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.