That week went fast!

When last I posted I was confounded by my weight being up 2 pounds for NO DISCERNIBLE REASON. My brave husband took life and limb in hand that night and asked if perhaps my monthly cycle was due. Whaddaya know…the very next day. It’s constantly aggravating to me that the female body has this regular mechanism whereby water (up to several pounds at a time!) is retained at just the time when the hormone imbalances would cause such a change to be COMPLETELY DISPIRITING to the morale! So, even knowing why I was up two pounds didn’t keep me from being a bit thrown, demoralized, and depressed about it.

And due to what I’m about to tell you about, I missed a couple of workouts so last week pretty much was about limiting damage versus making any actual progress.

Which brings me to my new temporary assignment: Juror #12 on a murder trial. Changes to my routine always throw off my diet and exercise program for a day or two while I figure out what adjustments I can make, working within the new constraints, to support my diet and exercise efforts.

So today was final jury selection and I was the last regular (by which I mean, Not Alternate) juror seated. Neither the prosecutor nor the defending attorney asked me any questions whatsoever – we had filled out a questionnaire when we appeared last week for our jury summons, and it was clear from the questions they lawyers were asking all of the jury candidates that they had gone through them with a fine-toothed comb, but apparently I fit some sort of “ideal juror” profile so neither of them had questions for me. I thought maybe it was because they were out of challenges by then, but then they did the Alternate Juror selection and they both used challenges on those, but maybe they come from a different pool? I don’t know. I have so many questions about what I saw today! Like – are the jurors called up at random or in some particular order based on the questionnaire answers? Why exactly was the completely non-controversial housewife challenged then excused? Why was the lady with prior convictions on her record not challenged/excused?

Anyway, I was surprised to be placed on the jury. My only goal now is to NOT be elected Jury Foreman. I don’t think I’d enjoy that. But maybe I’d enjoy it more than if somebody annoying got it. Hmm. Maybe I SHOULD try to get elected Jury Foreman? Bah. Sounds like more trouble than it’s worth.

In good news, there’s a microwave and small refrigerator in the Jury Room, so I can bring my lunch just like a regular work day and manage my diet that way. Exercise may be a little tougher, as I’m away from work and the gym there and court hours don’t really leave me any daylight time to run (there’s no “working from home” when you’re on a jury). I may have to see about going to the work gym after I get home from jury time or walking during the lunch break or something. The judge expects the trial to wrap up the week of February 11th, so it’s really only a full week  and a few days each side I have to worry about. I guess I’ll be working in damage control mode again for the next week or so.

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It figures.

After posting yesterday about my program and how great I’ve been doing at it, and how I’ve been following it so closely and not cheating I weighed in this week to find… a 2 pound gain. That makes no mathematical sense. I think my body is working against me some days. Working against physics, even!

You know, I should have expected it. Every single time I’ve tried to lose some weight in the last few years I get great results the first week or two then a gain and stubborn refusal to budge, no matter what I do.

So now I’m struggling to figure out the right course forward. Double down and eat even less/exercise even more? Try the paleo thing and replace the morning hot cereal with poached eggs, and find a grain-free lunch option?

Stay the course? Have a “free day” on the theory that maybe my metabolism has just decided I’m starving myself? Although a total of 1300 to 1500 calories a day is hardly considered starvation level.

This gets me every time. Even though I was sort of expecting it, it’s just as demoralizing every time it happens. Ever since I turned 35, it’s been like a hard halt at 200 for me. So depressing.

It’s not a resolution, it’s a coincidence

I recommitted to my diet and exercise program recently. On December 30th, actually. It was part of my realization that something was extremely not right in my world. I stepped on the scale and the number read 208.5. This is the highest number I have seen on my scale since I started maintaining my loss. Essentially, this number jolted me into the realization that I was no longer maintaining.

My normal range I like to maintain is 195-205. Obviously I’m happier when I’m on the lower end of the range. When I’m on the higher end of the scale I start to practice more heavily some of my weight management behaviors (journaling/tracking, more exercise, environmental control, etc). But this time, over several months of a defeatist “screw it!” mentality, I’d gotten to that number through sheer neglect. I hadn’t been weighing myself regularly (umm..at all). I’d regularly eaten whatever looked good without any thought to my higher goals of weight maintenance. Exercise was slipshod – any excuse for skipping it would work.

This is completely out of character for me, and as I mentioned in my last post, I did eventually figure out why, but that didn’t erase the damage done. That left me with one option –  rededicate myself to my diet and exercise program. Right at the beginning of the New Year. I know – how cliche!

Normally I eschew New Years Resolutions because they have such a legendary reputation for failure. But, what was I going to do – NOT do what needed to be done just because of a personal aversion to New Years resolutions and a coincidence of the calendar? Now is the time I need to be doing this, regardless of any feelings I may have about the resolution tradition. I can choose not to call it a resolution, though. Or a diet.

So for the last three weeks I’ve been rededicated to my program. It’s not any particular program, it’s MY program which I’ve put together based on 10 years now of maintaining my weight loss. It looks like this:

1. Every day I carry a little book around in my purse and record every thing I eat along with approximate calories for each, as well as any calories burned through exercise.

2. I try to exercise hard at least 4 days out of the week, and lightly (a walk) the other days, and aim for 3000 calories burned through exercise total for the week. (It’s a goal, I don’t always hit it but getting close is good)

3. I eat almost exclusively whole foods – fruits, vegetables, meats, etc which would be recognized as food by my ancestors. Because of this inclination I eat very little pasta, bread, sugar, desserts, cake, ice cream, etc. Not because I’m doing paleo or gluten free or any other current popular program, but because to get the most nutritional value out of the calories I’m consuming there’s no room for those things in my diet.

Here’s how this has been breaking down for me. A typical work day in my journal:

  • hot cereal: 250
  • berries: 50
  • portion-controlled lunch entree (Amy’s Light and Lean are my current favorites): 250
  • grapes: 75
  • banana: 150
  • pear: 75
  • coffee with splenda: 0
  • steak: 400
  • lots of cauliflower: 100
  • Total:1350
  • Exercise: HIIT for 25 minutes then strength training for 30 minutes. I approximate 400 calories burned.
  • Net: 950

On lighter exercise days, obviously, my net will be higher. On days when I run my net is lower as I burn more running than doing HIIT and strength training. I’ve been averaging a net of around 950 calories/day per week. I get this number by adding up my daily calorie totals for the week, then I add up the exercise calories burned for the week and subtract those, and divide the result by 7. It’s not necessary but I enjoy the process.

I’m down 7.5 pounds in the first two weeks. I expect things to level out fairly soon though because if there’s one thing my numbers have shown me over the last few years it’s that I seem to have a hard limit to how much I can lose anymore. I started out wanting to get back into my normal range, and I already am. Regardless of whether I continue to lose or not, I appreciate the mental calm that comes with knowing I’m following my program and not straying.

I’m back. So, where have I been?

Well, time just got away from me there. Hi everyone, sorry for the interruption of service there.

What have I been up to? Dealing with chemically-induced depression, mostly. In a nutshell, I was put on a medication to prevent migraines called Topamax, which did a bang-up job of that. Unfortunately, I fell under the sway of a quack doctor who decided that my real problem wasn’t migraines but anxiety (despite my efforts to point out to him that what I was experiencing was a normal reaction to the work situation I was encountering, not an anxiety-based mood disorder). This doctor increased the dosage on my original Topamax prescription repeatedly based on his belief that it had “mood stabilizers” to deal with my “anxiety problems.”  Two weeks ago I hit one of the lowest points of my entire life and realized that the deep, dark depression I’d found myself in was well beyond anything I’ve ever experienced when I started having what the psychiatry industry calls “suicidal ideation.” This is completely out of character for me, and it was severe enough that I realized something was wrong through the haze of self-loathing I was in, and started trying to figure out why things felt so bad for me. I figured out that the only thing that was different for me this year over my normal Autumn depression (which is normally noticeable but not nearly this bad and only lasts about a month or less) was the Topamax.

I pulled out and re-read the side effects on the drug info and found that the Topamax does indeed have severe depression and suicidal thoughts as a side effect for some people. The doc was right – it does seem to have “mood stabilizers” – it stabilized my mood right at the absolute bottom of the scale! I began tapering down my dosage immediately – I started by cutting from 100mg to 50mg that very night and the next day it was like the sun had come out. This week I dropped down to 25mg and I’m not only happy again, but I noticed that not only had I been depressed for several months, but my mental functioning had been impaired as well. I didn’t notice until it was receding that my brain had been in a fog for months.

So that’s where I’ve been. I’m back, and I’ll have another post soon about getting my diet and exercise program back on track, because if there’s one final distressing parting shot Topamax has left me in this whole sordid episode, it’s that being in a wilderness of chemically-induced depression can play havoc with even the best weight management intentions.