Fat as Hell…

and not going to take it anymore!

Deja Voodoo

There’s something about the phrase “in real life” (when used to describe someone’s activities in the world outside their computer) that has always bugged me. Like most people, I’ve had an online life for at least 10 years now, and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from those experiences it’s that the people you meet online are real. You might not be able to break someone’s nose online, but you can surely break their heart. You might not be able to hold their hand, but you can surely comfort and support them. And while you may never know exactly what some of your online buddies look like (physically, anyway), in my experience, online relationships can be, in many ways, more honest than the, so called, “real” ones.

Maybe that’s why I struggle sometimes with using events in my “real life” as an excuse for neglecting my online one. I don’t like the notion of putting one aspect of my life ahead of another… though I know sometimes we don’t have a choice. Things happen and, whether we like it or not, our priorities shift as a result.

That said, as many of you know, in my real other life, I’m a public school librarian. I spend my days talking to 14 year olds about books, producing student created pod and vodcasts, teaching classes in broadcast journalism, storytelling and public speaking, thumbing through catalogs, meeting with vendors, and, on really good days, opening up boxes upon boxes of shiny new books. Seriously… it’s a good gig and I love it.

One of the major perks of being a *school* librarian, of course, is the fact that, like teachers, I get the summers off, and for me, summer officially begins Monday. *cue Alice Cooper song* I’ve been doing this for 11 years now, and let me just say that it never loses its allure. I’m just as excited about sleeping in on Monday as I was when I was 9 and that first Monday when I *should* have been getting up for school, but I actually got to sleep in, finally rolled around.

What most people don’t know, however, is that the weeks just before school gets out are hell. There’s so much to do and *never* enough time to do it. I don’t know about other people in my profession, but I *always* end up working lots of extra hours in order to get everything finalized before leaving for the summer… and even then I still end up with a lot of items NOT crossed off my to do list. You’d think, by now, I’d be used to it, but I *still* fall apart during the last few weeks of school — and this year was no exception.

The thing is, you’d also think that, after all these years, I’d have figured a few things out. You’d think that since I know that the last few weeks of school are going to be a nightmare that I’d take steps to simplify other aspects of my life. For example, maybe the last few weeks of school aren’t the best time for me to join online challenges and outline my own 10 step program for losing weight. Rather, maybe, the last few weeks of school would be a good time for me to focus on the goal of simply maintaining my already achieved weight loss rather than reaching for more. Maybe, and this will sound crazy, I know, but maybe the last few weeks of school are the wrong time for me to set any goals at all. Seriously, you’d think, after all these years, I’d have figured stuff like that out. But… you’d be wrong.

Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?

A few weeks ago I blogged about being at the point where I needed to either give in or start over. And the truth is, I’m *still* at that point. I haven’t given in, not by a long shot, but I haven’t started over either. I’ve been in this pudgy purgatory, if you will… making the right choices, occasionally, but usually following them up with a series of wrong ones; thinking a lot about how much I *want* to be back on track, without actually taking any steps towards making that happen; and not feeling strong enough to do what I know I should, but also not being able to truly enjoy this hiatus from being healthy. It sucks, because while I haven’t, by any stretch of the imagination, done the right things over the last few weeks, I haven’t enjoyed being off my “diet” either. As a matter of fact, I’ve kind of hated not eating properly. How screwed up is that?

In my absence, Paola wrote me an open letter on her blog The Food Confessional. Here’s part of it:

Whether or not you sometimes take a few steps back, you know how to eat to lose weight. You are stuck with this knowledge. You can never unknow it. And, now, when you go to Starbucks for a whipped cream coffee and a cake, you’re gonna feel like shit, spoiling your experience, because you will know it’s doing you harm.

Is this where you are now, stuck between a rock and a hard place?

In the end, you don’t have much choice, you must get back onto your diet. The alternative is to eat cakes and jars of peanut butter, but never really enjoying them as much as you used to, and always be miserable.

Man, is she right.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the last couple of weeks it’s that going back to simply not caring about how I eat, whether or not I exercise, or how I treat the one body I’ve got just isn’t an option. Sure… I can stuff my face full of brownies and root beer (and believe me, I have), but whatever *joy* that kind of food once brought me, is long gone. Sure, I can eat them, and they taste good, but now there’s always an aftertaste. Whether I like it or not, my mind *always* involuntarily starts adding up the calories. And there’s something about those numbers whispering in your ear that kind of ruins the whole experience, you know?

So… here I am.

Starting over.

Again.

The truth is, I don’t really have a master plan for the next few weeks. I think I need to take it slowly and start thinking about all of this through the “one pound at a time” lens that helped me lose weight in the first place. What I don’t need to do now is bite off more than I can chew. I *need* to experience some success this week and the only way I’m going to do that is if I take it slowly.

Here’s what I know for sure:

  • Counting and recording my calories is not optional. The simple truth of the matter is that when I hold myself accountable in that way, I do much, much better. I realize that food diaries are not for everyone, and as much as I’ve tried to convince myself that I could do it without recording what I eat, at this point in the game, I simply need that extra step.
  • I hate exercising, but I have to do it. Enough said.
  • Drinking calories is stupid. In the last few weeks I’ve gone from drinking 3+ liters of water a day to falling back into the habit of taking in hundreds of liquid calories a day in the form of icy coffee drinks and/or other fizzy caffeinated concoctions. No more.
  • Portion size is (still) a problem. I may blog more about this at a later time, but for now, I’ll just say that my portion sizes have been creeping back up. If I’m going to be successful, I know that this is an issue that I have to tackle.

And that’s all… for now.

I guess the bottom line is that at no point over the last few weeks did I ever think about giving up. I always knew that, sooner or later, I’d be exactly where I am now, a bit ashamed of myself for not doing the right things for so long, but knowing that it’s never too late to start doing them again. Thank you again to everyone who nudged me back sooner, rather than later. I continue to be grateful to you guys for just being so cool. To me, you guys are *real* and amazing and you constantly inspire me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok. At the risk of making this post even *longer* I’ve found myself in the awkward position of having been tagged (again). Here’s the thing: I suck at these things. I can never think of anything windswept and interesting to say, so I usually just decline politely and hope like hell that the tagger (me being the taggee) will continue to like me despite my inept rudeness. But… since this one is short and I simply can’t bring myself to say no to Fat Bridesmaid, I’ll do my best to play along. Apparently, I’m supposed to tell you 5 things about myself that you might not otherwise know… and then I’m supposed to tag 5 other people. So… *takes deep breath* here goes nothing:

Boring facts about me:

  1. I’ve been wearing a Make Poverty History wristband since 2005. So far, poverty hasn’t gone away… but I still wear it. Every day. I’m like Johnny Cash, only not as cool.
  2. I once won second place in a short story contest. I got $500.00 and my story was published in a small collection that I’m sure no one bought. I was driving when I got the call that I’d won second place and I nearly drove off the road. I still have the stub from the check they sent me.
  3. I drive a yellow, VW bug convertible with a black top. I call it my bumblebeetle. Which leads me to….
  4. My house was once overrun by wood boring yellow jackets (not carpenter bees). It’s a long, long (long) story, but by the time I figured out what was happening, there were (this estimate was given to me by the “bee man” who, without any protective gear, goggles or gloves, cut giant holes into my walls and removed the entire yellow jacket nest, by hand, in order to find and kill the queen bee) between 35 and 40 THOUSAND yellow jackets living in my walls. It was like something out of a B (har!) movie. At the time, as you might imagine, it was a horrifying experience, but since then, bees have sort of become my symbol.
  5. When I was in college, I worked at one of those stores where everything is a dollar. The town where I lived and worked at the time was a very touristy spot and home to a small movie studio where several major motion pictures/television shows have been filmed…. so it wasn’t uncommon to see celebrities, even in the dollar store. Anyway, one time Delta Burke came into the store and she bought 50 key chains, all of which read: “I’d slap you, but shit splatters.”

Ok. So now I’m supposed to tag some other unsuspecting bloggers, but rather than slap the yoke of internet fodder around anyone’s neck, I’ll just say that I’d love to learn 5 things about anyone who would like to play along. So… if you’re reading this and want to post a few bits of flotsam and jetsam about yourself on your blog, go for it! Consider yourself tagged. I’m sure yours will be far more interesting than mine. :)

Oooh! And thanks to Fat Bridesmaid for wanting to know more about me. Your kindness and curiosity make me blush.

June 14, 2008 Posted by | losing weight | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Elephant In The Room

I spoke to a very dear friend of mine today. Someone I worked with for years and with whom I spent a great deal of my “free time” before my husband’s job required that we move last year. This friend of mine and I are still very close, and today I revealed to him the “secret” of my recent weight loss. Apart from my husband and his mother (who my husband told, by the way) I haven’t told anyone about the way my life has changed or about the weight I have already lost. I’ve just been too afraid of failure to tell anyone.

But today I felt brave or cavalier or something else entirely and I took the plunge.

Of course, he “oohed and awed” and did all the obligatory back slapping that he could over the phone. But then he asked me a question that made me take pause. He asked, “what about your appetite?” At first I didn’t understand what he meant, but then after a bit more discussion, I realized that he was talking about “feeling full” and that what he really wanted to understand was how I could feel satisfied on so much less food.

The truth is, I don’t really remember the answer I gave him, but since we got off the phone I’ve been thinking a lot about it and as I was cooking dinner tonight I realized something important. I don’t think I am really eating that much less food. Rather, it seems like I have been very careful to reduce the caloric quality of my food without actually reducing the portion size all that much.

Let me back track a little.

It is true that I have reduced my portion size when it comes to some things and I know that I have, over the last several months, gotten better about listening to my body when it says “Yo! I’m full!” But, I don’t think I’m making those kinds of choices nearly often enough. Here’s an example:

Tonight when I was cooking dinner I was faced with a choice. I knew I was making chicken, spinach + garlic and roasted acorn squash. Then my husband said that he would rather have a baked potato instead of the squash. (The thing to understand here is that a baked potato for him (and really for me too) doesn’t simply mean a potato that has been put in the oven. It means a potato that has been put in the over + butter, sour cream, cheese, diced ham, and just about anything else he can throw on there). So… I thought about it for a minute and finally settled on making *him* a baked potato and making me the acorn squash.

In the end, of course, this was the right decision, (for me anyway) but the thing I’m struggling with is that I made the right decision for the wrong reason.

I didn’t choose the squash over the potato because it was better for me or because I didn’t want to risk the temptation of loading my potato with a zillion and one fattening toppings. No… I chose the squash because in my mind I’d tabulated the calories and had determined that if I ate the squash I could actually EAT MORE but without as many calories.

Even as I looked at the heaping pile of food on my plate once I was done cooking I thought, “hmmm… this isn’t really much of a change, is it?” I mean, yes… it’s far less calories than the plates of food I used to eat and, granted, I no longer go for second helpings of anything. But the reality is that *a lot* of how I eat now has to do with figuring out how to get the most food out of the number of calories I’ve allotted myself for the day. And that can’t be healthy. What’s more, I worry that a lot of the time I still do a lot of over eating, it’s just that now I over eat foods that are better for me.

*sigh*

You know… there’s a part of me that finds this constant worry and analysis of what I put into my mouth to be utterly exhausting. And there was a time when I would have tried to look ahead towards the day when I wouldn’t have to spend so much of my time thinking about what I eat, what I have eaten and what I will, on some future date, eat. But what I’ve come to realize is that, for me, such a day will never come. I will always, for the rest of my life, have to think about what I eat. I will never be free of the burden of planning my meals and considering each thing that goes in my mouth. This is who I am and I will never escape it.

Over the last several months that constant worry has resulted in many positive changes and I know I’m doing better than I once was because the evidence is all around me. I am healthier and happier than I have ever been. My body is starting to change and when the scale winks back at me with the revelation that I have lost over 50lbs, then there is no denying that what I am doing is working… but I also know that it’s not enough.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a slow learner. After all, it’s taken me almost (36 years and) 7 months to come this far. I wonder if it will take me another 7 months or 7 years before I truly understand what it means to have a healthy diet and what it takes to achieve it. In the meantime, however, I know I have to start focusing more strongly on the finite pieces of this puzzle. Instead of simply telling myself that I am going to eat less or that I am going eat in away that is better for me, it’s time for me to focus more on the specifics of that that means.

This is what I know right now:
I have start to monitoring and controlling my portion size.
I have to start thinking just as much about how much eat at each sitting as I do about the sheer number of calories I have in a day.
And I have to start choosing foods because they are better for me *not* because if I choose them, I can eat more.

Until then, part of me feels like I’m just playing a numbers game. And I know that whatever changes I make, they’ll never be anything more than temporary if I don’t start making them for the right reasons.

January 25, 2008 Posted by | health, losing weight | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments