Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The truth

When I stop posting, you can rest assured I've lost my way. You can also assume I'm spending lots of time hunched over my laptop or iPhone, reading about nutrition.

I realized today that the ongoing nutrition research, compulsive checking of my favorite weight loss blogs, and all the rest has become an addiction of its own. I'm a sugar addict, sure, but I'm also an information junkie. At this point, I think the latter is almost more problematic than the former.

Only today did I realize that I am scared to interrupt the constant incoming stream of information about food, exercise, and health. It's like I'm frightened that tuning those things out will lead to ignoring my food/weight/health problems and result in devastating weight gain. Another fear? That the final missing piece of the puzzle--the magic detail that will make everything fall into place for me--will get overlooked if I'm not constantly taking in new information.

The (not-so) funny thing is, I've been gaining weight while all this learning and obsessing has been going on. I have knowledge, but no results to show for all my reading and ruminating. Something has got to change.

I tell myself that I've learned enough to get going on a healthier track. I do okay for a bit, then I have a few bad days of eating, freak out that I clearly don't have the answers I need, seek refuge in the stories and research and views and programs of others, try to adapt to some of models I read about (trying OA, eating low carb, going paleo, whatever), hit a roadblock of some sort, repeat cycle. It's tiresome.

I miss having a life outside of this obsession.

Here's the other bit of truth telling for today: starting this blog has shown me, yet again, how hard I try to perform for others. I want so badly to appear that I've got my shit together; another part of me longs to be vulnerable and real and honest about how out of control my life often feels.

When I was getting things set up on Blogger, I sat down and made a little weekly schedule for my blog. On Monday I'm going to write about this, and Tuesday about this, and so forth. I wanted to go from not having a blog to having an amazing one that shows how awesome and determined I am, and I wanted it to happen overnight. When I got busy and couldn't create the kinds of posts I was envisioning right out of the gate, I opted to skip posting altogether. It's classic perfectionistic, all-or-nothing behavior and it invades many areas of my life.

Isn't a little post that simply tells the truth about what's going on better than nothing? And why would a person that has 100+ pounds to lose try to pretend that everything is smooth sailing all the time in Dietland?

Tonight, I'm admitting that I'm shipwrecked.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Out of sorts

I'm all over the place at the moment. I had guests over the weekend and on Monday, which left me exhausted. (It always does.) So yesterday I slept most of the day away before going out for dinner and a late movie. Today I start a certificate program in writing that I'm very excited about and I'm unable to focus on much else.

Some meal planning, grocery shopping, and a trip to the gym is all that I need to get the wheels in motion again, and that's how I want to spend my day tomorrow. I don't like this directionless, scattered feeling.

My reward for losing 10 lbs. arrived this afternoon, though, which is both a bright spot in my day and a reminder that I want to resume my efforts and earn more rewards! I will post pics when I get it assembled.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Exercise plans for this week, 9/19-9/25

I'm all caught up with moving my handful of posts from Tumblr to this blog. So starting with this post, the dates you see are correct.

This is my plan for the week:

Monday (today)--off
Tuesday--Body Pump class at 7:35 p.m.
Wednesday--a bit of cardio plus Gentle Yoga class at 9:15 a.m.
Thursday--cardio and strength training on the machines
Friday--day off. Will be shopping and walking around a lot.
Saturday--Pilates mat with props class at 11:30 a.m.
Sunday--take a walk

I need an eating plan too. I've had four horrible days in a row, starting on Friday. I prepared carmelized nuts that evening for the guests we were having over for a potluck the next day. I couldn't stop eating them. The day of the potluck, Saturday, was completely off the rails. Sunday the madness continued. Today has not been as bad, but I've had more carbs than I think is reasonable and I'm not feeling good. I feel completely lost and want to get back to the sane way I was eating before. I hate how sugar intake narrows my focus down to the pursuit of more sugar; there is a whole wide world out there and so much potential in me, but sugar shrinks all that down to nothingness.

Cunningham muffins

Sugary muffins are never a good breakfast choice. Especially if they are Cunningham muffins.

A little less conversation

It started happening again almost as soon as I started blogging. I got sucked into the world of nutrition research, laying in bed with my iPhone reading late into the night. Compiling lists of links and resources to put on my blog for the benefit of others. Wringing my hands over the latest debates.

The deal is, I’m taking cues from low carb advocates such as Gary Taubes and various people in the paleo and primal communities when it comes to changing my diet. The more I learn, the more I understand that there is significant diversity and disagreement among these folks. That is not a bad thing; the back-and-forth is part of scientific advancement and I value the ongoing scholarship. But as I explained in my very first post, I need more action, less contemplation. Many of the finer points being debated don’t matter to me because it’s not like I’m going to tweak my diet every day based on the latest thing I read.

I think of the Pareto principle and tell myself that 20% of the changes I make will yield 80% of the results I want. So cutting out grains and sugar from my everyday intake will get me most of the way there. And once I’m 80% of the way there, and weight loss starts to stall or whatever, maybe then I can freak out about how many yams I should allow myself each month or whether poultry and pork are tipping my Omega 6:Omega 3 balance the wrong way. I have a long way to go with more fundamental changes to make before I start fussing over all those details. I do not have to go from 0 to 100 overnight.

(Not only that, but I find people who place their nutritional ideologies at the center of their lives and identities to be absolute bores. Really. I’m not vying for first place at the Paleo Pageant; I want a healthier body so I can do things OTHER THAN sit around with a laptop researching diet and reading the latest ego-driven arguments engaged in by laypeople on various message boards and blog comments sections. Ugh.)

I wonder what it would be like to do an information fast? Block all the chatter. Use the knowledge and resources I already have, including the cookbooks I already own. Stop worrying so damn much about doing things “right”! See how far I get. When I can’t get any further, go look for answers amidst the noise. Until then, stay away from the noise and focus on execution.

I think I’ve got my new plan!

Brian Regan on serving sizes

Wow. The serving sizes you find on junk food labels annoy this (skinny) guy as much as they do you and me!

Went to yoga class

Another thing, demystified! I went to a Gentle Yoga class at the gym tonight and I’m glad I did. It was non-intimidating and very good for someone like me that’s been to maybe two yoga classes in my life (and that was probably almost ten years ago). I was surprised how much it revealed about my body. I could feel that my right arm and shoulder is still messed up despite the physical therapy I had done on it earlier this year, for one thing. Strangely, I could feel that weakness more clearly in tonight’s class than I do when I’m strength training. I saw how inflexible I am in some ways, and also how much my flab—especially stomach and thigh fat—gets in the way when I’m trying to do certain things. The more scrunched up I got, the more I felt like a tangled mound of sausage links. But surprisingly I wasn’t disheartened at all. Instead, I’m looking forward to going back at least once a week and tuning into my body.

Two other nice things today:

1. On the way to the gym, I saw an orange and pink sunset that literally made me gasp with delight. The drive to the gym is hilly and gorgeous; it’s a reward unto itself. On the way home, a lovely big moon with wispy clouds trailing across it. Plus there was a chill in the air. My favorite season is here!

2. I reached the ten pounds gone mark, so I can order the reward I picked out for myself a few days ago! It's a piece of furniture for my kitchen and I'll post pictures when I get it set up. So glad I rejected my husband’s pressurized “suggestion” to go out for Chinese food last night.

(note: this post originally appeared on Tumblr on September 15th.)

Patton Oswalt on KFC Famous bowls

Contains some profanity; may not be safe for work. (But oh so true!)

Mental workouts at the gym

I joined a really great gym about a month and a half ago. It’s got everything: updated equipment, a women’s-only fitness room, cafĂ©, a nursery and different daycamps for kids, two pools, a hot tub, saunas, racquetball/tennis/basketball courts, massage therapy, and over 140 different classes offered throughout the week. The classes are what really drew me there. I wanted to try BodyPump because I had read so much about it on Shauna Reid’s fantastic blog years ago, and they offer it every day of the week—sometimes twice a day.

So the gym is fantastic, and here’s the (oh so predictable) catch: I struggle with feeling like I do not belong there. I feel too fat, too unathletic, too clumsy, too ugly, too shy. I compare myself to more attractive women and feel downhearted. I’d like to go to the pool, but currently am too self-conscious to don a swimsuit and strut past whatever tanned, -3% body fat, 18 year-old Adonis happens to be on lifeguard duty that day.

But I’m still going to the gym a few times a week, and still trying different things despite my mental discomfort. Oh, there’s physical discomfort as well, as I’m way out of shape and overweight. But at this stage in the game, it’s more of a mental battle than a physical one. What I want is to feel less self-conscious and timid by the end of my current three month contract. I’m not expecting a dramatic physical change in such a short period of time; I’m in this for the long haul and besides, I believe my dietary choices are going to do more for my physical transformation than anything else. (I have exercised intensely before without losing any weight, so I know firsthand that diet is key.)

I am expecting a mental change in a relatively short period of time, though, and I’m working consciously at it. When my eyes start to wander, I snap myself back to attention and focus on my form. When the negative brain chatter starts, I talk back to it, argue with it, tell it to shut up. When I feel scared of something, like the pool situation, I take note that it’s something I must do—precisely because I’m scared of it. I may not do it today, but the day is coming. I tell myself it’s inevitable and to start looking for a good swimsuit.

I am excited to see how this kind of mental work will transfer to other areas of my life. Continuing at something despite emotional discomfort, questioning my identity (in this case as “unathletic”, for starters), learning to focus, resisting the urge to compare myself to others, trying new stuff that makes me feel awkward until I don’t feel awkward anymore…it’s all highly applicable to other scenarios. Realizing that the gym can be a vehicle for mental and emotional growth—not merely a place to punish myself for being fat, or stave off disease, or sculpt myself into a shape more pleasing to others—has been a real step for me.

Laughing at Hot Pockets

Here's Jim Gaffigan on Hot Pockets. Processed crap like this deserves ridicule!

Beep. Boop. Too much input.

When I was growing up, my Dad had a gentle but specific way of joking about things he found overwhelming or draining. Whether it was an unpleasant, complicated task, a difficult person, a tiresome event, a frustrating crowd, or just some jumble of information or sensory stimuli, he would make a funny face and say “too much input” in a robotic voice. Sometimes he’d keep going in the robot voice: “Too much input. System overload. Processing….processing…”

It always made me laugh, and I always knew exactly what he meant. Today, my siblings and I say “too much input” to describe things and events in our lives, especially frazzled emotional and mental states. No robot voice needed—it’s now such a part of our family’s colloquialisms that everyone, including Dad, says it in a regular voice.

There are a LOT of weird phrases employed by my family, but I digress.

So, the other night I was researching various health topics online until four in the morning. Why? Because I need to lose between 100 and 125 pounds and I’ve been fighting binge eating disorder for years now. I have atypical depression. I have hypothyroidism and I worry that I’m pre-diabetic. Therefore, I’m constantly trying to educate myself about nutrition, fitness, autoimmune thyroid disease, weight loss, insulin resistance and diabetes, mental illness, and so forth.

Typical of my marathon reading sessions, one link led to another, one study contradicted another, and I kept going until I was practically cross-eyed with exhaustion and overwhelm. As I stumbled to bed in the early morning hours, I thought “it’s all too. much. input.”

I had to smile to myself, even though I felt miserable. That phrase captures so many elements of my struggle.

Too much input when it comes carbs and calories and crappy processed food.

Too much input when it comes to competing nutritional dogmas, competing health claims, competing talking heads that Believe They Know What’s Best for Everyone.

Too much input when it comes to other people’s demands and expectations in my personal life. When it comes to other people’s influence, period.

And not enough output on my part.

I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. Instead of taking some sustained action, imperfect as it might be, I keep acquiring more and more information. I keep analyzing and obsessing and worrying. My brain is whirring along while my body sits still. The longer I do this, the worse I feel. I’ve decided many things have to change, including my self-imposed silence on the subject of my individual deterioration (a silence which is entirely fear- and shame-based, for the record).

I’ve gone back and forth for literally years now on the question of whether or not to start a blog, whether to risk embarrassment and public failure or not. When Too Much Input popped into my weary head a few nights ago, I decided to go for it. So here I am!

Switching from Tumblr

I recently started a blog on Tumblr but was quickly overrun by spam, so I'm switching to good old Blogger. Thankfully, I only have a few posts and things to move from that site to this one.