Monday, October 30, 2006

Well, I'm Beginning To See The Light

Today's title comes to you courtesy of the Velvet Underground, or more accurately, Milwaukee's own Velvet Underground Project, a VU tribute band packed with friends of mine who I went to see Friday night. "Hey, Miles," I said to my bass player as I walked into the bar like I owned the place, and went directly to where he was setting up to play for the night. "I've got callouses!" I held up my left hand to prove it, and he high-fived it.

I went there with a goal in mind: I was going to formally tell my band's bass player and drummer (who also plays with the VUP) that we will begin rehearsing in January, with an eye toward playing out in April. I said this loudly enough so that others would hear this, and that was the point.

One thing I've learned through this blogging process is that "This Time For Sure" is working because I've gone public. I've said before that I'm not exactly where I'd hoped I'd be by now, but I'm doing better than I've done in many many years, and its because I'm doing it publicly. I refuse to fail publicly. Private failure has been acceptable for me because I can usually cover it up. I can get by. In fact, I'm a damn good faker. People think I'm some kind of good guitar player -- in fact, Friday night a friend was telling me this. "No, I'm not, " I told him. "I'm creative, yes. But I'm really not a good guitar player. I am a magnificent fake." Further to this evidence was a woman who said she couldn't believe I weighed more than 200 pounds. I explained, "I wear it well. I'm dressed in black most of the time, and I know how to call attention to my assets and downplay the fat. But yes, I'm over 200 pounds." When you've been living on that river in Egypt as long as I have, you learn how to turn your shanty shack into a fabulous condo. Yes, I am the Martha Stewart of De Nile! And that's my problem. I've held my goals so privately so that I allow myself to fail because people don't see me failing, and somehow that's OK.

But if I put my specific goals out there, and make them public, my ego won't allow me to fail. THe key is specificity: "oh we'll play sometime" doesn't cut it. I can always weasel out. No, setting a date -- January (and I will indeed get more specific when we know what our schedules area) sort of jolted me into it, very This Time For Sure.

"Awww, we were just going to be starting this Kinks' tribute band, but I guess now..." Andy Pagel, my drummer started saying. I interupted: "And what's stopping you? For I am not a Jealous and Vengeful Diva. You can play in a Kinks tribute band. I *love* the kinks, and I'm glad such a band is going to exist." (You're not going to just play Lola and You Really Got Me. You're someday going to play The Village Green Preservation Society from start to finish and I'm going to be there to hear it!) But the fact that it gave Andy pause turned the Diva on in me. He realizes I'm serious this time. It wasn't, "Well, you'll have to work around the fact that I've got yet another band," no it was almost "I'll put this other thing on hold while we make Loblolly work." No you won't. I'm not putting any of the rest of my creative life on hold, I thought, clutching my camera, while I make Loblolly work. You won't either. But thanks for taking this -- and me --seriously.

Something happened Friday night-- and I kind of knew it would -- when I went out. I had my hair done the previous weekend, by Annette The Best Colorist In Town and I asked to her really blonde me up. Walking into the Up and Under and going straight back to my drummer and bass player and announcing this loudly and suddenly thinking "I am not a Jealous and Vengeful Diva" and BAM! That I was thinking of myself as a Diva at all is significant. I'm a blonde again! I'm a diva again! I didn't just slither in and meekly query: "Hey, would it be cool if we started practicing maybe sort of and see what happens?" No, I said we ARE going to rehearse in January, and we are GOING to play in April or so and that was that. No wishy washy bullshit that I can weasel out of.

I'd set expectations high, so, grabbing my camera, I retreated back into my comfort zone and played rock and roll photographer all night, forcing myself to learn how to shoot low light digital if it killed me. It was also a nice thing to hide behind while I contemplated the public goals I set for myself: AHHHHHHHGGGHGGH! What the hell did I just do? I'll tell you what I just did. I stopped pussyfooting around, that's what I did. And I still have my camera, this nice little lens I can hide behind while I work this performance thing up.

What does this all have to do with weight loss? Well, a huge part of it is moving out of that condo on Da Nile, and believing in yourself. Saturday morning I woke up, and ate a nutritious breakfast, and headed to the Y and worked out. Saturday night I put down the better part of a pizza, and only snacked on a few pieces of halloweeen candy as I took the kids out trick-or-treating, consciously thinking how great I am for not downing an entire bag of Tootsie Rolls. Sunday I did a marvelous bike ride, and again ate nutritionally sound and well. I skipped all the leftover ice cream we had from Stella's birthday. I've got a goal now, its not weight related, but my weight -- and how I feel about myself -- is an element of it. Practicing my instrument and writing songs, in a way, is a discipline that is very similar to weight loss. I cannot go on stage weighing 200 pounds. No no no no no no no. And I needed something to kick me into that discipline. I've got my camera and my writing to be comfortable in while I discipline myself in music and weight loss. The comfort can't come from food: no the comfort zone has to be non-food related, and my camera and this blog are my comfort zones. (and I'm kicking myself out of my photographic comfort zone by going digital, and it actually feels goo. Kicking ones self out of a comfort zone is scary, but exciting, and thus, good.)

Yes,After I wrote this, I did indeed get my guitar out and started practcing. Writing that post really helped jolt me, and not just because of the public and private feedback I got from it either. (But let's not write that off. We're out here writing because we need feedback, and I got it in droves. Everybody who wrote me needs to know how much I appreciated it and how much I am already applying their advice). Writing it, just like this post, was cathartic. But back to that git-tar: I'm marginally remembering my scales, and the chords pretty much came back to me. I successfully remembered how to play Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" and a few Velvet Underground songs at that! (As I mention in the other blog, if you can play the Lou Reed songbook, you're ready for Rock and Roll). Now I just have to remember how the hell my own songs go.

Oh, and we turned back the clocks this weekend, so when I got my bike out to ride to work this morning, the sun had already begun to come up (before this weekend it was still dark.) I listened to "Beginning to See the Light" in my ipod while I rode in and a gorgeous sunrise over the lakefront bathed me in purply-orange lighty goodness. "Some people work very hard, but still they never get it right...well I'm beginning to see the light." No, that verse applied to me last month, but this one applies to me now: "I met myself in a dream, and I just wanna tell you -- everything was alright ... now now now now now now....I'm beginning to see the light!"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Still in the rut

217.6. Actually up point 6. But at least the fat percentage is down, to 45.9. Whoop de do.

Actually, this is whoop de do. I remember six months ago when i hit this point, it was the lowest I'd weighed before i had Sammy. I was doing the happy dance all around, I hadn't gotten this low in years! I need to remember that this is a long journey and there's going to be peaks and valleys.

And ruts.

Other than that, I got nuthin' today. Back later when I'm more philosophical. But I'm recovering from an all nighter with a sick three year old who had a stuffy nose, some icky dreams, and general "Mommy, life sucks sometimes and so i just need you to hold me all night while I scare the piss out of you because I'm breathing like Darth Vader."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rut vs. Plateau. I'm in a rut.

The difference between a plateau and a rut: Simply put, a plateau is when you're doing everyting correctly, and you're still stuck at some weight that won't budge. A rut is when you're not doing everything correctly, you thusly are stuck at some weight (or range) and YOU won't budge.

I am in the latter. I'm in a rut. Its official. Some people would rather be in a rut than a plateau, because a plateau seems like nothing you can control. But I'd rather be in a plateau, because my issue isn't chemistry or physics. Its behavior, and knowing that my behavior was correct and I was maintaining discipline would assure me that eventually I would break out of a plateau. But I'm in a rut. I can't put my finger on why. I'm stress eating, I know that. I have to find a different way to comfort myself under the stess and busy-ness I'm going through. The physical side of stress, I'm managing that well. I've been going to the gym during these dreary days and getting kickass workouts in. But the mental part of stress -- I'm medicating that with food. Chocolate. Creamy soups (which are also anesthetizing these cold dreary days we've been having). Ugh. I start each Wednesday, as I did today, all gung ho with writing down my numbers and This Time For Sure attitude, and by Saturday, if not Thursday morning, I've blown it to Purgatory. So I'm in a rut.

I'm posting a 3.8 pound gain this week. Numbers: 217, that's up 3.8 and holding steady at (ugh) 46% fat. Ugh Ugh Ugh. I can blame probably 2 pounds on the extra-bloated period I'm in the middle of: my measurements show no increase in anything below the waist but I've gone up a bra size, which argues strongly for menstrual water retention. Still, the pigging out Friday night (that pecan crusted salmon with the vanilla cream sauce at the Water Street Brewery WAS to die for) preceeded by pizza at lunch and succeeded by all day eat-a-thon around the house Saturday probably had more to do with this week's gain.

However, I can't get all down on myself. I checked my charts over the past couple of years: historically I post a ridiculous gain in October. Must be those "bite sized" halloween candies. Still, I have GOT to get my groove back and out of this rut.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

We need a sports league for fat fortysometings

Wednesday Weigh In numbers first: 213.2, fat %= 46.3. Down point 8.

I know I'm in the minority here; I actually love the exercising part of losing weight. You hear all these tips on how to get motivated, how to move more doing things you enjoy, I blow these off because moving more is NOT my problem. (In fact, one of my problems is thinking that all the exercise I get somehow negates the fact that I still have to eat better). You could almost say that if not for my fat, I'd be a jockette. Except for one thing: I love playing most sports, I just suck at them. I'm uncoordinated.

I *love* playing basketball. I'm a damn good guard, but I can't shoot for shit. I'm good at the free throw line, and I probably hit more 3s (and that's college 3s, not NBA 3s) than most of my friends, but I can't remember the last time I successfully sank a layup. It's really embarassing.

I remembered how much I loved soccer while playing the adults-vs-kids soccer game last month. Back when I was a kid, soccer wasn't at all huge here in the USA. In fact, I suspected that it was actually a game made up by gym teachers because football was too complex and violent to teach us. I mean, what's with the no-hands rule? That sounds like something a gym teacher would come up with, just like that game you played on those little 4 wheeled scooters and the giant rubber ball. Wait, the greatest athlete in the world, Pele, plays soccer? It's really a game? Cool! I love soccer. Wait a second, I just remembered. I suck at soccer. I'm a lousy goalie, I can't remember the last time I scored a goal, but like basketball, I'm a damn good guard.

Love softball. Where I grew up, in Country Club Hills, IL, there was a girls' softball league that was huge. Huge, I tell you. I don't think boys' little league came close to rivaling it. On Tuesday and Thursday nights in the spring and summer, ALL the city parks with ballfields in them belonged to the girls. At the end of the summer, CCHills sponsored a huge softball tournament with something like 32 teams from all over the Chicago south burbs, and the girls from CCH who were on the all-star team for this tournament might as well have been royalty. The fact of the matter was if you were a girl in CCHills and you didn't play softball, there was something wrong with you. The jockettes played softball. The cheerleaders played softball. The brains and geeks played softball. Even the chain-smoking rough girls with their slut blue eyeshadow played in the CCH Girls' Softball League. I played catcher and right field. (Translation: I sucked.) I was such a crappy fielder that they tried to get me to pitch. Even though this was slow pitch, I had difficulty with this. I could bat OK, and as catcher I actually picked a few leadoffs off first. (Probably because it never occurred to a runner that such a lousy catcher would even attempt to pick them off). I'm reluctant to call our coaches "coaches." They were more managers, rattling off a batting order and passing out schedules. We'd practice, and here's the brilliant advice I would get: "Veronica, just hit the ball." Yeah, OK, "Coach," thank you for that keen insight as to what's wrong with my technique. (This reminds me of Jim Bouton's pitching coach in Ball Four, who would advise Bouton: "Throw strikes." Yeah, OK, Sal.)

The problem with team sports as exercise is that, especially if you’re a woman in your 40s like me, is that as kids, we were just getting to the very beginning of a generation where girls besides naturally talented jockettes were given any kind of instruction or coaching to not suck as bad as we do. (Title IX was passed in 1972, took a little (!) longer for non-jockette girls to realize that sports were cool, and for the educational marketplace to catch up to this concept.) As a result, because we're so crummy, and nobody every worked with us just to get up to a tolerable skill level, we loathe participating in the sport. Who wants to do something that you're crummy at? I could push through it and play, because I just naturally love the sport -- especially basketball. (In fact, in basketball, the lousier a shot you are, the better the aerobic workout!) But overall, I can see why a lot of women my age and older eschew team sports as their exercise. Not only were we not that good (or ever given decent coaching or instruction) to begin with, now we're old, we're out of shape, and a lot of us are downright fat.

So I've hit the gym in pursuit of exercising, and I've found a zen in that. I've always loved riding my bike from the time I was a little kid, with my flower power banana seat bike, to my first ten speed, to the various bikes I've had in my life. Cross country running: throw on some headphones, get some decent shoes, and go. No strategy or major coordination here. Weightlifting: now this is outright zen. But I do so miss getting more of a chance to play some team sports, and the social interaction and the friendly competitiveness that goes with them. You also get a decent workout playing soccer, because you're concentrating so much on the game that you forget you've been running back and forth across a field for 45 minutes. (My quadreceps, however, later reminded me of this fact the day after that parent-vs-the-kids game). But it was so sad that they had to almost beg the parents to play, instead of getting up off the folding chairs and mutter something about "Oh, I can't play this, I'm too old/out of shape/lousy." I'd joked that "Yeah, they don't really have a league for fat fortysomethings, do they?"

We need a league for fat forthsomethings. I would play in it in a minute. But with the whole competitive nature of sports, its so hard to re-teach people that the primary thing is FUN, not winning or showing off your mind blowing skills all the time. When I first started working out at a gym, yes, I was a bit self-conscious going into that weight room filled with hard bodies, what with my abdominal flap (thank you mo pie, for actually naming yours "flappy") and my spaghetti stirring arms flapping about. After a while, though, you just go into your own little world soundtracked by your walkman (GWTP, V'ron, that's IPOD now!), and you don't (at least I don't) care what people think. Its been so long since I've cared, I admit having difficulty understanding what the big deal for newbies is. But then I'm hip to that apprehension when I step onto a ballfield with my Darrell Strawberry glove (yes, it's as black as his coke-snorting heart!) and trudge out to right field, hoping everybody on the opposing team is indeed right handed so my team will never know just how crappy I am.

As long as you don't count on me to ever sink a layup, anybody wanna play a few sets of three-on-three hoops with me?

Friday, October 06, 2006

KDK's new goal dates

Time to revisit my goals and assign some new, reasonable dates.

171.8 - 11/23/2006 - 60 lbs lost in time for Thanksgiving
158.0 - 2/1/2007 - BMI Normal in time for Gary's birthday
156.8 - 2/8/2007 - 75 lbs lost
140.0 - 4/19/2007 - Lifetime goal weight in time for my 13th wedding anniversary
131.8 - 5/24/2007 - 100 lbs lost just to say I did it in time for the pool opening on Memorial Day and a hot new bathing suit to swim in

50 again

231.8/181.8 (unofficial)/131.8. Down 4.4 if the weight is right. Had a class off-site and didn't make it in to the official weigh-in, but my scale at home is generally in-line with the WW scale. I'm rather bummed that I missed it. Another woman who started at the same time as me was officially granted Lifetime yesterday and her boyfriend came and I heard it was rather emotional. Soon enough it will be my turn, right?

Sunday a team of us had to work to rollout out some applications, so our boss paid for breakfast and our team lead got souffles, bagels, and pastries from Panera. I had one of each and then looked up the nutrition info. Yikes. The rest of the week I've been watching the foods carefully, eating a lot of veggie based main dishes. Made a eggplant/butternut squash/pineapple/chicken curry dish over brown rice. The worst thing in it was the coconut milk. Also found a roasted butternut squash/potato/onion/red pepper covered with balsamic dijon marinated chicken recipe that was really good and about 5 very healthy points per my serving size. Got some farmer's market lettuce and spinach, so we've been having some wonderful salads too. Our community farm share has been full of winter squash, potatos, carrots, onions, green beans, garlic. Yummy!

The exercise has been good this week too. I've finally resigned to set up my Palm in the bathroom to go off about 10 minutes after my bedroom alarm, so no matter how much I want to stay in bed I have to get up to turn off that alarm. And once I'm up and brushed my teeth, I'm finally energized enough to get down to the treadmill. The trainer sessions are going well, too. I had Jamie (the hot one) on Tuesday. He does some good strength training. He had me using the 20 lb dumbbells and then the 25, but he had to help with those. (And if that sounds light, well, I've never had much for arm strength, so it's heavy for me!) Thursday was Andy, who gets my heart racing every time, but throws in some arms or abs just in time to give me a break. Can't wait to see who I have tomorrow. I'm going to look at a used weight set tomorrow. I like to work out while I watch The Biggest Loser.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

WWI: Looking back and forward

Wednesday Weigh In: 214.0, fat %46.2. Down 1. I should be relieved, but the fat % pretty much points out what went on. Even though I had a highly active weekend, I also ate a lot of institutional food. It was good food, but I did eat a lot of it. I did, however, write everything down, which has been a goal, so had I gained, I at least wouldn't have been all mystified: "Oh, how could THIS have happened." Well, when you go over points for the week and your bank is down negative 23 points, you're going to see an increase. The fact that I lost a pound this week is accounted for by the high activity, and just dumb luck. But look at that fat percentage. That's where I paid for it.

OK, I'm back at reality, so this is good. I've already planned out today's meals, and I'm looking good.

Saw the doctor yesterday for my annual. Since I last saw him, I'm down 20 pounds, which I was disappointed in, but he said it was obvious I'd lose weight, I'm looking good, and I go for a blood draw later this week after I can guarantee a 12 hour fast to get a cholesterol screening. He's predicting I'm down. I don't have high cholesterol, but as an oveweight person, I should still keep an eye on it. Plus, it’s one more measure of how this whole weight loss thing is doing me good. He also pointed out that 20 pounds over 10 months isn't really all that bad -- that "they" say its good to lost roughly 2-3 pounds a month, so technically I'm on track for long-term loss. This is down from the ol a-pound-a-week gague, but whatever. I'm losing, and perhaps this slow way does bode for long-term results, and a long-term change in my eating habits. I keep justifying that if I were one of those girls who "only" had 20-30 pounds to lose, I'd easily drop it in a year or less, but not really learn anything. Wanting/Needing to lose 100 pounds pretty much ensures that I do some major behavioral change here, as well as some self-knowledge stuff.

Still. I want my fat gone. I want it gone today. I'm really such an American, I'm into instant gratification. That's the lesson here that I have to learn.

Wow, I've been blogging a lot lately about lessons I have to learn. Time to learn them already. Sheesh. But the girls over at angry fat girlz point out that its Performance Appraisal Season, and they're right: I should do one on my weight loss performance over the year, emphasising strenghts/weaknesses, goals and roadmaps to get there. As I (am about to comment over there) we used these tools in the workplace all the time, they're best practices and they WORK. Why not apply business best practices to our daily lives?

Monday, October 02, 2006

How Stella's Mom Will Get Her Groove Back

So I did this mother-daughter camping thing at the Y with Stella, and didn't realize how much of analogy I was in for when I got there.

They have a standard climbing wall there, and neither me nor Stella could get past about 75% of the way up. I dind't feel so bad, because if Stella can't do it (and she's a little monkey) I wasn't going to be able to. After all, she only has less than 50 pounds to hoist up there. But later in the weekend, we both decided to try the Alpine Tower. This thing is harder than it looks. There's a point where all the pieces converge, and it’s the tricky part. We weren't first in line by any means, but the first kid to give it a try got to that point and stopped. "I can't do it," she said. "Try it," we all encouraged from the ground. "Leroy (our belay person) has you covered." The kid pushed on, got to the top, and set a standard. Pretty much every kid that followed got to that convergence point, and had the self-doubt. We would all holler encouragement from the ground, and the kid would get past it, make it to the top, and come down a new person. Some kids hung longer at that point than others, that's for sure.

By the time it was Stella's turn, it had rained (and it was a bit wet, increasing the scary factor), but Stella, getting her groove back, pretty much flew up the entire thing in record time. That convergence point didn't faze her a bit, she just blew past it like it was nothing (she claimed later it was indeed nothing). Then, a few kids later, it was my turn.


Push on else be the lone failure
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
So I get going on this thing, and I make it up to the convergence point with no problem. And I had the classic issue that my feet were the wrong way. I knew my arms weren't going to be able to hoist my 200+body up to the next level -- but my feet/legs were in the wrong position for them to do the work. I stood there, holding on for dear life, and was tempted, for a minute there, to just come back down. But it was too late in the line; nobody had NOT made it to the top. I couldn't let my little girl see me be the first to blow it off. Only one other mom had attempted it (and succeeded), and she was a slender woman who looked to be in shape. But that's not an excuse. She had her own issues, I had to deal with mine. Taking two steps back wouldn't have worked here. I just had to trust my arms to hold me for the 1.5 seconds it would take me to swap out my legs. So I used my head, I got myself some good holding points. The trick was not to use the ones that everybody else used: I ended up using some of the ropes and parts of the logs themselves. You have to do what works for you, and what worked for a 50 pound kid or a slender in-shape woman wasn't going to necessarily work for me. Applying this, I swapped out the legs. Once I did that, I was "home free." And looking back, my head knew that I wasn't going to die: after all, Leroy had triple checked my harness ties, my helmet, and was clearly trained and experienced as a belayer. If I slipped, I had plenty of things helping me out. But I didn't want to have to use them. Leroy was an emergency backup, not the crutch I should use to succeed.

The home free part … well, sort of. It was still physically difficult to get all the way to the top, but the mental challenge, the point where you either give up or move forward, had been conquered. It wasn't just the "I believe I can do this" thing that was in doubt. I physically needed to figure out what I had done wrong, and what I had to do to correct it, emotional doubt aside. There was cold hard physics that had to be analyzed. And once I got past it, I still had work to do. Getting to the top, and then, allowing myself to trust that Leroy was going to get me down safely via the support ropes. (The moment when you slide your butt off the top plank took some getting into, I'll tell you.). But even that rope ladder was a bit tough. If you hung on it too long, it would start to twist and turn, but then you learn that stops quickly if you just continue climbing it.

Wow, do I have to even explain the obvious analogy to how this fits on this weightloss blog, and so perfecly explains how I'm feeling right now? I feel like I'm at that convergence point. I feel STUCK. I can't go back, no; that would be humiliating and a terrible example to show for my kid, and just another way for me to tell myself I'm a failure. But I have to trust that I do indeed have that strength, the intellectual know-how, and the emotional drive to do this. All that was flashing in my head, really, as I hugged those giant logs, trying to figure out how I was going to get past this point. And I got past it by stopping feeling overwhelmed, taking a breath, and just attacking it as a physics problem. Its amazing how much you can accomplish if you just let cold hard physics run the show.

I'm at that point right now as regards weightloss. I can see very clearly that once I get past it, I'll be well on my way again, it will still be hard, but this convergence point is really hanging me up. I probably hung at that convergence point longer than any of the kids, (certainly Stella!) and had to really think through what my strategy was going to be. I have to do the same here with the weight: there's so many things converging at this point, but the tools I need to get to the goal are in my possession. I have to just shove all the self-doubting, aside, take willpower for granted, and then apply simple physics. And I need to think this through and develop the plan.

Oh, BTW, Stella admitted much later that she wasn't scared at the convergence point, but when she got to the top, it did take a bit of guts to shove off and let Leroy lower her to the ground. OK, she's not totally invincible either. But she got her groove back by picking herself up after a disappointing morning on the indoor climbing wall, and conquering a previous failure. I need to decide if Stella was teaching me a lesson (as our kids often do, the question is do we listen), or if there's some kind of drive inside her that she inherited from me, and I need to take pride in and use myself. I suspect it's equal parts both. But as easy as it looked for her, she had her own demons to conquer, which goes to show you that everybody does.

If you're curious, you can click on any of the photos, and then click on the "Stella and Vron Conquer the Alpine Tower" set link to see the whole thing, or just click here. It was a rush, let me tell you.