Monday, March 30, 2009

Can't deny it anymore

It's been coming on for about a month but there is no point in denying it any longer...I am once again in the grip of a severe depression. It's been about 2-3 years since I felt like this but I spent almost all of my 20s feeling like this so I know what it feels like.

Dunno when I'll snap out of it. Not planning on seeking help anytime soon; help never helped. It goes away when it's ready to go away.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting close to goal...

Looking at my ticker, I am 17.6 lbs away from my goal weight of 150 lbs and about 12-13 lbs outside of the healthy BMI range.

The thing is, I don't think losing 17.6 lbs is going to get rid of the flab around my middle, hips, or thighs. When I get to 150 lbs, I'm sure I will still not be happy with my body. I keep wondering what comes after goal. What next? Was my goal realistic? Is 150 lbs still too much for someone who is 5'6" with a medium frame? Why is it that some people who are my height and weigh about 140 claim to be a size 4-6 while I will probably be an 8? How does that work?

What do I do? I don't know. I guess I should reach goal, have a physical (as I planned), and reassess.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I love my lift class

I'm a little sore this morning from my lift class yesterday evening. The soreness usually takes a couple of days to fully develop and another day or two to disappear, but it's been worth it.

In the last month or so I've been getting the "oh wow, you look so SKINNY" comments and I attribute a lot of the recent inch loss to that lift class. It's really great. The instructor doesn't push us; rather, she encourages us to do one more, one more! (She literally says "one more one more!") But she does not encourage us to hurt ourselves and does also say that we should go at our own pace and she does not expect us to keep up with her in terms of reps, but she does expect us to try.

In that class the sweat pours off me. Literally. The instructor says the point of the class is to work towards "failure," i.e. muscle failure. That means the last rep you do is the last rep you can do. It's kicking my butt, but in a good way!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How come I can't find any bras?

As I continue dropping weight, I continue to need new bras. I'm currently wearing a 36C and it's too large, but the only 34 bras I can find are of the tarty, lacy, underwire type. How come I can't find a plain bra with no underwire ANYWHERE? I say "anywhere" but I've only looked at Wal-Mart and Target; I go through bras quickly so I don't want to spend a lot of money on them.

Why why why? I know adult bras go down to 32 and further. What happened to 34?

Monday, March 23, 2009

I have seen the 160s!

This morning I got to see the 160s for the first time since college! Weighed in at 169.6! I don't consider myself an official member of "Club 160s" yet...I want to weigh in several days in a row in the 160s before I consider myself REALLY there.

I'm still sort of sad about my loose skin but I keep hoping it will eventually tighten up with good nutrition and plenty of exercise. Time will tell.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I have been dreading this.

I had a look at myself in the mirror from all angles (including from the rear) and have seen what I've been dreading: LOOSE SKIN. I'm 20 pounds away from goal and I'm seeing some sagging and a tiny bit of puckering in one spot. It will only get worse as I lose more weight.

Now I'm bummed. REALLY bummed. I was hoping this would not happen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Body measurements, then and now

Months ago I was strongly urged to take periodic body measurements and I'm so glad I listened to that advice.

My first measurement was on 08/20/2008:

Chest: 41
Waist: 42
Hips: 49

My measurements this morning (03/15/2009) were:

Chest: 32.5
Waist: 29.5
Hips: 37.5

That's 8.5 inches lost off the chest, 11.5 inches lost off the waist, and 11.5 off the hips. Pretty cool huh?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gym divas!

I was reading an article today on about gym etiquette and while the examples in the article are very extreme, I have some of my own pet peeves about gym users.

I am a member of 24 Hour Fitness and I find that their clubs are by and large well-run, well-maintained, and that the staffers are polite. However, there are always exceptions. I live in one of the U.S.'s largest cities and regularly attend 3 different 24 Hour Fitness locations, depending on my schedule and the day of the week.

One of those locations is right down the street from my office. When I arrive in the locker room to change, it is usually full of little old ladies who have just completed their water aerobics class. They also track pool and shower water into every corner of the locker room. There's often not a square inch of dry floor in the joint. This means I have to keep my feet off the floor until I've put my athletic shoes on, which is hard to do. I'm like...if you KNOW you're going to be dripping water everywhere, why not get an extra towel to dry the floor after you're done changing and showering? It may be hours before the staff comes in to clean the locker room, and it's not fair to the rest of us to change clothes while levitating just to avoid the Hurricane Katrina-esque flood that you left on the floor.

Also...ladies...when you come to the gym and shower and need to dry your hair afterwards, why not bring your own travel-sized hair dryer? Most gyms have electrical outlets in the bathrooms. Some even provide wall-mounted hair dryers, like in a hotel. Many of the women at my gym use the hand dryer instead, presumably because they can style their hair with both hands. But...what if someone wants to dry their hands? You have to wait until these princesses are done, or you can just wipe your hands on your pants. It's really irritating.

Plus...the area where I work is heavily Chinese and most of the women in the locker room are Mandarin speakers. Great! However...when you are looking at me and laughing and speaking in Mandarin, I assume that you're talking about me. That's kind of rude. I speak other languages too, but I generally avoid doing so in public. I especially don't score on people right in front of them in any language, because that person could always turn around and PWN you in that foreign language. I've done it to people before who assumed the white girl couldn't understand Spanish! So...speaking Mandarin is fine! Great! But be mindful that those of us who can't speak it may interpret your body language and facial expressions to mean that you're scoring on us in front of us. I never say anything to them but sometimes I have left that locker room absolutely certain that willowy, svelte, beautiful Chinese girls were making fun of me. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. I don't know.

One more locker-room peeve...if me and my stuff are blocking your locker, say "excuse me" instead of just pushing my stuff out of the way or shoving past me and expecting me to lean to the side while you extract your items from your locker. Also...if I've staked out a spot on the locker room bench and I'm blocking your locker, I'll gladly move aside long enough for you to get your stuff out of your locker and stake out a spot for yourself, but some women will get their things one item at a time, requiring me to constantly move. Anywhere anyone sits in the locker room, they will be blocking someone's locker. If someone's blocking my locker, I grab all of my stuff out the locker and stake out another spot so I don't have to disturb that person repeatedly. It's just good manners.

Every gym has a Mr or Mrs SWEATY PANTS, who wears those ridiculous outfits that are designed to maximize sweat and, presumably, weight loss (all they do is make you sweat off water). What's NASTY is that the elastic bands on the wrists are not water tight, so sweat pours out and collects in puddles on the floor. That is DISGUSTING. Those outfits don't make you more fit and they don't make you lose weight. They're just obnoxious. Even if you clean up the sweat puddles after you are done (and most people don't), we still have to look at them and smell them while you're working out, and someone could slip on them. Also...if you sweat a LOT when working out, please towel off instead of shaking your sweaty head and splattering the rest of us with your nasty sweat. We used to have this one guy at my regular gym that I nicknamed "Puddles" because there would be two MASSIVE puddles of sweat on either side of the elliptical whenever he worked out. Everyone else gave that guy a wide berth. Wonder why?? I haven't seen him in a while and I definitely don't miss his nasty sweaty self.

OK. I know a lot of women never venture over to the weights section (they should), but I do. I like free weights but I don't lift ridiculously heavy weights. Every gym has very muscular beefcake types who lift RIDICULOUS weights. Awesome! They look incredible. However...if you can't control that weight on the way down, maybe you ought to be lifting something lighter? When someone drops two 100-pound dumbbells on the floor not only is the sound ear-splitting, but it shakes the floor. I've seen the vibrations from this crack mirrors on the wall. And in gyms where the weight room is upstairs, doing this repeatedly could weaken the floor. Plus, it's annoying and obnoxious. So...STOP IT. Nobody thinks you're a stud, we just think you're an idiot because you're ignoring the signs on the wall that tell you in large print and all caps to NOT drop your weights on the floor.

Cardio machines. None of them have your name on them. I admit that I have my favorite machines just like anyone else. But if I get there and someone's on my favorite elliptical machine, I just use a different one. I don't pitch a shit fit because you're on "my" machine. Also, wipe down the machine when you're done using it. I understand that the sanitizer bottles are often empty or they're out of paper towels, but at least wipe your sweat off. And you should be washing your hands before and after working out anyway.

Weight machines. They're popular! And the gym gets busy at lunchtime. That means that you can't spend a friggin hour on each one. Some people will do a few reps, then rest for 3-5 minutes while sitting on the machine when at least a couple of people could have worked in during that time. And if you can see that someone is waiting for that same machine you don't have to rush through your reps (after all, you were there first) but don't take forever either. If you're the type whose fitness goals require long rests between short bursts of heavy lifting, maybe you should go to the gym when it's not so busy...y'know...out of consideration for others.

Men. We see you looking at us. We go to the gym to work out, not to be checked out. Well, maybe some women go to be checked out, but they're the ones wearing skintight revealing spandex. Stare at them, not at people like me. Y'know...flattering and all...but also annoying. And rude. I don't stare at you, even when I'd like to.

Soloists! In my lift class there are one or two extremely buff women per week. They have incredible amazing bodies with definition I'd kill for. They look fantastic. They've worked hard to achieve that look. I realize that and applaud them for it; I'd like to look like them someday. However...if the lift class you're in is really sooo easy that you have to do each exercise standing on one foot, or squatting, or using insanely heavy weights, or doing twice as many reps as the instructor...or just doing your own studmuffiny beefcakey thing...maybe you should be in a different, more advanced class? I mean, we see you soloing over there. And we're very impressed by your buffness and jealous of it. But must you rub it in our faces for an entire hour? If you're not paying attention to the instructor....why are you there?

Whew! That was cathartic. I should add that the vast majority of people who use my gyms are well-behaved, courteous, and considerate of other gym users. These people are the rare, minor irritations that you'll find at almost any gym. And unfortunately, you just have to learn to live with them. They're good for some funny stories sometimes though.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What works for me

At work, I'm asked at least once a week how I did it. "How did you do it?" "What are you doing?" People seem disappointed by the answer: "Diet and exercise." It's a little more complicated than that, though.

Diet is a HUGE factor in successful weight loss, I think. I don't think WHAT you eat is important, but HOW MUCH you eat is. I eat what I want, to a point. If I want to have chicken and vegetables for dinner, I have it. If I want to have pizza for dinner, I have it. However, I measure my portions and count calories religiously. If I want to have a little bit of chocolate, I have it. However, what I eat has changed dramatically.

I used to eat out nearly every day. When I did cook at home, I cooked fatty meals. I ate a lot of Mexican food, barbecue, burgers and fries, pizza, etc. Some people can eat that way every day and never get fat. I am not one of them! I still eat those things, but very infrequently.

Exercise is also very important. One of the main reasons I started this journey was to improve my cardiovascular health which was poor. I was 32 years old and had extremely high blood pressure and was showing mild, early symptoms of congestive heart failure. I decided I was too young to die, too young to let obesity kill me. So I started exercising. I used to retain fluid in my feet and ankles and I was tired all the time. Not anymore. My heart is much healthier than it used to be! And since you need a heart to live, I decided I needed to take better care of it and one excellent way to do that was to start exercising.

Diets like South Beach, Atkins, etc. are silly. People who ask me how I did it assume I am eating a low-carb diet. Nope. I try to get a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, but if I don't hit a specific percentage every day it doesn't bother me. I think the more strict a diet is, the more likely it is to fail. I tried to approach this as a permanent lifestyle change and started eating healthy foods, but foods that I like to eat. I can't see anyone following the Atkins diet for life. I also refused to submit myself to Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem's food deliveries, and I refused to join Weight Watchers and spaz out about points for the rest of my life. No, no, no. I need to be able to cook my own meals and use my own knowledge and intuition to know what is good for me and what is not. I cannot rely on a plan to tell me forever what I can or cannot, or should or should not eat. I know these plans have worked for other people, but I personally think they are stupid and a waste of money. What do you do once you've lost the weight and stop eating their packaged meals? When do you learn to cook healthy meals for yourself? I did not want to use any crutches. Plus, I had a LOT of weight to lose...over 100 pounds. In their ads, they show so-and-so losing 30 or 40 pounds and in tiny print at the bottom of the screen, it says "results not typical." That's like them admitting that their program doesn't really work!

Basically I chalk up my success so far to discipline, willpower, motivation, education, and being more in tune with my own body. It has taken discipline to keep going to the gym even when I don't really feel like going. It has taken willpower to avoid foods that are bad for me and eat healthy food instead. It has taken motivation to keep going for my goal. It has taken education for me to learn what I should be eating, or what to do when the weight loss plateaus, or how to avoid injuring myself when exercising. And being more in tune with my body has helped immensely. I used to eat out of boredom. Now, I don't. I've learned to tell the difference between boredom and hunger. I eat when I'm hungry. I stop eating when I'm no longer hungry. If I'm not hungry, I don't eat. Simple. And if something hurts at the gym...stop doing it. Muscles can burn when you're lifting weights, but if you feel sharp pain...STOP before you hurt yourself! One of my biggest fears has been a catastrophic injury like a torn tendon or muscle, a screwed-up knee, a messed-up shoulder, etc. I know that a catastrophic injury like that would send me off the rails plan-wise, so I have tried to educate myself on proper form so I don't injure myself. So far, so good.

So yes..."diet and exercise".

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Grrr stupid scale rrrrrrr

I was good on the weekend; I didn't really pig out, and I've been good since...and my scale is STUCK! Warm weather does make me retain water, but this is ridiculous. My hands feel all fat and puffy. I hate it when I get like this!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Non-scale victories

People who have been reading my blog since the beginning may be aware that I was sent to the emergency room in June 2008 for my sky-high blood pressure (at the time, 172/127). The doc who told me to go DIRECTLY to the hospital was my OB/GYN. I was due for another annual in October 2008 but I was too busy with work, so I finally got around to having my annual done today.

The doc who sent me to the emergency room popped her head out when I showed up for my appointment and was hanging around the waiting room; she said "Someone will be with you in just a minute." I don't think she recognized me.

I could only get an appointment with the nurse practitioner, but that's OK! No problem with that. After she finished the exam I asked her if she could get my OB/GYN to stop by and say hello, mostly because I wanted her to see the change. See, I've lost 80 lbs since she last saw me. So there I was at the desk finishing up, and I hear a shout behind me: "Well HELLO, Skinny Minnie!" She said I looked fantastic and said "Wow, I must have REALLY scared you, huh!" She was amazed that one of her patients actually listened to her when she told them to lose weight.

That's a non-scale victory.

Plus, before when I would go to the doctor they would weigh me and/or take my blood pressure and then I'd be sat down for the standard "you're too fat/you're killing yourself/this is what can happen to you" lecture. This time, none of that happened. They took my blood pressure (reading was normal) and without comment, noted it in my chart. I was in and out in maybe 20 minutes. That's another non-scale victory!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Another "decade" of weight lost

I weighed in at 176.4 lbs this morning, making it officially over 80 POUNDS that I've lost! 80! That is HUGE! I'm excited!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Went shopping

I had lunch with my mother and grandmother yesterday, then we went shopping together at JC Penney (we all love it).

My mother and I took my grandma to Chili's, which is her favorite restaurant. My grandma and I both ordered the Guiltless Chicken Platter, which used to come with a half ear of corn but no longer does, so I ordered an extra whole cob (at $1.49, EGADS) and split it with my grandma. My mom ordered the bacon cheeseburger and boy was it hard to eat steamed broccoli while she ate french fries.

Afterwards we went to the mall and hit JC Penney. I saw this great skirt but they only had 3 sizes: 16, 12, and 6. I wear a 12-14 in most things now, so I tried on the 12 and it was loose. So loose that I could easily have gone down to a 10 if they had had one. I figure I'll pin the loose fabric. I didn't buy a new top to go with it because I already have a great black sweater from J. Crew that will go perfectly with it. I also bought a couple of short-sleeved shirts that were on sale 2 for $14, and a new pair of pants for work. I have pants in that cut already, but they are a size 14 and are a pretty slim cut. They're getting baggy, so I bought the same style of pants in a 12. I tried on a totally different cut of pants in a 10, but that was pushing it; they were too tight for me to zip up all the way. The 12s in that cut were too big, so I figured I might be able to get into the 10. The difference between the two pairs was so big that I double-checked the labels, but they said 10 and 12. Oh well. I'll be wearing a 10 probably by May, so I can wait.

Yay! Clothes shopping is getting sort of fun now. :-)

Monthly cycles

I've found that as my weight drops, the effects of PMS (headaches, cramps, bloating) have worsened. I had my period this week so I shot up by 3 lbs, then it came off plus some.

Also, as I get closer to my goal, I am weaning myself off microwave ready meals like Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice and am beginning to develop an arsenal of healthy, easy-to-prepare recipes. My work has kept me extremely busy and when I get home, I'm tired and in no mood to slave over the stove for an hour. So I buy mostly frozen vegetables and pre-cooked frozen meat. I do buy fresh fruit; the frozen stuff is gross. I eat enough fruit to go through pounds of it a week without it spoiling, but vegetables would mostly spoil before I could finish them. So I cut corners by getting the frozen stuff. Nothing wrong with it!

One dish I've taken to recently is couscous with chicken and vegetables. I prepare about 3 cups of dry couscous at a time, season it with Mrs Dash, a little kosher salt, some harissa, and a couple of bay leaves and put it in the fridge. That way it's there and ready when I want it. I take a cup of cooked couscous, a cup of frozen spinach, 2/3 cups of frozen peas & carrots, and nuke them all together for 90 seconds, stir, nuke for another 90 seconds, squirt some lemon juice on it, and it's ready to go. I then nuke a cooked chicken breast for 3 minutes, cut it up, and put it on top of all of that. It's a low-calorie but HUGE and FILLING meal. I calculated this meal at 430 calories, 51 g carbs, 36 g protein, 6.5 g fat, and 6 g of fiber. Even when I'm very hungry, I can rarely finish the entire meal.

There are a lot of carbs in that meal; I don't know if people who follow this blog are aware of the details of what I eat, but I am not following a low-carb diet. In fact, I'm not following any diet at all. I try to eat healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc. but I do not take much notice of percentages, carbs, calories from fat, calories from protein, etc. I eat what I like and what is appealing, and control the portions strictly. If I want beef I have it. If I want rice I have it. If I want chili I have it. But I don't have LOTS of it! I had pizza this week from Pizza Hut. One slice of medium hand-tossed pepperoni pizza from there is 230 calories. There is room for a slice or two of that in pretty much any diet.