Friday, June 1, 2012

I'm Here!

Hey all, I'm still kicking! Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I'm still alive, and doing my exercise thing as much as I can. Thanks to everyone who checked in to find a pulse -- it means a lot to me that you missed me! Cutting to the chase, I haven't been able to blog much because I am working on a big side project -- on top of my regular job -- that has me writing non-stop. At the end of the day, after tons of writing, I just don't have the energy to write anymore. But I read all your blogs, religiously. I'm still doing the New Rules of Weight-Lifting for Women -- hurt my knees tho doing squats -- and that's generally going well. Cycling and hitting the gym for cardio as much as poss. Down almost 15lbs, which was my French Open goal. Maybe by the time it's over in two weeks, I can make it to the magic 15!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seeing Thyself

Uncomfortably familiar with exactly how this photographer describes/sees herself. I've sometimes seen myself in pictures and wondered, "Who is that person?" I look so different from how I feel about myself. See what I'm talking about here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hooping It Up

It's official: I cannot hoola hoop. Or hula hoop, for that matter.

The activity that appears so easy and effortless on "how to" videos and what I remember as simple fun from childhood is completely beyond me. Whales could do it better, I swear.

First I thought it was my hoop - too heavy. I got a bigger, extra light one. Even worse. It's not meant to be. I can't get beyond three rotations and the damn thing falls to the ground. Sometimes it's not even one rotation!

First big hike of the season on Sunday. It hurt. We got slightly lost and so traveled in a circle for a good extra mile, leaving us totally wiped out when we finally did get to the summit. The last 300 feet were quite steep and we were both pathetically unable to go more than 10 steps before having to stop and gasp for air. We are waaaay out of shape.

We limped home (literally) from the train station and I had to immediately get in the shower, obviously. This strange blob below is my ankle and sock. The pink strip in between is what my skin normally looks like. Everything else is either sock or grime.

Hey, it's not a real hike if you don't come home dirty, right?

So, I'm still fighting the good fight, and not giving up on trying to lose, or at least maintain. (the very least)

Thanks for the supportive words on my last blog. Back soon.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Circle of Panic

For quite some time now I've been telling myself to go back to my nutritionist, who performed the (usually) bi-weekly task of weighing me and going over my food charts.

The last time we met I had started to regain some weight -- that was two years ago. She sternly cautioned me to pay attention to those 10lbs. "It starts with 10," she said, "And if you aren't careful, it can go from there."

Well, a few things happened in the interim beyond my control (the long period of 2011 illness in which I lost probably about 15 to 20lbs (but from an extreme gastro situation, not a healthy diet)), but I've yet to make an appointment to go back to her, and get back into a regular schedule of accountability.

What's that word there? Ah yes, accountability. That's what I'm avoiding.

My only experience of extended weight loss came when I was a) very motivated, to the exclusion of practically all else and b) seeing this woman on a regular basis, and facing the scale. (Erm, actually I never really faced the scale because I let her weigh me and record the number but I asked her to never tell me -- it was just too dauntingly high.)

You'd think, then, that I would go back. But I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed to go back without at least having returned to the lower weight that I was before I gained back about 10lbs. I want to go back and show her that at least in the two years since we saw each other I've been able to maintain my lower weight (which is seriously not all that low, in the bigger picture of "normal" size).

Now I'm afraid that I'm even bigger than I was then. I saw a picture of myself the other day and was shocked, shocked, shocked at how big my stomach looked. I am sitting here telling myself that it was just a bad picture, but squeezing my stomach, I can feel that roll. It's just hanging there, being fat.

The adult in me knows that I should not be an idiot and start going back to this woman. At this point, I've probably got to lose a good 25lbs before I could even get close to where I was. If I don't go see her, will that ever happen?

Barring that, if I really can't face her, then I need to man up and weigh myself at the gym, so at least I have a record and can get some sense of reality here. Yet I am so, so, so, so terribly afraid that I am going to see a sky-high number -- and I mean really really really sky-high, like 30 or 40lbs bigger than I'm thinking -- that I just can't do it.

I think of that and, no exaggeration, the panic just shoots through my body. My fight-or-flight response goes through the roof and I get antsy and jumpy and want to run somewhere and hide. It scares me to death.

My coping mechanism is to tell myself to just keep doing all the things that worked for me before and eventually the inches will come off and I can go back to my nutritionist when I'm ready. This is what I tell myself, yet... I fear it's not happening. I feel like nothing is coming off, and the panic comes back. Then I tell myself that this is why I need to get on the scale, because there could be losses and I don't know it, and the panic gets even worse. Meanwhile I obsessively take my clothes on and off in the morning, asking my long-suffering M repeatedly if certain jackets, pants, shirts look tighter on me. (The answer is often no, but in a less than convincing tone).

So, that's me right now. Ish, your friendly rat in a cage.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

We Have Lift-Off

Brace yourself for a rapid-fire update (repetitive strain in the wrist this week -- hurts to type).

Gym: yes, every day so far, alternating bouts of treadmill, elliptical, rower. Neuroma present, but pain bearable. That's good.

Intake: on plan, including a dinner out Monday night. A little problem with wine last night. But overall, better than it's been in quite a while. Party tonight, have budgeted in some wine, but not treats.

Results: sunnier moods generally all week, overall improvement in optimism, attitude, outlook on life. Suspicion that several pairs of pants are just ever so slightly (and really I mean slightly) looser.

Desk Chair: works a treat. I fiddle, wiggle and bounce all day. Damned uncomfortable for long stretches of time, which is exactly what I need: gets me on my feet every 45 to 60 mins. When I got it the chair was too short -- a midget chair. But I flexed the ol' biceps and really pumped the ball up and now it's perfect. Check it out.
View not much different from this angle, but just to be thorough:

Hula Hoop -- apparently it's not good to buy the standard-issue ones in sports shops, which I did. Mistake. It's not big enough to properly swing, and it's weighted slightly, so the minute I try to twirl it the thing crashes to the floor, banging my knees, shines and ankles on the way down! Crazy hoop! From what the Internet tells me, I need an adult size hoop that is not weighted -- the key is to make sure it's a big, big hoop, according to the ... experts. So I've ordered another. Will give it a whirl and report back. I can work my way up to handling the weighted one, it seems, but I'm not skilled enough yet. However, my early flailing indicates this has real potential: could be a neat little workout (done, for example, during commercials while watching telly) and will be virtually silent once I can keep it from crashing to the floor.

Dog hike: Still waitlisted!! Grrrr! So many dogs in NYC, so many dog-lovers. I am still waiting for my Fido hike.

Onward, comrades!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's All in the Mind

Dear reader, allow me to (re)state the obvious: this is one hell of an uphill slog.

This morning I saw a picture from almost one year ago, when I was in the hospital with that terrible gall-bladder removal gone wrong. Reader, I was much, much skinner. My face and neck and shoulders were practically gaunt (not my hips - never my hips).

I didn't look very good, mind you. I was sick, dehydrated, and you could see it in my face. But wow... don't think I've ever seen my neck that sharply delineated in my life. Who knew my eyes were so big and round? Startled lemur is the effect I called to mind.

There is no hiding the fact that I have regained all that weight. And a little bit more. Now I'm in the long and somewhat painful process of taking it all off again.

You know the drill: get up, stretch, eat the same thing every morning, eat the same snacks during the day, same lunch, evening workout, dinner, and then bed. Then up again the next day to do it all over again.

I'm trying to inject some fun into this and make it a more positive, upbeat experience. Yes, I need to keep losing weight and that requires discipline and denial, and getting my butt in gear when I'd rather laze around. No getting around it.

As I am so frequently reminding myself these days, when the hand stretches out for a second helping or an unscheduled snack: YOU CAN NOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.

That is, I can eat what I want when I want it, or I can stick to a regimented food plan and slowly, over time, see my weight drop. One, or the other, but never both (for me, at least, others appear to have more luck. But we won't dwell on them).

But, my friends, this not a misery (or it shouldn't be). This is life. This is exactly what millions of people do every day (while millions of millions of others worry about not having any food to eat -- sad, and weird, but true).

In the interest of fun I have done the following:

1) Exchanged my desk chair (which is practically glued to my behind in this new, sedentary job) with an exercise ball. Bouncy work time is more fun, right?

2) Purchased a hula hoop (or hoola hoop, I guess). I look a fool, but I can do it in my apartment at night while watching TV and my downstairs neighbor is none the wiser.

3) Signed up for a weekend hiking program that allows you to go for a hike with a rescue dog "borrowed" for the day from the local shelter. So you get to go for a hike with an adorable dog who desperately needs a day of fresh air and fun outside of his/her cramped little rescue cage. A win-win! And everyone knows a doggie hike is not a chore. How could it be?

I am determined to move more all day long -- not just during workouts. This job is NOT helping my uphill slog. So, on that note, it's time for me to step away from my desk again.

Until I'm back, enjoy the beautiful singing of Iz. Is it me projecting my own feelings on to him, or do you also feel like you know what he's wishing for when he sings, oh-so-poignantly, about dreams coming true?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Dark and Terrible Discovery

In the dank, foul laboratory where I labor to produce elfin elixirs that will make me skinny, (ie..the kitchen), a most heinous realization occurred: if I dip my organically-sourced fair trade dark chocolate into my all-natural almond butter, a stunning treat emerges that tastes EXACTLY like a Reese's peanut butter cup, the one type of candy that I have never been able to resist.

Friends, this is why I stay out of the kitchen. Nothing good can happen there for a fatty like me (and I do use that term fairly lovingly, since I have learned to accept and even chuckle at my inner fatty, a harmless and happy-go-lucky creature that just adores to eat good and creamy things.

I don't want to *be* fat. But I don't hate my inner fatty).

It's been quiet of late in Ishland, and that's because I've been .. well, sort of figuring some things out. I did mention briefly that I'd switched jobs of late. Perhaps I didn't mention that this has set off an explosion of identity crisis and existentialist hand-wringing. (Yes, I am prone to that, aren't I?)

It's just that I'm one of "those" people who strongly identifies herself through work. It has been a surprise (not a pleasant one) to see just how much I have defined myself by my work label all these years. Now that it's been taken away, by my own choice, what am I? What are my new boundaries? What terms do I use to describe myself? None of the ones commonly used appeal to me. I liked the label I had, but not the lifestyle I was forced to follow with it.

This has produced much second-guessing, as you can image. Have I made the wrong choice? Is my career effectively over? Will I spend my days obsessing over the mythical "What might have been?" question and drive myself into a bitter, lonely and likely deranged dotage? (All of these have been answered with a resounding YES by my inner control freak, who throws a few cookies at my inner fatty to distract her and then takes command of my head space.)

To survive all this insanity, I've adopted an alcoholic's approach to work. I just get through one moment at a time, one day at a time. I remind myself this choice wasn't about a short-term gain but a long-term gain. I swapped a demanding, unsatisfying, fairly underpaid position -- that had bursts of adrenaline and fun and great colleagues -- for a slow, easy-going, overpaid position that doesn't challenge me, never will challenge me, and makes me feel like I'm working with dullards.

You see the problem there, don't you? It's in the "no challenge" perception I have of this job. So, ok, it's not a job that will last a lifetime (please God no).

I need to hang tough, and remember that I did this for my long-term choices (ie, being debt-free in the next three years).

What does this have to do with my weight-loss? Well, I am able to tell you that I have not drowned my fears and worries in the grease of potato chip bags, or the comfort of a good creamy custard.

Despite my inner tensions and worries, I still make my low-cal breakfast every day, pack my lunch of mini-kale salad with 5 oz of lean protein and lots of veggies, my snack of fruit and sometimes a small cottage cheese/yogurt, and I eat sensibly at night.

There has been a bit of an uptick in the Pinor Noir consumption, but really, is it my fault that there is a darned fine wine store right next to my office specializing in French wines? It's been my guilty pleasure, but now I need to acknowledge it may also be a bit of a coping mechanism as well.

The only thing lacking has been a commitment to exercise. I have walked the 3+ miles home several nights these past weeks, but my dedication to working out ebbs and flows. Some days I can, others I just can't muster up the will to make the right choice for myself.

Friends, all I can say to you is that I am aware of this, and I'm struggling to address it. I am no longer willing to try and shame myself into working out, nor am I going to try and falsely hype myself into it with forced cheer and bravado. It is what it is. At this moment, at least.

I'm ever-so-slightly depressed these days, but I'm coping. I'm coping.

Apropos of nothing, a friend sent me this video the other day. If you've got 20 mins to spare, take a look and then tell me what you think. I'd really like to know.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Volleying with Myself

You'll forgive me, I hope, if I indulge just momentarily in a whinge.

Why, dear readers (as Peridot would say), are some people able to lose weight merely by changing what and how they eat? And not starvation changes, but just simple and basic alterations to their regular habits. Why don't they have to slog away on torture machines for hours every week and go to bed hungry every night to see results?

This whine has a back story, of course: It's really really hard for me to lose weight without working out. A lot. AND watching what I eat very carefully. I am not alone in this, but sometimes it does feel very lonely.

So it's Friday night, I made it to the gym ONE TIME this week, which is not sufficient, of course, and I'm tired. Oh so tired. There is no reason that I should be so exhausted -- if I had to guess why I'm so pooped at the end of the day, it's probably my weight!

Today I made three good decisions not to talk myself into buying things that I did not need to eat: chocolate covered almonds, a double-serving of ricotta and tomato quiche (it's supposed to be a single serving but really...who am I kidding? It was easily enough for two) and a "healthy-style" organic burrito.

Despite avoiding those temptations, I still overate at lunch. I got healthy food, but still....I ate too much.

Classic example, in tennis terms, of a player who wins lots of points, but can't producer the big winners. I'm doing some things right, but without getting in the workouts, I'm not going to see the results I so desperately want.

When I was doing really well with weight loss, I had a firm equation in my head: effort = reward (ie, a good scale #). Now I'm back in fantasyland, where I think I can make a few piddling food sacrifices, and still take home the trophy.

Slogging ahead, we are skedded for beginner Ashtanga yoga on Saturday, and when I say we I mean that M has agreed to come under duress. This class is closer to home than my usual one and the teacher promises it won't stress the knees.

I will report back!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Resetting the Point

As any observant reader of this blog will have noted, I have several obsessions/hobbies: wine, cats, my bike, hiking, reading and tennis.

The tennis craze was what led me to weight-loss -- well, it helped, anyway. I decided to learn to play after Serena came back from knee surgery and won the Australian Open in 2007, I think it was. She was about 15lbs overweight, at least, and the commentators could not refrain from talking about it, even right up until the day she finally won the tournament.

I was so jazzed by her determination that I ran out and signed up for private lessons -- and promptly ruined my left knee about six weeks later while playing with a friend on a hard court. Sadly, I was really too big at that point to be doing that kind of activity -- it was just so much strain on my joints. But being stubborn -- and, quite frankly, hugely in denial over just how huge I was -- I ignored the warning signs and kept pounding away when I should have found a less competitive friend to bat the ball around with until I dropped more weight.

This past weekend I watched the Australian Open again -- this time rooting for Andy Murray, who struggles mightily to crack into the Top 3 in men's tennis, but he just can't get by Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.

This year, Djokovic -- who is basically unbeatable after adopting a gluten-free diet about 18 months ago -- took him out, but Murry fought back harder and more effectively than ever before. Martina Navritalova, the sports commentator, kept talking about how Andy was able to "reset the point," on Djokovic, just when the Serb thought he was going to win. Djokovic would have Murray on the run, and he'd somehow come up with the just the right shot to buy himself that extra second to get back on court, find his position and be ready for whatever Djokovic threw back -- and often, Murray wound up winning those points.

It's time for me to reset the point in my own Grand Slam against the Fat. Like Djokovic, my opponent appears to be unbeatable. It makes my strengths work against me, it covers all the angles, it knows my shots too well. And I, like Murray, find that no matter how many times I produce a winner, Fat always takes the damn game!

But I welcome the official start of the Grand Slam tennis season, and my goals are linked to the upcoming tournaments: For the French Open, I will have lost 10lbs. And by Wimbledon, I'll be working on 15.

These are modest and achievable goals, and I need to impose some markers in my life or time slips by all too fast. As Murray prepares for his next chance at glory, so will I.

You can all tune in for the Grand Slam weigh in on May 27th, start of the French Open. Until then, I'll keep you updated on my training regimen. May the best tennis player win!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chickens Roosting, etc.. etc...

We are finally home from the wintry trek to upstate NY -- a blissful week without TV, cellphone service or a DVD player on which to dutifully play all the pilates workout videos I had hauled along. But who am I kidding, right? I wouldn't have done them anyway.

Consider this a show-and-tell recap of my vacay and attempts to not gain 20lbs while hibernating in the north country, where it's all too tempting to wrap up in a shawl and cuddle on the couch all day.

Here's what it looked like when we arrived. Definitely wintery -- that's a bit of a flurry going on.
Naturally, my source of entertainment immediately became food. I decided to bake a blueberry pie -- the one I mentioned in my prior post. Of course, I had to make the crust too. It's not a good idea to do that if you prefer to remain ignorant of how much butter is in a crust. Holy crikey, it is A LOT.
What is a pie without a glass of wine with dinner and some cheese? So we had to make the drive to Woodstock to hit up the local shops. You'd think having all grocery-type stores a solid 30-minute drive away would make me eat less. Sadly, that did not prove true.
With all that fat bubbling away in my veins and arteries, it was no hardship to brave the cold the next day for some skiing. Except it was more like mudding, because there wasn't much snow! Everything you see here is man-made, from the snow machines at night. Still, we did some runs.
From this angle you can really see how sad this resort looks -- the mud was ankle-deep in the parking lot and huge brown patches showed up all over the slopes.
On the way home I had to take a peek at this cosy place -- who can resist a smoking chimney and a sign that says "Antiques"? Sorry for the fuzzy image; our windshield was dirtier than I thought.
Had some aches in the knees after my hard day on the slopes (that would be about two hours of afternoon skiing in an extremely laid-back fashion), so I decided on a medicinal soak in the hot tub while the sun went down. The wine might have been flowing a bit freely at that point, too.
Knees were so stiff the next day it was all I could do to hobble around this lake on a flat, 2-mile walk. Cold, windy and unpleasant, but the Catskills light was fascinating; it changes constantly.
To warm up, a drive to the nearest town, one I had never seen before. It was a welcome and cheery sight, with it's brightly-colored shops on a quaint little Main Street.
Found an old-fashioned general store -- built like a log cabin of sorts -- that sold an old memory. We used to get these as treats in the general store in my tiny town when I was a kid. Of course, we'd plunge our hands right in to grab what we wanted, no matter how often the adults told us to wait. Hygiene was not a factor at that age.
It's probably also not hygienic to have a cat sleeping in a box in your general store in the front window, about six inches from where customers self-serve their coffee (and pour the milk, likely spilling drops here and there) but what kind of cat-lover would I be to complain?
Not sure these poor guys get the same loving treatment; saw them on the way home and it almost put me off the idea of our spaghetti-and-meatball dinner. Must rethink trying vegetarianism again.
Couple of Bambi-like creatures showed themselves as the late-afternoon sun warmed up the grassy slope near a busy bridge. Hope none of them tried to cross it later.
The next day we took a loooong walk around the local reservoir -- freezing cold, and blindingly bright. Still could not really use my knees well. The left one in particular was too stiff to bend.
Whatever little bit of walking we did that day wasn't enough to burn off this baby. Can you believe this is just ONE pancake at Sweet Sue's diner in Phoenicia? We have to ask them to just bring one (it's for M, not me), because the real serving is THREE. Can you imagine that? THREE!
The knees are slowing getting better but have been dicey for almost two weeks now. Tonight for the first time I will go back to the gym and have a bit of a row on the machine and see how they handle it. I haven't done yoga since the trip either and am feeling like crap. I'm at that stage in the post-vacation when you can no longer ignore that your pants are feeling tighter and buttons are straining. Time to roll myself back into a regular routine, as much as the injuries will allow, anyway.

Since returning my eating has been pretty good, except I'm too prone to nibbling at night on cheese. A habit from our time at the cabin that needs to go back to the country.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

And a Happy New Year!

Did anyone else happen to read Tara Parker-Pope's long and mostly depressing opus on the dreaded Fat and how hard it is to get rid of it once you've gotten it?

It's lengthy, and goes into detail about the big F, and -- surprise, surprise -- reaches no real conclusion except that losing weight and keeping it off requires constant vigilance, and will always be harder for some people than others (thank you, genetics).

Even as I type this I am in the kitchen making a blueberry pie. Why? Because there's no way I can go through life denying myself the joys and pleasures of cooking, and baking special treats for my family. Yes, I may be overweight, but dammit, that's no reason for me to be perpetually punished!

We are up in the Catskills cabin for a week (yes, a week!) of vacation. We are going skiing, hiking and walking amid the snow and single-digit temperatures. And it is so fun, and so amazing to feel that I can do all these things (neuroma aside) that I could not do 70 lbs ago.

I will always need to eat small portions and count my calories. I will likely always struggle to make working out a DAILY part of my life (I need to work on this most of all). I will always have to remind myself that a blueberry pie, once made, has to last a week and can't be eaten in one or two massive binges.

I can live with that. That, to me, is doable. These are things I can strive to achieve at every meal, every day. Worrying about why my body doesn't want to drop weight isn't going to help me.

I have to believe -- have to! -- that working out regularly, leading an active lifestyle ON TOP of working out, and eating small portions and healthy foods will help me regulate my weight. Probably not where I want it, but better than where it is now. Otherwise, my choices are too much to contemplate: a life of complete restriction and penury (and I can never live long with strict self-denial anyway), or a constant cycle of binge/punish, binge/punish, flavored all the while with self-loathing and shame. It's not going to be that way for me.

So, for those of us lamenting some Christmas gain (hang tough Jenn!), it's time to get back into the regular routines. Forget the naysayers and ignore the articles that tell you it's impossible -- just impossible! -- to control your weight. There are hundreds of people online right now with blogs who are proof that it's otherwise.

Will have pictures soon of our wintry wonderland up here -- it's so beautiful.