Weighty Matters

When working on a Happiness Project, you are encouraged to look at what makes you feel good, what makes you feel bad, what doesn’t feel right about your life, and what provides you with growth.

The thing in my life that hits all of those marks is my weight.

I weight less in my forties than I did in high school, and I’m still heavy.  Right now, I’m just in the obese category.  I don’t think I’ve ever been a healthy weight.

Maybe in kindergarten.

Infancy…

But by the third grade, I knew I was fat.

In 2007 I made the decision to pursue bariatric surgery.  I had the surgery in 2008 and lost 130 lbs.  Over the last couple of years I’ve gained about 15 lbs. back.  One of my goals for 2013 is not only to lose those 15 lbs. that I’ve gained, but also to make a push toward a health Body Mass Index, which I’ve never achieved.

I’ve started 2013 at 184.4 lbs.  I’d like to end the year 40-50 lbs. lighter.  On Thursdays, I’ll focus on my progress.

Jesus Gave Me a Smackdown

*Sigh*

It’s very easy to delude yourself, I think.  You go by, day-to-day, and you stop paying attention to the details.

Sure, that skirt seems a little tight.

Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have had those chips.

I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.

It’s only a couple of pounds…

I weigh myself almost every day so I’m pretty aware of the ups and downs.  Generally, I don’t get too excited by it.  I know what a salty dinner does to me, or how a day light on fluids will show up at the scale.  I know that an unusually heavy workout will cause an uptick for a couple of days.

I know that generally I’ve had more ups than downs recently.  I didn’t worry much because I knew it was still in the area where I had control.  I know that if I buckle down for a week, it would be fairly simple to get back to where I’m comfortable.

But the scale isn’t the whole story.

And I’ve let it be.

I’ve got a business trip coming up and I have to do a number of presentations.  The presentations mean I’ve got to drag out the suit.  I put one on, and it was tight.  I could zip and everything, but it was uncomfortable.  So I pulled out a different one.  It, too, was tight.  I felt like a sausage!  No way I could present all day in those pants.

I ended up pulling a pile of pants out of the closet, searching for a pair that wouldn’t bust at the seams.  It was disconcerting.  I bought several new suits this spring, and I know I didn’t buy anything that didn’t fit well in the store.

So this morning, I dug out the book where I used to record my measurements with religious fervor.  I hadn’t made notes since April of 2011.  I pulled out the tape measure, and got ready for dose of truth.  Since that last record, my weight was up seven pounds.  Not great, not horrible.  When focused, I can drop that pretty quickly.  My measurements, though, were up across the board.

By a lot.

When all was said and done, I was up 8.75 inches!

Inches aren’t as easy to fudge as pounds.  And when I went back further I realized that I’d picked up about 15 inches since my lowest weight.

I think that I’ve given myself too much credit lately.  I’ve started taking swimming lessons.  I’ve done a 5K this summer.  Everything HAD to be rosy!  Besides, I used to weigh 300 lbs.!  Look how much I’ve kept off!  For four years and counting!

Well, now I’ve got my wake up call.  So much for skipping the weight training and blowing off cardio several days a week.  I’ve got to do better.

Here’s the progress on the 41 Pounds Project:

  • July 1 – 183 lbs.
  • July 8 – 181 lbs.
  • July 15 – 175.6 lbs.
  • July 22 – 177 lbs.
  • July 29 – 181.4 lbs.
  • August 5 181.4 lbs.

I’m traveling this week, and that always makes eating well harder.  My daily goals for this week are to exercise 30 minutes, get 70 grams of protein, eat freggies, drink 100 oz. of water, and food journal, aiming for about 1400 calories.

I also need to start weight training again.  I’ve been remarkably lazy on that front, and the measurements are where that shows up the most.  I’m not going to cry (even though I kind of feel like it), and I won’t beat myself up either, because that never helps.  But now that I know exactly where I stand, I can choose to move backward, forward or frozen where I am.

Let’s start chasing the horizon.

July Progress

 

Photo by Gregory Bull

Ouch!  Was I the only one that found this hard to watch?  I knew that there was an upset in gymnastics from web chatter, but I really tried to tune it out so I could watch it unfold on the broadcast.  I’ve never really understood the rule that only allows two gymnasts from each country to move on to the all-around.  To finish fourth out of 60 competitors and still not move on to the finals?

BRUTAL.

Fortunately my feedback loop isn’t so public, and I’ve still got eleven months to try to make a positive finish.  In case you missed it, on July 1 I set out to lose 41 pounds.  I picked this number for a couple of reasons:

  1. It gets me into a “healthy” BMI range, and
  2. I’m forty-one (kinda random, I know).

I also set some daily resolutions to help me make progress.  I’m a firm believer that what gets monitored gets done.  Those seven goals were:

  1. 30 minutes of exercise
  2. 7 hours of sleep
  3. Strength training 3x/week
  4. 80 oz. of water
  5. Keep a food journal
  6. 1400 calories or less
  7. 3 servings of freggies
  8. Less than 40 grams of sugar
  9. 70 grams of protein

Ideally, this is where I’d tell you my stats, but in all honesty, I didn’t keep my resolution chart for the full month.  I can’t really give you specifics.  I can tell you that I fell flat on the strength training and the freggies.  Everything else is a guess.

I did lose some weight though.  July 1 I weighed in at 183 lbs.  On July 29, my last weekly weigh-in for the month, I weighed in at 181.4.  An official loss of 1.6 lbs. for the month.

If I’m going to meet my goal for the year, I’m going to have to improve.  I need to lose just over 3 lbs. each month.  Since I didn’t do well tracking the Health and Well-Being Resolutions for July, I’m going to carry them over into August.  I’ll have two sets of resolutions to track next month.

More on August’s goal area tomorrow.

Solo

Are you comfortable going out in public alone?

Not going to the mall or running errands, but say, going to a restaurant?  Or a concert?

Last night there was a concert in town I really wanted to see.  Two of my favorite artists from the 80s.  I didn’t have someone to go with me, so I passed.

I travel a lot for work, and while I eat a lot of room service (or even better, bring and prepare my own food), I’ve gotten used to going to a busy restaurant with a book or work project and eating a meal by myself.  I like to people watch, and eating alone can be a good excuse for that if you don’t end up feeling creepy staring at others.

It’s not natural though.  I’m not totally at peace at a table for one.

Thing is, you HAVE to eat.  You don’t have to listen to music, or go to the ballet.  But those types of things enrich your life.  They create memories that you carry with you.

Last night, when the concert was going on, I found myself wondering what songs were playing, who I might have known there, and I wonder if I cheated myself out of something.

A Moment of Transparency

When I started my happiness project at the beginning of this month, I had planned to update progress each week.

It’s the last week of the month, and I’m just now getting to the first post!  I don’t know if that makes me a bad blogger, or a busy human being (or maybe both)!

As a reminder, my goal for the month of July is to work on health and well-being.  Specifically, I selected nine daily goals such as sleeping seven hours a day and drinking 80 oz. of water, and made a table where I could track the goals each day.

The transparent part?  Well, to do that, I would have had to be good about actually using the chart, and I haven’t.  In fact, right now, I couldn’t tell you where it is.

The good news is that even without the chart, I can share some progress with you.  My starting weight on July 1, 2012 was 183 lbs.  My goal for the next twelve months is to lose 41 lbs. or roughly 3.4 pounds a month.  So far, I’m on target.  My weekly weigh-ins so far:

  • July 1: 183
  • July 8: 181
  • July 15: 175.6
  • July 22: 177

Not bad for inconsistent effort.  I think I’ll continue the July goals into August and add the new ones when I switch focus areas.

Quotable

It’s sometimes amazing to me that the things that seem new have actually been known forever.  Even Plato knew about the benefits of exercise, but we’re still (…some of us – well, let’s be honest – ME) fighting it.

I know that when I exercise, everything is better.  I sleep better.  I’m less moody.  I have more energy and focus during the day.  I don’t get headaches, or cramps, or other ailments to the same degree.  Yet some days it’s still hard to get off the couch.

You Can’t Get the Butt You Want Sitting on the Butt You Have.

In preparation for this Happiness Project, one of suggested steps is to sit down and consider some questions:

  • What makes you feel good?
  • What makes you feel bad?
  • What challenges you?
  • What doesn’t feel “right” about your life?

When I answered those questions, I found recurring themes that helped me choose my monthly goal areas.  For the month of July, I will be focusing on my health and well-being.  More specifically, I’ll be focusing on my weight.

I have been overweight or obese my entire life.  I first remember really knowing I was fat when I was eight years old.  I was playing baseball that summer (not because I wanted to, but because my father wished I was a boy).  I was one of two girls on the team, and I was awful.  Not for lack of trying.  I really wanted to do well.  I wanted my father to be proud of me.

But when it came to baseball, I was never going to be good enough.

I don’t remember someone directly telling me I was fat that summer, but for years afterward, I would think of my team photo, and associate it with being grossly overweight.

For the next thirty years, my weight would continue to climb inexorably.  I started taking weight loss drugs in the eighth grade.  I did Weight Watchers.  I did several medically supervised diets.  My mother promised me several thousand dollars if I could get to “normal.”

Nothing worked.

Not for long.

At one point, after my mother’s death, I managed to lose 100 pounds, but I couldn’t keep it off.

Regaining that weight is the most helpless I’ve ever felt in my life.  I felt completely out of control watching the scale creep back up.  I cried.  I prayed.  My weight kept climbing.

I didn’t know that regaining that weight was normal.  That regaining that weight happened to 95% or more of people who lost significant amounts of weight (depending on what study you read).  I felt worthless.

Pathetic.

In July of 2007 I decided to undergo weight loss surgery.  This was a big deal.  If you’re not fat, you might not realize that there are right and wrong ways to lose weight.  A moral way and an immoral one.

A good fattie loses weight by sheer force of will.  Someone who has surgery is a cheater.  A lazy, horrible person taking the easy way out.

I had reached the point where I didn’t care.  At 298 pounds, I was at the high-end of what sizes were available in stores (a size 28/30 W).  I had to drive out-of-state to get clothes for work.  I couldn’t fit into an airplane seat or a chair in the conference room.  I hurt all the time.  And I couldn’t do it any more.

In preparation for surgery I learned a lot.  Like the fact that 97% of people who take the “sheer force of will” route regain all the weight within five years.  I learned about the way genetics and hormones play into your weight.  I read the book Rethinking Thin by science writer Gina Kolata and it changed my life.

I went under the knife in March 2008.  There was nothing easy about it.  With the help of surgery, working with a dietician and a personal trainer, I was able to lose 130 pounds.  I have kept most of that weight off.  (I tend to fluctuate 5-10 pounds)

My weight is an answer to all four questions above.  When I look at how far I’ve come, I feel happy.  When I look at the weight I’ve regained, I feel bad.  Keeping the weight off challenges me.  The fact that I never made it to goal weight doesn’t feel right.

I figure anything that hits all four of those buttons is a strong choice for my first challenge area in my Happiness Project.  So for the month of July, working on healthy eating and exercise habits is my challenge.  To help me get there, I’ve made some SMART goals:

  • Exercise 30 minutes/day
  • Strength train 3x/week
  • Eat three servings of freggies (fruits & veggies) a day
  • Stay below 1400 calories daily
  • Eat less than 45 grams of sugar a day
  • Eat a minimum of 70 grams of protein a day
  • Keep a food journal
  • Sleep 7 hours a night
  • Drink a minimum of 80 oz. of water a day

I’ve made a spreadsheet to keep track of these goals for each day this month.  My goal over the next 12 months is to lose 41 pounds – enough to be considered “healthy” on the BMI chart.