Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The holiday season: Trying to avoid a food free-for-all while also not being the bitter one in the corner eating carrots

I feel so much better this week than last week! And it's not just because the scale didn't destroy my dreams today like it did last week. Although, for sure, that helped. I just feel much more balanced and not on the verge of doing something extreme, namely binging on Little Debbies out of frustration and/or running 20 miles to burn more calories like an exercise addict. It could have been very interesting though if I had eaten the Little Debbies and then gone running. Interesting and probably messy.

I've been extra careful this week about measuring all my food out and also not indulging in "harmless" little bites here and there. Those bites add up! I have always written down everything I eat, but I had kind of gotten away from measuring stuff out. I gave it the ole eyeball instead, which can be very deceiving. Just FYI, do any of you realize how small a quarter cup (a serving size) of shredded cheese is? Because I know I had definitely forgotten what a quarter cup looked like. So I think I had been overdoing on calories from mistakes like that without even realizing it. I've also cut out ice cream, at least the scoopable kind. Lately, I have been eating low calorie ice cream (I can't resist Edy's S'mores) since I love it and the calorie count is acceptable. Yup, the calories in that ice cream are fine as long as you eat the serving size. Which for ice cream is a half a cup, and who actually eats a half a cup of ice cream?!? Not me, that's for sure. So that's out, but since I still love ice cream, I got some low sugar ice cream sandwiches. That way I can still have ice cream as a treat, but I am guaranteed to have portion control. Ahh, moderation at its finest.

So everything is going great, and then this week we have (insert scary music here)...Thanksgiving. Yes, Thanksgiving, the downfall of many people's healthy eating intentions. Thanksgiving, which ushers in the holiday season, a season distinguished not only by good will towards all and temporary insanity while holiday shopping, but also by its rich foods and people's avoidance of the scale at all costs. I would say it's the trickiest time of the year. Like everything else, it's a balance. You don't want to be the bitter one in the corner at a party munching on carrots while glaring at everyone else eating cake, but you also don't want to be the one shoveling said cake in your mouth like it's going out of style and then seeing a very unpleasant surprise on the scale come January. I feel like I did a pretty good job last year during this time. I believe I lost about 10 lbs or so between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Granted, I was significantly heavier then, so it was much easier. For more on my battle for moderation last year at Thanksgiving, check out You say poTAYto, I say meet my mortal enemy poTAHto.

My plan worked out pretty well last year, so I'm sticking with it. I'm eating what I want on Thanksgiving and then, this is the key part here, no leftovers. Well, I can have the white meat turkey as leftovers, but not that delicious stuffing or mashed potatoes. Because here's the don't gain weight because of eating one high calorie meal. You gain weight because of the leftovers. If I do everything like normal the rest of the week, there is no reason I should not have a loss. And then by controlling myself at Thanksgiving, I avoid the dangerous mindset a lot of people get into this time of year. You know that one that goes, "Well, I blew Thanksgiving. I'll just get back to normal Monday. I don't feel like working out with all that food in my belly." And then, "Well, I've got that Christmas party this week. I'll get back to normal next week." And then of course, "December is pretty much blown. All that holiday food and I've had no time to work out. I'll be extra good after Christmas." And then inevitably, "New Year's is just a week away and then I will definitely start on my New Year's resolution to lose weight." All of which leads to that unpleasant trip to the scale come January and perhaps subsequent ripping apart of said scale. I think it's all about looking at the special eating occasions coming up as just that, special occasions, not a month-long excuse for a food free-for-all. We shall see how I manage this year. I'm still hoping to hit 50% of my original body weight by the year's end!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Forget the sugarplums, visions of pizza and 20 mile runs danced in my head

I feel like I am on the world's hugest plateau. For months now, I have been losing and gaining the same pound, always staying between 168-169 lbs. So on the bright side, I'm apparently pretty skilled at maintaining a weight. If that weight were 30 or 40 lbs less, that would be fantastic! It's just driving me crazy. It's so important to me to finish what I started here, mainly because I have never done that before.

When I stepped on the scale yesterday, I expected big things. It had been as close to a perfect week as I have had in a while. I was right at 1200 calories every day. I worked out multiple times a day, never running or walking anything less than 6 miles. I even got all my water in! I was proud of myself. Then I got on the scale and saw a loss of 0.2 pounds. Not even a freaking quarter of a pound. And yes, I know, a loss is a loss, but I would like to see someone who had worked as hard as I did not be upset about  a loss like that. And if I'm being honest, I let what that scale said ruin how I felt about last week. Because even though I know in my brain that the scale doesn't always cooperate no matter how hard you worked, I felt like a failure.

I have such mixed feelings about this plateau. I try so hard to be grateful for where I am at, and most of the time, I really am. I know that the 328 lb me would have been thrilled to be at this weight. But I also know that the heavier me, the one that could lose 40 lbs in 5 weeks, would have wondered how I could look at losing only 40 lbs as such a challenge. It seems small compared to all I have lost. It's crazy how losing these last 40 lbs can seem so close to the final weight loss goal for me, and yet simultaneously seem farther away then the 200 lbs I had to lose when I first started.

There was just a lot of emotions and thoughts going on with me yesterday, a lot of all or nothing feelings that I had to deal with. On the one side, we had crazy, manic Kristen who immediately started thinking things like, "I need to run 15 miles every day! I need to eat 500 calories a day! More, better, faster!" And then we have lazy Kristen who was also thinking about more, but in terms of "More pizza, more ice cream! Less exercise! I mean, what's the point of being disciplined if it doesn't change the amount of weight I lose?" The old me would have been horrified to be having these thoughts and positive that just having thoughts like these, even if not acted on, meant that I was about to fail. That is not the truth. Everybody has crazy thoughts sometimes. I mean sometimes I think about how I want to go live on a desert island somewhere or maybe how I want to go jump in a giant swimming pool of pudding. That doesn't mean I'm actually going to do that. Although if I had the opportunity for the pudding thing, I would definitely take it. It's okay to have those thoughts, and I think is important to acknowledge them and not just try to pretend they're not there.

I am proud of how I reacted last night. With images of crazy runs and pizza warring in my head, I chose to have a normal dinner. I chose to talk on the phone with a friend. I chose to watch a funny movie to cheer myself up. I chose to go to bed early and get a good night's sleep so I would be rested for my morning run. I chose not to run a crazy far distance late at night just because I was feeling insecure about my weight loss. I chose not to starve myself to lose weight. I chose not to binge eat out of despair. And when I get the crazy talk out of my head, I recognize that those behaviors really are more important than the number I see on the scale. Those are all the reasons that I will succeed.

I told you that one of the thoughts running through my head last night was, "What's the point?" I decided that I needed to answer myself. Because there really is so much more to "the point" of living a healthy lifestyle than just losing weight. So here they are:

1) To feel younger than my physical age, instead of feeling 40 years older

2) To be able to physically accomplish things I never thought possible, instead of barely being able to climb a flight of stairs

3) To be able to start looking at food as fuel, instead of an emotional crutch

4) To be able to look in the mirror and start to feel some pride, instead of feeling like crying

5) To be able to run early so I can see the sunrise and really feel alive, instead of sleeping half the day away

6) To be able to feel like I can inspire others, instead of feeling like everyone looks down on me

7) To be able to be truly proud and happy with the person I have become, instead of hoping everyday that I could somehow be different

Quite a point, don't you agree?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My excessive use of quotation marks in this post are merely a sign of my absolute incredulity

I've come across quite a few things in the past few days concerning society's unrealistic expectations about what people (mainly women) should look like. The first was an article that a man wrote called "I am a Plus-Sized Woman Who Has Never Ripped a Pair of Pants". The guy writing the article had lost 200 lbs and was a solid size medium in men's clothes. He decided to see what size he was in women's clothes and was shocked that instead of a size 10 like he had been expecting, he was a size 20! Here is what he had to say about that:

While I was in the car I thought about how unfair women's sizes are to men's sizes. I do not wear anything that is considered a large. No one makes comments about my size anymore. I have not ripped or gone through a pair of pants in years. Yet if I was a woman I would have to shop at "plus-size" stores. I would be too large to be a true "plus-size" model. I would be looked upon as the problem for obesity instead of the solution that some see me as.

Yes, I think all of us know that sizes can be crazy. I usually wear a size large in tops now. Yet somehow whenever I fit into a medium, I always think that it is just because it must be cut super-big. Then if I happen to need an extra-large, I think that, yup, that's what size I am. I wish I could just ignore sizes.

The author of the article above stated that if he was a woman, he would be too large to be a plus-size model. Which brings me to the next thing I saw that disturbed me: just what a "plus-size" model looks like in this country. Ellen DeGeneres had a "plus-size" model (sorry for all the quotation marks, but they are absolutely necessary considering what this model actually looks like) on her show a couple of weeks ago, and my jaw dropped. Here is what she looked like:

Seriously, are you kidding me? This is what "plus-sized" looks like to the modeling industry? This girl is absolutely gorgeous, and I would actually put her on the thin side of normal. But I guess in the modeling world, the fact that she actually has boobs and some hips instead of looking like a creepy skeleton like most "normal" models means that she will always be "plus-sized." It just seems so sick to me. Why can't models be closer to regular peoples' sizes? Obviously, this girl looks great in clothes and she isn't a size 2. Why can't that be normal? Why is it normal in this society for models to be proud about the fact that they have a bigger thigh gap than another model (don't even get me started on the thigh gap)? What message is this sending to girls, and women too, for that matter? I know it's not any kind of message that I would support.

So after seeing these disturbing things all week, it was very refreshing to listen to what Jennifer Lawrence had to say on the subject of body image. You know, because she gets called fat sometimes, which is as crazy as calling the model I showed above plus-sized. Seriously, you need to click on this link in order to restore your faith in humanity somewhat (okay, that was a tad more dramatic than necessary). She talks about how when she gets criticized for how she looks, it's supposed to be okay because that's just how things work in the "real world." She basically asks, why does the real world have to be that way? And I absolutely agree. Why does the real world have to be cold and cruel? If you ask most people that question, they will say that that's just the way things are and it's good for people to get used to it. Well, you know what? It is only that way for as long as people accept it, for as long as people do nothing to try to change anything. I want to try to change things. Yes, my blog by no means reaches as many people as Jennifer Lawrence does, but it still reaches someone. And that's enough for me.

In case you were wondering, I have no idea why this picture says 2012. I guess I could make up some deep, metaphysical reason, but I'm too lazy right now.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why I take pictures of empty concert seats

I have come to believe that there is a phenomenon among people that have lost a significant amount of weight that I would like to call the "Flashback Phenomenon." That makes it sound more impressive than it actually is, but sometimes I like to be fancy like that. It happens when you come across something that you know would have given you a problem at your heaviest. Depending on my mood and/or self-confidence on that day, I vacillate between being relieved that I don't have to worry about that anymore, and on some more crazy occasions, still somehow worried that whatever it is is still going to cause a problem for me now even though I've lost almost 160 lbs and am pretty average-sized now. So this phenomenon happens for me almost every time I sit in a movie theater seat or sit in a restaurant booth, but there have been some other more notable instances lately.

The first one was probably at this concert I went to near my birthday. The stadium had pretty narrow seats and I remember when I had been there before (not even anywhere near my heaviest!), it was still a pretty tight fit to squeeze in there. This time when I went, I had no trouble fitting at all! I then probably looked like a freak because I decided to take a picture of the seat so I could remember that occasion.

My best friend was there with me and asked me why I was taking a picture of a random seat (as any normal person would have every right to do). When I told her why, she said that she had never even thought about not fitting in the seat before. I think it has been somewhat enlightening for her to learn about things like that that normal-sized people tend to take for granted.

The next occasion would probably have to be surfing. Now on this day, my self-confidence was pretty low because I was fairly sure I was going to make a fool out of myself when I tried surfing for the very first time. So when I found out I had to wear a rashguard, I had a slight internal freak-out thinking that they wouldn't have my size and I was about to be humiliated. And then come to find out, I fit in a size small! Then when it came to actually surfing, I was determined to go out of my comfort zone and try it, but also was pretty convinced that people like me didn't surf and that I was going to fail at it. And guess who stood up on that surfboard (albeit with my hands raised for some reason, instead of out to the side like a normal surfer)? Hey, the picture speaks for itself.

Because trust me when I say I have nowhere near the skills needed to somehow Photoshop me onto a surfboard. And if I did do that, I would probably move my hands out to the side. Alas, as with many technological skills, Photoshopping eludes me.

Then a few weeks ago, I went with my family to this place called Wonderworks in Myrtle Beach. It's kind of an interactive museum place, and I was so excited (I think my family probably thought abnormally so) when I heard about the exhibits there. There was awesome stuff that adults and kids could do. As excited as that place made me now, I can say without a doubt it would have filled me with dread at my heaviest. That's because most of the coolest exhibits had a weight limit of 250 lbs. I know I would have been so embarrassed to have to sit those things out and to know that everyone would know why I had to do so. They were hard-core about the weight limit too; everyone had to stand on a scale before going on. There was a really cool roller coaster simulator, as well as this bike that you pedaled to try to get it to go in a circle and flip you upside down. That's what I am trying (and failing) to do in the picture below.

I failed to make my bike go in a complete circle because, though I have lost a large amount of weight, this sadly does not translate to my having grown taller. My legs were just too short to reach the pedals properly when I was upside down. Oh well, my sister had the same problem.

We also did an indoor ropes course with a weight limit that was awesome (although would probably be ill advised for those scared of heights). I can't say that the harness you put in to go on the course was exactly flattering, but it was really fun and great practice for your balancing skills (if you were inclined to practice that kind of thing). Like the harness, the picture angle was less than flattering since it was taken from below by my mom, but still a good memory!

I wonder if I will ever someday go do activities like the ones above and not  think about what problems I would have had with them at my heaviest. What's more, do I want  to forget? Like most everything else, I think moderation would be best here. I never want to completely forget how hard everyday living used to be for me when I was so heavy because I never want to become complacent and forget how hard I fought to be where I am today. But yes, I do think in time, it would be healthiest to not have my first thought when sliding in a restaurant booth be "This would have been a major problem at 328 lbs." That is not my reality anymore, and though I should never forget where I started out, I also should focus most on where I am at the present moment.