Another disclaimer: I love food. You hear a lot of people trying to lose weight talking about unhealthy relationships with food and how they need to beat their addiction, and I am more than ready to admit to the same behavior. But I also love food in a different way. I love unique food. I did tend to just shove whatever in my mouth when I was hungry, but I also know that there is nothing better than eating out and experiencing new and different things. I have a special place in my heart for tasting menus - meals that consist of several courses of mini portions of hot sellers or specials. These are usually pretty pricey, but totally worth it to just get a taste of everything. My favorite tasting menu in Chicago is at MK.
And one more clarification: while I am all about trying to lose the weight and counting calories and all of that, I think it is unfair to deprive yourself of the stuff you love. What are you going to do once you get down to your goal weight? Are you just going to give up those indulgences forever? I don't think so. Health is not about cutting all sugar, all carbs, all soda, all non-green vegetables, all white food. It's about learning to develop healthy relationships with those types of foods. What is the point of being healthy if all you're going to do is eat cardboard for every meal? Uh uh. Not for me. So while I track my points dilligently through the week, I don't freak out if one night, we go out and I eat something that's a little bit bad for me. That's part of living. As long as you eat that kind of food in moderation, you're ok in my book. I found that over the weekend, I ate two meals out... and I still lost almost five pounds in a week.
So, I'm going to start up another "series" called "Phat Food," in which I'll cover restaurant reviews, or other food-related news. If you're miserable on a diet, it's not a diet worth being on. The more you deprive yourself, the more likely you'll be to freak out and eat a baby or something...
So! For the first installment of "Phat Food," I'd like to draw your attention to an article posted in today's New York Times about a food movement in Brooklyn that bears a lot of resemblance to the artist/musician communes that we've heard about/taken part in/escaped from. I love how our culture has become so DIY - etsy.com, by the way, is one of my favorite places to drool over on the web. Here is an inspiring story about a movement of young people who liked to cook, and were able to make money with it. Awesome, huh? I guess the reason I like this article isn't so much because of the food, but because of what the food represents: a reclamation of the American dream, where with a little creativity and gumption, you can achieve anything. This is a message that seems so fake in today's shriveling economy, so it's really heartening to see real live examples of young people doing what they love to do.
And by the way, we leave for our New York trip tomorrow. I might just have to hit up the pickle place. I love pickles.
Click here for the full article.
I have been overweight all my life, but until recently, I never really minded it too much. You know, I felt like I would look better thin, sure. Clothes would look better on me, and I really hate my muffin top (which is odd... that's just the way my belly is shaped, not because I squeeze myself into clothes that are too tight), and I have severe issues with the way my body looks, sure. But I didn't hate myself enough, or feel like I was fat enough, to the point that I had to go on a diet and start counting calories. I always said that I would never consider myself FAT until I had to walk around my thighs. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but I have felt some restricted movement, and I don't like it. I honestly feel best at around a size 8 or 10. Now, I haven't been there since I was 19... but I sure remember it fondly... I canvassed every day for work in Seattle, so I walked all day, up and down steep hills. And I could do it. I partied pretty hard, and had a bunch of boys interested in me, and I was fine with myself. And I was ok with myself even as I packed on more pounds and sizes. Now... I'm not. I can't walk for far distances because I get winded easily. Hiking is out of the question. Backpacking, canoeing, kayaking... all of that stuff I used to do, I can't do anymore because it would make me feel like shit.
So there's my major motivation for losing weight. Societal pressure has probably had something to do with it - like I said, my mom always called me fat, and I was teased in elementary school - but it hasn't been until I've FELT uncomfortable in my own skin that I felt that something needed to be done about it. I was ok with being heavy... not ecstatic about it, but ok with it.
That said... being fat in a thin world effing sucks. I will be the first to acknowledge that being young loses its luster when you can't find anything but "fat clothes" to fit you (and we all know about the dreaded fat clothes...). Lane Bryant has gotten better. Old Navy has gotten better (although they took their Plus line out of stores and put it exclusively online, which kind of blows). Torrid is there. Things are getting better for fat people, slowly but surely. And I believe it when I hear that not as many fat people are as unhealthy as you think. The way fat people are treated by the fashion industry, the news industry, even the health sector of our society, is unfair. If you'll allow me to digress for a second, I actually have my own story on that one...
For years, I've had issues with amenorrhea, which for me is usually solved by an initial progesterine regimen followed by the pill. So, about two years ago, I went to the doctor to get a physical and renew my perscription to the pill. New doctor, whom I'd heard good things about. They took my height and weight (I was I think 208 back then), and then she came in, and before giving me my pap smear, proceeded to berate me about my weight and how unhealthy I was. She then told me what a high risk for cervical cancer I was, and listed out a couple of hormonal-related problems I might have that could be causing my obesity, my amenorrhea, and even my unibrow and the upper lip hair I have (which I wax... but she didn't even bother to check that I am POLISH, and my mother has a pretty mean moustache herself). I felt humiliated, abused, and walked out of the office without receiving my pelvic exam... and I had to pay $80.00 just for the visit. On the drive home, I cried hysterically. I knew the reason that she was cruel to me was because I am overweight. Instead of seeing me as a person, she saw me as fat, and didn't take into consideration that she was essentially giving a PERSON an unfounded cancer diagnosis. Who wouldn't be upset? A doctor takes one look at your height and weight, asks you if you've ever had sex, and immediately tells you that there is a distinct possibly that you have cervical cancer... unbelievable. And I'm sad to report that the experience so humiliated and shamed me that I haven't had a physical, or pelvic exam, since.
I'm sure that my experience isn't unique. I'm sure that there are many women out there who have been treated like sub-species because of their weight. It is HARD to be fat! I don't think anybody really chooses to be overweight or obese. For me, it's not comfortable. I don't like it. But it's not something like painting your nails black... it's not something that you can just stop doing.
But, I personally feel that obesity is NOT healthy, and that it just doesn't FEEL good to be fat. I want to be able to run and bike and go backpacking and kayaking again, like I did when I was in my teens. It was fun, and I miss it. I don't like being winded after walking up to the third floor of my apartment building. I really am scared that I'll have a heart attack, because according to my family history, I am at high risk. I don't want to develop diabetes. I want to be active and healthy. I think most overweight and obese people would like that, even if they are bell-ringers for the Fat Acceptance Movement.
I don't think guilt, shame, or discrimination is the way to make fat people thin. I don't think it's the public health crisis that it is cracked up to be. I don't think it's necessarily healthy, but mass hysteria is common in the U.S. (take, for example, the freakout so many parents had about Rainbow Parties... only to discover that they're extremely uncommon - more the stuff of urban legend than anything else), and so what is something that could be considered a blip on the public health radar gets blown up into an epidemic.
So the skinny on the Fat Acceptance Movement? I support it. I don't think it clashes with my desire to lose weight. I want to lose weight for me. I don't want to force anyone else to. And being a fat person in a thin world, I know how much psychological harm size-ism causes. No one should have to feel ashamed, humiliated, or discriminated against because of how they look.
These "high-protein, low-carbohydrate" diets have not been proven to be safe or effective in the long run. We know, for example, that high-protein diets may be harmful to the kidneys, and are associated with calcium loss, which can result in bone problems...
Fad diets prohibit a lot of foods — in the case of high-protein diets, carbohydrate intake is severely restricted. And guess what? People lose weight not because of the altered food balance, but simply because they are restricting calories. Of course they will lose weight!
Now, if you are going to restrict calories — which is vital to losing weight — isn't it better to restrict them in a way that is consistent with a healthy diet?
Check out the full article here.
The article reported that people attempting to lose weight can use non-caloric sweeteners as an effective substitute for regular sugar, but one should be careful about using artificial sweeteners like Splenda in exchange for something high in calories (i.e. - putting Sweet & Low in your coffee doesn't make up for your apple pie and ice cream).
Good news for all of us Diet Coke fiends out there... I know I'm not alone. Those of you who are into regular soda - you can cut down on your caloric intake SO MUCH by simply switching from regular to Diet. I know that the taste is different... but if I can make myself go from 2% milk to skim, I know you can do it!
Check out the full article here.
I've always had a problem making good choices when it comes to food. When I decided that something needs to be done, I really didn't know where to begin. So, to start off, I'm tooling my own combined plan. First, I've got an account at Weight Watchers. I'm doing it online first, because my busy schedule at the moment kind of makes meetings impossible. Maybe I'll be able to attend meetings once I'm a little more settled down into my "new" life (i.e. new apartment).
In addition, I'm actually following the SlimFast plan. The benefit here is that everything is planned. I don't trust myself to make choices at all. I need to have someone to tell me what to eat, and this tells me exactly what to put into my body. I'm going to continue for a couple of weeks in this vein until I feel a little more comfortable making my own choices, at which point I'll start fusing in my own recipes... on condition that they fit into my Weight Watchers plan, of course.
By putting the two together, I have someone telling me what to eat, while still being able to track it myself. It tells me what to do, but makes me conscious of what I am doing. Hopefully, I'll be learning what types of choices are good, and I can start to wean myself away from detailed instructions and can stretch my creativity in the kitchen again.
I weighed myself this morning before I got into the shower, before I had eaten anything. The official weight is at 244.4. I will weigh myself again on Sunday morning and see if I have made any progress. I'm hoping to see results. I've known a lot of people who have been successful on Weight Watchers, so I have high hopes for myself as well.
Aside from the not wanting to walk anywhere, the general feelings of tiredness, the fear that anytime something hurts it's diabetes or heart disease, or any other obesity-related illness... being fat just sucks the life, and the self-esteem, right out of you.
From the time I was very young, my mom told me I was fat. Well, I knew this... but it hurt to have it acknowledged by someone else. Being fat is not a problem that you can closet like say, I don't know... a drinking problem, or a coke habit (not to say that these problems don't manifest themselves into everyday life, but wiping up your nose after you toot is considerably easier than trying to hide too-wide hips and lumpy back fat). That awareness from when I was very young - I am fat, and everybody knows it - really messed with me. I had little to no confidence with boys, I dressed myself (and continue to dress myself) in plain, lifeless clothing that hopefully keeps people from noticing me. Nobody likes to hide from the world like that, especially because of something that is so hard to change.
We work on crash diets, we kill ourselves at the gym, we go balls to the wall for short spurts of time, and then something happens that just makes us fail every time. We don't see results quick enough... we receive another affirmation of our fatness... something not even connected to our diet makes us fall off the wagon entirely...
While I agree that obesity is a danger to one's health, fat people get treated differently from smokers, from risk-takers, from people who drive recklessly... all of these things can be dangerous, and yet it's fat people who get kicked around in society, portrayed as wobbly torsos on the evening news and dorky asexual sidekicks in Hollywood movies.
This blog is not about how wrong society may be (and is). One of the mantras from Alcoholic Anonymous is to ask for the strength to accept the things that one cannot change. Well, I can't change society, but I can change myself. I can change the way I look, I can change the way I react. I can choose to do something healthy for myself. I can choose to not allow societal pressures and "bad days" to blow my diet. I can choose to not beat myself up over small failures and to keep pushing, even if I gain a pound one week when I had expected to lose two.
I'm on a mission to take it off. At 240 pounds, I am the fattest I have ever been in my entire life, and I feel it. I'm winded after walking up to the third floor of my apartment building. My clothes are tighter, and it doesn't feel good. I want it to change. So, for the first time in my life, I am taking charge. I am not expecting to do anything dramatic at first... I am hoping to ease myself into subtle lifestyle changes. I am trusting someone else to tell me what to eat. I am tracking my meals and my weight. After a month, I'm hoping to have lost ten to fifteen pounds, and will gradually work my way into an exercise regimen (both so that it doesn't feel like a drastic change, and to try to avoid injury). I hope to lose a full 100 pounds, and for the first time in my life, I'm not giving myself a time limit. It's not so I can look good at the beach, or fit into a dress for a wedding... it's so that I feel good about myself.
So, from this blog, should you choose to read it, expect trial and error. Expect pontification. Expect acceptance, and failure, and sometimes it should be funny... hopefully...