Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Lost

January 17, 2013

At 11-weeks and 5 days I started to get some brown spotting, which a day later turned into blood and on the date of 12 weeks exactly the doctor confirmed I’m having a miscarriage.

It sucks, of course. It beyond sucks. I’m angry and sad and frustrated and confused.

What I know is there is nothing I could have done. I’m simply in that unlucky 25-30% who have a first-trimester miscarriage. I know that a first-trimester miscarriage is common, is usually the result of the fetus not being viable in the first place usually because of chromosomal anomalies, and I know that most women who have a first-trimester miscarriage go on to have a successful pregnancy resulting in live birth. This information doesn’t make it suck any less right now.

However, if there is one thing that this year has taught me is that I will keep going, even when not all of me wants to.

So, why am I blogging about this on a weight and health blog?

Well, the way I see it, it’s part of the process. I stopped trying to lose weight when I found out I was pregnant. And, I know that to be healthy – especially given that I want to try to get pregnant again – I need to continue this health journey.

So, where am I in that journey. During the 12 weeks of pregnancy I gained 3.6 lbs for a total of 203.6 lbs (not bad – well within the 5 lbs recommendation for first trimester).

I’m going to spend the next week simply recovering from this, and then go back to my paleo eating plan with a new energy. Really go after that 40 lb goal (which happens at 197.8 lbs) and look into joining a crossfit gym.

Advertisements

Eating Out

August 2, 2012

Eating out and trying to maintain a diet or food restrictions has always been a problem for me. I used to allow myself to be exempt from my diet when I ate in restaurants or at friends houses. That didn’t work. I then tried to guess calories and meticulously log everything I put in my mouth to the best of my ability. That was frustrating and also didn’t work.

I have a lot of anxiety around this week since I am rarely eating at home.

Saturday – Dinner out
Sunday – Lunch out & Dinner out
Monday – Lunch out & Dinner out
Tuesday – Dinner out
Wednesday – Lunch out
Thursday – Lunch out
Friday – Monday – All meals out (cottage)

My basic plan is to try to stick to the weird paleo restrictions when eating out. This will limit what I put in my body and will hopefully keep me to reasonable portion sizes, if I am careful.

My nemesis, especially on the cottage weekend will be too much alcohol, which can also lead to diving off the paleo diet.

The glimmer of hope is that I’m more than a month into doing paleo and so far it is working incredibly well for me. I do have more energy. I am losing weight without any other efforts like calorie counting or exercising. I am not full-full but I am content-full and not feeling hungry and jealous of other people’s food. This will, of course, be difficult on cottage weekend when I will be surrounded by tempting carbs and more carbs all weekend.

Wish me luck!

The experts are wrong?

June 28, 2012

HBO launched a series The Weight of The Nation on May 14, 2012. It has all the usual experts in disease control and anti-obesity plugging the same advice that I have heard over and over and over, and tried over and over and over which has not (yet) worked for me.

Who am I to say these experts are wrong? I’m nobody. I don’t have the credentials, the research or the practice. I am not a statistically significant group. What I can say is that I have faithfully tried the eat less, exercise more route for close to 10 years and in that time I have mostly gained weight rather than lost weight.

This is why articles like this: Why the Campaign to Stop American’s Obesity Crisis Keeps Failing by Gary Taubs keep attracting me. I highly recommend reading the article. But in case you are not up to a three page read here are the notes.

He starts out by introducing the history of obesity as a field of public health study way back in the midst of the Great Depression. Turns our a German scientist noticed that there were a large amount of fat children in the midst of extreme poverty. This ties in nicely to the idea that cheap carbohydrates make us fat.

Next he introduces the science behind how cheap sugars found in junk foods and also breads, pastas, grains etc… actually alter our insulin and fat storage systems.

Then he brings in that while the health and diet crowd was targeting fat and meats as the cause of obesity that meat intake peaked in the 1970s – before the obesity epidemic. That it was after meat became demonized that grains, breads and pastas took up a cornerstone in our food pyramid that the obesity epidemic really took off.

Then he addresses the exercise myth. That there is little supporting evidence that exercise will help to reduce or maintain weight citing several examples of active people who are obese.

For someone like me this all makes complete sense. I gained the most weight after I had an accident, moved to college, started eating mostly breads, grains and pasta – because they were cheap and easy to make. I exercised like a fiend. Often going to the gym seven times a week. I found myself completely unable to maintain a low-calorie diet on 1,200-1,500 cal/day for more than six months at a time. I found myself constantly hungry. I occasionally succeed at losing 20 lbs but it would almost always come back and then a few more. Then I would start the cycle again. Wash rinse repeat.

This is a quote from Taubs article I would like to pin up somewhere:

“as Hilde Bruch pointed out more than half a century ago, that exhorting obese people to eat less and exercise more doesn’t work, and that this shouldn’t be an indictment of their character but of the value of the advice.”

The advice that Taubs gives is to simply stop eating sugars. Eat more green leafy vegetables, lean proteins and good fats. This sounds to me a lot like the Paleo Diet. I don’t know if I’m just being led down another garden path that will lead to a cycle of failure. But, at least it is trying something different.

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.

Loving my body

March 15, 2012

I no longer accept that fat equals unhealthy, ugly, lazy or any of the other negative adjectives that are foisted on fat people, and most of all on fat women. Increasingly I also question our perceptions of what is fat. While I don’t deny that I am fat, I am very aware that the social images of “slim” and “fit” are incredibly unhealthy themselves.

At the same time I am coming face to face with the realities that obesity does come with quality of life draw backs that could, if left unattended, become health problems. I am deeply skeptical now of the hysteria around the obesity epidemic, but I do not believe that the concerns about obesity are unfounded.

At my last physical I was given a clean bill of health. Everything is in working order and all of my blood, cholesterol and other levels are appropriate for a woman my age.

This could be a great reason to tell myself that all of my body concerns are in my head. That I am sucumbing to the relentless media drive that fat is bad.

After two years of reading an incredible amount of body size/ body image / feminist / media literacy literature it is difficult to reconcile wanting to lose weight / size with accepting a positive sense of self. What I am coming to terms with is the idea that focusing too much on the size acceptance can be harmful, maybe not as much or in the same way as obsessive dieting, but still harmful.

Recognizing what my body needs is about finding that balance which includes loving my body at the size and shape that it is and still honouring my body when it sends me signals that I need to do something to care for it, which may include losing weight.

Loving my curves!

March 14, 2012

For the past three years I have bounced between 200 to 220 lbs. When I crossed the 200 lb for the first time around 2003 I was horrified. Crossing that mark, I think, sent me into my most unhealthy years since having been hospitalized for anorexia. While anorexia was unarguably unhealthier physically and psychologically, my response to crossing the 200 lb mark and struggles to get back below it have been unhealthy emotionally and intellectually.

I never abused myself emotionally as an anorexic as much as I have now that I am plus sized. Anorexia was very much about control, success, achievement and receiving validation for my efforts… well at least until it almost killed me.

Being fat however, is about failure, guilt, shame, ignorance, laziness, greed, ugliness. I can be made to feel like a pariah, someone not deserving of love, kindness, hope or charity.

Like many plus sized women I have been successful in other areas of my life. I have a good education, I am making progress in my career, I am in a committed relationship of over 10 years, I have strong family connections and close friendships, I have interests and hobbies that keep me busy and entertained. In short, I have a very good life.

So, why was I letting myself get so down about my body size?

I don’t really know.

It is hard to be self-evaluative about media influence, peer pressure, pop-culture medicine and how much all of this does or does not affect self-image. I could claim, as many do, that I am not affected by advertising. But, working in communications, I know that is simply not true.

What I have been able to understand is that my low self-image had less to do with how I felt about myself and more to do with what I thought others were telling me I should feel about myself.

Luckily for me I’m friends with a lot of free thinking women (and men) who are are good at pointing out toxic pop culture trends. I went down the rabbit hole and began to explore fat acceptance. What did it mean? Why would anyone do that? Didn’t they know that fat was unhealthy and unhealthy is bad?

Turns out there’s a lot that I didn’t know. Like epigenetics. Like the role the food industry plays in emphasizing fitness as core component of weight loss. Like the huge changes in the fashion and modeling industry. Like the existence of Photoshop Fluid.

On this journey, I learned to accept my fat body. To even love it. I am more comfortable, as a person in my fat supple soft skin that I ever was with my rib cage and hip bones sticking out. I’m warmer for one, and I have less body hair for another.

My partner who is a wonderful insanely-high-metabolism skinny boy (well not so much a boy anymore at closer to 40 than 30) also helped with this. He met me when I was over 200 lbs. He has seen me at weights ranging from 172 lbs up to 260+ lbs. My weight has never been an issue for him. No… I didn’t believe him either, but I did have to agree with him that after more than 10 years and me having no evidence that he has ever thought my body was not sexy I might have to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

WhenI look at women, the ones I do find attractive certainly fall into the plus sized category. They are round, soft, sassy, charismatic, and wonderfully erotic in a way that I simply do not find the super-skinny models on billboards and magazines to be.

So, I’ve reached 30, I’ve come into myself as a person, and I have accepted my curves. But, I’m still thinking of losing weight — does that mean I’m a hypocrite?

I know that I don’t know

March 13, 2012

My challenge, when it comes to hopping on and off the diet/weight loss/lifestyle change/nutrition/fitness/healthy body/healthy mind bandwagon(s) is that I really don’t know what is right and what is wrong.

Not knowing what is right and what is wrong is so much more than not knowing how to make the scale go in a downwards direction and then stay there.

As women our identities are so immersed in body size and body shape that it’s difficult to define what is and is not success. Are lower numbers success? If so, how low? What about higher numbers? Like more pay at my job, being able to afford more expensive foods, clothes, entertainment? Is it about numbers at all? What about happiness? Fulfillment? Sense of self? Accomplishment?

Isn’t it better to focus on self acceptance rather than weight and body size? Are the two mutually exclusive? Can fat acceptance exist at the same time as a weight loss plan? Can losing weight be a positive, empowering process or will it always be body-centric and objectifying?

I don’t really know what the answers are to all of these questions. I know what I hope for.

Oh FFS! Not again!

March 12, 2012

Image

In 2005 I reached my heaviest body weight ever at 260+ lbs. I say plus because I simply couldn’t face the scale at that point.

In 1996 I was hospitalized for my lowest body weight ever at 88.1 lbs. I know that weight exactly since I was obsessively weighing myself ever hour or so.

In 1990 I was a relatively normal weight kid, who ate healthy food, prepared at home by a stay-at-home mum, who was into whole grains, whole foods, organic foods, no processed foods etc. I was active and not too concerned about body image.

Today I am heading back towards my heaviest weight ever having climbed back to 237.8 lbs.

What happened between 1990 and 2012?

How have I spent the last 22 years developing a horrible relationship to food and my body swinging wildly from one end of the eating disorder spectrum to the other?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I don’t want to be writing this blog entry again in 2015, 2017, 2020 and 2024 and so on.

1.8 down, 3.2 to go

June 6, 2011

Slight gain over the weekend, but it feels good to come out of the weekend still in a postion of heading towards my 5 pound loss not having to lose more than 5 pounds now that I am out of the weekend.

I stayed on track with exercise and logging, although I did have a screw up on the logging on Saturday where I forgot to log an entire sandwich, that cost me Sunday morning on the scale.

I’m discovering that Saturday seems to be the day my body needs a rest. I’m much more interested in hitting the gym Sunday morning than Saturday morning.