September 23, 2011

Roses and thorns

Provided nothing went awry yesterday, I'm in Chicago right now, loving life with my friends and anticipating seeing Bobby later today. Weight was 199 on Thursday morning when I left for the office (and when I set this to publish) - it's a 1 in the hundreds place, which I'm relieved to see again, and it's movement in the right direction, so I have no complaints.

I'll be making good decisions all weekend - running with Lorelei in more humane temperatures, eating well, and hopefully some high-/low-intensity cardio intervals with my bien-aimé. (Sorry, Dad.)

Stay tuned for a recap next week, either as part of my Fire Up update on Monday or something separate another day.

Enjoy your weekend! Make as many good decisions as you can.

September 22, 2011

Maintenance, part four

Recovering from the past few weeks of struggling has honestly felt like crawling out of a very dark hole. It's a struggle, for sure, and you're not entirely sure how far you've fallen until you get to the top and can look back, surveying how far you had to climb just to reach the surface again.

I sat on the couch this weekend, crying. Crying, because I wanted to eat and I knew I wasn't hungry. Crying, because since I got to California, I've been soothing emotional emptiness with physical fullness. Crying, because I had such high hopes for my transition - wishing that somehow, magically, I'd turn into the kind of person who loses her appetite when faced with stressful situations, that the 189 I saw right before leaving would stick. But it was 194 by the time I got to California, and has bounced around between 194 and 199 for weeks now.

Until this weekend, when I saw it.


And it may well have been 345.

It hurt, not because I finally saw the number I had skirted around for so long, but because I felt guilty. I knew it was a direct result of my actions. I'm not on a medicine that makes me gain weight, nor do I have any condition that impairs my ability to lose weight. I'm not physically impaired in any way that prevents me from being active. I have my faculties about me, but I've made deliberate poor choices, and that's the part that hurts. I spent so long making all the right choices, and the positive results followed. Now, here I am, fully aware of the bad decisions I'm making, and I make them anyway.

Awareness is the difference between this attempt at losing weight and all my past failures. I never really did the research on what I needed to do in order to truly succeed, and I never honestly believed that I could make it even close to my goal. This time, though, I am armed with the knowledge of exactly what I need to do to properly nourish my body. I know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel uncomfortable and unhealthy, and I think that is something that can't ever go away. Even when I binge, even when I have terrible, horrible off-plan days, there's a voice in the back of my head that screams Don't do this. You know this is wrong. This is not what you really want. This will not make you feel good - not while you do it, not immediately following, not for the rest of the day.

It's awareness, but even more specifically, it's guilt.

I realized I've been deluding myself. For months, my weight has stayed the same, plus or minus five pounds, and I've brushed it off, saying I'm stressed and trying to put a positive light on it by saying I'll be great at maintenance.

But - there's a difference between intentional weight maintenance and a plateau. There's a difference between what I want my maintenance to be and what I am doing to myself right now.

My weight has been mostly unchanging, but what I have been doing to myself lately is far from balanced. A few great days here and there, and then I self-sabotage in a huge way. I don't want to spend the rest of my life taking a few steps forward and then getting set back - even if the weight evens out, I hate the feeling of guilt.

Having reviewed the plans of quite a few maintenance bloggers, it's clear that the approaches to maintaining are as diverse as the ways to lose weight. Essentially, they're all the same - we have a calorie deficit to lose, we break even to maintain. For some people, maintenance means keeping up the exact methods they used to lose - they still count Points, they still count calories and keep food journals - but they alter their intake and output slightly. For others, there's less of a focus on numbers and more on feelings. There are no weigh ins, no calories counted - they know what a healthy meal is, they eat when they are hungry, and they cut back a little when their clothes feel like they don't fit as well.

My maintenance, I hope, will be a combination. Maybe it's just because of the moment I find myself in right now, but I don't quite trust myself to rely on feelings just yet, and I can see myself continuing to track as I begin my maintaining phase. What I want is to eventually wean myself from numbers and focus on how I feel instead, but I know myself and I know getting to that point will take time. Being a recovering binge eater, I'll never be "cured" of the urges and the feelings. My maintenance goal is to get them under control, though - to feel more balanced overall.

September 21, 2011


Kind of a fluff post, but I'm okay with that - I'm working on a pretty heavy post, didn't finish it for today. And I'm okay with that, too, because I had a medium-busy day yesterday.

I proctored an exam for one of my classes, spent my office hours grading, biked home from work and decided en route to go to the grocery store and get ingredients for a healthy new recipe (check back on Sunday!). It came out deliciously, and then, exhausted from biking in 98º heat with a bag of groceries balancing in my purse (it was a spur of the moment grocery trip, no backpack!), I took a nap.

I woke up when Justin texted me a few hours later - then he came over for dinner and the second episode of "Pushing Daisies," which we started on Monday over smoothies. I'm glad to be watching it with someone because that way, I am sort of distracted from the fact that the main character makes pies and I don't get triggered.

After the show, I went to my room and video chatted with Bobby. He was very giggly, it was ridiculously cute. He made a blanket fort and brought me (his laptop) in with him.

That face! *sigh* I can't wait to kiss the hell out of him this weekend.

I have become an expert at Day Ones, but haven't survived a Day Two in a while. So now, after two days in a row where I felt really good about what I ate and how I moved? Everything else feels good, too.

September 20, 2011


Yesterday, I decided to take the campus shuttle to work instead of biking in - I wanted to test and see how accurate the time was on the schedule for Thursday, when I'll need to ride it to work again (not bringing my bike so I can call for a cab and go directly to the airport after class!). Since I wanted to bike home, though, I brought my bike and hitched it up to the bus' bike rack, then took my seat. The bus ride was 45 minutes from my apartment complex to the school's library - a good 20 minutes longer than it takes me to bike there, something I was a little proud of.

I unloaded my bike and walked it from the library to the building where my office is. As I got to the bike rack, I noticed something was missing: my bike lock. I checked the bag where I put the helmet and my Garmin - nothing. I checked my purse - nope. Then I realized what I must have done: I usually loop the lock around the handlebars while I ride. Not a problem while my hand is next to it, keeping it on. But somewhere between my apartment and the school, it must have fallen off and rolled to the side of the road.

After wheeling my bike down the office hallway and cramming it into the corner of an office already crowded by the four of us who share it, I sat at my desk, exasperated. I feel stupid.

Reaching into my bag, I pulled out my breakfast: a banana and a container of Yoplait Light. The morning was not off to a good start, but breakfast is the most important meal, and I hoped it would help me refocus on positives for the rest of the day. But ... I usually eat breakfast before biking in. Grabbing everything in a rush to catch the bus, I didn't think to grab a spoon, too. And I felt stupid.

Most of the beginning of my day was like that, to tell the truth. I sort of knew it was going to be bad when I stepped on the scale in the morning and saw an extremely high number. It wasn't surprising, considering how much I had eaten the night before - I bargained with myself in the grocery store, saying I could handle what I was buying. You need to be able to handle it. You need to control yourself. I wish I could make a sandwich for lunch, really. But I'm just not strong enough right now for certain foods, I suppose.

Waking up, seeing numbers I never wanted to see again ... that set the whole rest of my day on a negative path. Because I felt stupid.

Weight loss is a math problem. Calories in, calories out. You can do this. You did this so well for a while. And now you can't do it. You can't stop eating. You can't control yourself. You're stupid.

I'm not sure what intelligence has to do with too much snacking, but "stupid" is my go-to self-inflicted put down. It's the one that really hurts. I've always heard fat and ugly and for the most part, I've let them roll off my back. I was okay being the fat girl, the ugly girl, the whatever girl - because underneath it all, I was a smart girl. I was the academic. Despite my body's failures, I was successful in this one arena. So to be called stupid means to attack the one consistent strength I've always believed myself to have.

I am a million things right now. I am a sister. I am a daughter. I am a long distance lady friend. I am a new faculty member at my university. I am a new neighbor in my community. I am lonely. I am dizzy. I am frustrated. I am losing sight of my goals. I am regaining weight.

But - I. Am. Not. Stupid.

I am distracted, and I am not at my best. But I'm strong, and I'm aware, and I'm capable of getting back on track and refocusing. Of getting things moving again in the right direction. Of finding my vision again.

And I fell asleep after a long, hot, frustrating, perfectly on-plan day believing myself to be a truly smart girl.

September 19, 2011

Fire up for Fall! Week One

Oh, glory be. A challenge!

My positive picture for the week:

I ran yesterday morning! I don't run very much anymore, and it's pretty depressing, to be honest. I miss the exciting feeling of training for a race, of getting out there and breaking my records. I was feeling pretty sad: I loved running because it made me feel like an athlete, and I just haven't felt like much of one lately. Then, I got encouraging messages from Tim, Amy, and Becks, and I laced up my shoes and went.

Tim was right - if you have a body, you're an athlete. It wasn't much, but it felt amazing. The distance is nothing like what I used to be capable of, but I'm certainly pleased with the 9:55 pace. Perfect kickoff for my fall!

What are your goals for the Fall Challenge? Why have you chosen those goals?

1. Get my BMI under 30 ("obese" to "overweight").
This is my next big weight loss goal; weighing 185 pounds or less will have me there. I *can* do this! It will be a very exciting victory - my BMI at my biggest was 55.7 (over 30 is obese, over 40 is morbidly obese, and over 50 is super obese). To not be any variety of obese will be a huge deal - like when I bought a size medium t-shirt for the first time, and knew what it felt like to not be any variety of large.

2. No eating after dinner.
I saw Katie set a similar challenge for herself and I think this would really help me with getting my eating in control again. My binges are rarely in the morning - it's always at night, after I've had dinner and should be "done" for the day (binges are never about physical hunger). I don't want to set a particular time, because I don't always eat at the same time. But no matter when I have dinner, when I've finished, I'm done for the day.

3. Run a sub-30 5k.
One of my summer goals that I missed out on. I can do it - I just need to get it official. I'll be looking for races - nearby, in cities I can easily travel to like San Francisco and Los Angeles, and back in Chicago since I will hopefully be spending one weekend a month there.

4. Stick to my budget.
I'm making more money at this job than I did at my last one, and I want to be saving as much as possible - in case anything comes up, but also, for things like bigger vacations that I couldn't take on my previous salary. (Not that my overnight in St. Louis wasn't amazing, but I think I'd like to dust off my passport!) My goal is to stick to a decent monthly budget - rent times two. That should cover my bills, groceries, household expenses (things for the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, etc.), and leave enough to enjoy myself a little. The rest needs to go right into my savings!

5. Complete three of my 101-in-1001 goals.
Want to get back on track with these! I was tearing through the list for a while, but slowed at the end of the summer. This will give me something to do as well as something to work towards.

What have you done this week that's made you feel fabulous?

I soaked in the hot tub - even though it sounds wonderful having one at my disposal, I'm still pretty shy about public-swimsuit-ing and haven't been there much since my dad left, only twice with Justin. But this week, I just sucked it up and went alone. The jets felt good on my sore back (I fell asleep on the couch and it was a little painful all week), and just being there, not needing someone with me and not caring if people could see my arms and legs, felt good.

What do you think will be your biggest challenge in reaching your goals?

Staying focused. I have been so off-track lately - bouncing around the 190s all summer, eating my feelings instead of feeling and expressing them. I have great intentions and my motivation is slowly but surely coming back, but I think that having these goals written out and needing to update on them weekly will help incredibly with making sure they're met.

Where in the world do you live? What's amazing about it?

I live in central California, though I have only been here about a month and am still on the lookout for what is so amazing about it.

Don't be deceived by the lows - that's at about 6 a.m. It's already in the high 70s by 7:15 when I bike to work.

I guess that's amazing, per the traditional definition of causing amazement. Not awesome. But it's something. It's really hard to get used to, to be honest. It's tough being sad and frustrated and having it be sunny and beautiful all the time. Sometimes all you want is a rainy day, a day when you can lay around and be lazy and wallow a bit in your feelings and not feel guilty at all. But all this sun, I feel like I need to make the most of every day because I still have my Chicago mentality of enjoy it while it lasts.

September 18, 2011


Growing up, my stay-at-home mom cooked almost every meal from scratch. There were occasional meals out, but for the most part, everything was homemade. I don't remember ever eating premade frozen meals until my parents got divorced, when our eating habits changed as a family. I moved in with my dad, who couldn't cook much beyond boxes of macaroni and cheese and barbecued chicken with cornbread, so there were an awful lot of microwaved pizzas and pot pies. If I never eat one again, it will be too soon.

When I first moved into my apartment in Chicago, I made the decision not to get a microwave. I had never lived on my own before, but I still knew that left to my own devices, I'd live off of Hot Pockets, even though I knew how to cook. Cooking takes time and money; as a grad student, I wouldn't have much of either, and I was only half-heartedly invested in wanting to lose weight at the time, but I still knew that whatever time and money it took to cook for myself would be worth it. There were a lot of nights when I ordered take-out for my binges, but for the most part, I did all my own cooking. Even if I cooked unhealthy meals, it was still prepared by hand, and that felt good.

Finishing grad school and starting my first full-time job in Chicago coincided with the beginning of my weight loss journey, and even though I still did not have a microwave, I incorporated Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers Smart Ones frozen meals into my daily plan. We had a microwave at the office, and it was convenient. It helped me transition from my unhealthy lunches from before (usually a big sandwich or a few packs of sushi from the school store, or a few candy bars and vending machine snacks to hold me over until I got home for my "real" meal) while also serving a purpose: I didn't feel ready to keep a loaf of bread or a container of sandwich meat in the house.

Despite the convenience of microwaves, I've gotten along pretty well without one. "Convenient" doesn't always mean "good."

Problem: my new apartment has a built-in microwave. And despite my love of cooking, I've been eating mostly Smart Ones lately. My go-to lunch (and sometimes dinner) has been a Lean Cuisine heated up and dumped over a bowl of lettuce. Dump - ugh. That even sounds unappealing - far less lovely than cooking verbs like sauté, simmer, combine.

Part of it is the frustration of starting my kitchen from scratch: I have some basic pots and pans and a few spices, but nowhere near the cooking arsenal I had back in Chicago. I need a new food processor - I miss bean burgers and avocado spinach pasta sauce and frozen banana "soft serve"! I get paid on the first of the month, and then things will be a little more right once again in my culinary world.

Another excuse problem I am having is that the grocery store is farther away from my apartment than it was when I was in Chicago. Seeing as I am car-free at the moment, I'm limited to what I can fit in my backpack and then carry home while riding my bike - and conveniently, Smart Ones and Lean Cuisines come in small boxes. (Again, and I cannot stress this enough, "convenient" does not necessarily mean "good.") In Chicago, I could have a backpack and carry bags in my hands - here, it's just too far to walk. Not to mention it's still very hot here , so walking the distance and carrying my groceries would be tough. I don't really mind going grocery shopping a few times a week, I just have to get out there and do it - it's a new frustration that I need to just suck up and deal with.

I need to get back to cooking for myself. I have eliminated processed snacks in place of fresh fruit and yogurt, and it feels great. Getting back to cooking all of my meals is the last piece of the puzzle, I think. The last thing I need to do to feel entirely back on track.

So next week, look for a new recipe here. I'll be back to posting new recipes on Sundays - healthy ones that don't involve the microwave, or at least no instructions like "dump into a bowl over a bag of salad."

What about you? What new foods or recipes have you tried lately? What are your favorite fall recipes?