Archive for the ‘Better Body’ Category

Milestone (Another!)

December 13, 2012

I woke up this morning not expecting much in the way of weight loss… not that I have been making choices that I thought would not result in weight loss, just that I’ve been loosing fairly big chunks lately and that usually stops after a couple of days. However, I was pleasantly surprised to be BELOW THE 200LBS MARK!!! (199.4 lbs to be precise).

Awesome!

It feels really good not only to get to my old milestone of 201.2 but to breeze through the 200 lbs mark unexpectedly. Truth is I was expecting days, if not weeks, of staring manically at the scale as it refused to drop below 200 lbs.

Just a few more pounds to go until I reach my 40 lb goal.

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Milestone

December 6, 2012

 

I have been having a bad week generally in terms of weight loss. Perhaps a bad two weeks. Some lack of progress seemed reasonable because I had some high sodium meals, and other times I couldn’t figure out why I was seeing no progress.

I still haven’t figured out what was going on, but today my body seems to have dumped a bunch of water weight and I miraculously find myself at 201.2 lbs.

Why is this odd number important? Back in the summer of 2010, which was my last serious “I’m going to get fit and loose weight” attempt this was the exact number I made it to before life happened and I slid back up to 237.8 lbs.

I remember being very disappointed with myself that I had been within 1.2 lbs of cracking the 200 lb mark and I didn’t make it.

To be fair it was a brutal diet and I was exercising at the gym everyday and I was riding my bike to and from work (a total of 26 KM/day). I think I was simply unable to maintain the rigor of the diet and the huge level of activity.

This time round has been much easier. The diet mostly takes care of itself. I certainly have moments of frustration where I feel like I am doing everything right and nothing is happening. But, then there are days like today.

Ghhhaaa! Bleck! Bad Day!

November 29, 2012

Today is not a good mental health day. I’ve been teetering on the edge of this 202.8 lbs = no longer obese milestone for days now. I went down a little bit, then more, then back up, and up and up again. No real progress in over a week.

I’m getting better at talking myself through the bad days. Reminding myself that some days I lose a pound and some days I do not and that is good because my body needs to adjust. That it’s not all about the numbers on the scale it’s about how I feel.

Today I feel bloated, cramped, back aches, hip hurts there’s a new pain in my knee and I feel emotionally miserable. And, the scale went up again. There’s no reason I can identify as to why. I’ve been sticking to paleo, I have not gone over on my calories, but still… no progress.

Here is the choice: I can give up, throw the towel in go get a large bag of chips with sour cream and wallow in my perceived failure. Or, I can stick it out another day and a day after that and the day after that and know that I am doing the right thing and eventually the weight will come off, but only if I keep trying.

I don’t need to do anything different yet, it feels like a long time right now but in the span of success this time round it’s a short time and in the span of time I have tried to lose weight it is an extremely short time.

So, I feel crappy today. I don’t feel like giving myself a pep talk and I do feel like eating crap just to validate my current mind set that this will never work, but there is enough of something inside me to know that I will not do this. I will make it through this day and look forward to better days.

Obese No More! (Still fat)

November 22, 2012

When I started this journey (again) at 237.8 lbs that put me at a BMI of 35.1, which is severely obese or obesity class 2.

< 18.5 – Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 – Healthy Weight
25 – 29.9 – Overweight
30 – 34.9 – Class 1 Obesity (moderately obese)
35 – 39.9 – Class 2 Obesity (severely obese)
> 40 – Class 3 Obesity (morbidly obese)

In some ways I have been more eager to hit the 202.8 lb mark than making my 40 lb goal (although that will be no small achievement). At 202.8 lbs I am officially no longer in an obesity category I am merely overweight.

I know this is really just some invisible, imaginary and in many ways arbitrary line. However it is a line that is felt, especially working in a health-related field. I constantly see the statistic:

“Two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and one-third of adults are obese.”

That emphasis on obese makes it feel like those of us who crossed that line are somehow pulling the western world into the dreaded OBESITY EPIDEMIC. We are pulling down the ship. I hear the word obesity and I think of all the stock footage of people’s disembodied stomachs and bottoms jiggling down the sidewalk on the 6:00 pm newscast. I worry that it could be me!

In reality I know it is not true. Even at 237.8 lbs and 5’9″ I looked more like the cute chubby girl, than I did the 6:00 pm news footage. And as Jimmy Moore pointed out in Fat Head, the “obesity epidemic” is in large part created by the CDC’s adoption of BMI. Before widespread knowledge of BMI ‘fatness’ was measured by a number of different factors including weight, percentage body fat and overall size. But since BMI we now do a simple square and lump people into categories.

BMI is a terrible indicator of health:

National Public Radio
Globe and Mail
The Guardian

It ignores other health indicators such as cholesterol and triglycerides, total body fat as compared to body muscle, and cardio-vascular health. And, at 237.8 lbs I was a healthy woman. No arthritis, no elevated levels of any kind to concern my doctor and good heart health.

However, I do have to admit that BMI is, in my case, a reasonable starting point for a health indicator. Yes, BMI may put the super-fit Russel Crowe or Olympic athletes into a morbid obesity category because their muscle mass tips the scales in the wrong direction. But I wasn’t overweight – or obese – because of an over abundance of muscle.

I’m just plain fat and that is okay. There is nothing wrong with being fat. I’m happy and healthy at a BMI of 35.1 and now at a BMI of 29.9. So, why worry about BMI? Why celebrate my transition out of the obesity category and into the overweight category? Well, because as much as I hate to admit it, I’m one of those people the health statistics are warning us about. I’m not an anomaly. I may be healthy now, but if I keep the weight on then I am increasing my chances for a whole host of obesity related health problems. I may never get any of those problems if I am not genetically inclined, but since I don’t know if I am genetically inclined why roll the dice?

I really don’t know how much I have improved my health or decreased my chances of becoming unhealthy by moving out of the obesity category. All the ‘obesity treatments’ simply suggest losing 10 per cent or 20 per cent of the body mass can ‘greatly improve’ health outcomes. So, I’ve done that. And, I think I’ll keep doing it for a bit. I know more than anything keeping the weight off over the long term is what will improve my chances of staying healthy into old age.

Weight Loss vs. Baby Pressure

October 25, 2012

No. I’m not pregnant.

Yes. My partner and I are trying to get pregnant.

My partner and I started to try to get pregnant nearly a year ago and discovered some problems along the way. Without making this blog about that, one of the issues is weight. It’s not the defining issue. I’m border line PCOS which means that I have 12 follicles on each ovary. Less than 12 follicles is considered PCOS and one of the major contributing factors to PCOS is weight.

The main fertility challenge I have can supposedly be handled by fertility medications. That is what we are currently doing. PCOS can also be helped by other fertility medications, so I’m on two rounds of fertility medications just in case. My doctor did let me know that, with regards to PCOS,  in studies of women who were given the fertility medications and those who only followed a low-carb diet that those on the low-carb diet were equally as successful at conceiving as those who took the PCOS medication.

I meant to ask him if it was specifically the low-carb diet that increased their chance of conceiving or if it was the associated weight loss. My suspicion is that it was the associated weight loss in which case I don’t need to be too concerned about carving fruit out of my diet in addition to already eating a paleo diet which means I am currently not eating any grains, refined sugars or white starches.

What all this means for me is that I’m not really sure what my overall goal is.

Is it to get pregnant as fast as possible? Or, is it to lose as much weight as possible?

Time is a consideration. I’m approaching 33 (in July) which means ideally I will conceive in the next year to avoid being considered a high risk pregnancy at 35.

However, I’m still in the obese weight category according to my BMI, so should I be focusing on my weight loss and trying to lose as much weight as possible before getting pregnant so that I increase my chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy?

The reality is that I can’t make the choice. I just have to take it one day at a time. Most days I focus on weight loss. I know that losing the weight increases my chances of getting pregnant. The more weight I lose before getting pregnant will help me stay healthy through my pregnancy.

At the same time we are trying to get pregnant, so I can’t help feeling a little sad each month when it doesn’t in fact happen. Strangely though, at this time I’m also a bit relieved since it allows me more time to lose more weight.

Right now I’d like to lose at least the 40 lb goal for two reasons. First it will put me below the obesity BMI and second, if I lose the 40 lbs then that is also what I am likely to gain during a pregnancy. In theory I already know my body can carry that extra 40 lbs and I will already know that I can lose it again.

Part of me would like to double that goal so that when I get pregnant I would be in the “normal” weight BMI and the pregnancy would take me to just below the obese BMI and I wouldn’t have to worry about going into that weight category while pregnant.

This is all really just an academic debate that I cannot and should not control. The only way to guarantee weight loss before getting pregnant would be to stop trying to get pregnant and age can have the same negative effects on pregnancy chances as weight can so it’s best to just keep trying to both lose weight and get pregnant and handle the situation as it hopefully arises.

The real frustration for me is knowing that by getting pregnant I am guaranteeing that I will have to walk this weight-loss journey again. I have some hope, because now I know I can do it.

One decision that is solidifying in my mind is to keep eating paleo through my pregnancy, if it happens (knock on wood). I have not found any evidence that a pregnant woman needs grains or dairy. I do feel terrible when I eat them. The one barrier would be if I do suddenly get my appetite back and have cravings.

Anyways this is all just baby-on-the-brain. I’ve got another month ahead of me of trying to get pregnant. That is at least the fun part of all of this.

First compliment

September 20, 2012

Today, slightly past the 25 lb mark I got my first “hey, you’ve lost a lot of weight” compliment.

I never know how to deal with these. It’s different when it’s people who I know are aware that I’m losing weight. Then I can be frank and open about the struggles. But, with people who don’t know and I don’t discuss these things with it’s hard to know how to respond.

It is of course very gratifying that someone notices, it feels like effort is paying off. It’s also a little terrifying that if I fail then they will notice that too.

For me at this time it’s also difficult to accept the compliment gracefully. I’m still struggling with the numbers. I ‘feel’ slightly over 200 lbs. I felt that way at 201.2 lbs, which was my lowest weight in 2010. I felt that way at 220 lbs, my default weight for the last five years. And, I felt that way at 237.8 lbs when I was wondering why my clothes were all too tight. So, in some ways I don’t feel as though I have lost any weight until I cross that 200 lb mark. At the same time I am trying to push myself to recognize that if I do lose 37.8 lbs that’s no small task, so I’m also trying to celebrate that.

Unfortunately, I ducked the issue in public and changed the subject quickly.

Surviving the cottage – sort of.

August 30, 2012

I am back from the cottage and covered in black fly bites. Covered may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the 10+ that I have are super itchy.

To prepare I cooked all my own food in advance and brought it with me to the cottage. It was an odd experience. I did feel like a bit of an outsider with my own food. The girls brought a counter full of chips, another full of sweets, and probably at least ten times as much food as the group could actually eat. Alcohol included:

  • 32 bottles of wine
  • 2 bottles of sangria
  • 12 bottles of Mike’s Hard Lemonade
  • 1 case of beer
  • 2 bottles of gin
  • 1 bottle of malibu rum

At the cottage I stuck to my food and didn’t even allow myself so much as a chip, because I knew if I went there I was going to dive all the way down the rabbit hole. It wasn’t as hard as I expected. I found that being away from home for the first time since my brother passed was difficult. I had a lot of difficulty sleeping and my appetite really wasn’t present.

I did allow myself one or two drinks per day. Only wine. I was concerned about the grain in the beer and the sugars in the Mike’s Hard, and Malibu… and I simply don’t like gin.

Being an observer of the weekend more than a participant I was more acutely aware of the peer pressure these girls put on each other to eat crap. The girls, for the most part, are of average size. Some skinny, some a little plump, but I would be one of the heaviest. There is a lot of celebration about letting go of their own structured eating and diving into crap food. A lot of them complained of stomach aches, and by day three many were taking extended naps.

On the one hand I’m glad the girls have the outlet. It’s important to be able to eat without guilt. On the other hand, it gave me a fairly good reminder that my body is feeling better eating the way that I am currently eating. I don’t want to go back to a place where I am constantly craving chips, cookies and ice cream – eating them, feeling terrible and still craving them.

When I returned home and took my weight the next day not only had I not gained any weight, but I had lost another 0.2 lbs. I was very happy with myself.

… Then the next day I gained 0.6 lbs for no apparent reason. And, I reminded myself that this is not a straight arrow journey and to keep doing what I’m doing, because for the most part it is working.

What About Exercise?

May 24, 2012

Diet and exercise.

Healthy Eating and Active Living.

They are almost always paired together. But, there is increasing evidence that it is diet, not exercise that plays the key role in weight loss.

I encountered this idea the first time I hired a personal trainer. At some point the trainer said something to the effect that weight loss was 80% diet and 20% exercise. More recently I’ve started to see numerous articles published citing that it is diet, not exercise that is key to weight loss.

MSNBC: Diet, not exercise plays a key role in weight loss.
Time Magazine: Why exercise won’t make you thin
Mayo Clinic: Better to cut calories or exercise more?
Guardian: Why exercise won’t make you thin

As this idea gets unpacked a familiar food-politics theme emerges: the role of the food industry in our health and nutrition. More specifically what the food industry will do to protect their profits at the expense of the health of the public.

Here are some more articles on this topic:

University of California Berkley: Lecture, Dr. Marion Nestle How The Food Industry Influences Diet and Health
How The Food Industry Influences Diet and Health (book)

One of the best examples I have seen recently of food-politics promoting exercise over nutrition is Coca-Cola Canada’s partnership with participACTION and sponsorship of  Sogo Active. This campaign promotes getting youth active.  It has great examples of programs that get youth active, but it completely fails to mention that drinking Coke is really bad for your health.

This is not to say that exercise is not important. Exercise does some pretty important things like: strengthens bones and muscles, improves mental health and mood, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer.

I will credit my reasonably active lifestyle with the fact that although I am in an obese BMI range I have not faced any serious health problems, or even minor health problems. Except for the fact that I am fat, I’m healthy. The fact that I’m healthy, and reasonably active led me to my own conclusions about the role of exercise in weight loss.

Each time I have tried to lose weight in the past I have included exercise as a key component of that weight loss. And, I have generally been more successful at getting myself active than I have at being mindful about what I am eating and how it is effecting me. My general assumption was that I don’t eat a lot of junk food (I think), and if I’m exercising everyday and eating reasonably ‘good’ foods then I should be able to lose weight.

Sadly, this has never, in ten years proved true. My assumption at this point for why this hasn’t works are two-fold.

First, I don’t think I have taken a close enough look at what it means to have a healthy relationship with food. To truly make a food lifestyle change. I’ll come back to this in other entries.

Second, I think that I am proving case in point that while exercise is good for my health, and is likely the reason I am as healthy as I am, it is not having any significant impact on my weight.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to give myself permission to shun all physical activity. I will however, be placing much more emphasis on learning to eat well, in a way that makes me happy, healthy and facilitates weight loss. I will not be putting a significant amount of emphasis on if I made it to this gym each morning.

Revisiting the plan

May 3, 2012

Before the grief there was a plan slowly starting to form.

While I am comfortable being a woman of size, I am not happy with my current size and it is beginning to effect my quality of life. I am not interested in becoming stick thin again or inviting the health and psychological problems of trying to get there.

The challenge I had put before myself was to lose weight and size slowly and incrementally. I wanted to do it this way so that I could:

  • Be evaluative of each step and when I felt good and wanted to stop,
  • Ensure that the slow approach would keep the weight that I lost off,
  • Not pressure myself to lose X lbs in Y time frame and beat myself up when that didn’t happen,
  • Truly evaluate what works for my body,
  • Explore what nutrition means to me, what tastes good to eat and what feels good in my body.

There were three main tools I had set up to try to achieve this.

1. Weight loss rewards

I have never been a rewards person, but I think this may have been a mistake. There is part of me that thinks that achieving a goal should be reward enough. However, my track record tells me that this is not enough for me. So, I set up a chart with a goal of a 20 lb weight loss. I set rewards at 1, 2, 5, 10, 15 and 20 lbs. The idea was to keep myself motivated and then evaluate at 20 lbs. Decide if I felt up to going for another 20 or if I wanted to simply try to maintain for some time. In this way the parameters were either weight loss that was not constricted by time, or time for maintenance with no weight loss expectation.

2. Self acceptance monitoring

This is harder to articulate as a tool. Although I am not comfortable with my current size I am comfortable being a woman of size. I like curves, breasts, hips, tummy and softness. I am also generally happy with my life and the parts that I am not happy with I feel that I can do something to change. Part of the slow incremental weight loss needs to be a mindfulness to keep an eye on my positive sense of self.

Wading into the weight loss challenge is a good way to turn negative. To start to degrade my body and my self. Some would see it as self empowerment, but I find this is only true while success is happening. If success is not a straight road – which it rarely is – then it is easy to slide into self depreciation. Once the downward cycle begins then it is hard to appreciate any success. Small success are no longer enough, it becomes a game of the long goal in the distance that is never achieved.

To help with self-acceptance I am making sure that I keep subscribing to Plus Model Magazine, which is where I get many of my images and keep reading size acceptance blogs.

3. Paleo Diet

Through various failed diets I have realized that I do need some guidance for what I put into my body and that guidance has to be more than calorie-based. I came to the idea of trying the paleo diet not from a weight loss perspective but from the ability to help me manage some of my food allergies and still eat a well balanced diet. It also promotes local food and seasonal food as well, and helps me increase my protein intake which I know is needed.

Outch

April 27, 2009

No, I was wrong, I should have waited the day before writing the last post. I now realize that while the advice to alternate and mix up workouts is likely correct as your body does not adjust as easily. It also means that I got to go through the ‘OMG I’m in pain because I haven’t worked those muscles in 12 weeks’ routine yet again.

My back was a total mess this past weekend, I think mainly do to TOM, but also the upper back, which was definitely a muscle cramping issue.

I’m still not 100% so I’m waiting to tomorrow to go to the gym this week and leaving it at two trips to the gym this week. Hoping that neither will cause the kind of pain I’ve experienced for the last two weeks.

The new goal for this weekend: not to spend weekend in lots of pain.