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Twists, Turns and Mountain Pose

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here; most of my weight loss journey switched over to SparkPeople once I found their blog tool. But I always come back to this LiveJournal spot, sooner or later. So many years have been recorded here, it’s worth the effort.

A friend of mine, MicheleT, began doing yoga and enthusiastically singing its praises. It reminded me of how much I enjoyed yoga when I was younger; at seventeen, I was quite limber, and doing the whole routine in the Lilas, Yoga and You paperback was no problem.  I drifted away from it as I grew older, turning to it once again in my twenties to de-stress and lose weight. It worked; of course, I was also only eating peanuts from the vending machine then, too.

But while entering MicheleT’s wonderful Yoga Mat and DVD contest (check it out if it's not too late) I was reminded of the last time I tried to do yoga. I had grown so big at 245 pounds that I couldn’t comfortably do most of the poses, and I took up too much space in our tiny living room. I turned off the DVD and cried. That was a year ago. I’m ninety pounds lighter now, and working my way back to that seventeen-and-flexible stage. While I may never completely get there, I’m in better health—and shape—than I have been in years. A few days ago, I popped in the same DVD that made me weep in shame and discontent last year, and did the whole routine, from start to finish. This time, no tears; however, I couldn’t stop smiling for hours.

It’s good to be back.

1. You don't have to go down the 'embarrassing ointments' aisle at the drugstore nearly as much anymore.

2. Thongs really ARE comfortable, actually.

3. The skin formerly under your belly no longer chafes in warm weather.

Bonus benefit: No one gives you that 'fat thing' glare when your 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' ringtone chimes across the room. :)

Mar. 29th, 2009

One year ago, my mother gave four pairs of size 18, Eddie Bauer-brand, hand-me-down jeans passed along from a friend of hers who thought I might be able to use them. I thanked her, but my heart sank, because there was no way my size 26 butt was going to fit in those pants.

Last night, I grabbed a pair of those same jeans out of the dirty laundry to pull on over my sweats, because the hubby and I were going outside in the snow and sleet for some emergency doghouse repairs. Those size 18s are now my 'fat' and comfy pants, the ones I reach for when I'm bloated or PMS-sore. Even my nifty new size 14s are getting a touch roomy.

And now, this morning, I have another major milestone. I have officially lost 60 lbs.

It's been a really long trek from last September, when I started this mission at 245 lbs. But this morning, I checked the digital scale twice, even checked the batteries just to make sure that 185 reading was real. It is.

Several people have told me that I look great, and often I'll hear it on a day when I really need it. Two have told me that I should stop where I'm at, although that's not going to happen. My end goal is 145 lbs. I'm over halfway there, and it feels so good.

I did this for some personal reasons, although the health benefits have been great: my blood pressure's better, I no longer have trouble with my gallbladder, my knees and ankles don't hurt, and I no longer have to wear high-top tennis shoes for the support, which means strappy little summer sandals, watch out!

I have a few tips for anyone contemplating a similar journey:

1. Eat food you like. It sounds simple enough, but if you follow a diet plan out of a book or buy pre-packaged meals, you'll probably end up with stuff you don't enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, you won't stick with it. That's the reason I tanked out on Atkins and South Beach, because I hated the food. Make up a few meal plans that include foods you like, and never, ever, ever skip breakfast.

2. Work out, and vary your exercise routine. You will, at some point, hit a plateau. Your body gets used to whatever exercise you're doing. Keep it guessing, so it has to work harder. I rotate my five days of exercise between gym days, walk days and home equipment days, and when the weather improves, I'll throw some bike riding in there, too. And yes, I take off two days, staggered in between, to let my body rest.

3. Allow yourself a cheat meal. I learned about this in a book called Hot Point Fitness, along with a lot of workout routines, and it has come in so handy. One meal a week, eat whatever you're craving. One meal in seven days won't derail you, especially if you're working out, and you won't feel like you've failed. Even if you do occasionally cheat, it's no big deal. Just continue on, and don't give up.

Hang in there, and tell me your success story!

Eat well, or eat cheap?

It's no secret that healthy food is more expensive than cheap, filling food, unless you're lucky enough to have a garden. Fresh veggies are pricey in the off-season, and sometimes my weekly bag of spinach just won't fit into the food budget. Protein bars? Luscious, spicy hummus? Fresh broccoli, tomatoes, sprouts and olives for a killer salad? Forget it. I can create a meal for two with a can of Treet and a box of macaroni and cheese for $1.40, but how do I reconcile it with my diet?

When we're having a lean money week, or during emergencies like the recent ice storm that left us out of power and cooking food over flaming hand sanitizer, I make my portions smaller or throw in much more workout time to adjust for the fat content. I also try to shop by specials, and get whatever is cheapest in the veggie department; it could be a bag of baby carrots or a few apples. I'll snack on carrots as I cook, so I'll have more nutrients and eat less of the starchy stuff. I try to plan out cheap meals in advance, during the weeks when I have to spend $20 or less on groceries; dry beans, rice, onions, potatoes, peanut butter and tuna are top choices.  Beans and rice, along with an egg mixed in, makes decent veggie burgers; bake those potatoes instead of frying them, and have peanut butter and apples for lunch instead of the standard bologna-and-simulated-flat-cheese sandwich. Ramen noodles are at the bottom of list, due to the sodium content. Once the bank account fills out a little more, I stock up on frozen spinach, broccoli and stir-fry mixes; when we're really flush, I indulge in blueberries, soy cheese and Boca chicken (mmmm).

The other problem comes hand-in-hand with being broke: being depressed about being broke. Keep your head, and don't blackslide into heaping piles of fried potatoes; remember, this too shall pass, and you'll be back on track in no time. The best diet aid is a great attitude.

Emotional Rescue

While the physical side of weight loss receives the most attention, I've learned not to ignore the emotional side as well. I know I'm an emotional eater, prone to reach for snacks when I'm stressed. I was able to learn about trigger feelings during the first month or so, realizing the difference between true, growling tummy hunger and mouth hunger. I know that sounds strange, but that's the best way to explain it. When I wanted something fattening, I would ask myself, "Is this something I really want? I don't have to eat this." That thought gave me a few seconds to truly listen to my body. Did I want to eat something that simply tasted good and would make me forget pain and stress? Once I could identify the emotional eating, it became easier to switch it off and replace it with an activity that took away calories, like a walk outside.

The other part of emotional well-being during weight loss has been self-esteem, something I've always struggled with throughout my life. It doesn't come automatically as the body changes shape, I have to encourage it along. Each tiny achievement, each positive thought must be reinforced. I had so thoroughly accepted who I was as a fat person that I've spent several weeks wondering who I really was. It's been a roller coaster ride, discovering new things about myself. I've learned to step away from myself a bit, and look at the attitudes and habits. Am I simply doing something for someone else's approval, or is this truly my behavior? My own personality has become a bit stronger, and my esteem continues to to bloom as the pounds fall away. Heeding the advice of an examined life keeps me thinking, and helps me to be comfortable in my own skin.

Sweet Sixteen!

After the first few weeks of rapid weight loss, I experienced a plateau as November rolled in. So I've changed my goals a bit, and I've just achieved the first one: to fit into a size 16 by the end of December. And I did it! To encourage myself, I bought a pair of size 16 jeans the weekend after Thanksgiving, knowing that I would need them by the end of the year. I tried them on the day after Christmas, and they fit. That feeling of success is unbelievably good, and makes it all worthwhile.  I also had a better Christmas Eve this year, since last year I was flattened by the overwhelming pain of an hours-long gallbladder attack. It has been the last one I've suffered, thank goodness.

I also had two other notable moments: I finally dipped below the 200-pound mark two days ago!!!! I've been looking forward to that for a long time. And I set the elliptical machine to 'fitness test' on Monday, something I haven't been able to get through because my heart rate was too high. This time I made it, and it gave me a high fitness rating for my current size and shape. Yay!!! All these little moments keep me energized.

Next up: Size 14 by the end of January!


It’s been nearly three months since I started my weight loss program, and I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds in the process. I’ve marked several milestones along the way, goalposts both aimed for and unexpected:


--walking up the library steps with no knee pain.

--being able to walk anywhere without wheezing.

--working up to 35 minutes on the elliptical machine.

--no longer shopping for clothes in the Plus Size section.

--purchasing, for the first time in years, a large sweater. Not XXL, not 3XL. Large.

--shortly after that, buying a Medium blouse at the thrift store.

--getting checked out by a guy while waiting in line. I’m so unused to that, I wondered if there was a killer scorpion running up and down my side.

--looking forward to gym days, and developing a taste for broccoli.

--hearing compliments from my husband.

--losing 12 percent body fat. So far.


I would like to lose another 45 pounds, and I know the struggle won’t get any easier. Desserts tempt me now, but I do indulge in a ‘cheat day’ every week, with one meal featuring whatever I want. But I feel so much better now, I look better, and I’m more confident. Each day brings a new challenge, and a new reward.

Jesters and Angels in Dreamtime

For most of my life, I’ve suffered from frequent nightmares. The scares range from teenage-based insecurities to vampires, werewolves and world war. But in the last few years, when the dreams have become too frequent and I wake up frustrated and exhausted, my personal dreamscape imports two celebrity personalities to cheer me up.


Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.


I know, it’s the weirdest thing I could have literally dreamed up. And before the ladies (and some of the guys) get revved up over the possibilities, let me burst your bubble: this is not a sexy snark sandwich, even though both have their magnetic charms. Anne Hathaway has swooned over Stewart, and Jane Fonda basically gave a lap dance to Colbert on his show.


No, the sassy pair of wits show up in my dreams to….talk. We discuss writing, mostly, and the twisty bits involved in creating satire. I suppose this means that my ultimate fantasy would be the duo considering me a colleague, the highest honor my dreaming mind could fashion in order to distract me from the nightmares of roaming bloodsuckers. Colbert shows up more often, probably because I identify more with him, a Southern boy who has taken the redneck creed of “Hey, y’all, watch this,” to dizzying heights. I admire both of them, and the massive teams behind each personality, for the subtle turns of phrase and piercing humor. Last time, after a really stressful week of bad dreams, they showed up with some of their writing staff, and we swapped anecdotes as the dreamscape swirled around us all, the backdrop changing like a geographic kaleidoscope. I woke up refreshed, happy and comforted.


Are we all connected through dreamtime? My logical side scoffs, but it is outnumbered by all my flights of fancy. However it happens, I’m thankful that every now and then, I get a break from the scares and have a chance to laugh at them, just like I do four evenings a week in front of the TV.

Salsa is my friend

As I gain strength and lose fat from my workouts, I have more challenges keeping to my diet plan. Namely, how do you make tofu, eggs, and chicken breast interesting night after night? Salsa. Condiments have become very important lately, especially low-sugar BBQ sauce, low-sodium soy sauce and pepper. These things keep me from getting bored, and allow my taste buds to have a little fun. One thing I've noticed is that flavor really 'pops' out now, without bread to dull it down. On rare occasions, I allow myself a slice of nicely sharp Cheddar cheese, along with some deli turkey. The taste is awesome, especially with a slice or two of pickled ginger. Mmmmm.

It's been a month since I started this journey, and I have learned something very important: you can get a decent meal anywhere. We've been on the road working a lot this month, and I've stayed on my diet at Hardee's, Arby's, McDonald's, various Chinese restaurants, Pizza Hut, Olive Garden and more. The most important ingredient in any meal out is one you bring yourself: willpower. I haven't had a slice of bread, a Twinkie, a box of French fries, anything, really, from my old habits, and I haven't been tempted. Every place has offered salads or other workable meals, and I don't feel deprived. That's because the initial weight came off fast, enough to keep me going strong. I'm edging toward 35 pounds lost, slowly working my way toward half my goal.

Weighty Issues

I took a few weeks off the internet, and the change has been good: I've now lost a total of 30 pounds, although I think a couple have slipped back on since I started strength training earlier this week. At first, my diet was extremely strict: no processed foods, no bread, no sugar, no red meat. Although that's what I'm still following, I've added a tiny bit to the portions, since my metabolism requires more for a gym workout. Every day, an hour of exercise, either cardio on the stationary bike and Gravity Rider to yoga to mountain biking on rough, hilly dirt roads to machines at the gym. While my weight hasn't gone down in a few days, my body fat percentage has, and I am starting to feel my muscles emerging from the fat, like long lost friends.

The highlight so far: going though my laundry the other day, setting aside the 2x and 3x clothes that will be donated to the local thrift store, and digging up old XL shirts to wash and wear. I've gone from a size 22-24 to a size 18, and I have no plans on stopping until I hit a size 8. That means buying most of my transitional clothes secondhand, so I don't breeze through a new wardrobe every three months.

I overcame a lot of fears to do this: we joined the local community center, which has a gym, a pool, and..gulp...showers. If you've ever been overweight, you know the fear of public showers. Luckily, these have little curtains, so you don't have to show your big butt around the locker room. My first workout there was Wednesday, and I shouldn't have worried: most people looked just like me, not a teeny pair of shorts in sight. Whew.