Sunday, November 23, 2014

Regaining Weight Sucks

Yesterday I had a bit of a revelation. I was at the mall shopping with my daughter for a few hours. It was quite crowded, so I wasn't terribly surprised when a young man bumped into me as he passed. It happens. Hasn't happened to me in years, but oh well. We both said "Sorry!" and moved on. A few minutes later, the scene was replayed when a woman walking with her family ran into me. Sheesh! And then two more times over the course of an afternoon I was rammed into as I was passing people in stores.

I started getting kind of annoyed... thinking about why people have to be in such a rush they can't even bother to watch where they're going. How rude are kids these days. Why aren't people more careful? Wait... are they being rude to me because I am so fat? Are they disrespecting my space because I am obese? I started wondering about that. After all, I haven't been bumped into like that since I was, like, 260 pounds or more. Maybe I am invisible again and not respectable...

But then I remembered something. When I was morbidly obese, yes. I did get bumped into more. I did get treated like I was invisible more, too. But I also used to bump into people and things because I didn't realize how big I was. My body sense was really off, and I wrote about it in this post about how one time I knocked a whole glass shelf of party favors to the floor with my hip. Yikes. I guess that is where I am again. I mean, I don't really know... maybe some of those people were texting and not looking where they were going. Maybe they really did bump into *me* out of inattention. Or maybe... maybe I bumped into *them* because I am fatter now and I do not have the body sense to know how much space I take up... just like I did in that post. 

Yeah, this makes me sad, and embarrassed, and kind of ashamed. Regaining weight sucks... it sucks so bad, and I guess that is why so few people keep blogging and chronicling a regain. It is hard to believe I have regained 65 pounds. How did this happen to me? Gosh it is emotionally painful. And it's no picnic physically, either. I do notice how much heavier my body is when I try to get up, or walk fast, or move myself from one place to another. It is harder to roll over in bed, get out of a chair, use the bathroom, put on my shoes... everything. I hate it. I think over time as the pounds came back I tried very hard to ignore it (maybe this is a defense mechanism to a painful reality?) and think "oh it is just ten pounds from my lowest" or "oh I am only 20 pounds heavier and I can lose that pretty fast." I got back over 200 and was horrified but over time, I started to accept 200 as not that bad. And once you hit 220, boy 200 looks great! I'd lose back down to 208 and think "this isn't so bad, I can live with this." Then when I hit 228 it was "only" 20 pounds more, I can get that off in a couple of months. But when you hit 235, suddenly 218 looks great! And you think "if only I could get back to 218 I could live with that!" And now at 240... 225 looks very good to me. The scary thing is, if I keep going like this, the next step is hitting 260 and thinking how great 240 looks. But 240 is not great, it is not where I want to live. I want to stop accepting higher and higher weights and thinking if I could "only" be 20 pounds less I would be happy. This is really not okay.

I took measurements of myself this week, and I was shocked that I have gained inches from when I was 238 before (just 2 pounds less, so there shouldn't be THAT much difference). My hips are 2 inches bigger, my waist and thighs are each 3/4" bigger. My upper arm is 1 1/4" larger! I can only surmise that this is because I have lost muscle and replaced it with fat since I last measured. I *was* strength training, biking and walking more, and doing sit-ups and wall push-ups. I have really turned to mush. I don't like this at all.

This is the opposite of my experience *losing* the weight was: the getting smaller, buying clothes in smaller sizes, the thrill of seeing the inches go down and feeling more energy. I felt prettier and happier, could do more and enjoyed posting pictures of my dramatic transformation. But on the regain, it is all about getting bigger, not fitting into clothes, needing larger sizes and having less energy. I feel unattractive and unhappy, it is hard to do the things I once did, and I hide from people I have not seen in 20 pounds because I can't stand to see their eyebrows go up and the surprise at how bloated I must look. It is absolutely like a strange, cruel reversal of the whole trip down the scale.

I want to lose this weight again. I want to change the direction things are headed. I know how, at least how to get started and be healthier. I know I just have to force myself to do it, day after day, until it is a habit again and until I start feeling better and letting the success snowball. 

I did not lose any weight this week with just cutting back on processed foods and exercising more. I did bike 4 days this week, 12 to 20 minutes each time. It's a good start but I need more. So I'll keep working on increasing the biking and adjusting the diet, and this week I will add strength training back in. I want to go swimming, too... it's just finding time to do it that has been the problem. Guess I need to prioritize better. I know the holidays is a sucky time to start trying to lose weight, but if I wait until January 1 like everyone else, I'll weigh 250+ by then. No point in that. This week will be better, and I am also going to take some progress pictures to post. Time to start using my blog for my own accountability again. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Will Anything Work?

I've gone over it and over it in my mind... not just this week, but for years... decades, even. But twenty years ago when I wondered "will it work?" in regards to a weight loss strategy, I had nothing much to base my opinions on. I was new at being fat, and new at losing it. I didn't have a background in dieting aside from watching my mother weave in and out of Weight Watchers meetings, losing and gaining the same 30 pounds while eating frozen WW pasta meals for dinner and then breaking down into a bag of potato chips every so often (sound familiar? Except for the WW part...) I didn't have Internet yet so I just trial-and-errored my way through losing weight and regaining it and losing it again through six pregnancies and 15 years. And then the Internet came into my life, I found weight loss message forums, learned about the many, many ways people lose weight and eventually, started blogging. The rest is history (or archives).

Now that there is an overabundance of information available online... everything from scientific studies to people's personal opinions. And you know, like they say: anything will work, if you work it. Weight watchers will work, Atkins will work, Any of hundreds of plans, diets, lifestyle changes will work. And all of them don't work, too. For every person who doesn't lose weight, there are others who have succeeded with the same plan. Heck, I tend to think now that losing weight is the easy part, but keeping it off is the hard part (and that is, at least in part and maybe subconsciously, why I am so resistant lately to losing again. I know I can get the weight off somehow, but I am very leery of doing it just to end up regaining it all again. It's painful).

So I ask myself, will anything work?

Counting calories and biking worked, until it didn't and I spent almost 2 years trying to keep losing by that method and failing.
Medifast worked, until it didn't and I spent another year or two trying to get back on plan with Medifast and failing.
AIP worked, even though it wasn't a weight loss effort, until it didn't and I gained all the weight back.

Those are the three methods that have "worked" for me over the course of blogging. Nothing else I have ever done in the past decade has "worked" (and by working I mean weight coming off consistently). But why did they stop working? Well, AIP stopped working because I stopped doing it (got sick and couldn't cope). Medifast stopped working because I got packet fatigue and couldn't bear to eat them anymore after ten months straight, and I didn't transition back to real food properly. Calorie counting and biking stopped working because... well I think it was because even if I was "on plan" 26 days a month, I could be "off plan" the other four days and it would negate all the weight loss, resulting in no loss (basically up and down the same few pounds for almost 2 years).

I can't "cheat" on AIP and lose weight.
I can't have a few days overeating each month while calorie counting and lose weight.
I *can* cheat some on Medifast and lose weight, but I can't stand to eat packets anymore.

Basically what I know "works" and what I know I can do is either AIP or counting calories and biking.

And yet I don't know if I can do it enough to make a difference.

I don't want to do the diet/fail/diet thing anymore. I am tired of the cycle. I am sick of getting all excited and working hard and sticking to a plan (call it diet, call it lifestyle, doesn't matter) for weeks or months, losing weight, feeling good about it, and then fall back down the rabbit hole of off-plan eating and not exercising... whether it be because I got sick, I got stressed, I had an injury or got depressed or lost a loved one or just got sick of vegetables and wanted to eat cheesecake. So I hesitate to "start again" with something I am 100% committed to when I know that I am not perfect and cannot be perfect, that something, someday will come up and I will eat too much of something or the wrong something, maybe for a couple of days. I will get sick or busy and not get my regular exercise in. Stuff is going to happen.

I know if I can hold it together 95% of the time for six months I will lose a good amount of weight. I am pretty sure I can do that. I know I am capable... I've done it before. The fear is what comes next? What comes after the six months, the year of weight loss when I screw up like I have done before? I don't think I can stand another 50 pound loss and regain. It's tough, emotionally, physically. I am afraid of a regain more than I am afraid of staying this weight. That's probably the real, "deep" reason I have stagnated lately. Fear. Will anything work... forever?

Some days I think it's not worth another try. Other days I can't stand it and have to believe I can lose it again AND keep it off. But if I lose it again I *have* to keep it off. Can I? Can I... that's the big question.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Eating Then and Now, and Motivation


This might sound funny, but the last few days I have felt more "interested" in losing weight again. Yeah, that sounds pretty crazy coming from a weight loss blogger. But you've probably noticed my real apathy the last few months for actual weight loss. I've been ambivalent about it. Sure, I've wanted to be thinner and wished I wasn't so fat. But even when I felt motivated to make some changes, they've been more about health, thyroid function, and feeling better than about seeing a lower weight on the scale. I dunno why that is. Maybe part of me is just so used to being obese that I can settle into a comfort zone with it and, despite my wishing to be thinner, there is some acceptance of the fat me. I guess that is partly because I have been over 200 pounds for most of the past two decades, partly because it is easier to not think about the weight, and partly because I've always felt like rejecting my obesity is like rejecting my obese mother. Weird, I know. Not logical... emotional. Anyway, since I got sick this fall and fell into a mire of seasonal depression, I've not had the energy or even the desire, most of the time, to focus on my weight. I've had moments... you know the kind where you have a burst of "I am going to do this" but they've not lasted very long, and thus I'm in this state of almost-morbid-obesity again and I have a choice: keep gaining or start losing. Because I know this is not a weight I am going to stagnate at for long... it'll either drive me to eat more (because why not? I'm already super fat) or make some changes to lose again (because this is a miserable way to feel).

As I said yesterday I know it is not *just* about the weight... it is about the lack of fitness. I started to wonder if it was also a nutrition thing. After all, I have been eating some processed foods for snacks or lunches sometimes. I tried to remember what I was eating back then (in 2008, at the time I posted about the other day when I remembered being energized and happy). My blog back then indicated I had some days where I was binge eating Easter candy, fast food and brownies but other days when I was focused on produce and heathy eating. But the cool thing about using a program like Sparkpeople is it saves your data... forever. (Or at least for many years!) I was able to go back and look at exactly what I was eating back then when I was feeling so amazing. I picked out a couple of random days right around the time I wrote the "I love to mop, I feel great" post. Here they are:

Breakfast: Chai tea with 1/2 c 2% milk and 2 tsp sugar. 1 Kashi waffle topped with 1 tsp grape jam and 1/2 Tbsp Jif peanut butter.
Lunch: Sandwich on white bread with 2 slices of salami, 2 oz turkey, 1 oz cheese, 1 lettuce leaf, and 1 tbsp reduced fat mayo with a serving of cheddar goldfish crackers.
Dinner: ½ c peas, 2 meatballs and ½ c gravy mixed with 5 Tbsp sour cream over a cup of egg noodles.
Snacks: 1 Dove dark chocolate, ½ Weight Watchers chocolate chip muffin, 1 packet of Snackwells zesty cheese crackers
1493 cal, 187 carb, 50 fat, 80 pro, 20 fiber

Breakfast: Chai tea with ½ c skim milk and 2 tsp sugar. Yoplait light key lime yogurt
Lunch: 1.5 White Castle cheeseburgers, egg salad made from 1 boiled egg, 1 egg white and 2 Tbsp light mayo. 1.25 cups asparagus and 2 slices of ham.
Dinner: 6 inch subway turkey sub with light mayo, lettuce and black olives and a bag of Sun Chips
Snacks: Starbucks grande vanilla latte, Kashi protein bar, 3 sugar free Reeces mini peanut butter cups, and Chai tea made with 1/3 c 2% milk and 2 tsp sugar
1503 cal, 184 carbs, 49g fat, 88g pro, 16 fiber

Breakfast: 1 c 2% milk with 3 Tbsp Ovaltine, 2 Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls with icing, 1 whipped yogurt cup
Lunch: 2 slices Domino’s pepperoni pizza, 1 oz potato chips, 2 Tbsp sour cream dip
Dinner: 2.5 c Campbell’s Italian Wedding Soup, 1 serving cheddar crackers
Snacks: 2 – 100 calorie packs of Pringles, 1 Yoplait vanilla yogurt, 1 English muffin with 1 Tbsp light butter, 1/2 c dry oatmeal (cooked) with 1 Tbsp Jif peanut butter, 1 Tbsp honey, and 2 tsp brown sugar
2002 cal, 292 g carbs, 78 g fat, 62 g protein, 12 g fiber

There are also menus including more vegetables, but most of them looked like these. Some days there are things listed like Sonic chicken sandwiches, Coke, frozen pizzas and Wendy's bacon cheeseburgers. One day after logging breakfast and lunch, there is an entry of "extra food - 900 calories." I wasn't perfect. I was eating way more processed/junky food than I remembered, but I felt so great, and I was losing weight. I am not sure what has changed since then but I suspect I would not lose weight if I ate like that now. It seems like as time went by it mattered more *what* I eat as well as the quantities. I am eating a lot healthier now, with AIP breakfasts and dinners. Here's what I ate a couple days ago:

Breakfast: decaf tea with 2 Tbsp coconut milk and 2 tsp honey, 2 slices pastured bacon, 1/4 of an avocado, 1 Clementine.
Lunch: 1 c ham and bean soup, 1 serving Nut Thins crackers, 2 Tbsp hummus, 1/2 c cooked kale
Dinner: 4 oz baked wild salmon, 1 c roasted butternut squash, 1 c Romaine lettuce with 1 Tbsp light Balsamic dressing.
Snacks: 1 c strawberries, 2 chocolate covered macadamia nuts, 1 Medifast hot cocoa, 1 serving Simply Cheetos.
1504 calories, 146 g carbs, 62 g fat, 43 g protein, 34 g fiber

I know that over the last few weeks my calories had to be higher than this, because I was eating more processed foods and grains each day. I would guess I was eating up to 1800 calories a day with very little exercise. 

Anyway I just thought it was interesting that I felt so much better back then even though I was eating a lot of "junk." Makes me wonder how much of how I feel is nutrition vs exercise vs mindset.

I am, as I said, feeling more interested and motivated to lose weight... to at least get 20 pounds off because I did feel a lot better at 215-220 than I do now. I've biked 12 minutes twice this week and will gradually increase the time as my body tolerates it.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Remembering Being "Thinner"


So as I said before... hellish nightmare. That's what it feels like.

I was sitting here the other night remembering how it used to be... how at first I was so excited and dedicated and worked and fought to lose weight. I remember how, the first time down the hell scale, it was so liberating and wondrous as the pounds fell off. Every ten pounds was a whole new level of freedom. I was thinking about back when I finally got to a point when mopping was easier, raking leaves was fun, and I actually *enjoyed* breaking a sweat for housecleaning and yardwork. I remember blogging about what a wonderful new world that was and how grateful I was to have lost enough weight to experience it.

Yesterday I went back to the beginning of my blog and started reading. I read through the initial thrill of losing weight simply by walking 2 blocks here and there, cutting back on junk, bingeing only a few times a month, and eating more produce from the Farmer's Market. I remembered how I dropped those first pounds gleefully, and as I read I searched for that post I wrote when I first felt free of the "fat prison"... that memorable day when I mopped my floors *and liked it* because it felt good, I had energy, and it wasn't hard anymore. I will never forget that day; the memory of the feeling of exhilaration and triumph is so vivid. I miss that feeling; I want to get there again. I was reading along and thinking to myself "I wish I could get to that weight again, where I felt so light and healthy and energetic. I want to be able to mop my floors without being out of breath." Well, I found it. I found that time where I posted about feeling that way. And do you know what I weighed on that day? On the day I felt so light and free and energized, I weighed 236 pounds... only four pounds lighter than I am now.

And I thought... what the heck??? I don't remember being THIS BIG when I felt that way! I was so light... so happy! I moved without hindrance. I remember it! I couldn't have been this heavy. I feel so sluggish and huge now! But I was. I had lost 42 pounds and I felt amazing. Yet here I am at almost that same weight and I feel like a total whale. Mopping is exhausting! I don't like it at all. How can that be?

Well, back then I was exercising regularly. I think that is the biggest difference in how I felt versus how I feel now: not the weight, but the fitness. At that time I was biking 20 minutes 3-4 days a week and had just started strength training 20 minutes 3 times a week. Oh, and it was spring, and I was six years younger, which could have some effect too. But it amazes me that I felt so great at this weight on the way down, and feel so crappy on the way back up. It is hard to go up stairs, hard to mop or clean or rake, hard to walk far. I get out of breath and my joints and feet start to ache. I have zero stamina and feel sluggish most of the time. But at least I know that it isn't directly because of what I weigh.

I'm trying to recreate the energy I had back then, although I don't know if that's possible with the depression and the winter approaching. I don't know if the hormonal whackiness of my mid-forties will play a role in how I feel either. I have health issues now that I did not have then. But I am trying, I am working at it. I have cut the processed foods back out, and I am increasing my activity. I got on my bike the other day and made it for 12 minutes; I'll be getting back on today as soon as I'm done blogging. I'm shooting for 3 or 4 times a week, working up to 20 minutes each time. And I have to believe that I'll be able to bike right back out of this hellish nightmare.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to the Hellish Nightmare


I woke up this morning and somehow, the reality hit me right in the face. As I sat on the edge of my bed, about to get up, I looked across the room at the mirrored closet doors... the ones I used to take my "progress pictures" in... and saw someone I have not seen in years. I don't know why it is but when I lost the weight and weighed 175 pounds I would look in the mirror and see myself as still severely obese... well over 200. Then over time as I regained the weight I stopped seeing that and started seeing myself as 190 or so in the mirror. It's like my brain has some kind of time delay of MONTHS before I see myself at the weight I really am. And for the past few months I've seen myself at, oh, maybe 210, 215 which is what I weighed for most of 2012 and 2013. But I don't weigh 210, or 215. I weigh more than that. And this morning for some reason I got a glimpse of what I *really* look like, and I was shocked. And sad. And now I am upset. And it sounds so ridiculous since I *just* posted about this being a year of healing for me. And how much better my eating has been this month. And how I started swimming and walking again for exercise.

And all of that is true... it *has* been a healing year for me in a lot of ways, but I think I have been in some kind of denial about my weight. I have tried to focus on health. I have worked on the emotional components. I got an ED counselor, I have a good support group, I am addressing the physical and mental aspects. But the weight... oh my gosh, the weight, this morning it was so glaringly obvious it is out of control. How can I look like that... again? After all the work I did to lose it, how? How.

I freaking weigh 240 pounds.

The advice, the counsel from the ED specialist to "stay off the scale for awhile" and "try to eat things you like in moderation," to normalize food... to go ahead and have the gluten free cookies in small amounts, to feel okay about eating what I like... I am going to need to talk to her about this. I am not blaming her, I am blaming me. I've stayed off the scale... but this morning after seeing what I saw in the mirror I HAD to get on the scale, because how I look was not registering in my brain. And when I saw 240 my jaw just dropped. That is totally Hellish Nightmare weight. That is 5 pounds away from being morbidly obese. My BMI is one point away from Morbid Obesity. I cannot believe it.

I keep thinking I don't know how this is happening. I don't want it to be true. I saw the slow creep: 226 pounds on September 1, then 229 on the 5th when I got sick, then 232 pounds on October 16th... the last time I got on the scale. That was a month ago and now I am 8 pounds higher and at this rate... oh my gosh, I can't even deal with it.

I should have taken a hint when I got out my winter coat this month and it didn't fit. I've been wearing it anyway with my arms stuffed like sausages into the sleeves so tightly that they can hardly bend, and the front hanging open because it is too small to close around the front of me. I should have gotten a clue when I dug out the long jeans I wore last winter and they are so tight I have to unsnap them and wear a sweater over them so people can't see they aren't buttoned. I should have known... I must have known but let myself be in denial because it just couldn't be. Morbid obesity. Technically 5 pounds away, but in reality it's no different now, and I may as well be there.

I did notice it hurts to walk. I did notice it takes such an effort to heave myself up out of bed or from a chair, and that everything takes longer and I am worn out faster. I did notice that there are fat rolls where there weren't before, and that my ankles look terribly swollen, and that I am sweating and breathing hard 5 minutes into raking leaves or mopping the floor. I did notice that instead of bounding up the stairs with a 30-pound bag of dog food like I used to do, it almost killed me heaving that thing up half a flight, and my knees almost buckled under the weight. Carrying that bag reminded me of how I felt when I started this blog... 278 pounds. It felt the same, except back then, I wasn't carrying any dog food.

Look, it is hard for me to post this. It is tough to admit this. And frankly I don't have an answer or a solution and I am terrified that I will just keep gaining. I have to believe there are many, so many others out there like me who KNOW about all the different diets, lifestyle changes, things people do to lose weight but for some reason can't seem to make it stick. I think it is all the more painful for those who, like me, DID lose 100+ pounds, DID get that taste of freedom and feeling of success and the wonder of a life unfettered by morbid obesity... but then slid back to the hellish nightmare. Like I have. If there was an answer to fix this for everyone we'd all stay thin. I am super happy for the people who've lost and kept it off. I really am. I also have utmost compassion for those who have never been able to lose and get to a healthy BMI... who've never even gotten a taste of that freedom. Believe me, and read it on my blog too... when I was down 100 pounds I never, NEVER thought I could regain it. NEVER. There was NO WAY I would let that happen. But it happened, and now I have to deal with this.

I can only do what I know, and that's eat more produce, eat less junk, go back to daily weighing, go back to seeing gluten-free cookies as a NOT-okay food for me to eat. Because all I can figure is the processed junk is the culprit in the gain. I felt great and was losing weight on AIP, and the only thing different now is adding in moderate amounts of processed stuff, dairy, and gluten free grains. So I am taking them back out and see how this week goes before changing anything else. Keep swimming, keep walking, keep trying. And keep praying things turn back around because I don't want to be miserable and morbidly obese.


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