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adrienne: back on the WW wagon

10 Sep

Did… finished… Warrior Dash this weekend. Kicked its ass. Surprised myself. So there was that.

mud. in. my. eye.

I plan on making a more substantive post about the Dash later this week, but there’s something else on my radar today.

Today I rejoined Weight Watchers.

Several months ago I ended my Weight Watchers online subscription after losing 80 pounds on the program in a year. Then I got stuck on a plateau for eight months. 176 pounds, every week, no matter what I did. My average weight loss or gain during that time was 0.0 pounds.

Now THAT is a plateau.

I stopped tracking my food and then stopped logging in at all. After months of inactivity I felt like I wasn’t getting my money’s worth. I knew that quitting WW was a bad thing to do at the time. I knew that as soon as I stopped tracking–and as soon as I quit–that I’d end up gaining weight.

This plateau is when a lot of people on the program quit or backslide. This is well-documented and everybody knows it. With full knowledge, I quit and became a WW backslider.

There are good and bad things about WW. Its focus on weight loss–the number–isn’t the healthiest way to track a journey to physical fitness, because of the obvious “muscle weighs more and you need to gain muscle, so while you’re gaining muscle to burn more fat your weight loss might plateau or actually reverse” conundrum. With this knowledge, I still knew that I needed the structure in order to control my food addiction. Weight Watchers knows that managing a food addiction is a huge step toward weight loss and a healthy lifestyle and it has developed an incredible system for this purpose.

Left to my own devices, I was fine for a while and then slowly, bad eating habits crept back into my life. Secret eating, snacking, bingeing, ordering delicious full-fat meals when we went out to eat.

Making recipes off Pinterest without regard for their caloric content.

pinterest, you temptress

Fucking Pinterest, man.

I watched a few pounds creep up on me, here and there, and ignored it. But in the doctor’s office last week I learned my weight for the first time in two months. I’d gained 20 pounds since my plateau last summer. I am nearly 200 pounds again.

I’ve talked about “moments” here before. When nothing else will motivate you, you’ll get that spark of motivation, sometimes unexpected–your inspirational moment when you realize something has to change. When I saw 196 on the scale, it hit me hard. It wasn’t as much guilt as it was acceptance of what I knew I’d been doing and the predictable results.

Food addiction is heartbreaking, agonizing, and omnipresent. I hate it when I see people comment on news stories about obesity and say things like, “Eat less and exercise more.” Usually a little more blunt, like “Get off your fat ass and stop shoving cheeseburgers in your mouth” or “Control yourself! It’s not that hard!”

This is partially true. I freely admit that my self control is lacking at times. But in many cases, definitely in mine, there’s the psychology of addiction that lies behind one’s obesity. There’s a reason why Overeaters Anonymous uses the AA 12-step program, changing all references to “alcohol” to “food”. I’ve been to one meeting. Intense. Made me cry. Too religious. But damn… truth.

Being addicted to food is like being addicted to alcohol or drugs, except unlike alcohol or drugs, you need food to live. It’s like telling an alcoholic that in order to live, he or she has to drink one-half serving per day of an alcohol of his or her choice, no more and no less.

Other kinds of addicts backslide too. Every addiction is strong and coping with them is painful. But unlike food addicts, they don’t have to deal with balancing their addiction with their needs. They can eliminate that substance from their life–as terribly hard as that is–and stay clean.

I can’t get clean from food. Food is always there. I need my drug to exist. The potential for abuse is always there.

As an alcoholic, nobody lines up shots of alcohol at work and leaves them out there all day. Nobody walks by your cube and tells you how much she enjoyed her shot and how she will have another one later on.

Today somebody brought in lemon crunch bundt cake and triple chocolate frosted bundt cake and today I have to say no. I have to walk by it to get my yogurt and healthy lunch, try not to look at these cakes (someone just called the chocolate one “UNBELIEVABLE”), try not to smell them. I get to hear everyone rave about it. This is the first step I need to take to get back on the program.

putting myself at risk just to take these

Control myself indeed.

So this is why I need structure, much like someone needs to go to his or her AA meetings every night. I need something telling me how to eat, how to be active. I don’t want to admit that I’m going to need this the rest of my life but I probably will. I know I will.

As negative as this entry may sound, I’m looking forward to going back on the program. I can feel the added weight on my body and I don’t feel healthy. I miss the body I had last summer and I wasn’t even at my goal weight. I’m excited to get back on track but understandably nervous about what will happen when that plateau comes. I could pass it by, I could get stuck again.

We’ll see how it goes.

For now, I’ve got 21 more points for the day and some walking to do.

adrienne: a non-runner’s arc of running: an emotional guide

27 Aug

It’s been two months since I last went running. Before that, probably four months. Since running three to four times per week was the way I lost weight, when I stopped doing it, my body really suffered. I’m plagued with interminable sloth.

And now I’m two weeks away from the Warrior Dash, which is a 5K with twelve obstacles that include cargo nets, ropes to climb, and swimming through muddied holes.

And running a bit through fire.

I kinda signed up for this when I wasn’t thinking about that interminable sloth predicament.

Finally, last night my Dash partner and I decided it was time to start “training”.

This is wrong on so many levels–the least being that I should be resting my body to be prepared for what will be its biggest challenge in its middle-aged life. (Wait, I’m not middle-aged yet, am I? God.) But I can’t rest now. Deliriously, I believe I can re-train myself to run at least two miles over the next two weeks.

Our goal at Warrior Dash? To finish. To cross the finish line, whether running, walking, or crawling. Hopefully not dragging a leg.

Whenever I stop running for a bit and start up again, my body goes through a twelve-step emotional process from start to finish. It is a distinguishable arc that goes as follows:

Fear
- Jesus Christ. I’ve got a race in two weeks and I’m so fucking out of shape that I’m not sure I’ll be able to run a half mile without stopping. I am not even sure where my sports bra is.

Determination
- Never fear! Despite the fact that I haven’t exercised in months, and have gained 15 pounds since my last 5K, I surely must have maintained some level of Epic Cardiovascular Fitness. I can do this!

Hope
- Fuck, I hope I can do this.

“The Trot”
- What my running partner calls what we were doing because she can’t in good faith call it “running.” Our running session begins with a trot; my desire to prove that I haven’t lost any of my endurance through eating massive amounts of chocolate and doing jack shit pushes me to run faster than my body can handle and I begin to lag in the first three minutes.

Seriously. Lag.

The Defib
- My body begins to shut down (dude, you can’t do this) and I have to jump-start it with threats (you’re going to have to do this in two weeks!) and persuasion (just run to the stop sign and then you can stop, but you really won’t let yourself stop but oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to STOP

FOREVER).

Insecurity
- How the fuck did I ever think I could do this.

Self-Loathing
- How the fuck did I let myself get to this point? This is usually when I begin daydreaming of stopping and sitting on a bench, nomming on nutella and peanut butter sandwiches. Last night this stage occurred when I had to take a break to walk and blame the humidity for my gasping. Unfortunately there was no nutella involved, only humility.

Faith
- You’ve done this before; you can do this again. I start running with the renewed strength of something deep down in me driving me to continue.

Psychosomatic heart attack
- OH MY GOD MY CHEST IS HURTING I must be going into cardiac arrest THIS IS THE ONLY EXPLANATION except I’m not really dying.

Pull Back
- Is when I realize I need to stop trying to run at an optimal speed and start running at an optimal, sustainable pace that is not going to beat many walker-bearing grandmothers but it’s something I can do for three miles.

Acceptance
- All right. I’m slow, but I’m running. Trotting. I’m propelling myself forward at an accelerated rate. And it feels good. I can breathe. Endorphins are flowing and suddenly I am painless. I am…

Euphoria
- Free. I could do this for hours if I had to. Hours and hours and hours! YEAH! I FEEL GREAT.

Vaulting over that impasse–that middle part of my run when my body wants to give up but my mind knows it can keep going–has always been a recognizable challenge for me.

I also realized that most messages I send myself when I’m exercising are negative. They’re based on how I think I appear when I’m running (my clothes, my jiggle, my speed) and how I’m not doing well. I put myself down a lot. And I think my body doesn’t need that emotional drag–it’s already got enough going on physically. It needs me to keep my spirit uplifted so it can focus on the task at hand.

So these next two weeks as I prepare for Warrior Dash, I’m not going to look at it as a negative experience. No matter how much walking I need to do, or how miserable I’ll look while doing it (see, there I go again)… I will be proud of myself for even trying. AND be proud of myself for kick-starting a fitness routine again, which I sorely needed. I’m the only one who can bring myself to victory, whatever that means to me.

Okay, I’m waiting for Chariots of Fire to start playing. Can I embed midi files on WordPress?

adrienne: wedding acceptance, honeymoon transcendence

25 Jul

Apologies for the absence here at eat me, drink me, bite me. As you saw in Dasha’s post, I got hitched and have been busy wedding planning/executing/honeymooning (which was much too short).

There’s a lot I could talk about in relation to the wedding–I could probably write a book about this wedding. But I’ll stick to topics related to this blog. Beauty and fitness, wedding and honeymoon style.

I think my wedding day was the first day… maybe in my life… that I’ve been in front of a number of people and not had a single worry about how I looked. I hadn’t lost the weight I wanted to–in fact, I’d gained ten pounds in the six months leading up to the wedding. But for some reason I didn’t even think about it that day. My focus was joy, surrounded by beauty everywhere. For also the first time in my life, I felt completely comfortable in my body. I feel lucky.

Looking back in pictures, I could nitpick the hell out of them. Just this morning I gave myself a quick admonishment for not covering up my shin bruise with makeup that day. And then I repeated to myself something I’d learned from the (fabulous) book A Practical Wedding and also a little from my own thoughts on wedding matters: the wedding day is not perfect, but ideally what it is, and was, is a perfect representation of what your life is at the time.

I had massive a shin bruise. Why? I have no idea, I’m a mother. I didn’t even notice the bruise until I saw wedding pictures later. My kids were pouty, wouldn’t wear their clothes right, and nearly didn’t make it down the aisle with me. It was so hot in our venue that sweat was rolling down my chest at one point, my hair was stuck to my neck, and my cover-up was stuck to my back. It was like getting married in fucking Costa Rica. Intentionally exotic, I told myself.

This is real life, here. It’s no “fairy tale wedding.” But my life isn’t a fairy tale. Nobody’s life is a fairy tale.

So I was complacent about the wardrobe malfunctions, sweat, and kid tantrums. I enjoyed my day even with family drama stirring in the background, mostly by ignoring it, to be dealt with later. That day it wasn’t my problem. This one day was for me.

me. it pains me to crop out Dr. A, as she was beautiful in every way imaginable, but internet anonymity prevails!

It was perfect. And I looked beautiful. I feel funny typing that, like that’s very presumptuous of me to call myself beautiful. Who am I to call myself beautiful?

Why do we do this to ourselves? I’ve gotten to the point where I can call myself beautiful in my head when I see pictures, but to say it to the general public seems arrogant. I’m not sure why we’ve evolved, as a society, to scorn people who publicly admit they are beautiful. To tell ourselves we shouldn’t say such things aloud. But maybe that is a whole other blog post.

This introspection came to a head when we were on our honeymoon and I posted this status update:

“Off to hike to a waterfall. Then hike around a lighthouse. Then late-afternoon kayaking. Very thoughtfully, all the things I have never done because I never could before I lost weight. Exciting and new.”

I immediately felt guilty for posting it, like I was showboating the fact that I was fit(ter). Never mind that I lost 100 pounds to get to this point; this was still showing off. I began to wonder: would this update make people feel badly if they were overweight? Because when I was morbidly obese I certainly felt, at times, irritated when my fitter friends would make posts just like this.

I worried, but the reasons behind my update were earnest and without judgment. I had several moments on our honeymoon during which I realized that I wouldn’t have been able to have these moments had I not lost weight. And here I go again, feeling like it’ll seem like I am judging others, but I’m not. The fact is, I’m only speaking for myself. If I hadn’t lost the weight, I wouldn’t have been able to hike, to kayak, to walk up stairs without losing my breath, to have even better sex, to sit in chairs without worrying about them breaking.

I would have missed this:

view of lake superior from the top of oberg mountain


I would have missed this.

after kayaking on caribou lake

I have been missing these things for years upon years. And the realization that I am able to enjoy them now, with a woman who is the love of my life, was transcendent. I rose above the pain of self-exclusion when it came to physical activities; I rose above the rejection of weight limits and the restrictions of my own body.

So my statement was as much a realization of this newfound self, this power I now had, as much as it was–perhaps–if I could be so arrogant for a second–to provide inspiration for others. Two years ago I couldn’t climb three flights of stairs and now I’m climbing mountains. If I can do this, maybe they can too.

I’m not where I want to be physically (is anyone, ever?). I’m using my desire to continue doing these activities as my own inspiration to get started on an exercise routine again.

I want to hike a lot more mountains in the days ahead.

adrienne: all the sh!t you already know about fad diets

12 Jun

There are 96 different “latest diet plans” listed on Web M.D.

Ninety-six different diets to do the exact same thing.

I question why we have to resort to 96 (or 100, or three hundred, or who knows) different methods to obtain the same goal. And why people “go on a diet” at all.

Maybe I’m a big diet snob now, having been through Weight Watchers, but one of the things I learned was that you don’t achieve long-term health or weight loss through “diets.” You achieve it through changing the way you live. Not for a week or six weeks or a month. For the rest of your life. Sustainable change that makes you feel good at the end of the day.

Tell me… does the idea of eating pureed food out of a baby food jar sound like something you’d like to do for forty years?

baby food. it’s what’s for breakfast, midmorning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and dessert.

And it’s all well and good if you lose 10 pounds in a week on the cabbage soup diet, but you just let me know when that weight comes back on, okay? And how you feel at the end of every day. I am guessing you feel like utter shit.

Just guessing.

And you know, looking through these diet plans, most of them are a healthy eating plan (fruits, veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, low-fat dairy, eliminating processed food, high fat foods, and high sugar foods) combined with a gimmick that makes the diet its own. On the O2 diet, for example, you need to consume foods that have ORAC points! (oxygen radical absorbance capacity… whatever that means)

Tell me how much any weight loss achieved on the O2 diet is attributed to the change to healthy eating habits and how much of it is due to HIGH ORAC FOODS.

I feel like I might be saying what everybody already knows. But I see this happening over and over, being done by people who I know are REALLY SMART PEOPLE.

The true path to weight loss isn’t a gimmick diet that you do for a few weeks. It is about cleaning up our eating habits and moving our bodies. It’s about changing an entire lifestyle. That is for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Until death do you part. Put a ring on it.

why do you have a fake hand?

Come on, we already know this. But fad diets are easier. They’re more fun. Sometimes you lose a ton of weight all at once and you feel awesome! Even if they don’t work or don’t last, you can tell your friends, “I can’t have that. I’m on the Hallelujah Diet.” or “I wish I could have a donut like you are enjoying but I am only allowed to drink cabbage.”

if only they made cabbage soup donuts

Cue the martyr.

By the way, nobody likes it when you say these things. Nobody thinks you’re more hardcore, more devoted, or healthier than them. If you’re making the dumbass decision to do one of these diets, don’t complain to me about how you can’t have a donut. If you were doing this healthily, you could have a donut if you really wanted. And you’d love it. Because it would be a treat, as it should be. Or maybe you wouldn’t love it, because you’d realize that hey, a donut doesn’t cure my ills or fill my heart with joy like it used to.

So quit complaining that you can’t eat a donut like my fat ass is eating a donut. AND ENJOYING IT.

Fad diets are also easier than real, permanent change. We’re all looking for the quick fix, for that massive drop in pounds that shows that what we’re doing works. Maybe some people use fad diets in order to ignite that change. That’s great. But they’re temporary unless you adhere to them (those that are healthy) for the long term.

And real lifestyle changes are a bitch.

Goddamn if I don’t want to eat the Chef’s Choice whopper at Burger King every night for dinner (by the way, BK was SOLD OUT of Chef’s Choice whoppers this weekend. SOLD OUT. How do you sell out of a burger! Jesus.), or at least four times per week. I want ice cream every weeknight for dinner, pizza every Friday, and to go out every lunchtime at work. It’s so easy and so delicious to live this way! And that, combined with human psychology that leaves us enslaved to habits, to rewards, makes permanent healthy living a very tough path to follow.

To me, healthy living is a huge bubble that encompasses many things.

Healthy Eating
I didn’t lose weight by juicing everyfuckinthing in my house and drinking it. But I did lose weight by portion control, incorporating fresher and healthier foods into my life, cooking more at home, and letting myself have treats and go out to eat sometimes.

Giving yourself rewards keeps your body and your mind satisfied. We all know one trip to Applebee’s won’t make you fat and it won’t kill you either. A few Dove chocolates a day also will not derail your health. Oh, and guess what. An entire day of eating like all you’ll have to eat tomorrow is paste made of palm leaves won’t kill you.

Moderation is key. Even attempting to moderate helps.

Healthy Moving
No matter how much good food we eat, or how much less food we eat, moving more and in different ways has to happen. Find an exercise you like and start it, slowly at first. Build up to super-athlete status.

Healthy Mind
Treat yourself well and your body is happier in return. Making healthy choices will make you feel better; giving yourself rewards (whether those are food, clothes, or otherwise) will also. Surround yourself with people who don’t drag you down. Make decisions that are right for you, even if they’re hard.

And for heaven’s sake, today, look up at the sky whether it’s rainy or sunny and be thankful for the life that you have. Breathe because you can.

view from my window, 11 a.m.

Feels good, doesn’t it?

Dasha: 11 Beauty Products

8 Jun

(Sorry for all the beauty-related posts. This stuff has been on my mind a lot.)

Like many women (I suspect), I have irrational hope that beauty products will transform me. If I just buy this cream or that powder, all of my perceived flaws will magically melt away and I’ll because the stunning beauty I’ve always wanted to be. After a long spell of mostly only wearing a dab of pressed powder on my nose and a little lipstick, I’ve gone whole hog into makeup. I’m not sure what exactly has causes this. It could be suddenly realizing I’m in my forties (how the HELL did that happen???). It could be that I’m currently so dissatisfied with my body that I figure I’ll at least make my face pretty. I could be the result of reading too many beauty blogs. It’s probably all of those things and some I’ve never considered.

This morning I realized that I’ve gone from wearing an average of 2 makeup products on my face to 11. ELEVEN.

Here they all are for today, in order of application. (This does not include skin cleaning/exfoliating/toning products.)

1. Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm

2. Tarte Cheek Stain (in Blissful)

3. Tarte Clean Slate Eye Primer

4. Urban Decay De-Slick in a Tube (helps keep the obnoxious shine off my nose)

5. Shadow from the Too Faced Natural Neutral Palette

6. Stila Smudge Pot Liner

7. L’Oreal Brow Pencil (to repair the hole I made in my brow over the weekend with my tweezers)

8. Sephora Eyelash Curler

9. E.L.F. Brow Gel and Clear Mascara

10. Urban Decay Glide-On Lip Pencil

11. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm

So you’d think that after increasing the number of makeup products used on my face 450% that there would be some pretty serious transformation, right? I mean, we’ve all seen the makeovers on TV and in magazines. I should look 450% better.

But I don’t think so.

Here’s a picture of me with a pretty bare face. Powder and lip color. That’s it. This was taken on April 12th of this year.

Excuse the alarmed look on my face.

And here I am today, proudly sporting all 11 products. (Yes, I wear a lot of black t-shirts. Staple of my wardrobe.)

Getting all artypants for the camera!

Am I that much more gorgeous? Glamorous? Fabulous? Is there even that big of a difference with 9 more makeup items on my face? I don’t think so.

So when am I going to finally get it? My face is my face and no amount of makeup (or any other kind of beauty product, for that matter) is going to magically transform me into a supermodel. Or halt the inevitable aging process (and the horrible downward slide of my upper eyelids–shit’s getting gruesome, y’all). It’s just not going to happen. Spending a half hour in the bathroom on makeup versus 1 minute isn’t going to make that much difference in the end. Sephora is NOT going to change my life.

I wonder if I’ll ever really get it.

How about you? Do you ever expect beauty products to transform you into something you’re not?

P.S. The purpose of this post is not (absolutely, positively NOT) to fish for compliments. You are all very sweet but I want to spur conversation, not boost my self-esteem.

adrienne: the wedding dress

31 May

So, I’ve been busy.

I moved in with my fiancée last weekend (after a two-year long-distance relationship! hurrah!) and in the midst of unpacking, adjusting, and getting the kids geared up for their summer, I’m also trying to tie up loose ends on our wedding which is happening in OHGODFIVEWEEKS. I just had to check the calendar to make sure I was right. Yes. Five weeks.

I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO. OK. Now that I’ve expressed that…

My wedding dress arrived at the bridal shop from the manufacturer two weeks early. Most brides would probably be pleased and excited that for once, something arrived on time! Ahead of time, even!

But no. Oh, no.

This set me off into a panic. The shop wanted me to immediately have my fitting and alterations done. This dress was two weeks early! I was supposed to lose fifteen pounds during those two weeks to be the weight I wanted to be, AT LEAST the weight I wanted to be, when I tried this thing ON, and now they want me to try it on NOW, when I’m FATTER, and I haven’t found a SHAWL, and oh my God my ARMS are BINGO WINGS, and my LEGS have lost their TONE because I haven’t RUN in MONTHS…

… and I don’t even have SHOES.

At least I had Spanx. (Seriously, thank you, Sara Blakely)

I made an appointment. The morning of that day, I forgot my Spanx at home with no way to get them beforehand. Then it was, “Oh God, now what do I do, I’m going to be fatter, I’m going to be lucky if this thing even fits me, because we totally guessed on the size and I AM SO NOT READY FOR THIS. The saleswomen would surely gossip about my arm flab and my huge stomach behind my back, not to mention all the other brides who were bound to be catwalk supermodels.”


just look at that waist!

STOP. Just… stop.

All this time I’ve been prepping for the wedding telling myself to focus on what it’s really supposed to be about: being who I am, marrying the woman I love, entering into a life I’d only dreamed existed. And it took me about thirty seconds to completely lose that focus. Suddenly it was about how I looked and how others would see me. It was about pleasing others and about proving to them that I look better than I ever have. I needed to impress them. I needed to disguise what I saw were weaknesses in order to appear, for the first time in my life, perfect.

It’s hard to suppress those feelings. But I reminded myself that it was my job to make sure that trying on this dress was the joyous occasion it’s supposed to be. What was it supposed to represent? Beauty. Love. Hope. Expectation and heady anticipation.

To alleviate some of my fear, I bought a new pair of Spanx on the way to the fitting. As much as I didn’t want this to be about my body image, I weighed (metaphorically) whether I would be more comfortable wearing them or not wearing them. My comfort at this fitting (and on my wedding day) took precedent over any self-righteous “ACCEPT MEH THE WAY I AM!” feelings stirring deep on my quasi-feminist gut.

Then I arrived, took the dress, and went to the fitting room. Immediately I began cutting myself down in regard to my looks. There were several younger women in flowing gowns–beaded, laced gowns, thousands of dollars’ worth of them–and I had, in my hand, a simple “bridesmaid” dress, a couple hundred dollars’ worth of chiffon. I had, on my body, forty extra pounds.

It was time for another bout of reframing. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to focus on the significance of the moment. I was trying on this dress, the dress I loved when I saw it. I couldn’t wait to be beautiful for my bride, who I knew would be glowing and gorgeous all on her own. I would never dream of judging her the way I judge myself.

I put on my Spanx and the dress and self-consciously exited the dressing room. I watched in the mirror as the seamstress tugged the material tighter and reveled in the fact that I had defined waist and curved hips that looked perfect in what I had chosen. Suddenly I was more beautiful than I ever thought I could be.

I asked for an extra minute just to look at myself in the mirror and smile.

Then I saw it. I was happy. With my flabby arms and my chunky legs, I was still happy. Because wearing this dress was part of my introduction into the radiant rest of my life, like a debutante, something I had never previously felt.

And on the chance of sounding like Linus, well… that is what this moment is all about.

Dasha: Skinny Girls Claiming Fat

29 May

I work with a passel of extremely attractive twentysomething women. We’re talking borderline beauty queens with the clothes and figures to match. I think the largest of a the bunch is a size 6. When she’s bloated with PMS. Luckily, they’re super nice, smart, fun women so I generally don’t begrudge their lack of back fat and their extensive wardrobes (including 3-inch heels, something many overweight women can’t wear without pain).

However, more than one of them has said something like this to me:

Office Beauty Queen: OH MY GOD, I’M GETTING SO FAT. Look at me! Look at all this flab! (Pinches millimeter of skin at waist.)

Me: Uh, yeah. No, you look great.

OBQ: What are you talking about? I’m huuuuuge!

Me (in my head): If you’re huge, you must think I’m a fucking monster.

If you’re overweight, you probably have been part of similar conversations. I’m not going to lie, I find it maddening. To me, it’s sort of like if I started complaining about wedding planning to a lesbian friend who desperately wanted to legally marry her female partner. As a woman in a relationship with a man (I happen to be bisexual, but that’s neither here nor there for this purpose), I had the privilege of being able to legally marry him, with the social approval of just about everyone in the world. Not cool to flaunt it to someone who doesn’t.

I know that some thin women get snide comments like “Eat a sandwich!” Or have friends or family express concern about eating disorders. That sucks and it should stop. But it’s nothing compared to the shit you get when you’re overweight or obese. Not to make this a “my pain is greater than your pain” contest but heavy girls and women deal with some serious crap. Mean comments from strangers, disapproval from doctors, family and friends telling you to lose weight (my favorite was when my father kept spamming me with Overeaters Anonymous emails–THANKS, DAD), the inability to find cute clothes that fit, lack of interest from potential romantic or sexual partners. Not to mention the job discrimination that many overweight women face. Thin women might get the occasional nasty comment but, in general, they are considered to be the ideal by almost everybody in our society. They’re celebrated.

I have to wonder where these women are coming from when they obviously have slender, fit bodies but complain about them. In some cases, I think they’re fishing for compliments. I used to work with a woman I’ll call Samantha, who would complain about her body but in a weird humble bragging sort of way. “I totally hate that I’m so skinny but I have huge boobs,” she’d say and I’d roll my eyes. She did this all the time and after a while I started ignoring her because it was so obvious that she wanted me to say something like, “Oh, Samantha, you’re gorgeous and perfect as is. Never change, my lovely!”

In other cases, I do think that as women we’re so screwed up about our bodies that almost nobody has a healthy self image. That no matter how beautiful and/or thin we are, we always think something’s wrong with us. I mean, think about it. We have the media constantly blaring about “banging” celebrity bodies (or shaming female celebrities who have the audacity to gain a few pounds). We have advertisements forever telling us that there’s something that needs fixing about us. Get whiter teeth! Lose 10 pounds in a week! Get rid of those dark spots on your face instantly!

What’s really interesting is that you will never, EVER, catch me complaining about my body except to a very few trusted friends. As an overweight woman, the last thing I want to do is call attention to my body and its flaws. Besides, I figure that everyone can see what’s wrong with my body. I’m fat. You’d have to have a pretty serious visual impairment to miss it.

The inspiration for this entry came from an article currently on xojane, one of my favorite sites. Julie, a very slender woman, wrote Who Cares When a Skinny Bitch Gains Weight? She’s a thin woman who has gained a few pounds, has outgrown some of her clothes, and doesn’t like that her friends aren’t sympathetic to her issues.

This is Julie.

There’s some interesting debate going on in the comments. Julie states that thin women deserve the same degree of understanding that larger women deserve when dealing with body image issues. Intellectually, I agree. We should all be compassionate and understanding with each other. Body image issues are rampant. But on a more visceral, emotional level, I’m having trouble with the idea.  As a person who has been teased, bullied, harassed and ignored at times because of her weight, I just can’t feel too much sympathy for a woman complaining that her size 0 skirts aren’t fitting any more because she gained four pounds. I want to be the bigger person (no pun intended) but it’s hard.

What do you think?

adrienne: plateau is a stupid word and i hate it

22 May

The plateau.

The word strikes fear in the hearts of many. I never thought I’d hit it; I thought I’d be different from everyone else and shoot right past it to my skinny little goal of 150 pounds. I was doing so well! I looked so good in my size 12 pants (down from size 24) and I was only going to get better!

And then I hit it.

November 2011. 176 pounds. Every week at weigh in, over and over. 176 pounds. My body was happy with how I was eating and with my exercise level and nothing would change it. I ate differently throughout the day; I changed my exercise routines. Nothing changed it.

You want to talk about a plateau? My Weight Watchers weight loss graph showed a net gain or loss of 0.0 pounds for six straight months.

one big-ass plateau
the tibetan plateau… the biggest plateau on earth… pretty much my plateau

This only added to what amounted to the perfect storm of weight loss failure:

  • My plateau was frustrating, so I started to slack on tracking my food.
  • It was winter, so I stopped running outside and my body went into fat storage mode.
  • Work entered the busy season, eliminating my Tuesday/Thursday gym time in the evenings.
  • I began having severe abdominal pain, a radiating lump in my lower right abdomen, that would be agonizing by the end of a workout. Sometimes it caused me to double over when I walked.
  • I had surgery to figure out the cause of my pain, putting me out of commission for another month. (this is another entry entirely)
  • By this time, it was March of this year and I had gained seven pounds. Another month and I’d gained five more. And here I am today, now 12 pounds over that plateau weight, not exercising a single day of the week, not tracking my food. Overeating, indulging, and feeling terrible about it.

    And I quit Weight Watchers last night because I hadn’t touched the online program since February and I was tired of paying for something I wasn’t using.

    It was daring and scary to cut that lifeline.


    first Google images result for “weight watchers drop out”… ACCURATE!

    There are many stories of women who have gone on “maintenance” on the program (you’re satisfied with your weight or reach your goal so you adjust the plan from weight loss to maintaining a weight) or women who hit the plateau and eventually backslide out of frustration or complacency. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m doing it consciously and I know the ramifications of my actions. I don’t want to gain the weight back–I’ve noticed how much worse I feel and that my clothes are now ill-fitting. But I’m not doing anything about reverting back to my healthy habits.

    Sometimes people ask me if I find it easier to relax about weight loss since I’ve lost so much. I wouldn’t call it relaxing. It’s easier to be lazy when you know you’ve been almost 100 pounds heavier than you are at the present. But it’s not relaxing at all. I’m anxious and upset and there’s an undercurrent of self-directed anger that I am letting myself undo all my hard work, one pound at a time.

    I feel guilt when I eat again. I haven’t felt that in such a long time.

    There was a great New York Times article on applying quantitative mathematics to the obesity epidemic last week. It was brilliant (I highly recommend you read it) and hit on a lot of the food/weight loss issues I have. But in regard to plateaus, it offered an especially interesting perspective:

    “… there’s a time constant that’s an important factor in weight loss. That’s because if you reduce your caloric intake, after a while, your body reaches equilibrium. It actually takes about three years for a dieter to reach their new “steady state.” Our model predicts that if you eat 100 calories fewer a day, in three years you will, on average, lose 10 pounds — if you don’t cheat.”

    Three years to reach my new steady state. Given that, I never reached my new steady state on Weight Watchers and I’m in a state of flux right now. It wouldn’t take much for me to turn my trend of weight gain downward. I know all isn’t lost at this point and that I could easily start tracking tomorrow, start running or walking a mile per day this weekend, and I’d lose these 12 pounds and hopefully more. I also know that I want to gain muscle, and that muscle gain = weight gain, but muscle gain also helps you burn more fat in the long run.

    I KNOW all of these things.

    I need another moment like that day at the water park, Orlando two years ago, almost to the day. I need inspiration to hit. My upcoming wedding isn’t doing it. The Warrior Dash I’m doing in September isn’t doing it.

    I’m so frustrated. And sad. Because I know what I want but I don’t know what it’s going to take to get there. It’s nothing anyone can provide for me. It has to come from inside, not out.

    What a battle this has become… has always been.

    Dasha: The Cause of and the Solution to All of Life’s Problems

    24 Apr

    So far, this has been a crapper of a week. Let’s recap, shall we?

    1. A work friend lost his battle with cancer on Sunday. Even though he’d been sick for the last two years, his death was very sudden. He was able to work on Saturday and was gone on Sunday. We are all very sad. P. was a police officer who helped save countless lives. He was also a wonderful man who has left behind three young adult children and a whole lot of people who cared about him.

    2. My allergies are acting up and my eustachian tubes are all clogged up. I’m deaf in my left ear and half-deaf in the right.

    3. My favorite, awesomest, loveliest staff member went on maternity leave on Monday. (No, she hasn’t had her baby yet but our fingers are crossed!) I’m thrilled for her but I feel like I’ve lost my left hand. Yes, I’m left-handed. I have a very nice girl filling in for her but it’s involving a lot of training.

    4. The plumbing in our building has been problematic lately and we’ve had to have the maintenance guys out more times than I can count. Tonight I had to call in the sink backing up again and got into a near screaming match with the answering service woman because she didn’t want to consider it an emergency and send a plumber. I thought maybe it was just me, because I’m so on edge, but then Nathan got into a near screaming match with her. I felt strangely vindicated. It wasn’t just me.

    5. All of the above have made my anxiety kick into overdrive.

    I wish I could tell you that I’m dealing with this stress in a healthy fashion, with lots of hearty workouts and bowls of quinoa, but yeah. Not so much. Sometimes when it all gets to be too much, you need a strong drink. A delicious drink that will make everything just a little bit better. Now, I’m not advocating turning to alcohol to solve all of one’s problems (and to tell the truth, I’m not much of a drinker in general). Duh. Self-medication doesn’t work in the long run. But in the short run? A tasty drink is nice. It can temporarily dull the pain. So, I present to you, the Paloma.

    I hear tell that the Paloma originated in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which is my personal idea of Heaven. Nathan and I have been there four times on vacation and it’s not because we’re lazy and unadventurous. It’s because Playa is perfect–warm breezes, white sand that miraculously never gets hot, turquoise water, friendly people, delicious food (shrimp ceviche! tacos al pastor! chilaquiles!), Mayan ruins to explore, great snorkeling, cenotes to dive in, and brilliant drinks served on the beach. And only a three hour direct flight from Minneapolis. YES. We haven’t been in three years because of schedules and finances and every day away from Playa is a sad one.

    Every day in Playa del Carmen is like your own personal Corona ad.

    The Paloma

    Serves one.

    Ingredients:

    Tequila of your choice (right now we’re using Cazadores Reposado)
    Grapefruit soda (I recommend Jarritos Toronja–available at Latino markets or supermarkets in areas with Latino communities )
    Large lime wedge

    Take a pint glass and add a few ice cubes. Add a shot of tequila. Or two if the situation requires it. Fill the glass to the top with grapefruit soda. Squeeze the lime into the glass and stir. Drink. If you close your eyes you can pretend you’re on the beach in Playa del Carmen. Delicious with chips and pico de gallo.

    If you're not careful, this could be the aftermath of your Paloma adventures.

    But. Did I mentioned the silver lining? Adrienne is coming up to visit me this weekend! No lie, this is what is keeping me going. ADRIENNE IS COMING UP TO VISIT ME THIS WEEKEND. And we’re going to Sephora. And watching Game of Thrones. And eating Ethiopian food. And maybe drinking a few Palomas!

    I’ll just leave you with this. It never fails to cheer me up.

    Adrienne: excuses, excuses

    22 Apr

    I’m going to take a few steps forward in my weight loss journey and talk about the gritty reality of the present day. I’ll get back to the “everything is rosy and all the weight is sloughing off!” posts at another time.

    Today, I’m getting really sick of the excuses I am making to myself that are allowing me to overeat.

    A few dear friends have told me that this is a normal reaction to stress and that I should give myself a break. At this very moment, I am doing all of these things: in the last stages of home buying with my fiancée, moving in a month, planning a wedding, experiencing the busiest time at work of the year, planning two parties for my kids in May, and dealing with various family issues/business.

    Yes, that is a lot going on. Yes, it makes sense that I would turn to my good ol’ standby comfort during this time of insanity—the food. The blasted food.

    But I don’t want to use that excuse. It becomes far too easy for me to justify my behavior. I do a lot of excuse eating:

      “Well, I’m just having a bad day, so I’m gonna eat.”
      “My period just started, so I’m allowed to gorge on everything. Meh.”
      “Damn it so-and-so is being a jerk, so I’m going to quell my rage with barbecue.”
      “Work is so busy! So I need to eat to keep my sanity. To relax.”
      “Congratulations on whatever! Let’s eat!”
      “Today’s a national holiday/someone’s birthday/work potluck day! So it’s a totally valid excuse!”
      “It’s okay to do this, just this once.”

    Except for when “once” becomes every week or every other day. Except for when an occasional treat becomes an everyday occurrence. A treat is not a treat if I let myself have it over and over. And I will admit that since I have let my eating spin out of control, I find that eating at a restaurant or eating an indulgent meal feels less… indulgent. There’s nothing special about it anymore. I don’t slow down and savor every bite because I know that I’m just going to let myself do this in another couple of days.

    I miss savoring my food. I miss the desire that accompanies a good meal. Boy, it’s been awhile since I looked at food and desired it so much.

    But missing that special eating feeling, missing the control I feel when I track my food, missing the fulfillment I feel when I know I’m doing my body right, and watching the scale slowly creep up a half pound here and there over the past six months, they’re still not enough to get me to stop. I’m still overeating way more than I should. And no, I don’t deserve to treat myself. Because I’m actually treating myself very badly and I’m on a dangerous path.

    I can easily identify this trajectory I’m in—the trajectory that came from being stuck on a weight loss plateau for half a year—this trajectory that everybody talks about when they have to join Weight Watchers a second, third, or fifteenth time. You lose a ton of weight, you plateau, and then you become complacent. Slowly, the eating habits you thought you had under control start slipping back into your life. Then they proliferate—like bingeing bunnies. Slowly, the scale shows you what you know is happening and every Sunday morning you wake up and you say, “I need to stop this.” And then you go eat what the hell ever you want.

    I told myself I would not be that person. I told myself I was stronger than that, so what gives?

    And then the exercise… yeah, that’s stopped too. The running three times per week and walking every day at lunch? Not happening. I’m lucky if I’m active two times per week. This, I tell myself, is me being lazy (though my gym time is being consumed by evenings at work, and the weather’s been crap, and there’s pressure to stay at work during lunch, and this and that, and more excuses…).

    I know what I’m doing and I don’t like what I’m doing.

    What I don’t know is why I can’t stop myself from doing it.

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