Week 5 Results: Surprise! Meat Puppet is Defective!

I stayed on target all week, no slips or eating off-plan, as I expect of myself. I had 49 servings of fruits/veggies. I had 37 meal replacements. I burned 4,340 calories in physical activity. I averaged a net caloric intake of ~754 calories per day. As you can see, I met and exceeded all of my target goals.

I spent the weekend medieval camping, and despite vast amounts of tasty temptation, I stayed on program every single minute of every single day. You could say I ROCKED IT. I will say it. I rocked it. I am feeling so good about how I handled this weekend with my prepping and my planning. After last weeks astounding physical activity numbers and dismal result on the scale I was expecting that the “check was in the mail,” so to speak, and I’d see a great loss this week. Are you ready for my amazing result??

I was up .7 pounds. I gained.

I’m getting really sick of your shit, body. This meat puppet I use to drive my brain around is defective and I’d like to trade it in on a new one that works now please. If you have never understood the feeling of impotent rage, this is it. To do everything right, to be absolutely immaculate in your execution, and to still fail is the embodiment of situations that inspire impotent rage. I feelz it.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, taking an objective look at the situation, there are three options when one is plateauing:

  • Eat less
  • Eat more
  • Exercise harder

Two of these three options are not feasible for me, as I’m already eating as little as I can get away with, and exercising as hard as I can. So my coach has recommended that I try the other one. I will eat more to try to fuel my body into realizing it is not starving. I will also reel back the exercise a bit because perhaps I am overdoing it there too.

This is so weird to me, you guys. In my thirties, what I am doing now would absolutely work to get me the results I expected. It no longer works. Welcome to my fully wrecked metabolism, courtesy of aging and genetics. I don’t know what works now, but I am going to experiment and find out.

I’ve got nothing but time, and my very own laboratory (body) to experiment with.

According to everything I read, a diet made up of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and complex carbohydrates should be the gold standard for healthy eating. However I may not have been getting enough of them. So, this week, more fruits and veggies, more of everything. I’m aiming to net in at around 1000 calories per day, so I need to up my caloric intake of healthy foods, and maybe cut back the exercising a bit.

Another thing that actually buttresses my suspicion here that I am not getting enough fuel (despite averaging a total of ~1400 calories per day, netting in at ~700), is that last week I was desperately depressed. I took things that weren’t big deals on their surface and overreacted myself into a deep hole of despair. When does that happen? When things are out of whack. Perhaps I didn’t have enough energy to keep an even keel. I could be wrong. We’ll find out next week I guess.

Before and After Pics

All right, here we go! About once a month my husband and I would take progress pictures after our class. We always made sure to wear the same thing every time. What I learned is that a month of weight loss doesn’t really show much of a change, but 4 months does. Also that straight-on shots aren’t flattering for anyone. ANYONE. So, without futher ado, here’s what a 44 pound difference looks like on me:

LainaBeforeCroppedFrontLainaAfterCroppedFront

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And here’s proof that the “Red Carpet Pose” exists for a reason:

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Ahh, that’s refreshing after months of unflattering straight-on and side shots!

And my husband. Here’s what 52 pounds difference looks like on him:

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And the male version of the “Red Carpet Pose”:

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So there’s the results in visual form. Worth 5 months of not eating? It was for me. Everything fits better and I’m happier in my own skin. My scars don’t hurt constantly from the strain and stress being put on them, and my joints are happier. I know my husband feels better in his skin and in his joints as well. I will post later about the pros and cons of the particular program we used (mostly cons).

WARNING, RANT AHEAD: For the record, I DESPISE the WordPress photo handling functionality. Jeez they make it hard to format with images! Grr. I just know it’s going to come out all wonky in the emails. If you receive this by email and the images are all misaligned, I urge you to click on the link to check it out on a web browser. There’s a slight possibility the alignment is better there. Not great, but slight. Stupid WordPress and their stupid RichText “helpfulness”. I swear to god LiveJournal does this shit tons better.

A Cold, and Hovering

Ugh, I caught a cold over the weekend. This is dispiriting for me for two reasons. One, the obvious – it’s no fun! I get sick so rarely that it feels like a cosmic injustice when I am sick. I’m not used to feeling this bad. Two, I can’t exercise, and that makes me sad.SAM_4736

I also seem to have reached the weight below which I can not go without vigorous, constant exercise and quasi-starving myself. I’ve been 192-194 for about 3 weeks. Looking back through my records, historically the only time I’m below 190 is when I am running every day or at least 5 days a week, and running my system on the edge of hungry all the time. That’s hard to maintain. So I’ve decided to be fine with staying right where I am.

Fortunately I’m exceedingly happy at this weight! Even though I’d targeted a 50 pounds loss, and this is 40, I don’t need to keep going. Here’s a pic of me from Friday (before I got sick) dressed up for a Bollywood party in my friend Amy’s sari. If I never drop another pound I have zero complaints. Which is great because the program is busy transitioning us back to real food over the next few weeks, during which I am unlikely to drop any further. I can maintain this weight happily and you won’t hear any complaints from me about my weight. And isn’t that about as good as it gets as a woman?

Despite what the fashion mags would have you believe, losing those last 10 pounds is NOT the be-all end-all of life.

Demotivating

Jury Duty really knocked my program out of whack, as when I got home every evening I was completely and utterly wiped out. The emotional toll that sitting jury for a murder trail would take was a complete surprise to me. Now that the case is over, I’ve got a few spare cycles in my brain, and the conclusions I’m coming too aren’t the best thoughts to be having for motivation.

As I told you, I started off January with a bang, tracking my food, dieting hard, exercising as much as I could possibly fit into my schedule. What I found was that I dropped about 7.5 pounds in the first two weeks, and thereafter I was up 2 pounds no matter what  I did. It seemed that the stricter I was with my diet (I was averaging 950-1000 calories net per day) I was not going to drop down below the 5.5 pound loss I’d seen. I wandered around up above that number for several weeks, despite stricter and stricter regimens, but no luck.

What it seems I’m learning is that there is nothing I can do to lose any more weight. And the difference between denying myself and feeling hungry all the time, vs being lax and enjoying food and free time is: about 3 pounds.

09 Feb 2013

09 Feb 2013

It’s hard to stay motivated with this kind of feedback. Also, I look fine – here is a picture my husband took this weekend. It’s hard for me to kill myself with strictness and discipline when I feel like it’s not getting me anywhere and where I am now is just fine.  I may have to re-evaluate just how necessary it is for me to even bother.

I don’t really know that I have a point here. I guess I’m just extremely dispirited and wondering if what I’m finding is a valid realization: could I just settle and be fine with my body without being strict with it one day? Recognizing that I’m never going to be a size 10 or even 12 ever again?

Maybe I’m deluded. My BMI says I’m overweight – significantly, even. Yet I’m not sure how much more I could do to change that. I’ve already seen that all the effort in the world doesn’t seem to make a difference. Have I reached the mythical (and possible fallacious) “set point”? I’m not even sure I believe in it, but it seems to believe in me. Or maybe what I’m seeing is the culmination of 10 years of harsh dieting regimens. Maybe what I’m seeing is my body demonstrating “Diet Fatigue” and just saying Enough is Enough. I just don’t know but it’s something I’ve noticed over the last several years – severely diminishing returns upon every attempt to lose. I’m not sure if I have a path forward, or if I even need one.

Waiting for Better Days

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this weekend. I weighed in on Saturday, after a perfect week of following my program – netting about 900 calories a day, and found I’d gained 2 pounds.

This is not normal. This is almost mathematically impossible. I’ve controlled for all variables and this should not be happening.

First of all, let me tell you what it’s NOT. It’s not that I’m “not eating enough calories so your body is hanging onto weight!” as some very helpful persons who overheard me at a party last night talking with some friends who understand my story advised me. (I absolutely love getting pop-diet bullshit packaged as helpful advice from the morbidly obese.) It was about all I could do to NOT whip out some reality and smash these people into the floor verbally, but I like the hosts so I abstained as best I could to not create a scene. I was giving both of these people the benefit of the doubt in that perhaps they are simply stupid and didn’t understand what the word “netting” means, in that it means that the amount I totaled after the amount I burned through exercise was taken out – meaning I actually consumed about 1200 calories a day and burned about ~300 through exercise, but whatever, I digress.  Or, that they honestly believe that the less you eat the fatter you get and that’s why, for example, people who get gastric bypass gain so much weight right after the surgery, and why the survivors of concentration camps are so darned FAT.

AAAAANYWAY.

I was talking with a mental health professional on Friday afternoon about some anxiety problems I’ve been having due to my very stressful job, and he mentioned that stress has been shown to have very strong effects on weight, particularly in women, and he’s seen cases where women in very stressful work situations have lost 20 pounds, changing nothing in their diet, when removed from the work environment, and it’s due to cortisol, one of the stress hormones. And you know what? I don’t have a better working theory for what’s going on with my body. I picked up about 15 pounds on this job and haven’t been able to shake them no matter what I’ve done – starving myself, high-protein, low-cal, running excessively – nothing works. Cortisol is my new theory. My body is hoarding fat due to stress hormones, because I am constantly feeling a “fight-or-flight” rush of adrenaline on the job, every day here. It sucks.

Anyway, the long-term plan is for me to get out of my job, but my husband needs to graduate from his BA program and get a job himself first, so I just need to hang on for a few more months (hopefully). I can make it…I can make it. So I’m back to normal eating. If the drastic diet isn’t going to do anything for me, because of the high stress environment I’m unable to leave, then I’m not going to kill myself with hunger. I’ll eat sensibly, and wait for better days.

Is It Broken? Am I Broken?

I’m feeling a bit down lately about the whole long-term outlook for me and maintaining. I weighed in on Tuesday, after working hard all week, to find no change. It shouldn’t have slowed down, much less stopped, already – on week 2. I should still be losing, at least a half pound, according to my math.

And then I start to worry, and think that maybe these guys are right after all. Maybe fat is incurable after all. Maybe I’ve had a good run, but I’m seeing the trend now that’s going to be the rest of my life – a slow, inexorable climb back up to 300, maybe 400 pounds. Maybe I’ll have small phases where I can hold the line for a few months, but it seems like the last few years have been a slow climb that I’m powerless to stop or reverse.

I’m not sure what to do, starving myself doesn’t seem to work. Running 25 miles in a week worked a little, but that’s not a realistic long-term strategy for me.

Then I start to wonder if it’s stress. My job has been terribly, wickedly stressful these last two years. The time I took a year and a half off, living off of savings while I sorted some stuff out, I was in the best shape of my life – I could spend my day however I liked, so I made sure to get a good workout every day, including full-body strength training, I ate well, I was active, not sitting in a chair all day. So obviously if I could quit my job and focus on maintaining my weight maybe I could get things back where I want them. But who is going to be able to manage that kind of idle lifestyle? Rich people, maybe, of which I am not one. I am the middle class, and if I want to remain there and not fall into poverty I need to work for a living.

So I wonder if that’s the trade-off: Work for a living, or be in great shape. I want to be happy with my body as it is, even though I’m above where I would like to be. I’m not sure how to get there – to acceptance. If this is my life. I think step one is to continue to dress myself in flattering styles and colors, every day, regardless of the number on the scale. Step two is to kill off negative self-talk. This is the hard one. This is the mind-killer, for all women. How do you do that, when society tells you that to be beautiful you must be starving?

Yet I know differently, the most beautiful, strong, intelligent women I know don’t starve themselves, they have some padding and I love them for it. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, I know this and I firmly believe it – the women I find most attractive span the gamut but mostly fall into the “curvy” camp. So…why can’t I love and celebrate me with an extra 10, 20, or 30, heck someday 40 pounds? Why can’t I accept myself the way I accept other women? I wonder if they agonize in the same way?

How do I get there? Because dieting seems to be broken for me. Have I finally broken my metabolism for good?

I just don’t know.

What I do know is I leave tomorrow for Iceland and Greenland for 3 weeks on vacation. I guess I’ll see where I want to go with this after I get home.

Grade-A Foot Marksmanship, and Watery Redemption

This morning I got on the scale and saw what I’m sick of seeing – no movement. I’ve got these 4 1/2 pounds to lose, dammit, and they are staying bloody well put, despite all of my heroic efforts to avoid the catering landmines in my path this week.

Something had to change. So the first thing that changed is I ate a croissant around 11am. The next thing was I had a chicken enchilada along with my salad-covered-with-taco-fillings. The next thing that happened was that I had a small cube of cheesecake and a small cube of carrot cake with my lunch. Then I had a big warm pretzel with my afternoon coffee. Then I had a cocktail with a co-worker up from the LA office, then a surprise dinner with my co-worker and my old boss (who was unceremoniously sacked over the summer and whom we all miss terribly) and another cocktail.

I think you see where this is going. I relied too much on willpower throughout the week and then the bad reading on the scale this morning sent me over the edge into an orgy of shooting myself in the foot. The one thing I wasn’t going to screw up was my gym time though. Even as I ate dinner (delightfully tipsy) I knew I’d be going to the gym that night. However, the office gym closes at 7pm, and when Tom showed up and Sara invited me to join them for dinner, I knew I’d need to make another plan.

Another Plan

I needed something new, because doing the same things I’ve been doing over the last several months was giving me the same results I’d been getting, and it hasn’t been what I’ve wanted.

About 6 months after I started working at the place I currently work, a building across the way from my office started showing signs of renovation. Somebody had clearly bought the large office complex and was doing something with it. I had been interestedly watching the progress on my near-daily lunchtime walks. My building sits on a block with an empty lot, and the next block over, across the empty lot – a building I walk past on my walk around the block – was something interesting going on. It seemed like they were working on it for months, and then one day, about a year ago, the sign went up – 24Hour Fitness. I just so happen to have a membership to 24Hour Fitness which I rarely use – I got it as one of those “buy 3 years at once and your annual fees after that are pocket lint” years ago, so it’s pretty much free these days and I treat it with the disregard that one does for things that come for free. Plus, I hate hate HATE how crowded their gyms are, so I almost never go. Haven’t been to one in probably a year. So anyway the new 24 Hour Fitness across the empty lot from my office finally opened about 6 months ago.

But I digress. Anyway, as the hours ticked by during dinner and drinks I knew it was the day to finally try the new 24 Hour Fitness. I looked it up and to my delight found that they have an indoor lap pool! I haven’t been swimming in about 2 years, but I love swimming! I’d love to have a regular place to go swimming again! So I headed there, still slightly buzzed from cocktails, right after dinner. I found that I’d have to upgrade my 24 Hour Membership to get to come back to this gym because it’s a special super-fancy one, however I only have to go twice a month to get my money’s worth (but I could try it today for free). So I told the guy I’d think about it and come back after my workout if I liked it.

Finally I got in the water and remembered that when I’m swimming I feel like a slick silver blade slipping through the water. I feel slippery and fast and light. I’m an excellent swimmer, I learned at a young age from my sister who went to the Olympic trials for breaststroke in 1976. Swimming was very important when I was growing up. I do good strong strokes – breaststroke, freestyle, backstroke, and when I’m in better shape, a few laps of butterfly.

Sneaking up on a Century

I started out and my initial goal was 50 laps. Fifty laps seems like a reasonable goal for somebody who hasn’t swum laps in 2 years. As I closed in on 5o I thought that perhaps a longer workout was a good idea, considering the kind of eating I’d done today. Fine, I thought, let’s go for 75 – for somebody as out of shape as I am 75 is a fantastic goal. Well, 76 because otherwise I’d be getting out at the wrong end. As I finished 76 I thought, oh hell, let’s just make it an even 100. Let me tell you, I do counting laps by groups of 10 and the 80s were definitely the hardest decade. I felt like I counted 84 about 12 times because the 80s just stretched on forever. When I got to 90 I seriously considered quitting but that would just be stupid – to come here and report that I did 90 but not 100 – so I pressed on and finished my 100 laps tonight. It took me about 65 minutes. I’d say I did 60% freestyle, 20% breaststroke and 20% backstroke.

As I pulled myself back and forth through the water I marveled at my ability to start right back in again after so long. My body is a workhorse. Sometimes, it amazes me. I’m going to be sore tomorrow, particularly in my shoulders, but it will be the good kind of sore. It reminds me that regardless of a number on a scale, my body is amazing. I needed the reminder.