact. It wears on me. I believe that if this shameful secret is no longer a secret, part of the shame will go away. After all, scary things are usually less scary in the light of day. So as of today, I am owning my starting weight. Am I going to go up to random people on the street and tell them what I used to weigh? No, because obviously that would be pretty creepy and weird. But if someone asks me my starting weight, I will just tell them, instead of freaking out internally. If I refuse to let it be scary, it won't be. It's just a fact now, like my age or height.

It bothers me that a lot of people who lose weight act disgusted by and ashamed of their former heavier selves. I feel a lot of things when I think of that person, but disgust is not one of them. Most of what I feel is sadness that I lived so long that way when I could have been living this way all along. But I refuse to cut down that person that I used to be. Because, after all, that person is still me. And I try to treat myself with kindness nowadays, instead of constant criticism. I may have been heavier and used food as an emotional crutch, but I still had worth as a person. I still got through many hard times in that heavy body. But I admit, while I don't feel disgust, I do feel ashamed sometimes when thinking of my heaviest self.

But like I said before, I am just plain tired of being ashamed. Ashamed of my starting weight. Ashamed that I am still on the larger side even after losing 77.8 lbs. Ashamed of how I look at the gym compared to all those skinny girls. But the truth is, I am probably more judgmental, critical, and mean to myself at times than other people could ever be. Because I know all the right buttons to push! As for the people who do judge me, let me state my new philosophy yet again: Go ahead. Go ahead and judge me. Judge me for getting healthier and taking on the immense challenge of losing so much weight. Judge me for changing for the better inside and out every day. That is their issue, not mine. But I really have faith that the vast majority of people will be encouraging and have only positive things to say. After all, I see evidence of this everyday in my day-to-day life, Facebook, and seeing just how many people continue to read this blog.

Whew, I already feel better having written this post. After all, I started this blog with the intention of being completely honest and open about my weight loss journey. And it bothered me that I had yet to address this topic that loomed so large (haha, literally!) for me. Am I still a little scared to let everyone know my secret? Duh. I mean, I might be changing, but mean inner voice Gertrude still has a bit of a hold on me, telling me everyone will be grossed out by how big I had gotten. But the bigger part of me feels a sense of freedom and pride that I have the strength to show everyone not only how far I have come, but also where I started.

So after this heavy, emotional baggage post, please look forward to a much lighter post next time!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Daily Dilemmas: The epic battle of multigrain bread versus the Baconator

Many people who have never had to lose weight before may think that this venture involves only one, or maybe just a few decisions. The main decision being, "Do I want to lose weight?" So obviously, I've answered that one. Another question could be, "Why did God make cheeseburgers taste so good, while simultaneously being so bad for you?" I mean, that was just kind of evil. Anyway, there are actually a million little decisions I have to make every single day in order to keep losing weight. Sometimes I make the wrong one. But I figure as long as I usually make the right one, I'm doing okay. So, for your entertainment, another foray into my mind:

0600: iPhone alarm goes off playing scarily upbeat motivational song while simultaneously reading "Get up you lazy bum!" on the screen. Seriously consider staying in bed and being a lazy bum. Get out of bed: WIN

0615: Weigh, even though I weighed 2 days ago, or resist urge to act like a crazy, scale-obsessed freak? Behave like a freak, rationalizing that the scale gets lonely in its exile under the bathroom sink and needs the company: FAIL

0630: 30 or 45 minutes on the elliptical? Spend first 5 minutes fulfilling my iPhone's prophecy of being a lazy bum, and resolving to definitely only do 30 minutes. Get motivated and push through 45 minutes, going manically at the end in order to beat the previous day's time: WIN

0715: Walk at leisurely pace on treadmill while enjoying TV and simultaneously guiltily watching the evil mutant seniors sprinting beside me, or exert myself and be distracted from TV because of my imminent death from exertion? Exert myself (and manage not to die): WIN

0800: Strength training and torture protesting limbs more while feeling virtuous, or get the heck out of this torture chamber? Book it out of gym pronto, while guiltily glancing at weights: FAIL

0805: Stop at one of the SEVEN fast food restaurants (America's obesity epidemic: not such a mystery) in the 2 miles between my apartment and the gym for a greasy heart attack on a biscuit breakfast, or go home and eat nutritionally sensible, though slightly boring, oatmeal? Eat oatmeal, and get a little crazy adding some strawberries in to jazz it up: WIN

0830: Throw ingredients in the Crockpot for dinner or wing it when I come home? Burn bonus calories by having to forcefully wrestle apart the frozen chicken breasts I forgot to thaw the night before: WIN (and fail on the chicken breast part)

0905: Drive by Krispy Kreme on the way to work. Succumb to hypnotic smell of glazed goodness or pass right on by? Inhale delicious scent and drive right past: WIN

0925: Get excitedly told by manager that there are Krispy Kreme donuts in the breakroom. Try to resist urge to a) severely hurt her, b) run screaming away from donuts, or c) shove donuts directly in my piehole. Resist all 3 counterproductive urges and calmly tell her I already ate breakfast: WIN

1200: Those damn fast food restaurants are still taunting me! Meet my downfall in the form of the disturbingly named "Baconator" or eat previously packed ham on wheat, string cheese, and apple? The Baconator does not destroy me today: WIN

1530: Hungry! Eat leftover pizza my sister put in the fridge to torment me, or have Greek yogurt? Fight to resist urge to a) severely hurt sister, b) run screaming from pizza, or c) cram pizza in aforementioned piehole. Heroically resist all 3 urges, eat Greek yogurt, and make mental note to self that people offering you junk food are not out to get you. Also make mental note to stop fantasizing about maiming fellow human beings: WIN

1600: Take nap or gym again? Seriously consider each, and tempt myself with nap by thinking of the many proven benefits of power naps. Resist my pillow and hit the gym: WIN

1600-1800: No need to rehash gym dilemmas. They never change! Manage to do strength training and cardio this time: WIN

1830: Yum, healthy version of sesame chicken in the Crockpot! Eat 2 chicken breasts or eat brown rice? Eat 2 chicken breasts because, though I used to eat carbs like nobody's business, I now crave protein like I'm some grossly overdeveloped bodybuilder: WIN

2000:  TV time: sit on the couch in a reality show-induced stupor, or jump up during commercials and do sit-ups like the Energizer bunny on steroids? The stupor sounds better tonight: FAIL

2015: Succumb to the allure of sugar-free Fudgecicles, or abide by my no-eating-at-night rule? Alas, I have an addiction to these 80 calorie bites of deliciousness on a wooden stick (although weirdly enough, I can't stand having my tongue actually touch the wooden stick): FAIL

2300: Bedtime. Set alarm for soul-crushingly early time time, or sleep later like the lazy bum I masochistically set my iPhone to tell me that I am? Set alarm and consider making a kinder wake-up message on phone: WIN

So, in hindsight, hopefully everyone can read military time. I'm not changing the times now! Sorry, guess it's the nurse in me. If you can't decipher it, google it. It's not hard. Hope everyone enjoyed this venture into my thoughts.

Also, as promised last week, an update on the results of  increasing my calories. I lost 5.2 lbs! So weird to think eating more calories did that.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shrinks in the dressing room: Something Target should have added along with all the mirrors

I think one area a lot of people don't think about before they lose weight is how much it costs to get new clothes. It's like you just focus on all the fabulous clothes you'll have once you hit your goal weight, and conveniently forget that there has to be a lot of clothes in between your fat clothes and thin clothes. Sadly, you do not just suddenly transform from one to the other, despite what those before and after pics may look like. I try to wear my in-between clothes as long as possible to save money, but when you pretty much lose the use of one hand to due to having to hold up your pants even though you are already wearing a belt, there is not really another option other than buying new pants. Except adopting a gangsta look. I mean, I love shopping as much as the next girl, but it is kind of sad to only get a month or so use out of clothes. Luckily, I do have some clothes saved from when I lost weight before, so that saves money, but I seem to have a bad habit of not pulling them out before they get too big. There have been several shirts I loved that I had from before that had gotten too small, and I pulled them out the other day only to discover they were now too big.

Anyway, shopping now is much more enjoyable. When you wear bigger sizes, it's really not much fun to shop. You kind of have to take whatever is available, not what you like or what looks good. Because really, nothing looked good when I was that heavy. It was more like, what makes me look the least bad. I remember one specific trip to Target that I took around a year ago. I got in the dressing room and tried on shirt after shirt. Not one of them fit and that was the biggest size they had in the regular department. Plus, Target had made the somewhat dubious decision to add A LOT of mirrors to their dressing rooms. I could then see my rolls not just once, but over and over again front and back. I felt so disgusted that I almost cried. I refused to shop in plus-size, so I just left with no clothes.

I went to Target again the other day. I grabbed shirt after shirt that I thought was cute. When I went in the dressing room, not one of them fit. But this time, it was because all of them were too big! I grabbed smaller sizes and went back. Now my problem was that it was hard to choose which shirt I liked best! I looked at myself in all those mirrors, and I felt pretty. I'm not saying I suddenly became a perfect physical specimen and was completely enamored with my astounding beauty and perfect body. There are still definitely trouble spots. It's not like I was blinded to them. But I am learning to give myself a break and really believe that even though I still have a ways to go, I can look good RIGHT NOW. Why should I wait until I am 132 lbs to feel like I am worth feeling pretty? So again in a Target dressing room (seriously, they may need to hire some psychologists to hang out in the dressing rooms in case of emotional breakdowns), I almost cried. But this time, it was because of realizing just how far I have come in a year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Experiment? Do I look like a guinea pig to you?!?

Hopefully the answer is no, I do not look like a guinea pig, although they are very cute. My late guinea pig, Captain Jack, also struggled with his weight. I think he was wider than he was long.

Yes, my pig did enjoy his food and sedentary lifestyle. But they say parents are role models for their children, and as Jack's adoptive mother, I set a very poor example ;)

So this week, I am having a little experiment that I have kind of been putting off for a while because of fear. For a few weeks now, I have been having a discrepancy between what my Bodybugg tells me about how much weight I should lose and how much weight I actually lose. For those that don't know what the heck a Bodybugg is, it is a stylish (not!) armband I wear 24/7 that measures how many calories I burn a day. Then at night I upload the data to my computer and input the food I eat. See, with my Bodybugg it's cool because I can measure my calorie deficit (calories burned-calories consumed) every day, then add up the calorie deficit from each day at the end of the week and divide by 3500 (calorie burn needed to lose 1 lb) to get how much weight I should lose. Hope I didn't lose anyone doing all that math hahaha. So for the past few weeks my Bodybugg has been saying I should have lost about 2 lbs more than I actually lose. It's been quite frustrating because I can't figure out where those 2 lbs are! I know my calories burned are accurate because they are measured with my Bodybugg, and I have also been very careful with portion sizes and measuring food, so I think my calorie intake is accurate. So I did some research, and have come to believe that my daily calorie intake of 1200 calories may be too low for my activity level and current weight, which may be the reason behind my missing 2 lbs. Weirdly enough, I may actually lose more weight eating 1500 calories a day if I am correct. Unfortunately, the only way to test this theory is just to add calories and see what happens. Or clone myself and see what happens to the clone when I add calories. Or discover my previously unknown identical twin and test her. That's a little too much work though. So this week, I am trying to eat 1500 calories a day instead of 1200. Okay, I think everyone (including me) has had enough science and math for the day!

I know the science behind this theory, but I am still scared that I will gain weight, not lose! But now is the perfect time because it's the week before I start phase 2, so I don't have to worry about getting behind on that goal yet. Plus it's my birthday this week, so I will probably be eating more calories anyway. Don't worry, I'm not going crazy or anything and shoving massive pieces of birthday cake in my mouth. I'm trying to just accept what happens with this experiment. If I lose more weight, fantastic! If I gain, well, I'll know my theory was wrong and I'll just go back to what I was doing before. Contrary to what Gertrude sometimes tries to tell me, the world will not end if I gain weight or even stay the same weight. Nor will that mean that I will gain back the 67 lbs I have lost. Seriously, Gertrude is so mean sometimes. At times, I think she needs to be slapped in the face, but that would be painful for me since Gertrude shares my face. I guess I will just have to mentally face slap her!

Tune in for the results of "Experiment Eat More to Lose" next week!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Honest Abe ain't got nothing on me!

I've been thinking a lot about honesty lately. Well, honesty and accountability--they kind of go hand in hand. For weight loss, it's been really important for me to be honest with myself. In the past, I've told myself that I needed other people to be accountable to and honest with in order to lose weight. That didn't work out so much for me. A prime example: Weight Watchers. I'm not dissing Weight Watchers; it's a great program and works well for many people. It didn't work for me; not because of any problem with the program, but because of a problem with me. What I failed to realize about myself was that if I wasn't losing weight, I just wouldn't go to meetings. I mean, no one was holding me at gunpoint, forcing me to weigh in every week. Although, in hindsight, maybe that's a good idea? Hahaha. I let my fear of failure in the short term losing weight practically guarantee my failure long term losing weight. And that, my friends, is what we call irony.

Boiled down, my main problem with Weight Watchers was that I wanted other people to take responsibility for my weight loss. I wanted to be forced to be honest and accountable. But if I were being real, I would have seen that the truth is that no one can force me to do that. Yes, I have many people this time that I feel accountable to (shout-out to my Destination Skinny peeps!). And when I screw up, I'll be honest and admit it to people. But when you get right down to it, the one who matters the most concerning my weight loss is me. In order to succeed, I have to be honest and accountable to myself. Other people aren't around to see the minute decisions I have to make every single day that add up to a big weight loss. I'm the only one around to make those decisions, and I'm the only one who will know if I am lying to myself. And lying to myself is something I have done extremely well over the years.

Okay, time to keep it real here, embarrassing though it may be. Back in my unenlightened days, through a combination of continually lying to myself and skillfully employing plain old denial, I somehow convinced myself that it wasn't really that bad to be at my heaviest weight. That it was okay to have my joints ache at the ripe old age of 27. That it was no big deal what an ordeal it was to zip up some of my pants. That it was normal to get winded climbing stairs. That it was no tragedy to be treating my body like it was worthless. In the back of my mind, I knew the truth (I mean, duh, I am a nurse), but I just wasn't ready to hear it. The truth was that all of the above was SOOOOOO NOT OKAY.

I count it among my greatest achievements that I am able to be readily honest and accountable to myself now. I may try to tell myself I don't have time to go to the gym on a busy morning, but that little voice in my head (the good one, not Gertrude! Perhaps we should call my good voice Gabrielle? My head is starting to get a little crowded lol) knows when I actually do have time. I follow that voice. I may try to tell myself that it's okay to take a day, or 2 days, or 3 days off my healthy eating plan, but Gabrielle tells me that that is not freaking okay, young lady! Gabrielle is kind of a downer sometimes, but I'm a fan of hers for the most part. . Bottom line though: I would much rather be happy, accountable, and honest to myself than miserable, in denial, and lying to myself.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook

Haha, stole a Julia Child quote for the title. I mean, who else would I quote for a post about food? But I have a feeling when she said steak, she didn't mean the leanest steak available like she should have been. However, she had the right idea about diet food. Just say no! I've had quite a few people ask what I've been eating to help me lose weight, so I decided to share here. The answer is...10 Whoppers and large fries everyday! It's a very complicated system involving flushing out my fat with the fat from the burgers and fries. Hahaha...yeah right. I mean, I saw that Super Size Me documentary, so that is one diet I will not be trying. Although disturbingly enough, after seeing that movie my best friend and I did go out to Outback to eat. Guess the movie wasn't disturbing enough. I also used to eat ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser. Ah, memories, memories.

Moving on, here is my rationale concerning food. When I have dieted before, I focused on eating low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb everything. Basically, diet food. Most diet food is not so good. It was hard to stick to that, and I constantly felt deprived. Obviously, eventually I just fell off the wagon. This time, my focus is on eating real food. With few exceptions, by eating fresh produce, lean meats, whole grains, and low fat dairy in reasonable portions, it is hard to go wrong. I mean, obviously some foods are better than others, but I think it would be pretty hard not to lose weight on that diet. Plus, it's so tasty that I don't usually feel deprived. Sorry to disappoint those who just thought I was a weight loss prodigy (lol), but I don't have some crazy secret to losing weight. Here are some of my staples:


Chicken: Let me tell you, I would honestly be screwed if I didn't like chicken. I eat it all the time, mainly boneless skinless breasts. On a side note, I had an embarrassing experience when cooking chicken breasts for my family a few weeks ago. My dad said he wasn't hungry then because he just had surgery. Without thinking, I asked if he would like me to save him a breast. That earned me a weird look. But yeah, I would say chicken is my main meat (is it just me, or does that sound vaguely dirty?). I've found quite a few different recipes I love using chicken as the main ingredient. Last night, I made sesame chicken and it was great, if I do say so myself. Luckily, my family agreed.

Tuna: Sadly, I am not much of a seafood fan, which is a shame because of all the omega-3 fatty acids in them. But tuna is one exception to that. Yes, it's canned, but I still get my omega-3's! I usually eat it on my awesome double fiber multigrain bread (using very, very little mayo mixed in), or in a salad. 

Extra-lean ground beef: This is probably just a once a week food. I like to keep my red meat to a minimum. I usually use the 93% lean kind for hamburgers or use it in spaghetti sauce.

Canadian bacon: Great option for breakfast sandwiches.


Spinach: I eat spinach like it's going out of style. I eat it in salads, as a topping on sandwiches, even sometimes as part of my breakfast. What can I say? I've weirdly liked spinach since I was a toddler.

Sweet potatoes: I eat this as a side dish a lot. Awesome nutritional value, much better than white potatoes. I put a little all spice in, and it is delicious!

Squash and zucchini: Great taste, both stewed or baked. Actually, sometimes I just eat them raw too.

Mushrooms: Not even fancy mushrooms, just regular ones. I tend to put mushrooms in most of my crock pot dishes. Also, sometimes I make "pizzas" using portabello mushroom caps as the crust.

Peppers: All the colors! Is it just me, or does putting lots of pepper colors in a dish make it automatically seem healthier? I just hear so much about eating all the colors of the rainbow, and peppers make it so easy to do.

Cauliflower: Another veggie I eat both in crock pot recipes, and just raw as a snack.

Baby carrots:  Duh. Doesn't every diet have this one? But seriously, they are good. I tend to pair them with cottage cheese.

Avocados:  This is a relatively new veggie for me, but I have been eating it a lot because of those good fats it has. I even made chicken salad with it using it as a replacement for mayo.

Tomatoes, sadly a veggie (wait, actually a fruit) that is absent from this list: I HATE TOMATOES! I wish I liked them. I know how good they are good for you. And actually I enjoy pretty much everything derived from tomatoes. But as far as tomatoes themselves, I've hated them for as long as I can remember. Actually, when I was very little I picked all the green tomatoes from my mom's garden. 


Strawberries: My fave fruit! I love them as much as I hate tomatoes.

Blueberries: These are okay, just not my favorite. But I eat them because they are a superfood!  I like to mix them with greek yogurt.

Plums: Portable and only 30 calories apiece...what's not to like?

Nectarines: I started eating these as a replacement for peaches. They have a similar taste, but have fewer calories and lower sugar.

Pineapple: I love pineapple in just about everything. I pair it with chicken a lot.

Apples: They don't say it keeps the doctor away for nothing...

Oranges: I like the clementine ones because they are portable and less messy than regular oranges.

The fruits not included: There are some fruits that I like, but have stopped eating because they are higher in calories and sugar. These include bananas, peaches, and grapes.


Greek yogurt: This would have to be my number one dairy source. I used to eat Chobani, but that brand has pretty high calories and sugar. So I've switched to Dannon. Way less sugar and only 80 calories.

Cottage cheese: Another diet cliche unfortunately. But seriously, I love the 2% as an afternoon snack, mixed with fruit. It is a good savory snack, and has protein so it fills you up.

String cheese: Great emergency snack.

Milk, not so much: I'm not really a milk drinker. I've tried to buy it after being blasted with the milk mustache campaigns, but it usually just went bad. Now I just try to get my milk vitamins and minerals from the sources I listed above.

Grains, Carbs, whatever you want to call them:

Nature's Own Double Fiber Bread: This is what I make my sandwiches with, and then I feel virtuous.

Flat Out wraps: I use them when I make wraps (obviously). It took me a while to find a wrap I liked with good nutritional value, but these do the job.

Quinoa: Now my family likes most of the dishes I've made, but I have not sold them on quinoa. They actually compared it to kitty litter. Is it my favorite thing? No, but it is so much better for you than rice as a side dish that I use it. And I don't agree with the kitty litter assertion.

Lite multi-grain English muffins: I use these for my breakfast sandwiches. 

Oatmeal: I usually eat the low sugar kind, or plain and add fruit.

Random stuff: 

Soup: Pretty much any low cal, low sodium brand. I like Campbell's vegetable soup a lot.

Low sugar fudgecicles: Do these have any nutritional value? Not really, but they are only 80 calories for 2 and they satisfy my sweet tooth. So I think they're worth it.

Edy's Fruit Bars: As the box boldly proclaims, they are "made with real fruit!" 80 calories for a large fruit bar sounds good to me. Unlike a lot of fruit bars I've tried, they taste like fruit and not just ice.

Lean Cuisine meals: I'm trying to cut down my intake on these because many of them have a lot of sugar and sodium. However, some of them aren't too bad and can be a good option if you are short on time.

Eggs: I love me some eggs. I eat egg whites as part of my breakfast sandwich and hard boiled eggs as a snack. They are really filling!

Almonds: I let the amount of fat freak me out and keep me from buying them for a long time. But like avocados, almonds have mainly good fats.

I've left some stuff out, but this is a good general idea of what I usually have on hand. Most of these, people already know about, but maybe this list includes a few foods you haven't thought of. My main change with food has been thinking of it in terms of how much total nutritional value it has, not just if it is low fat and low calorie. Food is fuel, and I have so much more energy eating like this. I'm off to make lunch because writing this has made me hungry!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Diet soda, breakfast, and a scale obsession: Not your average Mount Everest

People always seem to call their big obstacles "their Mount Everest," but since I never intend to climb Mount Everest, I feel like I need another name. Well, actually I would like to call my big obstacles "my Lake Titicaca," not because I ever intend to swim in that lake, but because it sounds dirty, is fun to say, and it is also the only lake I ever know when playing along on Jeopardy. Since I hit my first goal this past week, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on things I could do better. No, this is not Gertrude talking. I'm not saying I need to do everything perfectly, just that there are some things I feel like I could do better on and would make my weight loss even greater. This is especially important in phase 2 of my mission (haha, sounds official. I just mean I am breaking up my weight loss into 3 month increments, and this is the second one.) since people generally do not lose as fast then as the first 3 months. Man, it would awesome to lose 12 lbs in a week like at the beginning every week! Oh well, one can dream. Also, just FYI, my phase 2 goal is 36 lbs (3.0 lbs per week). Phase 2 does not start until Sept 19 though, since that is 3 months from my start date.

Whew, got a bit off track. Anyway, here are some areas that need improvement:

Breakfast: Yes, be shocked. Kristen Kinney does not partake of the most important meal of the day everyday! I know how important it is, and I have even seen proof in my weight loss that eating breakfast does speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight. I really have no good excuse. I have several breakfast foods I like that are awesome for you. I've even started being hungry in the morning, which was my problem before. I just didn't used to be hungry in the morning. Just some mornings, it doesn't happen for me. I probably manage to eat breakfast 4-5 times a week. That needs to be 7 days a week. It just does. No excuses, no wiggle room.

Strength training: I think this is one many people trying to lose weight fall victim to. It's easy to get into a "cardio, cardio, cardio!" mindset because that burns the most calories. But strength training makes you burn calories faster. I aim to set aside 30 minutes for strength training every day I'm at the gym. Sad to say, that doesn't always happen. Sometimes my legs do not seem to be working properly after my freakish amount of cardio, and it is all I can do to make it to my car, much less decide to torture my legs for 30 minutes longer. Sometimes I see intimidating muscle men in their mesh shirts gazing adoringly in the mirror at their freakishly developed arms, and I decide I just can't deal with that scene right then. Sometimes I am just lazy. But really, I need to adopt the same attitude for strength training as I do for cardio. Cardio is non-negotiable. I just do it without question. Strength training needs to be the same.

Weighing too much: Oh yeah, you all know about this one already. I'm happy to say, I've already made progress on this. It is now Saturday night and I haven't weighed since my official weigh-in last Wednesday, despite much pleading and crying on my scale's part from its new home under my bathroom sink.

Diet soda: Ah yes, my old friend diet soda. We've been a couple for a long time, but it is time for us to break up. I've just seen too much legitimate research about the dangers of aspartame, particularly it's association with metabolic syndrome. It may have no calories, but that doesn't mean it's a health angel! I've already reduced how much I drink, but honestly I feel like I need to just cut it out altogether except for maybe once in a blue moon (hey, we had one of those yesterday! I should have had a diet Pepsi then!). I really don't miss it if I'm not around it.

I'll let you know if I've made improvements soon! If I haven't, feel free to scold me ;)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain--and most fools do!

Thanks to Dale Carnegie for this post title, even though he's dead and has no idea I'm using his quote. The reasoning behind it will become clear momentarily. So yesterday I took my monthly pictures and did measurements. The mug shot style of them is just generally unflattering, but it is cool to see a difference month to month. I just can't believe I didn't really take a starting weight pic! I mean, I have a few pics of me at my heaviest, but it would have been nice to have one in the same clothes like all the others. But that may just be me being OCD. Anyway, like I said, I can see a difference, but of course my crazy inner critic Gertrude has to horn in. Gertrude likes to point out where I still have rolls, where my arms could look better, where my face could be slimmer. Basically, Gertrude just enjoys telling me that I'm still not good enough. And it's true that I still have major weight to lose. But there is quite a difference between accepting that and using it as incentive to work hard, as opposed to completely disregarding the large amount of weight I have already lost and focusing only on what I still have to lose. I would say my general mindset is usually somewhere in between those two. As I've said before, I'm a work in progress.

Sometimes I think the fact that I have lost weight before makes things more difficult for myself. Oftentimes when I am really having a hard day working out, I'll just think, "When I was thinner before, I didn't even break a sweat doing this. Why can't I be like that now?" Or when I'm buying clothes in a new smaller size, part of me will be thinking about the fact that when I was thinner, I was a size smaller than that. I know these thoughts are mean and serve no purpose, but they just pop up in my brain sometimes. I have always had trouble giving myself credit for the good things I have done. It always ends up where I may congratulate myself for a job well done, but there is always a "but you could have done this part better." Yes, this tendency does drive me to be a high achiever, but sometimes it is enough to drive me crazy too!

Here is me attempting to congratulate myself in a healthy way. I have lost 60.6 lbs in 9 weeks, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at (why would you sneeze at something anyway?), especially since the original goal was to lose that amount in 12 weeks. Have I lost that weight by doing everything perfectly, working out every single day without fail, and eating a completely clean diet? The honest and short answer is no. I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes and will continue to do so, just hopefully fewer of them. I'm living in real life after all, and sometimes life gets in the way. But I believe that I have done a hell of a job overall transforming my life and myself. So today, I will make myself look in the mirror and not focus on how far I have left to go in my journey, but instead on how far I have already come. Corny? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Why? Because that's how I roll ;)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Holding my scale hostage under the bathroom sink

I think I speak for most people who have struggled with weight when I say that the scale can be your best friend and your worst enemy. It is the epitome of the word "frenemy." I'm going to be honest about the fact that I let the scale influence how I feel way too much. Hey, I'm still a work in progress. For example, I can be feeling great about my work-out and my eating one day, but if I hop on the scale and don't see a loss, I feel disproportionately disappointed. And vice-versa. If I see a great number, it affects my mood positively all day. I know in my mind that some of the thoughts I have regarding the scale and my weight on it are stupid and not mentally healthy. I also know that weight isn't everything. It only measures one aspect of my lifestyle change. Yes, I know all those things in my mind, yet I still have these crazy thoughts. Hey, at least I recognize it! So, for your entertainment, I would like to share a week's worth of crazy scale thoughts.

Wednesday (weigh-in day): Okay, I've got to make sure I'm ready. Went to the bathrooom? Check. Clothes off? Check. Shoes off? Hahaha, please. Like I'm that much of an amateur that I wear shoes to weigh! Shoes weigh at least 20 lbs! No food or drink yet? Check. Hmmmm...I still have my Bodybugg and earrings on. Better take those off. They could weigh like 5 lbs!

Step on the scale. Look straight ahead. Do not look down until the weight registers...I said do not look down! (Weight pops up) Okay, good job! Wait, better weigh again just to be sure. And a third time to be extra, you are not an obsessive freak! Go ahead and leave the scale out on the floor. Obviously you have enough self control to not weigh until next Wednesday. Obviously!

Thursday: I swear that scale is staring at me, pleading with its little imaginary puppy eyes for me to get on it. No! Have some self-control!

Friday: Wonder how I'm doing? I had my high calorie day yesterday...OMG what if I gained from that? But wait, I worked out extra hard. Well, I think I need to weigh just to see where I stand. I mean, I need to see if I should make adjustments. But I had a huge glass of water this morning. That might make me gain at least 2 lbs. No Kristen, that's just the crazy talking. Okay, I'm going to weigh. (Weight pops up) What?!? I only lost 0.4 lbs so far. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. Well, guess who's getting an extra work-out today?

Saturday: I really want to weigh again. I have to make sure I've turned things around. No Kristen, you said you would only weigh once a week. The scale must go hide under the sink so it doesn't stare at me every time I'm in the bathroom.

Sunday: I hear the scale calling my name from its place of exile under my sink! No, I will not give in to scale temptation! I do not have a scale addiction. I can stop weighing anytime I want. Yeah, right...

Monday: I have to know! It's my last chance to see if I am getting it right before Wednesday. (Weight pops up) Yay! Right on track. But now I've ruined the suspense for Wednesday. Who cares? My need to know is greater than my need for suspense.

Tuesday: Duh, you can't weigh today. It would be psycho to weigh today when you weigh tomorrow. And you know you have a nice, healthy, non-psyho relationship with the scale.

Tuesday night: (Speaking to the scale through the cabinet door under the sink) "You better be nice to me tomorrow. There are much worse places I could hide you than under the sink."

Wednesday again: (Does crazy weigh-in ritual) CELEBRATION! See, I lost my weight. No reason to act all crazy over the scale. Just put away the scale until next week...

Okay, so obviously some of that was an exaggeration. Hopefully, you were aware I'm not that crazy!  But I do think it is very easy to let the scale be the only thing to dictate how you measure your success. Like I said before, in my mind I know that there are many things just as important that are not measured by any scale. Now I just need to work on convincing my heart of that fact. I hope one day I can look at the scale and see it as just a number, not a reflection of who I am as a person or how hard I have worked to turn my life around.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blame it on the squash

So I had some random, sappy thoughts today while slicing my squash. And no, that is not a dirty euphemism (although, if it was, I'm not entirely sure what it would mean. Ideas, anyone?). Most of my thoughts stemmed from the simple fact that a few months ago squash and I would not have been seen anywhere near each other. However, french fries and I enjoyed a deep relationship that has now been brutally severed. Anyway, while I was getting my squash ready for baking, I was just kind of overcome with how happy I am to have made these changes in my life. I put it off for so long, partly because of bad memories of my deprivation diets of the past, partly because I am the Queen Procrastinator of the World, partly because of laziness, and if I am honest with myself, partly because I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to really commit to losing weight, because what if it didn't work? Well, obviously nothing was going to work if I stayed parked on my couch eating my previously mentioned friend the french fries and other various "friends." I've spent too much of my life not doing things because of all the "what ifs." I've decided to be done with that.

I am so happy now to be eating foods that not only are helping me lose weight, but are also actually doing great things for my body. I'm happy to be working out (most of the time) and getting more and more endurance. I'm happy that I felt my bicep the other day. An actual muscle and not just arm flab! I'm happy to be losing so much weight that my pants sag on me three weeks after I buy them (well, my wallet is not so happy about that one). I'm happy to finally start to see a person that I recognize in the mirror.

One of the things I am most happy about though is the decision I made to share my journey with others. At first, I was scared. It takes courage to put yourself out there, courage I wasn't sure I had. I wanted to be honest about my journey, but as I have mentioned before, I am a perfectionist. It terrified me to think of others knowing about my setbacks and failures. But you know what? I think sharing my small failures and setbacks has been the most freeing part of all this. Now it's kind of like, "Here's what I did. It's over, and I've moved on. I learned from it and I hope maybe you can too. Please also enjoy a funny story about it!" It made me realize that people are not going to write me off because I made a mistake. In fact, I think many times people may relate more because they have made the same mistake! So I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to support me on this adventure, whether it was liking my Facebook status about my weekly weigh-in, trying some new recipe with me, being my cheerleader when I do have setbacks, or reading this blog. It has really touched me to know how many people are there for me, and knowing how many people think my words are worth taking the time to read. So here's a big thank you to all of you!