Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pat Yourself on the Back...and Look Forward

This post is a follow-up on the resolutions post and an attempt to turn resolutions on their head!

So here's my question:

What did you do in 2009 that you were PROUD of? If it's big and splashy (some of you have lost scads of weight) that's great. And if it's little but important to you, that's great too. I'd like to know. Just one rule: be nice to yourself. Compliment yourself and leave the "but I should have done even better"s out.

And now, like it or not, here are my answers:

One of my big quests in 2009 was to eat more mindfully. This included seriously slowing down how fast I eat. I don't eat particularly slowly, but the mindfulness is much higher than it was before. Last year at this time, I felt guilty about eating and would consequently stuff the food in quickly, even when I was trying to limit quantities. This year, for instance, I cut the toast in half, which meant that I automatically had to slow down a bit . I put the food or the fork down between bites. I sometimes even watched the clock to make sure I wasn't wolfing my food down. It's amazing how long five minutes can be!

I started drinking water. Before this year, I would barely drink a glass of water a day, if that!

I respected all my efforts and didn't pooh pooh even the little ones. I rejected perfection and celebrated just doing better. I embraced the saying: "the perfect is the enemy of the good".

I realized that there are no bad foods and that eating the occasional sweet or piece of pie is not a sin. I worked on introducing a balance of good, healthy and tasty foods into my life.

I banned banning foods.

I started blogging and met all kinds of warm, kind and caring people...YOU!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No resolutions? Impossible!

As the end of 2009 draws near, who can resist making resolutions?

I have a lot of resolutions in my head, just like everyone else, but honestly, if I reach any of them, it will be through slow, almost imperceptible changes. I am not aiming for anything earth shattering. This is not to say that I would turn away earth shattering positive changes in my life. Of course I would embrace them with open arms. I'm just not an earth shattering changes kind of person. Perhaps it's because I must physically move with great care.

I would give a lot to be able to jump on my elliptical trainer every day or my stationary bike. I wouldn't even have to make resolutions to do it because I would have already begun years ago.

But I do have one resolution, if I can call it that: to breath every day. No, not the breathing that keeps me alive. Fortunately, I don't have to think about that and neither do you. My resolution--which I've already begun putting into action is to do 5 minutes of complete yoga breathing a day. Five minutes. Sounds like nothing. Maybe it is for you, but not for me.

So breath I will. Let's see where that takes me.

And for good measure, I'm adding one (no, two) more things: 1 minute of stationary biking a day, followed by 15 minutes of ice. My yoga teacher has forbade me from doing more than 1 minute for at least a month. Will I be up to 12 minutes by the end of the year? I don't know. As I sit typing this, my knee hurts already from yesterday's minute. But I'll try again.

So my recipe for 2010 is to start now and start very, very........ small.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Incredibly Happy to Be Home!

Well, it's been a few days and a few hundred kilometres and close to 10 hours of round-trip train time since I've last posted and boy am I happy to be home!

First things first: I did have a pleasant visit with my sister-in-law and her family. She and her husband are good people, in some ways quite saintly, in fact. They have not chosen an easy path in life.

About six or seven years ago, they finally gave up trying to have children and opted to adopt a brother and sister, who were 3 and 4 at the time. The children had been taken from their birth family and when SIL and BIL met them, had already been living in foster care for some time. Obviously something had been very wrong with the birth family but the foster family was not great either. No doubt, both children suffered, but the little girl much more so than the boy since the foster family had only taken her so they could take care of the boy. She was not given any sense of love and caring, just tolerated.

My niece also suffers from extreme ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), with a frightening emphasis on the hyperactivity. The ADHD, combined with a lack of love during her early years has made her into an extreme narcissist. It seems like she never smiles openly, just forces a tight smile out once in awhile because she knows that that's what people expect. She stiffly accepts hugs and kisses and constantly demands things. When given what she wants, you can only expect a perfunctory thank you--again because she has been socialized just enough to know that that is what is expected.

It is clear that K. only tolerates her mother, my sister-in-law. Occasionally, she in unable to rein in her disdain and insults her openly, commenting on how fat she is or saying things like "get out of the way, old woman" (SIL is in her 40s). She is on medication, goes to a special needs class and I believe is followed by a social worker but to be honest, I'm not seeing great progress.

Little nephew, on the other hand, is a sweet, quiet little guy who is totally overshadowed by his loud, demanding sister. He is generous with his hugs and smiles and a joy to be around. I feel he is getting lost in the tornado his sister constantly has going on around her.

To make the situation even worse, K. practically has to be tied down to eat anything except sugar. I did a little sleuthing on the Internet and found that, despite lots of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, there is STILL NO PROVEN, SCIENTIFIC LINK BETWEEN ADHD AND SUGAR CONSUMPTION. I myself tend to be very sceptical of those who swear that sugar/gluten/etc. etc. immediately produce an extreme, negative effect on their bodies and/or minds. I think that the placebo effect is very strong in this area. For instance, a study found that the mothers of ADHD children who believe in the deleterious effects of sugar on their children's behaviour immediately saw behavioural problems in their children after having been told their children had consumed sugar. In fact, the children had not been given any sugar. But the mothers expected a bad result and therefore "saw" it occur. As an aside, a similar experiment was done with MSG and Chinese food. A group of people who self-identified as being sensitive to MSG were given a meal of Chinese food and then asked how they felt (I'm skipping over the details of the study, so don't start criticizing the results). Although no MSG had been put in the food, many reported the typical MSG symptoms like headaches, etc. Like I said, the placebo effect can be very strong.

But I digress...

Now, after saying that I am sceptical about a lot of what people consider food allergies, I am very concerned about my niece's diet. I know her parents are doing the best they can, but the fact remains that she eats no vegetables and few fruits (she did eat a half a banana during the three and a bit days we were there). She does eat small amounts of cheese. The only food I saw her eat with gusto was apple pie. Thank goodness the apple filling was homemade. Her parents have to supplement her diet with products like Boost. She is very tiny. Apparently, her growth curve is moving normally though I truly would not be surprised if she is at the 1st percentile in terms of growth.

All in all, I fear for my niece and for her parents and there is nothing I can do or say.

My husband is ferociously protective of his sister. He thinks that she and her husband are doing a stellar job and that, with time and love, their daughter will grow into a well-balanced, happy person. I hope he is right, though I don't see this happening. On the one occasion when I was able to have a long, private discussion with my brother-in-law's sister, she too expressed the same deep concerns that I have.

Basically, my husband has made it clear that I am just being a nay-sayer. He gets angry when I express my worries, so I am trying to not say anything...hence this long post to get things off my chest.

Although my boys are very discreet, they can only take a few days with their cousin and are always happy to come home.

So that was my Christmas vacation...and I haven't even mentioned the severe lack of vegetables I endured while away. Maybe I'll make that the subject of another post. Believe it or not, we still managed to have a good time and to spend some happy time with family, so although the sub-text is pretty scary and the future might be grim (I really, truly hope that I'm wrong), I'm glad we had this visit...

...and I'm really glad to be home!

P.S. Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Best Holiday Tips I've Seen

OK. After saying that I won't be around for a few days, I just have to send you all over to this great post: http://sizeate.blogspot.com/2009/12/size-ate-is-baaaaack-merry-mindful.html

I just love holiday eating tips that don't tell what to eat...or NOT eat.

Have a Merry One!

What with the holidays and all, I will probably not be blogging for a few days.

I just want to wish you all a very happy holiday season (Channukah is over and I apologize for not having mentioned it but Christmas is just around the corner; best wishes for Kwanzaa too).

I'll be back soon with more contrarian commentary to wrap up 2009 and start 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why Do You Exercise?

One day, you will not long quite so much to fit into those cool, skinny jeans. You will be happy about having improved your eating (more whole foods, less junk food) and increased your physical activity but you will also find it easier to accept who you are, including your lumps and bumps.

And maybe, just maybe, you will exercise because you know it makes you feel good and it's good for your overall health, not just because you've burned x calories in x minutes...Because, honestly, success is not just measured in calories burned and good health is not just measured in pounds lost.

I'm off to breathe now.

Friday, December 18, 2009

How to Make Someone Give Up

Before going out to yoga yesterday, I took a few minutes to do some exercises with ankle weights to help strengthen my glutes and protect my very sore knee. This is not exciting stuff, so I turned on the TV to keep me awake.

I caught the last five minutes of a Canadian show called "X Weighted". It's a slightly less nasty variation on the "Biggest Loser", but what I saw yesterday made my blood boil.

I caught the last five minutes of a show about a young woman who wanted to become a professional hip-hop dancer. Her goal was to audition for the dancers attached to the Toronto Raptors basketball team.

When I tuned in at the end of the show, she was still quite a curvy young woman, but what a dancer! She looked like she was in fabulous shape. Over the six months of work with the X Weighted team, she had turned her eating habits around and really stepped up the exercise. Apparently, she'd had a less than stellar start, but during the last three months she'd given it her all.

The program showed her during her first audition for the hip-hop dancers and then being asked to come back for a final audition. What a victory, right? Wrong!

In six months, she had lost about 25 pounds and almost 14" from her bust, waist and hips. She also cut her time doing the fitness circuit down by 30 seconds (she did the circuit at the beginning of the show and then at the end, six months later). The trainer was blown away. What a victory, right? Wrong!

Her parents and her boyfriend were there for the final weigh-in. She was happy with the inches lost, but disappointed with her weight loss. Then the trainer asked her mother what she thought. "She could have done better," said mom curtly. A tear rolled down the girl's face.

I was livid.

This young woman had worked hard. She was in fantastic shape. She was a great dancer, but she still didn't look like Kate Moss.

My first thought was that she'd probably built up a lot of muscle over the six months of training and damn it, muscle weighs more than fat. She'd lost a ton of inches--which is the real mark of improving the shape you're in. The trainer, of course, did not say this to her. Her let her cry.

Great TV. Really gripping.

I wonder where she'll be in another six months. With family and a trainer like that, who needs enemies?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Perils of Tightrope Walking

Source: The Kenyon Review

A blogger is MIA--you know, one of the purist, cleanest eaters, the one who exercises religiously, who tracks every bite she eats.

She's been MIA for a few days.

Maybe she just doesn't feel like blogging, maybe she's busy buying Christmas presents, maybe she's come down with the flu. Any one of these options is better than how much she could be hurting if she's fallen off the dieting tightrope.

I have never even thought about becoming a tightrope walker. I always say that I can do just about anything except dance ballet, but I should add tightrope walking to the list. It must be really tough--the embodiment of the "straight and narrow". On a tightrope, there's no room for any mistakes at all. Once you've fallen off the tightrope, it seems like the show's over.

Sorry friends, but I do believe there's a very dark side to "eating clean", or eating "perfectly" or whatever you want to call it. For every yin, there's a yang and to eat "clean" there has to be an "eat dirty", for every "good" food, there has to be a "bad" food. If how you eat has become a dichotomy, make sure you've got a hospital nearby, because you're going to have lots of broken bones once you fall off the tightrope. And make no mistake about it, YOU WILL. Why? Because you're human. Only computers always follow the straight and narrow...until they crash.

Get off the tightrope and walk on the road. It's not as exciting by half. For the most part, people won't notice you. The changes might be minimal or hard to see. You might simply feel more content. And you won't fall off the face of the earth.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fat Talk

OK, we're all reading these blogs because we're interested in weight loss, or simply in eating better (and we all have a different definition of what that means), or because we have some sort of eating disorder (binging, anorexia, bulimia, etc.). So we're all talking about weight and that's OK.

But I'd like to challenge you all to limit "fat talk".

What is "fat talk"? Here are some examples:

"OMG, I stuffed myself. I feel so bloated and ashamed."

"I'm really working hard on sticking to the programme. I need to lose X. I'm at my heaviest."

"Oh, I really can't eat X. I have to stay away from it or else I gain weight."

And so on and so forth.

Actually, I often find that the worst "fat talkers" are slim, young women who feel it is their duty to proclaim their (totally imagined) fatness, because you know, you can never be too thin or too rich. I have sat silent listening to this kind of garbage spewing from the mouths of people who wouldn't know a weight problem if it bit them in the behind. I am ashamed for not saying anything.

But I think we of the currently, formerly or "in the middle of being fat" persuasion also shoot ourselves down by criticizing our own appearances (fat slob, thunder thighs, paunch...). And yes, I have been just as guilty of this as anyone else.

I say "down with insulting, debasing and otherwise hating ourselves"! Treat yourself with as much love as you treat others. When was the last time you told your mother/husband/best friend how crappy they look since they gained weight? I'm sure that even if you wanted to say that, you toned down the words so that they wouldn't go away hating themselves or you. Please be just as kind to yourself.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mindfulness

I was first introduced to the concept of mindfulness at a time in my life when I was desperately searching for a way to address my physical problems (failed surgery) without going stark, raving mad. I kept thinking about how badly things had gone--not just my operation, but so many things in my life. And when I wasn't obsessing about the past, the future made me crazy with fear. What if they couldn't fix my hip? What if I had to live like this forever? What if I never got to travel again? What if I could never go for a simple walk again? I was living either in the past or in the future. The present didn't exist. I suspect this is a common problem for many people. I have a strong tendency to obsess over things that are done and gone, things that I can't take back or that I should have done better or not done at all. I also imagine all kinds of horrible things that could happen. I won't even give you a sample of my crazy worrying.

Mindfulness is the polar opposite of everything I just described. In a nutshell, it means living in the present. Here is a slightly more elaborate definition that I found in Wikipedia:

Psychological "mindfulness" is broadly conceptualized, say Bishop et al.(2004:232), as "a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is". They propose a two-component operational definition of "mindfulness".

The first component involves the self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment. The second component involves adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, an orientation that is
characterized by curiosity, openness, and acceptance. (2004:232) The former mindfulness component of self-regulated attention involves conscious awareness ofone's current thoughts, feelings, and surroundings, which can result in metacognitive skills for controlling concentration. The latter mindfulness component of orientation to experience involves accepting one's mindstream, maintaining open and curious attitudes, and thinking in alternative categories [...]

OK, that was a quite a bit more elaborate, but well worth reading.

What does this have to do with a weight loss/health/personal journey? A lot, in my opinion.

While planning and goal setting are laudable activities, without mindfulnesss, you can't fully benefit from the moment that you are actually doing all these wonderful things that you dreamed about or planned for so long.

The same applies when you're living in the past and rehashing all the horrible (though often minor) mistakes you made, turning them around in your mind. How can anyone move on when they can't stop themselves from living in the past?

Tomorrow and yesterday. I know what has already happened and yes, to a certain extent it helps me to forecast the future. But remember that famous line you find in every financial prospectus: "past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results". BTW, there are over 6 million hits for this phrase.

I think that if I have one new year's resolution, it is not to exercise more or lose more weight. My resolution is to live more in the moment: to be aware of how I feel, both mentally and physically and honour those feelings; to stop and smell the roses; to respect my hunger and my fullness now, not in some hypothetical future.

So I think this means that resolutions are out the window: my resolution is to be here now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cleaning Out Stuff

It feels like spring in the NewMe home. We just had a wall of built-ins installed in our basement, plus a small extra bookcase installed on the wall in my office and I'm just raring to slash and burn my way through the boxes that have been piling up over the last year and a half, plus the stuff that we never unpacked from our move, nine (NINE!!) years ago.

We did a fairly major renovation about 1 1/2 years ago and ended up with more living space and less storage space. Go figure. It's not a big house--something I'm actually proud of since it means we've got a smaller carbon footprint--but we've got too much stuff.

Stuff. It's like empty calories, leftovers at the back of the fridge. Ready-to-serve, boxed meals you just never got around to putting in a pot with water and heating up. Salt-inundated munchies.

Stuff. It's horrible.

I just put two adds on Craigslist, one is for skates and the other for a complete boy's taekwon do outfit. It was bought for my son when he was 6 years old and we were still living in Montreal. He did not continue with the sport once we moved to Toronto. He's now almost 17 and that darned outfit with pads, helmet, etc. has been sitting in a bag, piled on a box of who knows what for the past nine years.

Stuff. I feel like getting rid of some of this stuff will be like shedding ten pounds. It's a weight I really want to lose!

Update! The taekwon do outfit is sold to a cute little guy named Christian. Long live Craigslist!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Say No to Size Zero Campaign

I can't post the picture at this site because it's under copyright, but I encourage you all to take a look.

This is a FAT woman--a woman who was fired from her job as a WonderBra model because she was much too fat.

Don't you all wish you were that fat? And for my gentlemen readers, don't you all wish that you had such a fat lady friend/wife?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ambivalence

I've been feeling very ambivalent about my blogging recently. Perhaps it's just that I'm a bit ambivalent about my life right now: too much stress on many levels and the realization that I need to find a way to deal with it.

Food is not much of an issue compared to stress. It's been almost a year since I started changing my attitude towards food and how I eat. Although I don't think I was ever a particularly emotional eater, now food is even less of an issue. My stress comes out in other ways. My challenge is to deal with bad, stress-induced habits that have nothing to do with food, but that must be dealt with nevertheless.

I'm also feeling ambivalent towards blogging because I know the food message I advocate here is quite unorthodox. No plans, no planning, no calorie counting (of either food eaten or calories burned), no bad foods, no good foods--just lots of "soft skill" development: listening to and answering the hunger signal, listening to and respecting the fullness signal, legalizing all foods (thanks for the term, Francesca!), moving your body, loving yourself just as you are now rather than beating up on yourself for falling off the wagon, not looking perfect not getting results fast enough...

It would be great if I could say to everyone, "Look at me! It really works! I've lost all the weight I wanted to and kept it off!!", but that's not the case. The wall I've hit is totally related to my handicap and how it prevents me from doing the exercise I want and need to do. It's frustrating to realize that now that I have finally found what is right for me, I can't put it to work entirely. So the results, while good, are not all that they would have otherwise been.

People want to see results. I can't blame them. Weight-loss blog readers like numbers--preferably if they're going down. No numbers...yawn. No tangible change...yawn.

I think I do have a success story to tell. But it's not exciting and the real success lies in the long term. What if I manage to maintain the weight that I have lost (about half of my ideal goal) for two years, five years, forever, but never manage to lose the other half? In the "Biggest Loser" universe, I am a dud. In the weight-loss universe, I'm not very exciting.

I intend to just keep plodding along.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Help Fight Breast Cancer!

This video is GREAT!!! Pass it on! The more hits it gets, the more money
that will be donated!!!!

A lady recently created, directed and choreographed this in Portland last week for her Medline glove division as a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. This was all her idea to help promote their new pink gloves. I don't know how she got so many employees, doctors and patients to participate, but it started to really catch on and they all had a lot of fun doing it.
When the video gets 1 million hits, Medline will be making a huge contribution to the hospital, as well as offering free mammograms for the community. Please check it out.

It's an easy and great way to donate to a wonderful cause, and who hasn't been touched by breast cancer?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEdVfyt-mLw

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Too Much TV--Yet Another Review

Photo from News.com


This past Sunday night, I snuggled up in my big comfy bed at the Delta Hotel after an exhausting and difficult day of work. I would have liked to do a bit of time on the hotel's treadmill, but I'm still being rather careful about how much I walk, due to my recent hip scare. I did actually take a brisk walk around the floor I was on a few times, but it wasn't much.

Anyhoo, after going over the documents for the next day's meeting (a real snorefest), I got into my PJs and settled in for some serious TV viewing.

I ended up watching three programmes on TLC, all dealing with the trials and tribulations of the morbidly obese.

The first programme followed a teenager who had been hospitalized so that he could start losing weight, with a view towards eventually getting bariatric surgery. It was really depressing, as his weight problem was directly linked to some very, very dysfunctional family dynamics. There was also a parallel story about another teenager who had had the surgery and was going nowhere with the weight loss. Again, a terrible family dynamic seemed to be at the root of his weight problem.

But the two programmes that I watched a lot more carefully dealt with the so-called "650 pound virgin". How's that for an attention-getting moniker? Reel 'em in with that title and then create a pretty superficial programme that doesn't get at the root of anything. Both of the programmes were depressing. Again, the reason for his excessive eating and morbid obesity was basically psychological. The programme did look at the psychological aspects somewhat, but of course, the main theme of the programme was how this now good-looking young man was finally going to find a girl friend (and judging by the title of the show, finally get laid). His attempts at speed dating and meeting with various life/dating "coaches" didn't seem to get him anywhere. There was even a scene where he just couldn't get the words "give me your phone number" out. I felt really uncomfortable.

Virgin show number two showed our hapless friend still with his virginity intact, still room mates with his personal trainer (a more buff guy you couldn't imagine), and with 30 pounds back on. He still seemed massively uncomfortable with himself and the show continued on its superficial way. One scene showed him "counselling" his obese sister, who was talking about the heartbreak of splitting up with her boyfriend two years previous and her signifcant weight gain. Believe me, I can understand that heartbreak (been there, done that, still remember every moment of it), I can understand trying to quell the pain with food, but there was something so voyeuristic and yet completely superficial about their talk. It was all for the camera and there was no substance.

Yes, he finally lost his virginity. But it wasn't at all as he had hoped. Another superficial experience, from what he said on camera...

As I watched the two shows, I felt like I had been watching a car crash. I felt like this poor man had emotionally stripped himself naked for the camera and for what? In addition to eating healthily and working with a personal trainer, what this poor guy needed was some serious psychotherapy. But psychotherapy does not make for good television and anyway, it's covered by privacy laws so even if you could make good television out of it, you wouldn't be allowed to.

I wondered why there was no discussion of his recent weight gain. Granted, when you've lost over 400 pounds, 30 pounds is not huge, but it does indicate that something might be going on. That's what I wanted to know about although no information was forthcoming.

Maybe I'm asking for too much from my TV shows. I just don't want to hear anymore about what he ate and how he exercised and what the dating coach said. I wanted to know what was going on in his heart and soul. That's where it's really at and that's probably too personal to ever find out about.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Not to Wear

I rarely watch "What Not to Wear" with Stacy London and Clinton Kelly on TLC. I often don't particularly like the clothing they choose for their fashion-backward subjects. But I really enjoyed the episode about Bailey, a radio show host in Denver who had lost 60 pounds but was still walking around in super baggy pants and oversized t-shirts. It's season 7, episode 9.

The new Bailey was no skinny minny but she was a lovely woman with some great curves in all the right places, plus curly hair to die for and gorgeous blue eyes. I was really moved by how sad she was, despite the great work she'd done on herself. In her head, she was still in the big body she had left behind.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the transformation of Bailey, especially because even with the great weight loss, she was nowhere near "catwalk skinny"--you know, how we're all "supposed" to look. The new Bailey looked like a real woman and she looked fabulous, dahling. Here's a link to the Bailey episode with a great picture of her.

Kudos to "What Not to Wear"!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just Checking In

I've been working up a storm, I'm sneezing like the Disney dwarf of that name (no short jokes, please) and there's no long weekend for me here in Canada. In fact, I'm leaving tonight (Saturday) for the home town of Spunky Suzi (sorry Suzi, I don't think our schedules will mesh, so no tea for two, sniff) where I'll be working tomorrow and Monday.

One NSV, I suppose. Last weekend, I went to a scotch and cheese tasting and the next night went to a dinner party. Weight stable. Yes!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to my US Friends!

All my best to you on Thanksgiving.

Be well, enjoy the food and family. Don't stress. Don't feel you have to eat like there's no tomorrow. Fortunately, there is.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hunger and Obesity in the USA

This morning I heard on the radio that 1 person in 7 in the US goes hungry. At the same time, the US leads the pack when it comes to its overweight and obese population.

According to this site, the US has an obesity rate of 30.6%. It ranks first out of 29 countries. Just as a point of comparison, Canada is 11th (14.3%), France is 23rd (9.4%) and Italy--home of pasta, pasta, pasta--is 25th (8.5%). Japan and Korea are tied in "last" (best) place with 3.2%

Just some food for thought on the eve of US Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pants Update, Where's the Iliac Crest? and Katharine Hepburn's Pants


Thanks for all the positive pants messages!

I was unable to check my messages from work today (some hotels have not entered the 21st century and still charge an arm and a leg for internet access, but I digress) and have only just come home to a mini-deluge of "buy new pants!" messages. I suspected that that would be the case and since I was downtown I went pants shopping right after work.

Francesca asked why I seem to hesitate. I think it's because I always have to get my pants hemmed--even if they're petites. That's just the way it is when you're a very petite person (but oh so cute!--just ask my husband...). It's just a minor pain in the behind to have to take the pants to the dry cleaner's and change into them in a cramped back room so that she can pin them up, blah, blah, blah. Hmm. It's a pretty lame excuse, methinks.

So yes, I bought one pair of pants and hold your breath...they're a size 6. I don't take this too seriously. After all, the divine dark green (bordering on grey, they're very chic) wool pants that are quite tight in the waist are a 10. And the black pants I wore today that are still acceptable though hanging more at the iliac crest level than at the waist are also a 10 and the nice jeans I bought about a month ago are an 8. Go figure. This size business is a load of hooey.

So yes, now I have a lovely pair of dark brown pants that fit (aside from the hemming which I'll take care of later this week).

I also rediscovered a pair of navy blue pants. I think they're called Katharine Hepburn pants-- nipped at the waist but very wide in the legs, as you can see here:


That's Katharine, not me. lol.

Pants Dilemma

Jack Sh*t recently wrote about his extensive collection of pants that included a number of different sizes. I sympathize.

I too am going through a pants crisis. I am sadly lacking in dress pants that fit me properly. You have to understand that dress pants are an absolute necessity for me. I rarely wear dresses or skirts, not because I don't like to, but because of the shoes that one has to wear with them. Due to my back and hip, I gave up on high heels long ago, but even lowish but slim heels are pretty much out for me now, especially if I'm taking public transit to work. There's just too much walking for me to take a chance on cutesy dress shoes. I have a few pairs of nice, heavy-heeled shoes that allow me to walk fair distances without hurting myself and that look pretty good with dress pants. Which brings me back to the pants...

I haven't lost a ton of weight, but I've lost enough that my dress pants are getting pretty droopy. I have one pair that's hanging so far down on my hips that the hems are dragging dangerously on the ground.

I have one pair of beautiful, dark-green wool pants that are still too small. I wore them at my smallest, before babies changed my shape. I'm not sure they'll ever fit again, but they've at least been moved from the far-away closet in my home office to the one in my bedroom.

I need to put away--or better yet, give away-- my dress pants and invest in some new ones. I need an injection of bravery.

I need to say good-bye to the old pants and hello to the new.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Taste Hunger

I was sitting at the airport yesterday, waiting for my flight home and having a minor attack of "taste hunger".

Here's what I define as "taste hunger": you're perfectly full and satisfied but your tastebuds want more. For me, this "more" is always something sweet.

Back to the airport: Before going through security, I sat down and drank a full bottle of water (500 ml or about 2 8 oz. glasses). Then I went through security, set off the alarm with my artificial hip--no big deal, happens all the time except at La Guardia once, of all places--and headed for lunch at the restaurant. I ordered a whole-grain panini with lots of veg and bocconcini cheese with two side salads. I really should carry a camera. The portions were huge. I ate about half and washed it down with another 500 ml bottle of water.

But lurking in the background was "taste hunger". My stomach was saying "full!! stop!!" and my head was saying "have some of that muffin that's in your bag". So what was a muffin doing in my bag, you ask. That was left over from the HUGE breakfast at the hotel, which again I only ate about half of.

Just in case you didn't already know, I am human. LOL. I nevertheless pulled a bit of superhuman strength out of my mental bag of tricks, opened up my computer and instead of eating the muffin, which my stomach did not want, I blogged about Eleanor Roosevelt and thanking you.

Did I banish the muffin forever? No. I ended up having most of it for supper--a very crazy supper on the plane consisting of a coffee, 3/4 of a muffin and a little, tiny bag of airplane chips. My plane was 1 1/2 hours late and I had to meet my husband for a Stephen King reading downtown. Stephen King rocks in so many ways!

After we got home from the reading, I had a bit more to eat. Not an "on plan" day, but I forgot...there is no plan.

So my question is: do you get taste hunger?

Thank You!!


I just want to tell you how much I appreciate the concern and hugs you gave me after yesterday's November Blues post. So many of you are going through things that are much more difficult than anything that I have to face right now, but you still took the time to send me good wishes. Many, many thanks.

I still sometimes think it's weird having virtual friends out there from all over the world who probably wouldn't recognize me if we walked past each other on the street but who take a few moments to send me hugs and support when I need it.

"Do one thing a day that scares you," said Eleanor Roosevelt. I read this on someone's blog quite recently. If you're the person who posted it, bravo!

It's something I sincerely believe, but geez, it never seems to get easier. Take my conference this morning. I think it went fairly well, considering the stress, the fact that we had NO IDEA at all what they would talk about and the fact that the discussion was sometimes quite technical. On top of that, I hadn't been given the right start time. I got an e-mail a few weeks ago, saying that the meeting would start at 11 a.m. When I arrived at the hotel last, I saw my contact person, chatting with someone in the lobby. Thank goodness she was there. The meeting was scheduled to start at 10. I dashed to my room and called my team mate, who happens to live here (I'm blogging from the airport right now, waiting for my flight home). No answer. I e-mailed him this morning. No answer. I called back again several times. Just the answering machine.

At 9:55 a.m. he arrived, having only checked his messages about half an hour earlier. As he walked into the lobby of the hotel, I looked at him and said, "I love you." It was quite funny. He's over 6 feet tall and very reserved. I'm 4'10" (when I stand up really tall) and full of beans. We were in the booth and ready to work right on time.

I'm extremely hard on myself, a perfectionist to the tips of my fingers, so all I can tell you about my "performance" today--and it really is performance art--is that I made a few mistakes. I'm always really shocked when this very demanding client calls me back. This is the fourth year I've done this meeting and I guarantee you, I'll be shocked if I do it again next year. It never seems to get easier and it really is a fearful experience.

I think I probably have a pretty high fear threshold, at least work-wise, but this meeting scares the pants off me. The crazy thing is, if they ask me to do it again next year, I will.

Thanks, Eleanor. And thank you!

P.S. If you're wondering about this picture of Eleanor Roosevelt, I just thought it was too a-propos to not post. The photo shows her giving a speech at the United Nations and wearing headphones so that she can listen to the simultaneous translation when people are speaking languages other than English. My job is to be one of the voices that come out of headphones like the ones Eleanor was wearing, though no, I don't work at the U.N. since you need at least three working languages and I only have two, French and English. I really should have worked on my Spanish. Oh well.

P.P.S. Diane, I can't wait to read your post and I'm honoured that you're going to link to my blog.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Blues

November tends to get me down. I'm usually extremely busy and end up feeling harried and overworked. This year, I just feel down. I'm not working every day, but I do have a major translation that's due soon, plus all my regular craziness work-wise. This evening I'll be taking the plane to go to a short and hugely nerve-wracking meeting on Thursday morning. The one saving grace is that I stay in a beautiful boutique hotel (all expenses paid) in a city that's been classified as a UNESCO world heritage site. Unfortunately, I don't really appreciate it, due to the nerves!

There are also some family things happening. They'll be worked out, but I'm a worrier.

My uncle died recently, I just found out one of my high-school teachers died this summer at 68, which isn't old at all, and my brother-in-law's dad will probably be celebrating his last Christmas this year. The generational torch is being passed on...to my generation. I'm not ready to be so old.

I still have to be careful with how much walking I do. I'm restricted to super-light yoga. Not much moving around, alas.

So boo-hoo.

Now's the time to remind myself of how many good things I have in my life.

Oh, and I'm not planning to drown my sorrows in chips, chocolate or even too many walnuts, so not to worry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere!

As if we didn't know it already, today's Globe and Mail has two (count 'em, two) little articles on the importance of drinking water. Read them both here.

In a nutshell, water is good for your brain. Add that to the list of watery goodness.

Just one little note: water doesn't just come in a glass. To quote the Globe:
Increase your water intake by eating more soup, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Drink up and eat up your water, friends!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weight and the Speed Demon


Weight loss warriors are concerned with numbers: pounds (or kilos) lost; how long this is all taking (how many pounds per week, how many months--or even years--to reach goal); how many calories per day eaten; how many calories per day burned. It all comes down to a numbers game and to speed. Get there ASAP!!!

Well today, I'd like to slow all of this down, right where it all starts: at the plate. Everyone's thinking about WHAT they're eating--how many calories, how much food value--but have you thought about how fast you're eating?

People with weight issues and eating disorders often share one feeling: guilt. Whether on a diet or on a binge, guilt is always there. Even saying that you're "on plan" implies that the guilt of going "off plan" is lurking around the corner, ready to pounce. And since food is like a wild animal, ready to attack, we also fear it.

Now, let's do a little bit of weight math. What do guilt + fear equal? Answer: speed. Eat fast, get away from the food, hide from the enemy! Save yourself! The faster you get away from the table, the plate, or even the fast food container, the safer you will be.

NOT.

While most of us are--our want to be--highly aware of caloric values (for both food and exercise) we tend to put aside the "softer" yet just as scientific fact that your brain does not register satiety immediately. In other words, you can continue to strongly feel food cravings long after your stomach has had enough. Silly brain, it's just not all that fast at sending the "all full" signal as it should be. This is a fact, a scientific fact--and it's just as important to keep in mind as the number of calories you've eaten or burned.

Our mission, therefore, is to help the brain "catch up" with the stomach and the best way to do this is to slow down your eating.

Let me be the first to admit that I, like many of you, do not like to eat slowly. Given half the chance, I would hoover down my food, especially when I'm really, truly and honestly hungry.

So here, for your benefit and mine (yes, I need to remind myself of all kinds of things every single day) are a few quick (pardon the pun) tips on slowing down your eating:

  • prepare your plate: don't take a little bit of this, go back to the fridge or the pantry and get a little bit of that, repeat, repeat--you'll only end up eating more than you want or need;
  • always put your utensils down between bites; if you're eating finger food or a sandwich, put the food back down on your plate between bites;
  • chew slowly and thoroughly; no, I won't suggest a certain number of chews--it's up to you;
  • Drink more water. There are many schools of thought as to when you should drink the water. Some say before the meal, some suggest sipping water during the meal, other say after. Choose what's best for you or what the "experts" you believe in say. I don't know. I just drink water;
  • ENJOY your food; yes, this may be hard! Eat food you like and savour it. Then, you won't feel hard done by, "on a diet", raring to get back to eating what you want once you've reached goal weight... because we know where that leads...
DON'T try to flee the table; MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR FOOD and eat it slowly!! It will be a much more enjoyable and much less fraught experience.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Never Ask

Oh, the embarrassment!

There's one question you should never ask a woman of child-bearing years: are you pregnant?

Last night, I ran into someone I don't see very often. She's someone I really like, it's just that what with everyone's busy schedule, we don't get together very often. The last time I'd seen her (back in August), she had been sitting at a table and we only talked for a few minutes.

This time, I was the one sitting down and she was standing up, so I got perhaps a slightly skewed view of her as we talked. I've always known her as quite a heavy woman, but last night I couldn't help noticing her very prominent, rounded belly. She really looked very, very pregnant, even for someone who's already quite heavy.

After some to-ing and fro-ing in my mind, I decided to ask if she was pregnant. After all, I think we like each other quite a bit and it would have been impolite to NOT ask, especially if she was ready to pop in a month or so, which is exactly the way she looked.

So I asked.

And she answered...very graciously..."No, I'm just fat." She couldn't have taken it better and I couldn't have felt worse.

Let that be a lesson to us all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hip Report

I saw my surgeon this morning and there's actually not much to report. My x-rays are perfect--although I know from experience often x-rays do not tell the whole story. We're going to wait and see. I have another appointment in six months (normally I see him once a year) and if I'm not better, we'll do a bone scan. The good thing is that my surgeon does take me very seriously, after all that I've been through. Whatever I want done--he will do it.

I had an interesting discussion with the radiology technician while we were doing my x-rays. She was poking at my hip bones to line up the machine and I asked her about the size of the patients she sees. She said that most people are not too heavy and that I, for instance, was relatively "thin" (yes, she actually said "thin"!) so it was easy to find the right bones. Well, she was exaggerating a tad, I think, but it sure did feel nice. She also said that she feels we have less obesity here in Canada and commented on the gigantic portion sizes she saw on a recent trip to the States. She kept asking for doggy bags because there was just too much food.

My surgeon's secretary also commented on how good I look. A few less pounds and a longer "do". Works wonders!

So, all in all, the game plan is to just keep on keeping on. I'm not going to go back to my mega-walks right away. I'll have to build up to them again. I'm also going to keep working with my yoga therapist and...we'll see.

Keep your fingers crossed, friends!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Still Starving After All These Years


Sorry Paul Simon, but I just couldn't resist.

The other day, I was reading the daily blog post of a true weight-loss warrior (WLW). WLW has set up a rigorous schedule of exercise complemented by a strict regimen of "clean", healthy food. The weight-loss results so far have been excellent. Will WLW be able to keep up this "perfect" behaviour until reaching goal weight? Will WLW be able to then maintain the loss? I don't know, but I certainly wish WLW all the best.

In the middle of a recent post, though, WLW took a moment to indulge in a bit of self-criticism. It wasn't enough to exercise faithfully and eat only good foods. No, WLW was not losing weight as fast as "this person" (TP). (I will not supply the link.) I, of course, clicked on the link to see what TP was doing. Yes, she's losing scads of weight. Why? She's starving herself. I looked at her food intake for the day and the only big number there was the number of glasses of water she's drinking. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with any of the food she's eating, there's just not enough of it.

TP is not a model for anyone to follow. After all the studies that have been done showing that starvation slows down the metabolism and leads to rapidly regaining all the weight plus more, we continue to idolize the starvation brigade.

I guess people still want quick results, even if it means destroying their metabolism and having to start over again and again until they just give up.

Nobody likes to hear that slow and steady wins the race.

Sigh.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Respect Your Body

Those who are on a weight loss journey or simply a journey towards better health usually find themselves discovering the wonders of exercise. Over a period of time, they go from huffing and puffing from the car to the sofa to the fridge and back to the sofa to walking a half a mile, five miles, treadmilling, elliptical training, running marathons, ...

It's beautiful, isn't it?

Absolutely! However...

As someone whose body forces her to make difficult decisions regarding what she can and can't do without doing herself serious harm, I would like to make a plea to you lucky people: exercise but listen to your body's signals.

When your ankle starts throbbing on your daily run, when your back suddenly seizes up while weight lifting, don't work through it. You could be setting yourself up for permanent damage down the road.

If you can, find a competent personal trainer and invest in a few private sessions. Look for someone who preferably doesn't use a whip as a training accessory, someone who recognizes that most of us are not training for the Olympics, someone who wants you to do your best, not their best. Exercise for the long run. You want your body to be working with you in twenty years, not against you.

If you are in your thirties, now's the time to learn to exercise for the long haul. You're still young but you're not invincible--much as you think you are. Exercise smart, not macho. Your body will thank you for it now and in the future.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not Being Thankful Enough


After my second hip surgery and recovery I started getting really antsy about exercise. Unfortunately, due to arthritis in my knee, I found myself unable to do very much except very gentle yoga and walking. Well, I wasn't thankful enough about being able to do even that.

Because my operated hip has been giving me grief recently, I have had to stop walking and boy do I miss it. I have been avoiding any sort of walk that's more than 5 minutes in an effort to let my hip rest. My yoga therapist and I think that somehow I've irritated some soft tissue around the implant and the only real solution is rest. My yoga practice is so gently you practically wouldn't know it's there and what with little to no walking, I feel half-alive.

Today, I decided to give my hip a bit of a whirl. I had to go to work, followed by a dentist's appointment and then my yoga lesson. I live about 10 minutes' walk from the subway and the place I was working was maybe another 5 minutes' walk from the subway, so I decided to leave the car at home and try out the hip. My dentist is also right near the subway, so instead of going home, I just went straight to his office and had lunch before going to the appointment.

(Slight parentheses: I ordered a tuna wrap for lunch at a fast food place. It really seemed quite good--lots of veggies and not at all loaded with mayo. But I was shocked at how big it was. It probably weighed about 250 grams or more. The NewMe ate less than half, wrapped up the rest and now it's sitting in the fridge. I might not get around to ever finishing it.)

After my dentist's appointment, I walked home. It just didn't make sense to take the bus. I would have had to walk over to the bus (it wasn't right next door) and then walk a long block home once I'd gotten off the bus. So I walked another 15 minutes or so. It's 5:10 p.m. right now and I've already clocked over 10,000 steps. (My yoga teacher lives in a hard place to get to by public transit so I did take my car to get there.)

I think the jury's still out on how I feel. I can "feel" my hip joint, which is not good, but I don't feel really bad. Tonight, I'll try to take it easy. Lots of TV watching. Is anyone watching "Flashforward"? As a rule, I don't like science fiction, but this show is pretty cool. I also happen to know the man who wrote the book the show is based on.

I'm seeing my surgeon next Wednesday. Gotta rest more between now and then.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This Time I REALLY Lost It

Today I was working with that hyprocritic holy-roller I mentioned a few days ago.

"You really didn't understand me," said she and launched into the same song and dance.

And I lost it. Yes, I screamed at her, in a sound-proof booth, during the coffee break with enough ambient noise that even though the door to the booth was open, my scene probably went unnoticed.

The best and the worse part was seeing her cringe and hold her hands over her ears. "Please don't scream," she pleaded and I continued to do so. I was screaming for myself and for all my colleagues who can't stand working with her. I was screaming in frustration because I know it won't change a thing in her weird and nasty behaviour and because there is unfortunately no way that I can avoid working with her. No way whatsoever.

There are probably lots of karmic reasons why I did the wrong thing, but honestly, I had had it up to here.

This reaction was probably not good for my health and certainly not good for my blood pressure. I regret having been violent towards myself, but that's the full extent of my regret.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Headless Fatties

Why is it that fatties cut off their own heads in pictures? Is it because they want to remain anonymous and just concentrate on how shamefully fat they are?

The "headless fattie" pic is a cheap trick employed by people who want to illustrate articles on the obesity epidemic by using "horror" shots. It may also be a liability issue: If I stumble across a picture of myself (face and all!) that someone has taken without my knowledge and is using without my consent, I might have a right to sue them. But why are we doing this to ourselves?

I think it all comes down to self-loathing. Come on people! Do you really think that losing weight is going to miraculously turn you from a self-loather into a self-worshipper?

For years, I hated having my picture taken. I'm still not crazy about it. But aside from a picture of my hairy legs that I took just to see how weird they looked (and no, I'm not going to publish it), I do not have any headless fattie pictures of myself.

If you want to maintain your privacy, I can certainly understand, but please take a moment to think about your headless self and consider putting a head, a face and a personality on that body, no matter what size you are. Wherever you are on your weight-loss/self-acceptance journey, you are a person, not just a blob of fat.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Small, Important Realizations

About a month after I started blogging I wrote a whiny post about how slowly I was losing weight. It's strange looking back on those first posts that I had essentially just written to myself.

Well, I've continued to lose weight at a pace slightly slower than watching paint dry, molasses run (l0l)...you get the idea. But there has been a change: how I feel about this. Now, I'm proud.

I'm proud that despite my inability to do serious exercise (at the moment, I'm even being super careful about walking too much), those tenths of a kilo are slowly coming off.

I'm proud that despite the fact that I really hate to eat without reading the paper or a book, I have been getting better and better at hearing the physical cues my body sends me concerning fullness. I now religiously put down my sandwich or my fork between bites and wait a few moments before picking it up again. No, I don't eat particularly slowly and yes, I still read or do the crossword while I eat, but I have changed the way I eat.

I'm proud that I eat what I want and when I want. Last Sunday, my second day of bedrest, I really wasn't hungry. I had breakfast around 10 a.m. but I had barely moved and I heard my body telling me that it really didn't want to eat much. At about 2:30, I had my son bring me a toasted bagel with butter, a glass of milk and half a pear. I left about a quarter of my bagel on the plate.

Another wonderful change is that I feel less and less deprived. When I first started out in January, I still felt really resentful about not being able to eat like a "normal" person. My acupuncturist's assistant had calculated that just to maintain my weight, I would have to eat no more than 1,275 calories per day. You read that right: 1,275 calories if I didn't want to gain weight, less if I wanted to lose weight. Now, I'm eating pretty much what I want. I don't often indulge in sweets but when the sweet is worth it, yes I'll have a small piece.

I'm still often surprised to hear my "little voice" reminding me that I'm full and that I can have some more later if I really want. After a lifetime of dieting, or beating myself up because I wasn't dieting, it's still a novel experience. I suspect it will continue to be a novel experience for a long time to come. And that's OK.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Is Hallowe'en Scary?

There's lots of talk about Hallowe'en in the weight-o-sphere. Some see it as the first day of the hardest season of the year--a time when the floodgates open and junk food rushes in, aided and abetted by the overeating monster. Who needs a costume when you can gussy up that fatsuit all by yourself!

This year, I'm not feeling particularly worried. I will go out and buy a few bags of candy for the kiddies. I don't know whether my boys are planning to go out or not (they're both teenagers now). Maybe I'll get them to man the front door. I just hate jumping up and down to answer the door, especially when it's cold out.

I promise you, I WILL eat a few of those wonderful little packs. I'll probably stick to what I love the most: chocolate. I will enjoy what I eat. I will savour what I eat. I will not inhale it. And I'll make it my treat, not my meal.

Can I trust myself? I think so. A few weeks ago, my younger son had his birthday party. His birthday's actually in the summer, but we celebrate either earlier or later so that he can invite all his school buddies. One of D.'s friends brought him--I kid you not--about a half a dozen bags of candy as a gift. I was not amused, but what's a mom to do? When your kid is 14, you can't just grab the bags and throw them out. At that age, they should have a say. So D. took his favourite candies and hid them away. He eats a few from his stash every day. There were, however, some little licorice pellets that he left out for the guests and there were a lot left over after the party. I put them in a Tupperware in the pantry. I guess I'm like most of us--I hate to throw out food. No one has eaten those candies except me. Every few days, I take a handful and try to eat one at a time. And that's it. It's enough for me. There's still about a week's worth of candy left.

So that's why I'm not worried about Hallowe'en. And since we'll have much better candy in the house for awhile, I might even throw away the rest of the licorice candies. They're OK, but not great.

Are you worried about Hallowe'en?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Lurve Gok

(Image from The Sun newspaper.)

Gok Wan is a British fashion consultant who hosts a fabulous TV show called "How to Look Good Naked". He's flamboyant, gay, and I think he's one of the only TV personalities on the air right now who truly loves and accepts women as they are. He helps heavy, often out-of-shape ladies to see how beautiful they really are. Some may think this is a bad idea. Gok doesn't lecture them on their weight, or tell them that if they only got in shape and ate better, their lives and their health would improve immeasurably. Instead, he helps them to love themselves as they are in the here and now.

I totally agree with Gok's approach. I really don't think you can make positive changes in your life if your starting point is self-loathing. "I'm such a fat pig. I've got such ugly legs and bat-wing arms" and on, and on it goes. Self-image is so deeply rooted in one's psyche that no matter how many changes do take place, often the individual doesn't see them and continues to view him or herself as ugly, undeserving and profoundly unworthy. If you haven't transformed your mind and your attitude towards yourself, the physical transformation likely won't last very long and you'll be back where you started: in physically and emotionally bad shape...with a few extra pounds to spare!

It's a fine line to tread. You have to accept yourself as you are today if you want to make a real, long-lasting change.

So, I "lurve" Gok, as they say in Britain. And I lurve him even more, knowing that he was once extremely overweight himself. According to the Wikipedia entry, he lost a huge amount of weight in a short time by crash dieting--which certainly isn't the way I do things. But I lurve him nevertheless because he too has been there and done that and the love and compassion he shows for the women he works with is just so beautiful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blowing Off Steam

What do you do when you're accused of asking for too many favours when it's actually the accuser who does this all the time?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Fad Diet

What's the secret to losing weight? Yes, the REAL secret, the one that's going to change your life? Are you ready? Is the suspense killing you?

In the long run, no matter how you do it, the answer is simple: eat less, move more.

So naturally, I was both unsurprised and dissappointed to see an article on the latest fad diet to hit the newspapers and the wallets of people seeking the magic weight loss bullet: the cookie diet.

I read this article a few days ago in the Globe and Mail, but here it is in the New York Times. Read it and weep. Yes, any diet will work if you stick to it religiously, but come on, or should I say "puhleez"? Fifty-six US greenbacks a week for cookies plus one real meal a day? I don't call this a diet. In my opinion, it's just another recipe for disordered eating.

About 14 years ago, I did one of those "two shakes a day plus one real meal" plans. My husband even joined me and we both lost weight. I bet you know that we gained all that weight back and some extra weight to boot. And rather quickly, as I recall.

It always bears repeating: to lose weight, you have to eat real food. Restricting yourself to cookies, bananas, grapefruit or special bars is ridiculous. OK, if it works for you, great. But you're probably one in a million.

I hope that today, you'll all be eating real, nutritious food in reasonable quantities and moving your body any way you want. And if you really need it, save some room for a cookie, just don't make it your whole meal!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I've Always Been Fat (Or at Least Thought I Was)

I have always felt there is a difference in approach and attitude to weight loss depending on whether you're going back to your previous non-heavy self or aiming for something completely new.

I was always a chubby child--never grossly overweight, but definitely chubby. I grew into a chubby, non-athletic teenager. I hated gym, not because I didn't like to move, but because I was just not a gifted (or even decent) athlete. Knowing that you will always be chosen last in team sports does not make you look forward to gym class.

I never ever looked anywhere near the norm: no flat stomach or long, lean legs for me! The fact is, though, that many people--even when their weight is perfectly fine--just don't fit the norm. Objectively speaking, there have been times in my life when my weight was perfectly acceptable. But I have always had a bit of a paunch, even at a good weight for me. Of course, when I've been at a higher weight, the paunch is bigger. Bottom line, though: the paunch is always there and believing that I'm going to get rid of it without a tummy tuck is just wishful thinking.

So I have two questions:

How do you imagine yourself in a slimmer body, when you don't really feel you've ever had that body?

And perhaps even more importantly, are you trying to love your body as it is now and as it will be when you get down to the weight you want--even if you still don't look like a fashion model?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Biggest Loser: My Take

I'm now on Day 2 of my weekend resting marathon, continuing to lie in bed (a little grammar note: you lie, not lay, in bed--maybe one day I'll bend your ears with an explanation of that common error...) and trying desperately to avoid total frustration!

For better or for worse, we have a TV in our bedroom, a leftover from my many months of convalescence from two surgeries a few years ago. In the past day and a bit, I have been spending too much time watching TV. This morning, I decided to swallow my bile and watch "The Biggest Loser", more or less from start to finish. In my opinion, it was disgusting.

TBL is an entertainment program that thinks it's rendering a public service. The media is all abuzz with America's obesity crisis so it's not surprising that an enterprising network soul decided to cash in on the hysteria and create TBL. Ooh, what fun! Pitting people against each other, tears, fake praise ("this guy is like a brother to me, the best person I've ever known...but here's your name--oops, your head--on a platter and you're out of here"), anger, insults and the promise that finally, you, the fat slob, will come out of the fatsuit and emerge as a beautiful swan.

I've got to digress here. TBL reminds me so much of a character in the Archie comic books. I don't remember her name and I don't know if she's still part of the Archie cast of characters, but does anyone remember the ugly, fat girl? I remember an issue where this girl was somehow transformed into a gorgeous, perfectly coiffed and dressed slim girl. Then, just as suddenly, the beautiful body burst apart and out emerged the ugly, fat girl that everyone knew and (didn't) love. The transformation had been real, but only temporary and the poor girl had to go back to her miserable, fat existence.

Of course, this is not the message that TBL is trying to transmit. However, that is precisely what will no doubt happen to a number of the contestants and viewers. Instantaneous just doesn't work. And by "instantaneous", I mean the length of one TV season. Creating a radical change by taking people out of their normal environment and imposing a totally unrealistic regimen of diet and exercise on them will yield quick results...quick and usually fleeting.

I was also horrified to see how destructive it is to a person's self-esteem to "only" lose a pound or two in a week. On the episode I just watched this is exactly what happened to two of the women contestants. I think that one must never forget the influence of monthly hormonal fluctuation on women's weight loss. It can never be overstated. I saw two women crushed by their failure. OK, maybe they were "asked" by the producer to look so crestfallen, but this is not healthy, either for them and for viewers, who I suspect often know little about the factors that make for consistent and permanent weight loss.

Superficial and psychologically violent--TBL is a big winner for the network and its advertisers. Is it a significant player in helping people to reach better physical and psychological health? I think not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hip Non-Update

First, thanks for the words of encouragement! It really helps.

I faxed my surgeon a message on Friday, since it's really hard to reach his secretary on the phone. I'm hoping to hear from his office with an appointment date at the beginning of the week.

My yoga teacher basically spent an hour doing breathing exercises with me yesterday. She's also put on my total bed rest for the weekend. I'm typing this on my netbook while reclining in bed. I hate this!

In the meantime, I've got a few subjects that I'd like to talk about here and hopefully that will keep me from going totally stir crazy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Pressing Concerns

I' ve started having hip pain on my operated side. It's only been five years since the last surgery and frankly, I'm freaking out. I haven't called my surgeon yet and I do already have a scheduled appointment in about six weeks. I'm hesitating to call, honestly because I'm afraid of what might be happening. I'll probably call his office at the latest next week.

So please bear with me if I'm a little less present on this site.

Thanks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Well-Meaning Advice

In 2006, I suffered my third ruptured disk. I won't go through the details. Suffice to say it was one of the most painful experiences of my life and certainly one of the most fear-inducing. You just don't know if it will ever sort itself out or if you'll be living in pain for the rest of your life.

Once the pain was pretty much gone, I set out to find an acupuncturist to help me manage the situation. My beloved acupuncturist in Montreal had given me the name of a few Toronto acupuncturists that she recommended and one of them had his office very close to my home. I booked an appointment.

The acupuncturist was a lithe, handsome Japanese man. He spent a long time with me at each appointment and seemed genuinely concerned with helping me. But to my mind, he made a huge mistake. The first thing he commented upon when we met was my weight. I definitely had to lose weight in his opinion. Period. My hackles went up immediately and stayed up. I did not go to him for long.

Did I need to lose weight? Well, duh. Yes of course I did. Was I morbidly obese? No, nor have I ever been, but yes, I was "overweight". But how did this obviously naturally slim man get off telling me what to do? I am quite sure that this man has never had nor will he ever have an issue with his weight. We all know people like that and let me tell you, no matter how well-meaning they are, they have absolutely no right to lecture me or anyone else on weight control.

About a month after the disc episode, I met my yoga teacher. During our first lesson, I threw down the gauntlet and told her that I was willing to do the work, but I wanted to get the weight thing out of the way immediately. I knew I was overweight and she didn't need to remind me. Her reaction was swift and comforting. She had no intention of shaming me. She was there to help me to help myself. Three years plus later, we're still working together.

Which leads me to recommend you read this article about doctors and the advice they should (or should not) give to their overweight patients.

Personally, I agree with the doctor in the article. The vast majority of overweight people feel enough shame already. I really don't think badgering them will help any. In the end, we make up our own minds and the trigger for the "big decision" can come from anywhere and not necessarily from the "experts". If the doctors had that much power to change our minds, there would be a lot fewer smokers in the world too!

Writing this post has been helpful to me personally. I know that there are people I love whom I lecture about weight loss. I have literally said, "it's because I love you". Well, I'm going to try and rein myself in. Love or no love, threats or no threats, we all come (or never come) to that turning point on our own.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Orthorexia

WARNING: This is another post in my series of hard questions and serious reflexion. No, I am not targeting "you". I just think this is an interesting topic that warrants thought and debate.

The other day, I was having lunch at a sushi restaurant with two colleagues. Neither are slim--they are painfully thin. From what I can tell, they are both addicted to exercise. They also both "watch what they eat", although I have seen one of them drinking a high-calorie food supplement. He knows that he is actually way too thin for his own health. The other colleague seems to enjoy her food, though for the life of me, I can't understand why she would use that vile, low-calorie, chemical-laden dressing on her salads.

We were looking over the menu when L. turned to me and asked if I'd heard that drinking three cups of green tea per day is said to lower your likelihood of developing colo-rectal cancer by 79%. He was both serious and a bit mocking. How did they come to such a precise number? Why not around 75-80%, for instance?

And thus ensued an interesting discussion of orthorexia.

Have your ever heard the term "orthorexia"?

From Wikipedia:

Orthorexia, or orthorexia nervosa is a term coined by Steven Bratman, a Colorado MD, to denote an eating disorder characterized by excessive focus on eating healthy foods. In rare cases, this focus may turn into a fixation so extreme that it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death.[1][2]

Bratman coined the term in 1997 from the Greek orthos, "correct or right", and orexis for "appetite"[3]. Literally "correct appetite", the word is modeled on anorexia, "without appetite", as used in definition of the condition anorexia nervosa. Bratman describes orthorexia as an unhealthy obsession (as in obsessive-compulsive disorder) with what the sufferer considers to be healthy eating. The subject may avoid certain foods, such as those containing fats, preservatives, animal products, or other ingredients considered by the subject to be unhealthy; if the dietary restrictions are too severe or improperly managed, malnutrition can result. Bratman asserts that "emaciation is common among followers of certain health food diets, such as rawfoodism, and this can at times reach the extremes seen in anorexia nervosa." In addition, he claims that "anorexic orthorexia" can be as dangerous as anorexia. However, he states, "the underlying motivation is quite different. While an anorexic wants to lose weight, an orthorexic wants to feel pure, healthy and natural.

And from this article in the Guardian, a well-respected British newspaper:

Orthorexics commonly have rigid rules around eating. Refusing to touch sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods is just the start of their diet restrictions. Any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives are also out.

The obsession about which foods are "good" and which are "bad" means orthorexics can end up malnourished. Their dietary restrictions commonly cause sufferers to feel proud of their "virtuous" behaviour even if it means that eating becomes so stressful their personal relationships can come under pressure and they become socially isolated.

Yes, of course you can be careful about what you eat without suffering from full-blown orthorexia! I repeat (because there are readers who are going to accuse me of attacking their incredibly healthy, fine eating): OF COURSE YOU CAN BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT WITHOUT SUFFERING FROM ORTHOREXIA. Clear? Now, you know where I stand.

I grew up in the 1960s when everybody ate marshmallow Fluff on white bread, the only cooking oil you could buy was corn oil and nobody thought it was necessary to think about eating enough fruits and veggies...except for my mom. White bread never crossed our door. Peanut butter came from the health food store and was free of sugar and salt. Baked goods were as rare as hen's teeth in our home.

I grew up in a household where healthy eating reigned supreme. My mom worshipped Adele Davis.

Of course, I rebelled and lusted mightily after all things junky and sweet. I still like sweets. It's just the way I am. But the basics that my mom taught me did stick in my mind.

When I started developing arthritis (it runs in the family), I consulted a number of alternative medicine practitioners in an effort to slow down the disease. At one time or another, I cut out all the usual culprits: refined sugar, wheat, dairy. Then I cut out "evil" foods masquerading as my friends: brussel sprouts, grapes, tomatoes, eggplant...

I've told this story before. None of these virtuous plans ever did me a lick of good. I finally decided that my mother's guidance was good enough for me: a variety of foods, whole grains inasmuch as possible (you'll have to pry the occasional piece of baguette that I eat out of my cold, dead hands), fruits, vegetables, meats, but very small amounts of junk food and processed sweets. No orthorexia for me!

But recently, I've had to ask myself whether I'm more concerned about virtuous eating than I thought.

There are a few weight-loss bloggers out there who are losing scads of weight eating whatever they want, though in modest amounts. Generally speaking, my reaction to them is BRAVO! They're not trying to cram themselves into strict plans that consider many ordinary foods to be the devil's spawn. They've made peace with food, in their own way, just as I'm trying to do.

However, now I'm starting to worry about these wonderful people. Junk food can be awfully tasty and just fine from time to time but if there are no apples in the mix, if green beans only get on the plate every few weeks or so (I'm not quoting anyone's diet in particular, here--just speaking in generalities), if squash is just a dream, I have to ask myself: are my admirable friends going to stay healthy?

Weight loss and more exercise are fabulous. Reasonable portions are to be applauded, but I hear my mom calling and she's saying "eat your veggies, have some fruit, choose healthy over empty calories more often"!

So here I am, as usual out on my own personal ice floe. I don't feel comfortable with food purity, I do applaud people who can make peace with their food and don't have to hide from the occasional piece of pizza as if it were poison but I do think we should stress eating a well-balanced diet that's based on nutrient-rich foods.

What do you think?

P.S. I have thought long and hard about posting this. I know that everybody has their own "what works best". I am incredibly impressed with the successes I see around me but I cannot help feeling somewhat ill at ease with both the purists and the "anything goes as long as I'm losing" crowd. I admit that I fear being bashed by both sides because of this post. I guess I'd better don my flak jacket...



Friday, October 16, 2009

Grammar and Spelling for the Weight-loss Crowd


I work with language day in and day out, so bear with me. I tend to be picky, but I also believe that proper grammar and spelling make for better communication.

Let's slim down the word "loose" by one letter: o. That way you will lose weight and your clothes will become loose.

English may be the world's most popular language, but it's not easy to spell. Spanish, French, German--all these languages have much more difficult grammar, but their spelling is much easier.

Don't ask me why lose and loose have their "o"s pronounced the same way though the words are written differently and have a different meaning, they just are.

OK, have I driven you completely around the bend? The good news is, it's Friday. Happy weekend.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clothes That Fit


No, these are not photos of my derriere, nor is that my house (though I do rather like the built-ins). These photos were in an e-mail I received from aBritish website devoted to intuitive eating.

Please don't roll your eyes and get all huffy thinking that I'm going to try to convince you for the nth time that intuitive eating is where it's at. Keep reading.

These are clearly "before and after" pictures, right? Wrong! You see before you the same woman in the same room (did I mention how much I love built-ins?) and taken the SAME DAY!

The difference is that in photo #1, she's wearing pants (that's trousers, for my British readers) that are two sizes too big and in the second, she's wearing pants that fit.

One of the things that goes out the window when we start gaining weight or find ourselves at a weight that we really don't like, is nice, well-fitting clothing. Pants get baggy, t-shirts get bigger, and let's not even talk about a flattering haircut or a touch of lipstick. I myself am not a big fan of make-up, but I realized before I started out on my journey to a NewMe that I was no longer happy with the way I looked and I was not going to do anything to make myself look nicer (like wearing that dab of lipstick or putting on a nice pair of earrings). It just didn't seem worth it.

As soon as I lost a few pounds all of this changed. I ran out and bought a beautiful pair of small wale corduroys and felt like a million dollars. OK, I should have waited a bit longer because now those cords look a tad baggy, but it was worth it. I was wearing something that was nice and well-fitting for a change.

Like many of you, I have wardrobes for all sizes and I probably should get rid of a lot of those clothes (especially that late 80s black suit with big shoulders and yellow trim--it really did look nice when I bought it, believe me). But I am glad that I've kept some things like the black jeans I discovered yesterday afternoon, going through an overflowing drawer of pants and shorts. I didn't recognize these jeans, couldn't for the life of me remember where they came from, but I tried them on and they fit very comfortably. Then I remembered: these were the jeans that I was busting out of last December. The jeans that I felt so ashamed about because they were not particularly small but I still couldn't get into them anymore. I'm glad I kept those jeans. On the other hand, I will have to get rid of the lovely black jeans I bought to replace too-small pair #1, because those jeans now make me look like picture #1 above.

So what's my long-winded message? Feel nice about yourself, no matter what weight you're at right now. Don't wait to reach the magic number to look good. Treat yourself nicely now by wearing well-fitting clothes. Your self-esteem will thank you for it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Uh-huh


Well, this place really tests my ability to encourage people to eat what they want. At this restaurant, people over 350 pounds get to feed their obesity for free. I'm not saying that it should be closed down, but it's a pretty sad commentary on how (some) people eat. I'm also rather offended by their blatant use of sexy chicks to sell their product. Sorta makes me think of "Hooters" for the obese set.

Just my humble opinion.

Have any of you actually eaten there?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Cart Before the Horse?

WARNING: I've got some hard questions and some controversial thoughts floating around in my head. Although I'm not fond of riling people up, I also find it hard to be quiet when I see things that worry me. I honestly do care about people--be they strangers who are suffering from inner demons or children who are starving and suffering violence in far-off countries. So if I say something here that you find offensive, please be assured that that's not my goal.

There's a common denominator running through a lot (not all, but a lot) of weight-loss blogs: binge eating. I'm not talking about over-eating. Even thin people do that from time to time. I'm talking about stuffing; the all-encompassing urge to eat everything in sight; the inability to eat one or two, or even five or ten whatevers but rather to demolish the whole box or two at one sitting, no matter how physically sick that makes you feel.

I'm just describing what I've read on blogs out there. This is not an experience I've had myself, though yes, I know exactly what over-eating feels like.

I certainly admire the honesty these bloggers have shown--their ability to talk openly about their suffering, their painful self-awareness. What I don't understand is why the solution to binge eating seems to be first and foremost dieting: in other words, "wearing the diet-straight jacket" (I must only eat xyz...I must never eat abc...I must only eat at x time...I must never eat at y time...).

As an innocent bystander, I see dieting as putting the cart before the horse. In fact, I wonder whether dieting is a way of NOT dealing with the root cause of one's binge behaviour.

Self-awareness is a difficult, wonderful thing, but it is nothing but words unless we put it to use. Is the answer to never eat out, purge your home of every "offending" food, etc. etc. or is it to confront the demons lurking behind the disordered food behaviours?

We're all dealing with hard personal issues, though some of us more than others. Physical and mental abuse, especially spousal or directed toward children; illness; financial problems; deep-seated guilt, which is often totally unwarranted; feeling obliged to fit into a mould imposed by society, family, religion--all of these situations and more lead people to engage in extremely disordered behaviour. Sometimes this behaviour is highly anti-social (pedophiles who themselves were sexually abused as children), although more often than not, the disordered behaviour is turned in on oneself.

Binge eating is fundamentally a way to stifle emotions. It is a powerful control mechanism with powerful side-effects. But isn't dieting also a control mechanism? I must not, I will not, I cannot, I should not. And while bingeing can only make the pain go away for a limited time, straight-jacket dieting can only keep the beast at bay for a limited time. The underlying problems will still be there, festering, growing, unsolved, clawing to come back to the surface.

Binge eaters say that they cannot "do" intuitive eating. I can understand that. Following your intuition--your feelings--is seen as leading to a melt-down. Your feelings are telling you to eat, not your stomach, not even your taste buds. These feelings are so overwhelming that the food has nothing to do with eating.

For binge eaters, food is NOT just food.

So why are people dealing with emotional issues by imposing a food-based solution? Why are people using a bandage solution that can potentially add to the guilt and self-abuse when you go "off plan", as everyone inevitably does?

Eating a more wholesome diet is not a bad thing. Ceasing to rely on empty calories to keep your body going is a good thing. Appreciating a wide variety of food is liberating. That's what food's about.

It's probably much "easier" to engage in straight-jacket dieting than it is to go to couples counselling. leave an abusive situation, go into therapy, confront an abuser, consider new paradigms (you can be a good mom and work outside the home or conversely, maybe it's better to lead a more satisfying life with less stuff by cutting your hours at work, changing careers or taking a hiatus), etc.

Dieting is certainly a more "productive" short-term approach, but the statistics are there to tell us that it's a bust in the long-term. You can run, but you just can't hide. Isn't facing your non-food issues head-on rather than using dieting as a magic bullet precisely what you have to do to successfully deal with disordered eating and lose weight?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving

As I was walking back to my car clutching my brand-spanking-new digital meat thermometer and enjoying the crisp fall weather, I realized that I had much to be thankful for.

I am thankful to have found a wonderful husband. We'll be celebrating 21 years together this January (17 1/2 years married).

I am thankful to have two wonderful children who give me huge amounts of joy.

I am thankful to have relatively good health and a health care system that is always there to take care of me and my family.

I am thankful that my husband and I both have interesting careers and that we don't have to count our pennies to afford a digital meat thermometer. I'm not being facetious. We don't do expensive vacations or have a big, fancy house, but we have a lovely life and want for nothing. There are so many people who are suffering financially or emotionally. I am thankful for what I have.

I am thankful that I live in Canada.

Happy Thanksgiving!