October 21, 2011

Roses and thorns

Haven't posted on a Friday in a while - still not much to report. It was 195 two weeks ago, then 201 last Friday after seeing 192 and panicking. Logging the 201 was sobering, and I ate well and moved a good amount all week to help with my recovery.

Today, I'm back down to 198, a three pound loss for the week.

I'll need to keep up losses like this if I want to make my Fire Up for Fall goal of 185 by the end of the challenge on November 21. Four and a half weeks, 13 pounds. It's a lot. But it's so important to me that I end this plateau, that I break out of the 190s for good. You see, my birthday is November 20. And making the goal by then would be the best birthday present ever. For a 5'6" female, weighing 185 pounds would mean I was overweight.

Not super obese like when I started. Not morbidly obese. Not even "regular" obese. For the first time since middle school, I'd be overweight.

The prospect of this is undeniably thrilling. It's going to take a lot of hard work, but I'm feeling very confident in myself and my ability to make this goal. I want it so badly, and that motivation, that aching for reaching a goal ... it's just what I've needed.

Getting back into a training schedule for running again has helped an awful lot. Because I am running, I've been getting back into the habit of drinking tons of water - I still drank a lot when I wasn't biking, but it was mostly at night after my commute home. Now, I have been trying harder to space the glasses out all day long, like I used to in Chicago - before breakfast, after class, after office hours, when I get home, after my run, with dinner, before bed. I have also been biking less (trying not to over-do it), and my appetite has decreased accordingly. It feels good, much more balanced.

All in all, I've had a very, very good week.

What about you? How was your week? What are your plans for the weekend? And - what do you think of my fancy schmancy new blog design? The fantastic Bobby Kane designed the avatar for me, I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.

October 19, 2011


The great thing about writing a blog is that really, anyone can do it. That's also one of the most interesting things about it, I think - some people write long stories, some share short excerpts from their day-to-day, some people post mostly pictures, and other share only raw data. But everyone, no matter what his or her background with writing, can sit down with a computer and express his or her ideas, sharing them with the world after a few keystrokes and clicks.

For one reason or another, some blogs get to be fairly well-known. These blogs don't conform to any one specific category, but there's still a common thread. We, the readers, see small glimpses of ourselves in their posts, and no matter what means they use for expressing themselves, we appreciate their candor and our ability to relate to them.

When I first started reading weight loss and healthy living blogs, I was voracious - I couldn't get enough. I scanned blogrolls and comments, trying to find anyone else who could possibly have some advice or experiences I could glean. Some names I saw more often than others, but for some reason, I didn't investigate right away.

One of those was Jewlia Goulia.

Julia was a girl about my age, slightly taller but around the same starting weight. I finally started following her as she transitioned into onederland; I was about thirty pounds behind, and devoured her posts. She shared her fears as well as her victories, and I ached and cheered along side her. A photographer, she boldly posted a series of tasteful nude photographs of her transitioning body; the honesty both inspired and motivated me. I wanted to lose weight like Julia, but mostly, I wanted to be brave and own my success like Julia. Silently, from my own little corner of the internet, I idolized her.

Then, her posts slowed. And her mother passed away, and she posted even less. It was understandable, but still upsetting - reading blogs, especially when someone shares as much as Julia did, you feel like you know these people. These are friends, we're in this together. Her less-frequent posts upset me, for selfish reasons, but also, because I worried about her.

She was in the 180s, the 190s, bouncing around, and one day, she posted a goodbye. There were many reasons, most unlisted, and ultimately, her decision was to stop publicly blogging and focus instead on her health, her marriage, and her offline life. I was as heartbroken as I was confused. Heartbroken, because again, this was someone whose journey I wanted so desperately to follow and support. And confused, because I didn't quite understand how someone could start in the 300s, do all the work to get to onederland, and then struggle.

The more research I did on situations like hers, the more common I discovered it was. You find stories of people who lose hundreds of pounds, only to regain most of it, or all of it, or end up even bigger than when they started. How can that happen? How can you regain when you know how good it feels to be healthy, to be properly fed, to finally do right by your body?

Right now, I'm where Julia left off weight-wise ... fighting my way through the first decade of onederland, hoping to get safely into the 180s and continue to work my way towards my long-term goal. That, among other reasons, is part of why I've been blogging less. And even though I can't begin to understand her emotional specifics, I am finding myself confused and conflicted and wishing for the attitude I had thirty, sixty, ninety, over a hundred pounds ago.

This is what I wanted - this is what I worked so hard for - so why am I struggling *now*?

It seems counterintuitive. For so long, it was so easy to say no to processed junk and empty calories, to try and beat the clock on Saturdays and finish my 1200 calorie elliptical workout before the gym closed, to not eat the calories I burned exercising. The beginning is when it's supposed to be tough, right? Logic says getting started should be hard, not staying the course.

Well, maybe not.

As exciting as it is, and as hopeful as we are that we'll get there, onederland is still a terrifying place for those of us who are fighting tooth and nail against the odds. The paradox of weighing 345 pounds is that you know (and are told) that you need to be willing to fight hard and change so much of your life in order to get healthy, even though you know (and are told) that statistically, you either (a) won't make it to your goal or (b) won't be successful long-term with maintenance if you do make it. Every day, I wake up wanting to be my healthiest and feel my best. And even though these ideas are at the front of my mind, in the back still lurks the voice whispering that it doesn't matter what I want, I am not meant to succeed at this. Some days, it's easy to scream back Like hell I won't, and I work out and eat well. But when the rest of life gets stressful and it feels like you're giving all you have to fight simply for your sanity, this tends to be an easy place to concede.

I've written on this several times before, so bear with me, but I'm so damn close. This isn't every other time. I haven't lost three pounds, or ten, or thirty. I've lost 150 pounds. And I only have about 40-60 more to go. I think that when Ben wrote about his own struggles with the last few pounds, he summed it up perfectly: the last few pounds are the hardest because they matter the least. I'm not 345 pounds anymore. My struggles now are not what they were then, both physically and mentally. I eat well most of the time - I have off days, but so does everyone. I stay active. I'm happy and self-confident and incredibly different from the girl I used to be - again, with the occasional off day, but overwhelmingly, I couldn't be happier with who, what, and where I am right now.

So, Julia, wherever you are, I hope that all is well with you. I can't possibly understand the specifics of your unique situation, but for what it's worth, I still think of you and how strong and brave you are. I hope you're happy and healthy and in love with life. With you in mind, I'm going to keep making as many good decisions as possible, and hope that I can be someone's Jewlia Goulia. That someone might be as affected by my story as I was by yours. That someone might read what I have to say and realize that even though I'm fighting against the odds, I'm still out there fighting. That I do the best I can with what I have, I give it my all. And that folks understand when I need to refocus a bit on my offline self.

October 17, 2011

Fire Up: Week Five

My positive picture for the week:

After an exceptionally long silence, I finally got a chance to video chat with all my siblings at the same time.

And oh, I missed this face SO MUCH.

Things have been tough between my mother and me, and between my father and my sister Katie, but that doesn't mean things need to be strained between us kids. We're trying to work on that as a group, and things have been a lot better lately. Without a doubt, these strained relationships have contributed to my recent struggles, so having reclaimed some stability here feels amazing.

What have you done this week to achieve your goals?

(1) Struggling with weight again. Was up to 201 on Friday, at 199 now.
(2) Understandably connected to goal #1. I am going to get a 7/7 week just yet!
(3) I ran three times this past week! Started with two miles runs, all sub-20 (one sub-19!). Attempted a 2.5 mile long run yesterday but had to make a pit stop at home because I was feeling sick ... went back out an hour and some water later, for a total of 3.75 miles in 36:49 (a 9:49 pace) - feeling confident! 19 days to race day!
(5) I finished this goal! On Saturday I did #97 - met one of my blog friends in real life!

The lovely Cynthia from Partners in Kind and her husband Michael came by and we had crêpes!

What have you done to make yourself feel fabulous?

Ran consistently for the first time since I got here - it just feels *so* good to be back in a routine.

It's half way through the challenge, you can change 1 or more of your goals (max of 3) if you want to ... what are you going to do and why?

I thought about this, and I decided not to change any. Just because I'm not doing as well as I want to doesn't mean I'm going to jump ship! Gotta keep rowing. I'm mostly nervous about #1 - getting under 185 pounds. Five weeks and 14 pounds to go is a lot, but I'm going to try my hardest to make this goal ... particularly because my birthday is the day before the last day of the challenge, and I'd love to start my life at 25 with a non-obese BMI for the first time in over ten years.

What's your worst bad habit and have you ever tried to tackle it? Do you want to?

Well, binge eating, for sure, and secret eating. Making progress, but realizing lately that it's something I have a lot of work to do in order to get it under control. I was doing exceptionally well for a while, then started to struggle, and haven't really come back from that slip, at least not to the level of control I want to have over the situation.

Besides my food issues, I'm a nervous nail biter. It's such a bad habit, I know. But especially when I'm trying my hardest to avoid binge eating, my nails are a mess because I can't leave them alone. I usually keep them trimmed pretty short so I don't have the choice of biting them.

Would you rather have Burgers for feet or Sausages for Fingers?

Definitely sausage fingers. It would be really tough to find shoes that fit my burger-shaped feet, but big gloves aren't too hard to come by.

October 16, 2011


Yesterday morning, I cooked breakfast.

Not a piece of fruit and a Larabar like I've been throwing in my purse most mornings. Not a yogurt and some raw oats like I usually go for on weekends.

Real, honest-to-goodness breakfast.

And it was awesome.

I don't usually make "real" breakfast. I'm in a rush to get out the door during the week, and on the weekends, I tend to rise early: Saturday mornings I hit the farmer's market, Sunday mornings I go to the grocery store. I like going early because (a) I'm biking and there's less traffic before 8 a.m. and (b) I'm biking and it's not as hot out yet. So it's a couple glasses of water, a piece of fruit, a yogurt, and I hit the road.

But yesterday, I had company. More on the specifics tomorrow, but it was really nice to make a weekend breakfast for people.

I made crêpes, which is a delicious, surprisingly quick, and easy recipe. I have a special French-style crêpe griddle that makes them very easy to shape, but I've also made them in a regular frying pan before, and they're just as simple.

1 c. flour
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. water
2 large eggs
3 tbsp. melted butter
2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a blender or mix well with a wire whisk. Put batter in the fridge for at least an hour, then preheat a skillet or griddle to medium heat. Add a small amount of batter at a time, turning the pan gently to make the crêpe as thin as possible. Flip after a minute or so and cook for 30 more seconds. Serve immediately.

They can also be done savory by omitting the vanilla and sugar and by using 1/4 tsp. of salt and some herbs instead - I've made them with chicken and spinach for dinner before, totally delicious.

The batter makes about a dozen crepes, at about 123 calories each per the ingredients I entered on MyFitnessPal. There are more calories from the toppings you add - whipped cream and Nutella obviously being more calorie-dense than fat-free Cool Whip - but the thing is, they're sweet enough on their own that they'd be good even plain with some fruit.

Light but filling, sweet but not too much, and delightfully French. Perfect! The breakfast was incredible - it was so nice to connect with someone in California who knows my story.

It was also really nice to make crêpes again for the first time in a year or so. These are made with butter, for goodness sakes. Real butter. And mine were full of fresh berries and homemade whipped cream. And I savored them in great company, and I had no food guilt.

To me, this is the difference between "off plan" eating and a binge. This was enjoyed with friends, and I worked out a little extra in the afternoon to balance it out. A binge is me, standing over the counter or sitting on the living room floor, shoveling in as much as I can, as fast as I can. It's about pain, not pleasure.

There is room in my life for crêpes. There is space in my food plan for berries and cream. As long as I enjoy them reasonably and responsibly.

Meals like this and days like today help me see that I'm a million miles away from the 345 pound girl I used to be, that I've got this thing won, that even though there will be hard times and struggles, so much of the rest of my life will be full of so many fabulous days just like this.

With berries and cream on top.