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 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.


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.


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) 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.