Wednesday, August 30, 2006

WWI - When we lose the weight: a transition from empathy to sympathy

Numbers on Wednesday Weigh-In: 212, fat % 45.6. Down exactly 1.

The weightloss blogs I read fall into basically three categories (and many overlap) 1) They're just damn good writers, and often very funny, but they otherwise caught my eye because they have a voice that speaks to me 2) The blogger is roughly where I am weight-wise (give or take 20 lbs) and so we have that hovering-around-200-so perspective together or 3) The blogger has been at it (blogging, and specifically about weightloss) for about as long as I have been so we have that "I've been at it for almost a year now and I'm hitting a plateau combined with hitting my stride" thing in common.

I've noticed some trends in the 2s and 3s -- let me know if you think otherwise. Normally I hate generalizations, but there's some common themes I'm finding, has anybody else noticed these?

Among the 2s:

  • The visibility factor (or the lack of invisibility anymore) is manifesting itself. We all seem to be getting noticed, especially by men. We don't seem so fat. Perhaps, to them, we've gone from "fat" to "she could stand to drop a few pounds." As such, we're not used to this attention. Its not just from men, and its not just sexual. We're making more of an impact at work, in the arts, everywhere. We're liking it, by and large, but we're not quite sure what to make of it. And I know I'm wrestling with the idea that "you didn't look at me twice when I was really fat" but at the same time, I'm not turning away the newfound attention I'm getting and I'm enjoying something that, not a year ago, I was whining about not being fair.
    We're starting to be able to buy our clothes (albeit, we're still in XL, or the loose 14s and 16s) at places other than Lane Bryant, or, as Wendy McClure mentions in "I'm Not the New Me," the fat section of department stores. For some of us, we're getting to re-visit old stores we used to live in, for others, it’s the first time we've stepped in there. (I'm in the former group.) It's cool. We can start finally imagining ourselves wearing things other than mu-mus, but at the same time, we're waving the flags at fashion designers to learn how to dress our fat bodies in something other than a tent. So, I guess this means at least we haven't lost our empathy. Its cool, but in my case, dangerous. I'm not done yet, but I'm starting to feel comfortable in my old, not-so-fat clothes, and comfort tends to make me lazy.

  • We're starting to wonder what our perspective is going to be when we do achieve our goals. I know I'm at a point where for the first time in years I'm seeing this as do-able --that I might actually hit that seemingly far goal of 100 pounds. In this respect, I think I'll always have empathy for overweight women, but when empathy transitions to sympathy, when does it become patronizing? And how do we keep from being patronizing, beyond the obvious difference between "I remember when I was there, here's what worked for me" as opposed to (and I've seen this in more than a few books/blogs written by former fat women) "I remember when I was such an idiotic fat cow." That's the easy difference, it gets harder when you realize that, after all these years of being victims of a form of elitism, we're sort of joining the elite. Its like I've written before, I love the people in this phat little club of ours, but given the choice, it’s a club whose eligibility I'd rather not qualify for. I'm seeing a lot of us at this point struggling with this: to remain "fat accepting" yet to want to cast off our own fat. Is it elitist to say: "Well, fine for you if you're OK with being fat or not ready -- for whatever reason (god knows it took me a while to be truly ready to do this) to lose it yet, but its not acceptable for me."? It really is the opposite of the Woody Allen paradox: "I wouldn't want to be a member of any club that would have me in it." We are members of this club, and we want out. Is that an insult to the current club members?

And among the 3's:
  • Those of us who have been here for almost a year (I started this blog in November '05), I think we're hitting our strides and understanding that we're in for the long haul. I can just picture the ones who have been at this for a few years now, just smiling at us and remembering the day when, as many of us are starting to post, it hit them that its really going to happen, that goal (mine is 100 pounds) isn't just a pie in the sky. We're using "when" instead of "if" to precede the clause "I lose the weight." I've already seen some people trying to decide what the tattoo is going to say, they're shopping for clothes they know don't fit them now, but will someday. There's some door we all seem to have busted through, the difference between, say the weightloss blogs that started up fast and then disintegrated after a few months, and us, who have gotten through some kind of barrier. I don't know when that occurs -- its like in child development, you can tell a new mother to "Wait it out, trust us, the kid WILL start sleeping regularly after about 6-8 weeks." When is that line that we have to cross that brings us to the next level. I would have loved to have known, the way I was told (and can pass on to a new breastfeeding mother) that it really does get better after the colostrum's done, and your milk comes in. It’s a gift I would love to be able to give to some dieting newbie -- get past, what, 6 months? -- and you too will start to believe it. I'm going through my archives and I think I started believing in my ability to get to my goals after about 4 months, slowly, bit by bit. I think the best advice I can give to somebody who's new is to don't just look at your weight. Look at your measurements. Look at your ability to run/bike/swim a mile in whatever baseline you have. Look at your ability to tie your shoes without doing it from the side. (Look at the fact that you don't have to stick to velcro shoes!) But I'm wondering what the next level is, and what I have to achive at the next level. And I'm also wondering what the next level's challenges are. I know what they are here, at least for me. They're to not get cocky, to not get lazy, that those huge differences didn't just happen overnight. My noticing them happened overnight, in reviewing my archives, the things that got me excited were things that I tried out of the clear blue sky: those Old Navy pants, being able to run for more than 10 minutes, being able to lift my hips off the floor recently. But the methodology that got me there didn't happen overnight. That took close to a year. MUST REMEMBER THIS.

  • We're also getting philosophical. We're kind of beyond the basics of what plan, how many calories are in this, etc. Its big picture for us now. Digging into why are we doing this, what fundamental changes are we struggling with, etc. This is the scary part. We are starting to realize that to get to that next level, its not just a diet. It’s a serious change in the way we do business with ourselves. The fact that we've lasted this long proves we can do it. But will we? Are we ready to make that change? We all seem to be answering yes, even if we don't know exactly what those changes will entail. I sure as hell don't. But it’s a hellava ride, and I'm looking forward to reading back in a year to see if I figured it out.

Blog/Plan Maintenance: Scope and Objective Modifications

Having said all this, a big of blog/plan maintenance. In the parlance of Project Management, scope/objective changes: I'm changing my starting weight to 245, adding the category "blog starting weight" which will remain at 234, and my overall goal to 145. Here's why: 245 was my worst weight ever that I can't blame on a pregnancy. If I'm going to take credit for losing weight, I need to take into account that I dropped 11 pounds over a year trying to get my act together on this weightloss thing. With that in mind, I still want to be able to proudly say "I lost 100 pounds" and I have to get real -- I don't think I'll get down to 134. I weighed that as a freshman in high school, before I really grew boobs. I know very few (actually no) women who weigh what they weighed in junior high. While I don't want to set lower standards, I also don't want to set myself up for failure. I don't want to drop 100 pounds down to 145 and say "Failure." Dropping 100 pounds, whether I count what I lost before I started this blog or not, is success.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

WWI - Transitioning to Autumn

Wednesday Weigh In, 213.0, fat % 45.2. I'm holding steady on total pounds, but the fat % implies that I lost 2 pounds of fat this week. I'm reaching for it, but I seem to be really stuck here (I was GOOD this week, honest) and I need other numbers besides the MotherShip Statistic (total weight) to keep me going.

I just got done signing STella up for her fall classes. Its somewhat depressing, as summer is the time of year I look forward to, and as the cliche goes, it gets shorter as you get older, and the thing that hits you in the face is the shopping for school supplies and stuff in the fall. I carefully signed Stella up for her fall sports and activities, and at least this time, 2 of them at at the Y, so that will guarantee at least 2 formal workouts. I can't even remember how long I lasted going to work on a bike -- I have really good winter biking pants, and long gloves, and good cool weather workout tops. I think I made it to early November. Didn't do it every day, because I don't ride when its snowing.

But the class scheduling had me thinking that my summer workouts and winter workouts are two totally different things. Summer is mostly cardio, endurance, etc., and I don't lift weights that much because lifting weights is pretty much an indoor thing. Who wants to be inside lifting weights on a gorgeous summer day? But in winter, who wants to be outside shoshing around? I like a good winter hike in the woods, or ice skating, or sledding, but that's about it. So the Winter Workout tends to be a half hour on some machine (stairclimber, elliptical, whaever I'm in the mood for) followed by weights. By the end of any given winter, I'm pretty happy with the weights, but by the end of summer, its like I have to start all over with, say 10 pounds on the biceps... feh! Oh, and for daily cardio, there's that stairclimbing in my building. Its almost a punishment for myself when there's no other way I can get a workout in.

Still, I hate this transition period. Am I cardio or am I weightlifting? Am I outdoors or indoors? The days are getting shorter, even this morning I got up and had to use a lighton my bike until I was about half way to work. By November, I won't even be turning it off halfway. But now, I'm watching the sunrise along the lakefront in the morning. I should enjoy this and love it for what it is -- an opportunity to see the sunrise every morning over the lakefront. Its like last week's post, an analogy for this whole process. I need to enjoy this part of the journey, a transition from really fat to, as kdk13 put it, "only overweight" (there's a whole different set of challenges at that point), for what it is -- seeing the size 14s rise over my hips like the sun on the lakefront.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Look Mom! More Milestones!

Yesterday I took Stella to her weekly soccer at the Y. Usually what I do is drop her off at the field, put Sammy in the kid care, and lift weights for about a half hour, then go back out to the field to watch Stella, do some ab work and stretches, and watch her play. No, I;m not a bad mom for not watching the first half; I can only watch a bunch of kids do their flamingo stretches for so long before I feel my own muscles tighten up. They really don't get going until the second half anyway. Stella is an aggressive player, and she's fun to watch.

So anyway, I'm on the field, doing my stretches, and I'm doing a pile of these when suddenly I get the idea that maybe I should try to lift up my hips with my hands and get halfway to a yoga plow pose. I'm not a yoga person, but when I was a kid, I used to just balance my hips on my hands and keep my legs perpendicular for what seemed like hours. It just felt good.

Well, about a year ago, I attempted that, and humiliatingly enough, couldn't get my hips off the ground, much less up in the air. I couldn't even hoist them onto my hands so that my arms could help balance them up in the air.I about cried: Jesus, I'm fat and I'm out of shape. Worse yet, there was Stella, fresh from gymnastics class, doing it, flipping over, and flopping about. "Mom, it's easy. Just go like this," and she'd get her hips up in the air, not even needing her hands to do it.

So yesterday, for some reason, I tried it again, and lo and behold, I did it! I wanted to yell across the field, "Look Stella, I can do it, I can lift my hips off the ground, and I don't need my hands for balance until I'm ready to hold it up there!" But she was too busy playing soccer, and in fact, just when I came down and looked around the field, she scored a goal. WOO-HOO, for both of us. She'd had about 7 shots on goal yesterday (is that a soccer term? I know it’s a hockey term...) but they were either weak, or stopped by a particularly effective goalie, but finally, after keeping at it, she got one in and it was like we shared this exhuberant, finally-I--did-it! moment. The kids took a break to hydrate, during which Stella gave me a hug, "Didja see me! I scored!" Yes I did, hon, did you see me? No, she didn't, but it didn't matter. I did about 10 more of those hip raises because I could.

Its times like this that the slow weight loss doesn't matter in some respects. As I've posted earlier, its been a slow summer on the scale, but while the scale isn't showing a whole lot, my clothes are fitting better, I'm doing stuff I never thought I could do again ( running? Did you say running?) and I suspect the weight loss is going slow partly because of that: I'm getting cocky, and the fact that I have a link to a previous post very early in this blog that discusses this very thing points out that this is a recurrent behavior I need to work on. Look, I can fit in these clothes that haven't fit since before I had Stella, I can do hip raises, hell, I can have Leon's Frozen Custard every night can't I? No, I cannot. But the good news all around is that its really helped me identify a behavioral problem I have to conquer if I'm going to be succuessful at this. I have to stop treating milestones as goals.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why This Blog Template Needs its own special Back to Home Link

In a nutshell, its because my html, css, and "[blogger]" coding skills are lame.

Here's a background post I wrote when I was in the midst of the frustration of trying to make this work.. But basically, as much as I try, I can't get the "Item Page" title to link back properly. I had what I thought was the code, but the [$BlogItemURL$] is returning the url with the letter a after it, and thus "blogger cannot find the page you're looking for." and it's particularly ugly on the Item Page.I spent four hours on the dang thing before I finally decided just to put a link on it, and then have another link to this fashionably pithy excuse. If I was doing this for either $$$ or somebody else, I would obsess on it until I could make it happen.

Anybody who wants to look at my code, and tell me what I'm doing wrong is totally welcome. Feel free to include "you stupid twit, you didn't close your xyz tag" or comments regarding my sloppy code. Ugh. When I get rich I'm just going to pay somebody to do all this for me and make it look fabulous.

The Summer's Winding down - WWI

213, Fat %46.2. Down 2.

I realized that I haven't lost a whole lot of weight this summer, but then again, I've been doing lots of festival food (which inclues really good frozen custard) and I have no regrets. Well, some regrets, but I enjoy summer, and the tastes of summer, and if I can't have a frozen custard now and again, then, well whatever. I'm still on a downward spiral, even if its not at a pace I'd like. I guess I'm one of those weirdos whose weight loss comes easier in the winter. (Supposedly, people find it easier in the summer).

I'm in the middle of redesigning this site, and I've got HTML/Blogger tag issues that are driving me nuts. You'd think that, being in the IT industry, I'd know what the heck I was doing. You'd be wrong. I'm a Project Manager, which as any programmer/developer will tell you, means nothing. I admit it. Even when I do "Introduction To Project Management" orientation for new employees in our department, I start out my spiel by saying "What do I do? Well, actually, I don't really DO anything. I make sure it gets done." Which, honestly, is a much more daunting task than you'd think. Still, I'm not crunching code on a day-to-day basis, and I haven't touched HTML in years, and I went to a class in CSS a couple of years back and promptly forgot everything. So I'll have the new design up by next week, accompanied by a fashionably pithy excuse for why I can't get the return to home link to work from an Item Page simply by clicking the blog title. Its just not working. I copied the exact same code from my other blogs and I can't get it to work. Granted, the base template I got from "blogskins.com" and a lot of the developers there only develop for a front page, not item pages, so you have to figure it out. There's some conflict going on that I can't resolve. Pity. The guy who developed the base design for the one I'm working from has a lot of really nice stuff, design wise. He's neat and clean, and I like that. (A lot of the developers there are more interested in the graphics, not the blog design per se, and you can tell they're designing for people who don't have a lot to say because they have all this graphic and then about thirteen pixels for actual blogged text.). But this guy gets it. Only wish he really went the full nine yards and took into account that people want item and archive pages. So I've had to figure out that myself. I'll change again in about 6 months. I get sick of things like blog design fast.

I'm sorry I'm not bigger than that

Oh and I have to comment to disappointed who commented on my last entry. Yeah, my last entry was angry and hit below the belt, but I guess sometimes I can't be the mature (obviously implied from the "matronly" effect my fat has) grown-up I should be and consider the source of Mr Bonehead's comments. Thing is, when I hear an artist being totally written off because of her weight (and nothing else), its like getting hit emotionally. It hits all of us, because if somebody as talented and influencial as Exene can't be judged any further than her current weight, what chance do any of us fat artists have? Yes, I know I should be a grown up and consider the source, but sometimes you get tired of always having to be "the bigger person" (pun intended) and you have to hit back. And judging from all the ads I see on Spike TV for hair restoration (during Start Trek - TNG, which features a chrome domed captain generally acknowledged to be one of the sexiest men on television, how's that for mixed messages), I suspect I hit back in a particularly sensitive place. How's that medicine taste, boys? How's it feel to have all your artistic efforts written off by just one aspect of your physical appearance? Sometimes I think you have to hit back once in a while so that they understand what it feels like to be hit. No, us fat girls are NOT used to this. No, us fat girls STILL get hurt by it, even when we "consider the underlying roots of the speaker." And it doesn't matter who said it, whether they have their own issues going on, and who they said it about. It still hurts, mofos. And sometimes we get tired of just sitting back and letting such comments gloss over, without hitting back once in a while, being the complacent, fat-girls-have-no-right-to-be-angry, matrons that we are.

For the record, today's my wedding anniversary, and I'm married to a guy who has a touch of thinning locks on the top, and it really doesn't matter to me in the least. He knows this.

Friday, August 11, 2006

There's really no excuse, is there?

Last night I went to see the X reunion tour with the Rollins Band. Exene is older than me, and Rollins is about the same age. Last time I saw Rollins in any form, it was some 20+ years ago with Black Flag in Champaign. I weighed 140 then. Rollins, execpt for more tattoos and some graying hair, and perhaps even more muscle, hasn't changed a bit. It's just another nudge for me that there's really no excuse for this. If Rollins, at 40 something, can still have a body like a 20 year old, there's hope for me.

Exene, on the other hand, looks like her years. She's put on a few pounds. Actually, I think she, like me, had always been a big girl, but like me, knew how to dress it. And I think she always had the doubt. I remember interviewing her back in '83, and she was lamenting the British tabloids, saying it was always something, and among the somethings was that "you're fat." I remember looking at her in surprise, "fat" was not a word I would use to describe her, and here's the British press getting on her case about it. You hear that stuff all the time and you just throw up your hands and start to believe it, and then you GET fat. It happens to the best of us.
On the other hand, its not the weight that ages Exene. She's legendarily been a drinker, and that crap ages you only slightly faster than being a chain smoker.

Still, here was the best part: nobody in the audience cared last night. People Including me) still love her because she still wrote/writes great songs, wails 'em proper, and dresses like the crazy cat lady down the block. That's a great lesson right there. People who love you love you nonetheless. You're not losing this weight for love, because its not the weight they love or hate. It's you. And if you're losing the weight for anybody besides you, you'll never be satisfied. We have an acquaintance (our age) who said flat out he didn't want to go see X because "Exene's fat. I don't wanna see that." I wished I'd been there when he said that, because my reply is "Lissen, dude, why don't you meet me at the Alterra Lakefront Cafe for a cup of coffee after you've been to a few meetings of the Milwaukee Chapter of the Hair Club For Men, and when you've done something about that hideous spot on the back of your noggin, and you fill the Rave with fans coming to see your band after 20 years, we can discuss Exene's fat. Hotay?" That should shut him right the fuck up.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A light at the end of the tunnel?!? WWI

Numbers first: holding steady at 215, but fat % is down to 45.6. So I guess that's OK, but you would think after a weekend that included a 60 mile bike ride there would have been more loss. (On the other hand, that weekend included road food and restaurant food at Wisconsin Dells, so there you go. I didn't track food this weekend, and its like I posted last week, I obviously can't trust myself not to, and that’s annoying. Still, no regrets.)

We did it; we did theElroy Sparta trail this weekend. I had to restrain myself from saying I Told You So to Brian, who thought it would be fairly easy to do the whole thing there and back. (I had been researching shuttle services, but I was shut down.) By the time we got to Sparta, the family was pooped, and Brian and Stella caught a shuttle over to Norwalk, while I trudged up the 3 mile, 3% upgrade with Sammy up to and through the ¾ mile tunnel. Apparently Stella and Brian got caught in a thunderstorm in the shuttle, but they were in a vehicle. Storm must've passed my way either while in the tunnel, or the canopy of trees along the trail shielded me, because I just experienced a slight drizzle and Sammy, safe in his trailer, only knew it was raining after I put the rain sheets down. He thought it was pretty cool, as a matter of fact: kids love a tent of any kind, and a moving one must have been a gas. Admittedly, we’d spent the previous day in Ontario, WI, which is just outside Wildcat Mountain state park, great trails and scenery, and we didn’t hit the Elroy Sparta bike trail until something like 11 am, so we finally ended up back at the Kendall Depot around 9:30 ish. Whew! Brian was tired, but not wrecked, and Stella was quite the trooper. That last tunnel coming back was especially creepy (but in a fun way) because since it was dark, there was literally no light at the end of the tunnel. We just had to remember that it simply existed, and that was hard.

That's how this whole losing weight thing feels sometimes. No light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to remember that there is an end of the tunnel, and have faith in it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sipping the Bitterness

Wednesday Weigh-in numbers first: 215, fat% 46.2. Down 1, but still a net gain from 2 weeks ago. I'm having a colassal period, too. I am US Senator Bloatarsky.


So I'm at the Brady Street Artisan Food Festival, watching Plasticland (hence the title of this post) and I'm thinking about that song, Sipping the Bitterness, while I'm thinking about every little thing I ate, and I'm bitter! I'm bitter that its come to this, that I'm fat, and I have to think about each and every thing I put in my mouth because I'm trying to lose weight. I'm bitter because I have to totally retrain myself to feel full when I have had enough, instead of feeling full after I've packed it in. I'm bitter because I let it go for so long, at least 20 years like this. But on the other hand, I've always had to think about this. I've always felt fat, even when I wan't fat. 130 pounds, which is what I weighed in high school, is not fat. But I'm bitter that I thought it was. I'm bitter that I was already matured out that junior-sized pants didn't fit me well, I had to wear "misses" to account for my child-bearing hips, which would have been there if I'd weighed 100 pounds. I'm bitter about the fact that I've never felt comfortable in this skin of mine, even when I wasn't fat. I totally understand teenage girls these days, who think they're fat when in fact they look great, but some underlying "You'll never be thin/good/perfect enough" message has gotten to them. I worry about Stella -- because I certainly didn't get this message from my mother, and I worry that even if I deliver the opposite message, it won't be enough to counteract all the stupid media crap she's going to barraged with. I don't know how I believed this message, but I did. I always thought I was fat. So I sort of gave up and let myself go for some 25 years. And now I am fat and I'm bitter about it.

My head understands all about beginner's mind, and how I have to re-train myself so that eating well and healthy is "the mind that is no mind" but right now I'm bitter that I'm in my mid 40s, and I need to have beginner's mind vis-a-vis eating. Wasn't I suppoed to learn this as a child? My kids eat well. When they're full, they stop. When they need carbs, they eat carbs, when they need protein, they gravitate toward it. When did I stop listening to my body? Why did I stop listening to my body? These are all questions I have to answer if I'm going to ever master this.

When I first started this blog, I did a search for "Weight loss" to find other bloggers I could draw inspiration from. The keyword function at Blogger didn't help. Apparently, a boatload of peole started weight loss blogs in 2004, posted less than a dozen entries, and then blew if off or moved elsewhere. It was kind of disheartening, and was a chief reason I settled on "This Time For Sure" as the title of this. But among some of the blogs I saw, there was one particularly sad one, called "Understand The Dream Is Over." It's gone now, but the url for it was starve_me.blogspot.com, and the tagline was "I will be perfect. Nothing else matters" and her goal was to be something like 100 pounds. In the few posts she had, she'd blogged that she had something like only 600 calories that day, and was beating herself up over it. (Here's her profile. Among her interests was "abercrombie." Ugh. That should explain a lot right there.) I have this hope that there were people in her life who cared about her, saw that blog, and intervened. But there's a part of me that kind of understood where she was coming from. I never succumbed to anorexic or bullemic behavior, but I do remember times in high school when I would beat myself up for going over 1000 calories a day, and this came from reading "respected" books about weight loss. And a lot of it was never feeling good enough, never feeling thin enough, and finally giving up.

And now, I have to log and journal everything I eat so that I teach myself what is "normal." My head knows what is normal, but as I've blogged before, I've forgotten how to listen to my body. I've totally deconditioned my body over the past 25 years. And I'm bitter about it. I can feel good about the fact that for whatever reason, I'm sticking to it this time around, but I've got to figure out a way to get the bitterness out and get on with this business of not being a fat person anymore. And as we all know, being a fat person isn't all just about the weight. It’s a whole persona, and a bitter one at that, that is influencing way too much of my life.