Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Battle of the Bulge

From the time I was born I was a scrawny little thing.  Don't worry, this is the only nude photo of me you'll see. It seemed no matter what I ate I just never gained weight or grew much.  

As I aged I continued to be kind of a “stick” but did soar up to my current 5’ 3”.  All my life I was physically active, some much say hyper (and they’d be right) and perhaps this is why I never gained much weight.

When I married I was 110 pounds.  Right before I delivered my 8 lb 14 oz baby boy I was the heaviest I’d ever been….131 pounds.  After birth I dropped immediately back to 110. Then time went on and I was in my 30th decade and going strong.

At the age of 33 I ran the Twin Cities Marathon.  At the age of 40 I achieved my black belt in karate.  I was in the best physical condition of my life.  It was here I made my mistake when I uttered the famous words to my husband “If I ever get over 130 pounds again just shoot me”.

I'm second from left with bo staff.

I really thought I had the determination and fortitude to overcome any kind of weigh problem and then I made my second mistake.  I laughed to G-d that maybe I should balloon up to 200 pounds and “show ‘em how it’s done” as I whip myself back into shape.

G-d has a wicked sense of humor and in my 50th decade I was unable to cope with the stresses life had thrown at me and my weight went up and up.  I wish I could say it crept up on me, but no…BAM!.  It was insta-fat.  Kind of G-d’s way of saying “OK little girl…show me what you can do”.

I’d have luck with losing weight and then it would slide right back on again, the numbers creeping higher and higher.  I did Weight Watchers and lost 30 pounds.  Looked great and felt even better.  Nothing feels as good as sliding into those previously too tight blue jeans. Problem solved.  Nope.  Soon the old habits came back and the weight went up another notch.

Fast forward to my 60th decade and along with receiving my Medicare card in the mail I stared at the numbers on the scale.  Yup.  200 pounds.  On a 5’ 3” frame.  Not pretty.
I remembered the panic when my pant size had gone from a six to a ten in years past.  

I'm hoping this can be a "before" photo some day
I grew to accept this and soon it was a 12, a 14 and a 16.  It’s just a number, right?  I can put myself into such a state of denial I can justify anything but when I hit size 18 and started looking at the 1X for a little more breathing room. Then G-d decided to up the ante and soon I saw the numbers climb to 207 on the scale. I knew something had to be done.

So far, I’ve been lucky.  I haven’t developed any joint problems or diabetes, but I know I’m playing Russian roulette with this if I continue on this course.  

I can’t understand how I can play 2 – 3 hours of pickleball a day and still weigh this much.  Could it be the classic coke with all that sugar?  Maybe it’s the handful of dark chocolate Hershey’s kisses at night?  Portion control...what's that?  If it says feeds four it will be perfect for the two of us. You know, like those tents that claim they sleep four...all lies. Like a reformed sinner it was time to do penance.

Since I’d tried the Whole30 diet last summer and lost 12 pounds in a month I know I’m capable of losing.  But that was so restrictive with not being able to eat sugar, dairy, legumes, grains, alcohol, and I forget what else.  Let’s just say it was very limiting in what you could eat and the menu got pretty boring.

My goal when I left Arizona last summer was to grow out my hair and lose 50 pounds.  Well, my hair IS longer than it was.

So…back to Weight Watcher’s I went. 
I signed up for six months on the online version and was amazed at all the changes in how they assign the “points”. There are 200 foods that have zero points.  These are mostly veggies and fruits but also include chicken and eggs.  

I can basically eat anything I want as long as I stay within my daily allotment of points, which is 23.  But then there are 35 additional points each week to cover some of those days where you do go over and this makes it less crazy if you find yourself eating out.

The online tracker is great.  You look up your food and enter it and it keeps track of what you’ve used and how much you have left.  

It keeps frequent foods listed for easy tracking.  My top two are Coke Zero and bananas.  The best feature in my opinion is the scanner.  

You can scan the bar code on any food and it tells you how many points and what size of portion.  I use it in the grocery store to check one brand against the other to find the most bang for my buck…. calorie wise that is.

You can log in your weight each week and it gives you a little graph of how much you’ve lost and sends you congratulations and encouragement. 

You can connect with other people who are on the same journey …kind of Face Book for Fatties – a very select group of us.  This is my substitute for  attending an actual meeting, which gives me more flexibility.

There are recipes you can check into without having to buy the special cookbooks.  That’s really nice.  I haven’t used the other feature yet where you create a recipe but that looks like fun also.  I imagine you enter the ingredients and points for each item and how many servings and it comes up with the point value.  I love having something do my math for me!

It even allows you to sync with my Fitbit app to log in how many steps I did in a day and it figures out my “Fit Points” that I can also use for those times you over indulge, but I don’t want to because I want this weight off as soon as possible.

It’s become kind of a game with me, which makes it fun and challenging.  Is it fun for Left Brain living in this new world?  Probably not, but he can also have a larger portion or seconds of something.  Plus it means I’m in the kitchen a lot more and he does like that.

Is it fun?  Do I get hungry?  Yes, it’s mostly fun.  Sometimes it’s annoying because I like to have my way and this means I can’t do that.  Portion control has never been in my vocabulary before.  Yes, I get hungry but that’s usually because I was too lazy to get up and have a plum, apple or some grapes as a snack.  I guess that means I have control issues but prefer what it is I'm controlling.

Does it work?  YES.  I’ve only started two weeks ago and have lost 5 pounds already.  The best part was seeing the first number on the scale be a one instead of a two for the first time in years.  When I weight myself at various times it still shows 200 or 201, but I have to remind myself it’s baby steps.

I'm hoping for an "after" photo like this.
So, wish me luck on this journey and who knows.  Maybe after six months I’ll post a before and after photo.  I hope they look different.  I mean G-d is forgiving and surely able to see I’m sorry for my cocky ways…right?

Long Live the Chubby Queen

Monday, September 10, 2018

An Ah-ha Moment in the Midst of Mess

I had a real “ah ha” moment recently.  One of those eye openers that you just can’t ignore.

My step-daughter’s mother died recently and I was allowed to be part of the crew to come in and assist in cleaning out the apartment.  I consider her my daughter but to say my daughter’s mother died would be confusing.  Well, you get my drift.

A little backstory on her mother.  She and I were eerily similar in so many ways.  Both of us are Norwegian in heritage and then there’s the obvious of both of us having been married to the same man.
She was a very talented woman with skills ranging from being musical and playing clarinet in a band (also my instrument in high school), she loved music and art.  She had creative talents such as sewing, baking, decorating and calligraphy.  OK, she’s got me there, I can’t even read my own writing and she produced this stunning calligraphy.

She loved to laugh and did so often and loudly, but was troubled with depression.  Another thing in common.  I believe her humor was a bit more refined than mine.

We both shared a major fault.  She tended to hoard things and stockpile materials for projects to do “someday”.  I like to think my “collections” were kept neater than hers and therefore not hoarding but I could be wrong (or just in denial).

My awakening to this problem came to light seven years ago when we had to downsize to a 32’ motorhome to live in for five years.  So many “things” that I had to part with and it was so hard to do.  But afterwards I felt so much lighter.  It was like looking at all those unfinished ideas were staring at me and shouting “Failure!”  I knew I could never live long enough to use it all up, and yet could not stop collecting whatever caught my eye.

My situation seemed less out of hand because at the time I simply had more space in which to store stuff.  Most of it was in the basement (which resembled a craft/quilt store) and out of sight and out of mind.   Even though she moved into a three-bedroom condo with a garage it was simply not enough room to put things away in an orderly fashion.

Maybe being forced to see all these things around her made her feel like a failure also, but like me she couldn’t stop from buying all the material things that might make you happy.  Kind of like a person with a gambling addiction that can’t stop taking the next risk because the rush of it feels so good. I wish I could have known her more.  We’d have had some great talks.

It was a lot of work removing things and clearing out the space for new people to live someday and I was honored to be allowed into the situation with all its messiness and chaos to help.  I couldn’t stop thinking that this could have been me someday if I hadn’t been forced to abandon so much of what was holding me down before.

I’m sure the casual observer would look at this disaster and think, wow…what happened here.  It’s sad.  Hoarding is a disease and I’ve seen the effect it’s had on other families.  The person doing the hoarding keeps pushing people out of their lives as it becomes too uncomfortable to visit them in their environment.

And that’s what really hit me…and made me sad.  As we’re packing things up to be donated I noticed all the little touches.  A lovely two tiered plate with packages of tea artfully spread with a cup nearby, just ready for a guest who might stop by.

The decorative touches that were so painstaking planned and with an artistic eye to please whoever was to show up.  The table runner on the antique table.  The place-mats and linens for entertaining.  The candles and art everywhere to create a relaxing ambiance.  But none of that was visible without looking for it.  The eye is too distracted by the unfinished projects and items stacked up everywhere.

Before we left that day, the kitchen was cleared out and the counter tops washed.  We brought in some carryout to eat and sat at the table, something that was barely visible earlier in the day. You could move about between the rooms and we all felt our collective breathing relax just a bit.

So, it was with a profound sadness that I thought about the woman who had lived there trying desperately to be the person she really wanted to be but unable to achieve it.  The most chilling knowledge of all is that that woman could have been me.

Long Live the Queen