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You Say Obsessive, I Say Committed...

Today I hit the 19-pounds-lost mark. I am super happy.

A few people have said, "You look great! You have nothing to worry about now!"

But, darlings...I still have 31 pounds (or 124 sticks of butter, for those of you who read here...) to go. And they are GOING.

I am logging things that some might think are ridiculous. But for me, it's called accountability. Committment.

So, yeah, my husband offered me a ginger snap last night. I said, "Sure, but I only want a tiny piece," and he gave me That Look.

You know the look, right? The one that says, "Honey, I've watched you ride 50 miles on the bike this week...you can have a damn whole cookie."

But I don't need the whole cookie. I actually don't even need a piece of the cookie. But I would like to have a piece of the cookie because he and the dog were enjoying them and I LOVE the spiciness of gingersnaps.

He broke it in half and tried to hand it to me. I said, "Not that much..."

I got another look. It said, "Seriously?" But he actually said nothing and handed me the quarter of the cookie, which is just what I wanted...a taste.

And then I picked up my iPod and logged it. Still chewing, I logged it.

If it's worth eating, it's worth logging.

Maybe seems a little obsessive...maybe. But I am not going to blindly go back into not counting, not exercising and not being the best version of myself I can be, ever ever again.

I'm committed to myself, and yes...about that, I am obsessed.

A Life Worth Living

My second cousin, who was in his early 50's, died last weekend.

Before you say, "I'm sorry for your loss," (and by the way, I thank you for your condolences), please stop.

Stop only because I'm still too pissed off to be sad about it. There, I said it: I'm angry.

My cousin had a drinking problem. He blamed his father's death (about 10 years ago) but, having experienced plenty of loss myself, I think it's a bullshit excuse.

I do my fair share of (non-addictive) drinking. And please understand...I get addiction. I do. My brother in law is a real, true-blue, drug addict. Watching him suffer and joining my husband's family clamor to save him, interviene and do anything to keep him alive...it's been one of the most eye-opening exercises in humanity I've ever encountered.

But my cousin was different. He CHOSE to drink. He chose it and chose it and chose it until he destroyed his life. And it didn't have to be this way.  

He used to have a very successful, white-collar-with-extra-starch-and-cufflinks job. Done. He was working toward a pilot's license. Over. He had family who cared for him. Spent. He married a classy, educated, handsome woman...who surprisingly stayed. But I know she wasn't happy and they didn't have the marriage they could have had. How could you be a happy wife when you are constantly reminded by the reeking stench of stale booze that you're at best, number three in the relationship - with him putting himself, then alcohol ahead of you.

He had the resources to get help. But he "didn't have a problem." You know...like 100% of the people around him were 100% wrong. We didn't have any drinking buddies to compete with, either...this was a solo habit for which he didn't need anybody's help or encouragement.

He'd managed to get a DUI late last year and since he didn't comply with requirements, faced jail time this week. His hearing was supposed to be Monday.  

So...one day last weekend, with his wife out of town on retreat, he got so wasted that he either fell down the stairs and died, or threw himself down the stairs and died, but either way, he died a gruesome, bottom-of-the-steps-death. Alone.    

Family is gathering, as I type this, coming from all over the country to "celebrate his life" on Saturday.

What life? What is it we're celebrating, really? His life up to the point that he decided to chuck the whole thing? His life before he refused to explore psychotherapy to combat any depressive feelings that may have lead him to self-medicate with alcohol?

Celebrate? What...our inadequacies as a family to insist, interviene and force him to get help? Our failure that when his wife was irritated and he went to a sibling's house for a cooling-off period that there was always someone to take him in...and let him drink?

That I was a loser for not getting in his face at my grandma's 90th birthday party and asking him to step outside, then telling him that I couldn't believe he'd disrespect her by showing up drunk? And shame him into a cab so he'd get the message?

Or called him after he couldn't attend my wedding reception because he'd mangled his face falling down drunk? Instead of just telling my Mom I didn't accept the apology he sent through her, calling him and confronting him?

That when I told my Mom last month that I wanted to talk to him and be straight, (since my whole family dances around the situation with the skill of Baryishnikov), I instead allowed her to dismiss what I was saying and didn't call him or email him...because as she put it, "there is nothing you could say that would make a difference."

Is that what we should celebrate?

I'm celebrating that he didn't kill anyone, all the selfish, stupid, sloppily drunk times he got behind a wheel, instead of taking a cab, because - you know - he "didn't have a problem" and "wasn't drunk."

And I'm praying that I can go to this celebration of a wasted life on Saturday and keep my mouth shut. No one there needs to hear what I have to say...after all, it's over, right? 

For Women Only...(Because -Understandably- Men Don't Enjoy Talking About These Things.)

Well, something else has changed since I began losing weight... the return of my "special guest star," (aka my period).

In November, I went to the doctor for my annual exam. (Public Service Announcement: Ladies, if you're not going for regular check ups, you just have to. For your health.) This is the exam where the nurse gave me the "tsk tsk" look when I weighed in at 198; it was really 200, but she credited me two pounds for clothes. (Thanks, Judgemental Nurse Lady who gave me the side-eye and made me feel like a complete failure!!)

I have/had endometriosis. (Stage 4, surgery, etc.) I could write a big old post about my adventure with that, but for this post's purposes, just know that I've had some abnormalities with my cycle over the years and almost always attributed them to endo.

So, before this exam, as I sat awkwardly in my paper outfit,  I explained to my doctor that my cycle had become super unpredictable, going from once every three weeks to not happening at all some months. And I told her that I wondered if it was early menopause - which my Mom experienced - or something related to the endometriosis.

She replied, "If you lost some weight, it would probably be more regular."

I wanted to say, "Thanks, Bitch!" but I didn't, mostly because, you know...the whole not wanting to seem unprofessional thing, and the fact that I was sporting the paper outfit, which tends to make one feel less confident.

So instead I said, "You know, about that..." and explained that I was eating healthily and exercising some, and she cut me off and said, "Eat less! Pedal harder!" and was generally kind of dismissive about my struggle with these extra pounds.  

I left there, feeling self righteous and thinking she was a bit of a douchebag. I actually do like my doctor for the most part, but sometimes, her delivery is a little too...I don't know...familiar. And I don't like it. I mean, I want the truth. I love the truth. But, as much as I come off as being a tough broad, I do have feelings beneath all these fat cells, and she bruised them a bit by being so blunt.

Know what? She was right. My Christmas Blessing from Mother Nature was a month-long period. No, really, and it totally sucked. I made an appointment, thinking something had gone horribly wrong. But I ended up not needing to keep the appointment: about two weeks into January - two weeks after I started my experiment here on MFP and with exercising - my marathon period stopped.

In February, I had a predictable period. And today? Well, hello...My name is Futuresize8 and I just got my period for the second month in a row, exactly on time.

I feel like I've re-hit puberty or something, because my cycle seems to be back. 

My special guest star has agreed to make regular appearances on this show that is my life.

It wasn't endometriosis rearing it's ugly head. It wasn't early menopause. It was my fat.

I may be a little premature in my conclusion that everything is fine now, but I have to say, overall, I feel more healthy than I have in years, and it stands to reason that some of the complications I've had are from the hormone upheaval that happens with extra weight (you all know about this, right? That fat makes more estrogen...and too much estrogen can be just as mucky as too little, and all that stuff?)   

I hope that if any of you have been in the same boat, you're experiencing a return to normalcy. I can only imagine what I'll feel like when I am finally at the healthy weight I want to be!

Give Me Food...NOW!!!

So, I am coming up on my three month anniversary of MFP and I'm pretty pleased so far. I'm making progress, I look and feel better, I've met some incredibly inspiring and supportive people here, and I have finally found something that works for me.

Win-win-win-win...right?

So why is it, the last two days, I am having absurdly intense waves of irrational hunger? Like not even "hunger pangs," but more like bizarre food thoughts from a voice inside my head (or stomach) that says things in a voice that is similar to Linda Blair ala The Exorcist:

"FRIES!! I WANT FRIES!!!!"

"FEED ME CAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNDYYYYYYYYYYYYY!"

"I WANT CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPS! GIVE THEM TO ME NOW!!!!!!!!!!!"

What the hell? I never ate that crap, even when I wasn't exercising regularly or counting calories.

I'm not stressed and I don't have an emotional attachment to food, anyway, so even if I were freaked out about something right now, I would be more prone to skip meals than to eat more.

I hope that this is just some kind of weird phase and that it will pass. I have a great sense of will power (and an unnatural amount of guilt when I fail at anything) so I know I'm not going to act on the evil suggestions of my insides, but I just want to not feel this way any longer! I don't like thinking about food this much.

p.s. "PIIIIIIIIZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

64 down, 128 to go...

I braved the scale that has been taunting me since returning from vacation, being sick, on cold meds (which make me feel bleh and bloated) and getting back into my normal routine.

I didn't want to weigh because I was slightly over calories yesterday...my husband was back in town from his weekly business travels, so I tend to skip Thursday (his homecoming day) and Friday (our night to go out) workouts.

Friends, I try not to eat all my exercise calories back, but I do rely on them to keep me in check. Without the exercise calories, I'm stuck with 1200 calories. While I believe it's possible to eat in that range (evidenced by all of our MFPers on here who manage it daily) I don't like to! I like wiggle room.

So, given that I was over calories yesterday (damn pinot grigio!) and all the other variables I mentioned, I figured I better just suck it up and get on that scale and see what's what...then go from there.

Down 2.5 pounds! Or 64 sticks of butter total so far. Sticks of butter is how my grandma categorized weight loss. 

She and I were amazingly close...talked every single day no matter what, and I visited her every week. She's been gone a few years now and I still miss her and think of her daily. But especially when I weigh myself, because I can hear her tabulating the sticks of butter.

I think she did it for the visual that imagining those butter sticks would conjure. I also think she did it because multiplying your pounds by 4 (the number of butter sticks in a pound) was fun...sounded like more progress. It's damn motivating until you realize how many sticks you have left to lose...

One hundred twenty eight sticks to go.

Or maybe more. We'll see when I get there.

Either way, here's to 64 sticks of butter down! Just the shot in the arm I need, considering that there are mounds of bagels and cream cheese in our break area here at work, and boxes of ice cream sandwiches in the freezer here, all in celebration of team accomplishments and milestones.

Me and my remaining sticks of butter are going to abstain and drink our black coffee and eat our 100 cal Stila bar. And smile. Skipping the treats is worth melting off more butter.

How many sticks have you lost so far?

The Weight of Opinions

I love my Mom. I do. We have not always had a good relationship, but we do now. Something that naturally has to happen if you've had rocky spots with your parents is that when you grow up, you allow yourself to see mom and dad as people. When you do that - when you take the superhero status away from them - it minimizes any shortcomings they had as parents, and allows you the opportunity to consider things through their perspective. It's at that point where parents can become dear friends.

So...all that said, my Mom and I are really close. All tresspasses have been forgiven, for sure. We have our moments of tension occasionally, but let's face it...I'm 40. She is 70. I'm not going to get too hung up on something petty because I want to treasure all the years we have left together, and I want her to know I'm here for her, and for my step-dad, always.

But one thing that KILLS me still, even as a grown up who is all reasonable and understanding, is her obvious opinion of my appearance.

Earlier this year, I was lamenting over the size of my upper arms. I have big, Swedish- Masseuse-looking arms, very muscular, and just...big! Not even flabby. Just big 'ol arms. Need me to lift your car out of that snow drift? No problem, give me a call! What? You say you need help moving that solid oak seven drawer dresser? I'm your girl. So, my Mom is over and I mention my arm-consciousness and she says, "If I were you, I wouldn't be nearly as worried about my arms as I would be about the size of my stomach."

Oh, yes she did.

This is the Mom who has given me books about weight loss for my birthday. Who has given me fitness pamphlets and diet recipe books among my Christmas gifts. Ladies and gentlemen, how would you like to be the recipient of such treasures in front of other family and friends? Kinda embarrasing. No matter how well-intentioned these gifts are, they hurt me.

I lost a little weight somehow a few years ago and I remember mentioning it to her. "You look good. I mean, I wouldn't say you were overweight anymore." OUCH!

And then there is this whole other issue...I have one sister, and she is excruciatingly thin. My sister does not live in town and after a visit, I expressed concern to my Mom about her weight, primarily because while I held her hands during Grace at dinner (we're kind of old school that way), I noticed just how cold and bony my sister's fingers had become...she scarcely even had finger pads and it alarmed me. She had her shoes off later and I could see every tendon. She wears a size two, and her capri pants looked like they were ready to fall off of her. My Mom said, "She's always been thin. She looks good." This coming from a woman who knows my sister has had serious issues with food and body image during her life.

I actually sometimes wonder if perhaps my Mom made similar comments to my sister when she was younger, and that may be part of why my sister has always been so weight conscious.

(By the way, my step-dad agreed with me that my sister looked unhealthily thin. Because I knew it would be touchy and I didn't want her to feel confronted by talking in person or on the phone, I wrote her a very carefully worded letter of concern and she called me. We talked about it. She reassured me. I hesitated to say anything because I know how it feels to have someone comment on personal appearance, but if something had happened to her and I hadn't said anything, I'd have hated myself. I've seen her since and she's probably gained 10 pounds, which on her tiny frame is a lot. She is still super thin, but she does not look gaunt.)

But ANYWAY! Knowing all of this, imagine my recent surprise when, after losing just these 14 pounds, my Mom begins backing off a good bit. When she calls and asks what I've been up to in the evenings, and I say, "Dishes, laundry...rode the bike for an hour..." I get, "Oh no! That is too much!" When she asks how far that is and I say ten miles, "That's too far. You don't need to do that much."

When she asks about what I'm eating and why I won't eat this or that and remind her of my caloric restrictions, "That's not enough food."

And last night, when we were talking, and I mentioned needing to go so I could get my bike ride in, "I think you look fine now."

Huh.

Friends, I admit I do look better. And that I may have actually lost more than 14 pounds because I didn't weigh myself right when I joined MFP (I was going by my November doctor visit weight and not my January MFP start date weight because I was too scared to get on a scale when I started.) However! I still weigh over 180 and have about 30 - 40 more pounds to go! So, I do not think I look fine, and even if I look fine to others, fine is not where I wanna be!

Could it be...is it possible that my wonderful, awesome, loving Momma...secretly prefers me to be big, because it is a place in my life from which she knows she still has some power and influence?  

It occurs to me that I could simply not engage in conversations with my Mom about my weight, health or fitness. It occurs to me that I could say to her..."The comments you've made over the years have been hurtful and not helpful, and I don't want to talk with you about it."

Or I could just ignore it all and try not to let the hefty weight of her opinion get on that scale with me.

I'm working on letting my own voice be the loudest one in my head, but we all know how long and drawn out the death of bad habits can be.

How I Got Here

When I first joined MFP, I knew that this was likely my last effort in getting to a healthy weight.

I've done terrible things to my body over the years. It all started out well - I was a willowy teenager who was very active - show choir, flag corps, dancing, gymnastics... My on switch was tripped at 6 a.m. every day and I didn't turn off until 10 or 11 at night. I ate pretty reasonably, and what I did eat was burned up instantly by youthful metabolism. I'll admit it - I had a brief bout with "food issues" in 7th grade like many girls do. I'm not saying I was anorexic and I sure as heck could never have made myself throw up, but I was, for a time, a little overly conscious of my weight and uncomfortable that my body was changing. During that period of time, I wasn't eating enough. But then I chucked that mindset and went on my merry way of being relatively carefree about food and maintained a nice weight just by being active.  

My twenties were different...I'd gained the "Freshman Fifteen," but since I was thin, adding a little weight on wasn't a big deal. I see photos of me then and I looked really good. Healthy. I graduated from college and couldn't find a job in my field. I was already working retail and I just stepped up my game, becoming a manager and working crazy-long hours. Lunch was...Hot Sam pretzel sticks with pizza sauce and a Dr. Pepper, eaten standing half in the back room, half on the sales floor whenever there was a lull in business. Dinner was...the occasional fast food meal, cocktails with the girls, or nothing at all. Cigarrettes. It was the 90s...I drank and smoked myself down to a size 4 (and I still have those jeans to prove it.) I was the girl who said she'd sooner die than wear a double-digit size; that if my pants were ever wider at the top than the pants hanger they were hanging on, I'd chain myself to a radiator and never eat again. I meant it. I thought nothing bad about those around me who were comfortable in their own larger frames, but I knew what I wanted to be.

Then, because no one can live on vodka and cigarrettes alone forever, the weight fluctuations began - up ten pounds, down five, up fifteen pounds, down twenty...

I started taking diet pills. Remember when they were all the rage? Can I name brands here? Maybe not...remember the red over-the-counter tablets, now banned because  ephedra causes strokes? I took those for the better part of three years. Remember the certain brand that everyone and their mother was pushing...you know, the kiosks in the malls that sold them in giant-sized containers? I took those until I had chest pains and a doctor kindly asked me to knock it off. Remember the half of the drug that wasn't cited in the lawsuit for causing permanent damage to heart valves...the one you could buy online by filling out a brief questionarre that a "doctor" would review, approve your prescription and send you a month's supply of? Yup, did that one, too...and I barely slept for a year. I'd get these "surges" where my heart would race so quickly, I'd get dizzy. I remember having to pull my car over, feeling like I was going to pass out.

And then I stopped. Because none of them gave me permanent results and I'd always gain back the weight I'd temporarily lost, and then some. Also, I'd spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and it was expensive. (Silly that the monetary cost was more a consideration than stopping for the sake of my health.)

My thirties are when the rails came off. I got a desk job and started my real career. I was ending an unhealthy relationship. I got up to 193 pounds and some colleagues said, "You're joining Weight Watchers with us." I did and lost a few pounds, but didn't see any real progress until I started walking a ton, which was more therapeutic than anything...it got me out of the house for an hour a day.

When I stopped walking, I started gaining. I got out of the crappy relationship and stress kept me around 150 - 160 for a while, and I actually looked pretty good. I'm 5'7", so that weight actually had me looking lean in size 10s. But once I got my life together, got settled and fell in love...well, I started gaining again. We were living in two different cities and commuting to be together on the weekends, and working out fell by the wayside.

At some point, my scale at home broke (no, not from me standing on it! I accidentally stepped on a corner of it when I was cleaning and the cheap piece of crap broke) and I quit weighing myself. The love of my life proposed and we married with me being overweight, and I kind of thought...if he loves me, that's all I need.  

Friends...it's not. Photos of myself from the last six months served as the writing on the wall. I didn't know what to do, though. For me, I felt like I was eating healthy while everyone around me ate whatever the hell they wanted and were thin. I blamed birth control pills, my desk job, genetics, karma, my past diet pill habits screwing up my metabolism, age and how the planets were aligned.

But most of all, I blamed me. I used words like fat, frumpy and ugly to describe myself. I felt incredible guilt that I was wasting my looks, that I wasn't pretty enough for my husband - even if he told me I was beautiful, he was certainly talking about my inside and not my outside. I felt incredible guilt that I was turning 40 and would one day look back at this time in my life and regret that while I had youth on my side, I never made the most of it by being thin and healthy.

And then It Happened. I read "The Fat Trap" in the New York Times and realized that it was my metabolism that was fat, not me. My metabolism wanted to stay at an obese rate and that to repair it, I'd have to reduce caloric intake, not just while I was trying to lose weight, but for a long time after I'd reached my mark. I learned that I needed to not create a deficit by eating less, but that I'd have to exercise regularly to create that deficit and live within those calories.

And I did an app search on my iPod Touch for calorie counters and found MFP.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I'm in control. I'm doing it my way, on my terms at my pace and it's working. It's based on scientific research and not on a theory or an extreme plan. It's not a drug. I'm not paying anyone for my "plan," and I don't have someone forcing me to weigh at intervals. I'm accountable only to me.

It's not just "eat less and move more," which people are quick to throw in your face when you complain about not being able to lose weight...for people with a fat metabolism, it's about eating WAY better and moving WAY more. For an extended period of time.

(Frankly, I suspect that is why people often gain back the weight they lose...they get to their goal weight and try to eat the same as people who are naturally at that weight and it's still too many calories for their metabolism, thus, they gain it all back.) 

And that making sure that the things I eat and drink are worth eating and drinking. And that the hour a day that I'm biking isn't a bitch - it's a privilege. And it's My Time. My hour. My hour that earns me the calories to pretty much eat or drink whatever in the evenings without sabatoging my health.

So, that is how I got here. Even though I don't have my own post on the awesome Success Stories page yet, I feel like I'm already succeeding. I'm motivated, I'm happy and I can't wait to get to size 8...

Vacations, Colds and Keeping My Word

I missed you guys last week! I was able to log in remotely from most every place we visited on vacation, but only long enough to log in, maybe make a quick entry and then move on. We didn't have wifi where we stayed in Vegas (and it cost $20 for 2 hours if we did want access), so I'd pop into a coffee shop to track when I could, and do the rest offline or on paper. Then I caught up when we got back to our family's place in Phoenix.

Food wasn't an issue on our trip...I knew I could stick with healthy stuff while we traveled because generally, that's what I'd eat. But I did notice that because I've been counting and careful these last two months, I was more equipped to make good decisions than before. For example, in the past, if we were "forced" to eat fast food due to convienience on the road, I'd have gotten the veggie burger, but I'd have also "allowed" myself to eat fries with it. And while a veggie burger is part of my pescatarian lifestyle of 20 years, it's not exactly healthy - still comes in around 400 calories. So, eating the fries? That would have sabotaged my day.

I also found at the airport a nifty little treat called "Go Picnic." Both the Columbus airport and the one in Phoenix had them. It's a small, unrefrigerated box of fairly healthy stuff - you gotta read, though, of course. The healthiest one was the hummus box. In it, multigrain crackers, a little carton of hummus, a single serve of roasted edamame, a tiny bag of spicy sweet trail mix, and a piece of dark chocolate. I ate the hummus and crackers (needed to get something in my stomach before taking cold meds...more on that in a minute) and gave my step-son the chocolate. I ended up eating the edamame as a snack on the plane and saved the trail mix for later (still haven't eaten it...maybe later today), but even if I'd eaten the entire kit, it was just 400 calories. Considering that the only things to eat by our gate were Cinnabon, Pizza Hut, TCBY and some other fast food thing I can't think of, this was actually a good choice, and I might actually order some online to keep in my desk at work for those days where I really can't get away.

Before I tell you about the fun on the trip, let me say that my husband caught a doozy of a cold on the plane ride in. Yep, I'm blaming the plane...we always take Airborne and for some reason didn't and wow...he got really sick...and then my step-son and I caught it. So, once my husband was feeling better, his son and I felt horrific. I missed work yesterday because I still felt/looked/sounded miserable. I'm better today, but I sure am ready to be healthy again! My husband is staying out West to take in some Spring training games and he WILL take Airborne before his ride home!

Fun was - winning $60 on slot machines, a surprise massage at the spa at The Flamingo (my husband is a sweetheart and had arranged it in advance of our trip), seeing The Beatleshow, treating our aunt and uncle (who hosted us in Phoenix and treated us to our room at Bill's Casino via comps...and we had THE SUITE!!! of all SUITES!!!) to the George Wallace show which they loved, ziplining down Fremont Street and seeing the big smile on my step-son's face after riding the roller coaster atop New York New York. Totally fun. I'm glad we got all that in before feeling crummy!

About that ziplining...they weigh you first. There is a weight limit, which I am happy that I'm not even close to, because I saw a woman unable to ride with the rest of her family due to her size and I said a little prayer that she would get healthy. But still, they weigh you. And you have all your clothes and shoes and purse on when they do it. Plus, I'd eaten a nice-sized brunch just before. Let's just say that seeing that number - even though I know it was quite skewed - upset me a little. It was like going back to close to the beginning of this experiment and I can say with conviction, I am never going back!

Fortunately, the ziplining made me forget about the number and I remind myself that it was all the crap I was toting and not ME.

Since I've been back, I rode on Sunday and even rode a little yesterday, even though I'm sick. I know I'll ride tonight. I'm back on my normal foods and plan and it's a relief.  

I missed the exchange of encouragement between us and I'm happy to be home! I'm ready to keep letting you know how well you're doing and to track every bite, step, pedal and drink I take. I need it, want to do it and feel better when I do. Here's to us!

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