DAY 757: No small feet

As long as I can remember, I’ve had one randomly, incongruously sized body part:  my feet.  I’m average height, but my feet are above average in length and way below average in width.  Unlike the rest of my body, they’re long and skinny.

When I reached my smallest adult size last year, I had lost at least a half-shoe size, which I regained over the course of the last year along with a bunch of the weight I had worked so hard to lose.  I suddenly find myself down another half-shoe size again, to 9 from 9½.  I’ve spent the day accidentally stepping out of my shoes while roaming the halls of my office.

While this is amusing and an overall encouraging sign of changes that are happening in my body, it’s also mildly annoying and bewildering.  I mean, come on, body!  You have tens of pounds to lose from the midsection, but you’re opting to drop the weight from what’s already the smallest part?!  DUDE.  Get right.

But like I originally said, it’s a good sign.  If this pattern of weight loss mimics last time’s, my silly body will shed weight in this order (which tracks so far this time around):

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Feet
  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Thighs
  • Butt
  • Stomach

So, let’s go, body!  NEXT!

DAY 755: The dirty on Whole30

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I MADE IT.  ALL THIRTY DAYS.

Here’s the official Whole30 timeline of what to loosely expect along the way.  Here’s what actually happened to me:

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THE SCORE
Days with low-carb flu:  7.5
Days with a headache:  16
Days with diarrhea:  3*
Days constipated:  8
Days with no weird effects:  4

*I think there were more of these in the beginning; at least, I recall having loose stools often and going at least once per day.  I unfortunately didn’t start keeping a symptoms calendar until I started that wretched, wretched 4-day stretch of constipation, and by that point, I could only recall back a few days.

BROAD SUMMARY (MENTALLY [because the physical should be self-explanatory based on my calendar image])
Days feeling meh/normal/pretty much fine:  16 (1 – 16)
Days feeling fucking terrible:  5 (17 – 21)
Days feeling fucking awesome:  9 (22 – 30)

TL;DR
Did you ever get your tiger blood?  YES.
Was it worth doing this shockingly expensive, drawn-out, often infuriating dietary experiment to feel awesome for less than a third of the time?  YES.
HUH?  WHY?!  There is no TL;DR way to answer this question.  Trust me blindly or keep reading, champ.

First of all, let me say up front that I’m proud of myself for doing this.  At no point did I falter, or even consider abandoning ship.  I stuck with it the whole time and I owned this process, and it wasn’t without its challenges or massive frustrations.  If I could high five myself without looking like a total dork who never learned to clap right, I would do it.

Sticking to Whole30 truly did help me tame my “sugar dragon,” challenged me to face the way I’ve been using food to punish or reward myself instead of to nourish myself, and gave me the feeling of power and control over what I put into my body (ironically enough, on such a restrictive diet).  It got me back into the gym on a routine basis.  It (eventually) made me feel great physically and like totally baller mentally.  I learned to love almond butter.  I reached rain-man levels of label-reading expertise.  What I thought was already great skin, became even greater.  I got something I really wanted out of this, which was improved sleep.  It forced me to become comfortable with discussing my dietary habits with people, out loud.  And ya know, it just feels great to have set out to do something for 30 days, and to have inarguably risen to the challenge.  Above all, it punted me out of my I-don’t-wanna stupor, and gave me results along the way:  my final weight-loss number from Whole30 is 17.2 pounds (most of which was knocked off in the first 2 weeks).  I still have a long way to go, but holy hell, y’all.  That’s a big-ass number, especially considering that low-carb flu sidelined me for a full week and I didn’t really start working out in earnest until the final third of the program.

And yet, I don’t think I would ever do this again.  The main reason is that it was astronomically expensive for me.  I’m not exaggerating when I say my weekly grocery bills doubled.  To give an example of the runaway costs I had on Whole30, I site breakfast.  Typically, I eat a bowl of passably healthy cereal (Cheerios) that I buy on sale at CVS for $2.50/box, and it lasts me over a week, along with milk from the grocery store that also lasts me over a week, for which I pay under $4.00.  Assuming each lasts me 10 days, that means one day of breakfast costs me roughly $0.65.  SIXTY-FIVE CENTS.  It’s practically free.  On Whole30, however, grains and dairy are no-nos, so I had to seek out compliant options — quite the quest within itself — and then I had to properly balance my plate.  For breakfast alone, I had to have starch (let’s say breakfast potatoes, which cost me about $6 to make last for the week), protein (let’s say Aidell’s chicken-apple sausage, $6.00/package, which lasts two days), and fat (usually avocado, which I can make last 4 days — thanks, refrigeration! — for $1/each).  I would also usually add in a fruit to help inject some fiber into the meal (let’s say raspberries, $4.00/package, which lasts two days, according to serving size).  Are you seeing how this adds up insanely fast?  Pricing this out per food item and factoring in staying power gives me a breakfast that costs $6.10 every morning.  SIX DOLLARS AND TEN CENTS.  It’s almost ten times more expensive every day!  And that’s just ONE MEAL!  Extrapolated across the full month, if I had had this meal for breakfast every day (which I did not, but I’m doing this just to drive home the point), it’s a total cost difference of $163.50!!!!  UNAFFORDABLE.

Beyond that, the amount of time it takes to plan (i.e. find compliant, balanced recipes that I liked) and prepare (i.e. cook and portion out) all the meals and snacks is something you should be provided a time machine for.  And I don’t mean a gizmo that lets you travel through time; I mean one that lets you add hours to your day.  Honestly, I thought this would be a very minor adjustment heading into Whole30 because I already put in so much thought and time into my menu planning and prepping efforts, but this knocked my socks off.  I’m used to sacrificing my entire Sunday to the kitchen altar of the nutrition gods, but even cooking morning to night did NOT give me enough time, especially if I had any hopes of getting a workout in.  I repeat:  cooking morning to night for an entire day was not enough time to get ready for the week!  Taking the example of breakfast again, something I never had to do any kind of prep for when I was simply eating a bowl of cereal, I was now having to fully prep an entire additional meal in addition to lunches and dinners for the week, increasing my kitchen work time by 50% right off the bat.  I had to sacrifice more and more of my weekend to Whole30 prep time, and it got a little dicey pretty often.

Finally, doing Whole30 can be a bit of a lonely experience.  I’m fortunate that I had a co-worker roped in with me, and I’m very glad I was vocal about my decision to take on the program ahead of time so that people I see regularly would already be in the know and implicitly give me support and accountability, but social situations could be very trying.  It’s basically impossible to find something at a work function that’s likely to be compliant, aside from an undressed pile of lettuce and perhaps some raw fruit or veggies.  There is sugar in everything.  EVERYTHING.  It’s also an isolating feeling to be at a celebratory event and be the wet blanket who’s not raising a glass of fizz to the guest of honor, or digging into the cake alongside the rest of the guests.  I’m only grateful I didn’t have to do any traveling during those 30 days; that would have been straight-up painful.

All that being said, I *am* glad I did it this once.  I learned a lot, and I think differently about food now.  On day 21, when I was up to my ears in frustration with stalled progress and feeling stymied by the whole thing, I would have said it was a pure waste of time and money.  On day 22, the Whole30 gods mercifully gave me my tiger blood, and there was no turning back.

I’ve done one day of reintroduction (sugar), and just those 12 waking hours were enough to show me the effects of sugar on me:  it makes me feel guilty, and it immediately exhausts me.  After a few days on Whole30, I had no more energy crashes and maintained a pretty consistent level throughout the day pretty much every day.  One day back on sugar, and the spikes and crashes set back in immediately.  Mind you, it wasn’t even an unusually high amount of sugar; it was a bit that was a casualty of preparation from each meal (except the cupcakes — yeah, plural.  I was at a bridal shower and I baked those bad boys blind on day 30.  You really think I didn’t deserve both of them?!  😉 )  I hate sugar now.  I mean, I still like the taste, but I hate the concept of it.  It has wrecked many a person’s relationship with food, myself included.  Taste wise, I do now detect a chemically/artificial taste in sugary foods that I didn’t previously.  It’s interesting… and unnerving.

This week, I’m actually back on the program.  There was one last recipe I wanted to test out, and I figured that while I’m at it, I might as well just keep on the program full-time the rest of the week.  I’ll continue reintroduction at the end of that.  I’m curious to see what I’ll discover.

If you’re considering doing Whole30, my best piece of advice to you is to economize your money and time.  You should save money for a few weeks before you start, and you should plan out all your meals before you even begin the program so that you save yourself that time once you get started.  Search for and build your little Whole30-friendly library of recipes well in advance, and write out your grocery lists by week so they’re ready to go when you get there. Believe me, you’ll be grateful for that little gift of time you give to yourself.  Oh, and if you can, definitely get a friend to do it with you.  The support will help keep you going when it feels like the tiger blood fairy has forgotten you.

Just don’t ask me to be that friend.  I’m taking a hard pass on doing Whole30 again.

DAY 739: Whoa, we’re halfway there!

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It’s day 16.  Do you know where your children are?

I posted this yesterday on DietBet, but it bears repeating:  I am SO. SICK. OF SALAD.

I’ve had a lot of late nights recently, resulting in needing to order food instead of eating the yummy, healthy, Whole30-compliant dinners I have waiting for me at home.  The only thing that seems safe to eat in those circumstances is a very basic build-your-own salad without dressing from a fresh salad joint.  And man, I am so over salad at this point.  I’m also over shelling out additional cash on pretentious salads — yeah, that’s a thing — on top of the substantial amount of money I’ve already spent to make the meals I’m neglecting in the first place.  GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE.  I’m looking mad forward to eating at home all weekend.

Yesterday, the halfway point, was a decent day.  I had a meeting that went on entirely too long, and when I emerged from the staircase afterwards on the way back to my office, two co-workers were chatting by the elevators.  One suddenly stopped herself mid-sentence and called out, “Is that… is that you?”  I turned around and said, “Yes, I’m me!”  She started saying she thought it was me, but she wasn’t sure; I looked so good, could I help her with losing weight?!  She must have said 3 or 4 times how different or good she thought I looked.  (I rarely see this person.)  That felt pretty nice.  (Thanks, super flowy, former oh-honey top I was wearing yesterday!)

Yesterday evening was a good-bye gathering for a colleague, and I was the designated cupcake picker-upper.  Not just any cupcakes, mind you.  They spent Wednesday night in my fridge, all day Thursday in my office, and Thursday evening staring at me while everyone else partook.  That fudgy chocolate frosting looked amazing, but was it?  I have only the word of other people — and foggy, fond memories — to go on.  Passing on those babies wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, actually; honestly, having them at home and in my office for nearly a full day was fine.  I didn’t think about them at all.  It was watching everyone else eat (and enjoy) them that gave me a pang.  I’m telling myself it was mostly FOMO while I remind myself what sugar does to my insides.  That shit looked sooooo yummy, though.  *single tear

The one thing that has started feeling like a sacrifice is coffee.  Go figure, right?  The one thing I gave up voluntarily, outside of the program’s guidelines, is the one that has started to hurt.  BUT, BUT, BUT!  Yesterday was the first time in over a week I did not get a headache!  I had several early on, then a few days without, and then straight headaches for about a week and a half.  They were more of the dull, nagging variety than the throbbing, painful variety; enough to be annoying and prevent clear thinking or ease in falling asleep, but not a light enough touch that I could avoid taking something to make it go away.  The night before last, I noticed the headache was a little lower in strength than the ones leading up to it, and I rolled the dice:  I went to bed without popping Excedrin, and the headache went away.  I slept normally all night and had no remnants of the headache when I woke up in the morning.  Then, no headache during the day, and I went to sleep pain free!  Magic!  It’s not exactly tiger blood, but I’ll take it.

You know, one thing  I have taken from this is that being open about my dietary restrictions has been very helpful, and not embarrassing.  This comes as a complete surprise to me, given how uncomfortable I have been all my life with letting people into this weight-loss stuff with me.  It feels like THE most personal thing I could share, no matter how limited the sharing is.  I feel appreciative and humbled by being proven dead wrong about this.  The implicit accountability, support, and encouragement from people has been incredible.  I’ve even intentionally told my parents I’m doing this, and they won’t even see me during these 30 days.  LIGHT BULB!  I don’t have to do everything alone.  A lesson decades in the making.

Sadly, I STILL have not made it to the gym.  It’s on the docket for tomorrow, right between SLEEP IN and PLAN NEXT WEEK’S MENUS.

Fifteen down, fifteen to go!

DAY 731: Happy worth day, dear body

Two years ago today, I made The Change.

It was tentative at first, but it stuck… for a while.  For months and months, I gained steam and experienced a lot of successful changes physically, mentally, and emotionally.  After nearly a full year of hard work, I eagerly laced up my running shoes and went for my first-ever outdoor run in the refreshing spring air after work.

It was also my last outdoor run.

I spent the remainder of 2016 undoing most of the work I’d done from March 23rd, 2015, until that date.  I couldn’t even bring myself to post on my first worth day because I was too busy falling off the wagon, sabotaging myself, and feeling 360 degrees of shitty about it.  One little thing went wrong, and then I allowed every little thing to go wrong and nearly ruin my weight loss.  What a waste.

This year, I’m not at the size I thought I would be when I imagined myself two years out at my start date on this day in 2015.  I’m trying to claw my way back to the levels of health and happiness I had managed to reach previously, before I will really be able to believe I can attain my ultimate goals.  If I started out two years ago feeling tentative, that’s amped waaaaaaaaaay up this time around.

Shakiness aside, I am making sure to recognize my efforts today.  The path I’ve taken hasn’t been straight or without significant obstacles, but it’s started taking me back towards  where I’ve long wanted — and needed — to go.  As my mission enters its toddlerhood, I recommit to the girl who has always occupied, and will always occupy, this body:  I will be fearless.  I will work hard.  I will see to it that my last outdoor run was only my most recent outdoor run, not my final outdoor run.  I will one day stop being ashamed of this body and strive to not only accept it, but to see it as beautiful.

I am worth it.

Happy worth day, dear body.

DAY 716: Judge Pudge

Sometimes during my health mission, I catch myself being kind of judgmental of others.  I think it’s rooted in trying to keep myself on track mentally, like if I make judgments of other people, it’s a check on the possible hypocrisy of my doing the same thing.  For example, someone I see every day who I know is trying to lose weight, was eating a jelly donut and drinking a sugary smoothie for breakfast today.  My brain was like, “ooooooooh…!”  Like a tattle-tale 5th-grader.  I’m not going to have a donut, I thought to myself with a silent scold towards my acquaintance.

I’ve also done this in certain instances when people start describing their new diets to me.  People come up with stuff that completely throws off their nutritional balance so they can give in to fad diets that will drop the weight quickly, but aren’t conducive to lasting success.  I keep my opinion to myself because I want to support people in their efforts to lose weight, and at the end of the day, it’s none of my business, anyway… but man, the things people will do to themselves!

And strangest of all, in large crowds of anonymous people, I am always involuntarily scanning the area for the fattest and thinnest person.  The fattest, so I can take comfort in knowing that, PHEW!, it’s not me (this time)!; the thinnest, so I can ask myself, does that look healthy?  How would I look at that size?

I didn’t realize this was something I did until earlier this week on my commute to work.  Once I caught myself in the act, I wondered how long I had been doing this.  Since I started losing weight in earnest?  Since I became officially morbidly obese?  My entire life?  Would I be doing it if I were average size?  Do other people do this?

The psychology of this whole deal is fascinating.  In my case, there’s always some proximal thought rolling around in my brain of size, health, weight, and/or appearance in every context imaginable.  That’s not an exaggeration:  every. Context. Imaginable.  It’s so omnipresent that it’s difficult for me to believe that it’s not the lens through which everyone sees and thinks about everything and everyone. When people say they don’t notice how big I am/was, I’m like, come on.  That just can’t be true.  It’s not a thing you can just not notice.

Anyway, taking account of all of my private thoughts and behaviors lately has gotten me thinking about the danger of comparisons when trying to lose weight.  I have learned and practiced not measuring my progress against that of others; all paths are unique and individualized to the point of complete impossibility and irrelevance where comparison is concerned.  If I were to constantly judge my own success against someone else’s, it would only lead to frustration and disappointment on one side of the coin, or smugness and satisfaction on the other, and the worst thing is, it would all be baseless!  There are too many variables between my mission and, say, yours.  We don’t have the same goals, the same physiology, the same genetics, or the same eating, sleeping, or exercising habits.  Making comparisons between two people’s weight-loss statistics is not a worthwhile activity.

Nor is it a worthwhile activity to compare how I look to how those around me look, or to feel any kind of way about it.  I might not be able to flip a switch and suddenly stop subconsciously trying to spot the biggest and smallest people in a crowd, but I can remind myself that it’s a meaningless thing to do (and also just not very nice).  The focus is here, with me, and that’s where I’ve got to keep it.

DAY 715: Not drawn to scale

Getting back on the horse has been so exhausting and challenging, I can’t help but curse past-me for having gotten off in the first place.  That was dumb, past-me.  SHAME ON YOU/ME/US.

As I’ve most recently lamented, sleep has been a problem lately.  Just when the remedy to that arrived (my new mattress and box spring finally came at the end of last week!), I had a nasty allergic flare-up amid a sudden onset of spring that has woken me up persistently throughout the night so I can give in to full-body coughing fits.  It’s really just the loveliest.  I can only imagine how much worse it would be without my Rx antihistamines and allergy shots (though I really don’t have to imagine)!

This, and a slightly indulgent Saturday (two meals out that included mostly healthy choices, with the exception of one cocktail and one pastry, and zero gym time although I still made all my daily steps), converged to stall my weight loss.  My scale has been showing me wildly inconsistent numbers that seem like they’re just being randomly generated by some gremlin living inside the scale, and I’ve given in to weighing in often multiple times a day just to try to identify what my real weight might be.  Foolish and counter-productive, is what I’d call that venture.  I am now swearing off the scale until the end of this week.  I know for my own sake I can’t weigh in more than once a week.  Back to that.

Also, I’ve been generally slacking at the gym.  I still go for the most part, but I’ve been letting myself off the hook of really pushing myself.  I know the pounds aren’t gonna drop off for free; I have to pay for that shit with my sweat.  What I’ve been doing hasn’t been cutting it.  I know that, and yet I haven’t been pushing myself.  Come on, self.  Scale gremlin lives off this kind of laxness.

I’m also wearing orthotics now, as prescribed by my podiatrist.  As my body adjusts to their correctional effects, there’s some stiffness and soreness in random joints up and down my legs.  I know it’s temporary, but it is a bit of a hindrance.

Things are finally trending toward equilibrium, though, and I’ve slowly noticed I’m feeling more rested when I first get up in the morning.  I’ve even dared to let myself believe that the slimmer neck and shoulders on the body I’m seeing in the mirror might be real.

During my Sunday visit to the gym, I did some interval jogging on the treadmill for the first time in ages, maxing out on 3 minutes straight at 5.0 MPH.  Last night at the gym, I self-insisted on my arms circuit and event tried a new machine that had always been a little intimidating to me (the rower) before pushing myself on the elliptical (which only exists in models I don’t like at my gym).   Still not a profuse sweat, but a good start.  And honestly, the post-workout soreness from the two days combined is highly satisfying.

This morning, walking down the stairs to leave my building, I felt more energetic and lighter on my feet.

And then when I arrived at work today, I got the affirmation of a co-worker.

Her:  “You look like you’ve lost some weight.  Have you been losing weight?”
Me (out loud):  cheshire

Me (internally):  “Why, yes.  Yes, I have.”  (HEAR ME, SCALE GREMLIN!  HEAR ME!  **shakes fist**)

In your face, container of brownies that mocked me at the grocery store last Friday.  You can bite me.

DAY 683: Body work

Decent news from the world of podiatry: my bone spur is NOT the issue.  In fact, it has shrunken since I first went in to have it examined.  The discomfort I’m feeling now is from strain on my plantar fascia ligament, which is tight and stretches when I take take steps, causing inflammation and the popping sensation in my heel.  My doctor offered to give me a cortisol injection today that would take care of the unpleasant feeling instantaneously, and possibly permanently, but I decided to hold off.  He’s prescribed me orthotic inserts that will help correct my immediate problem, and they won’t be ready for 3-4 weeks.  My (self-reported) pain level is at about a 3, so I figure that if it gets worse between now and the time I go back to the podiatrist’s office to pick up the orthotics, I’ll get the shot then (or sooner, if there’s a sudden spike).  Otherwise, I’ll give the orthotics (and, hopefully, a bit of weight loss!) a chance to make an impact and then go from there.

It is interesting how my body has responded to my weight re-gain.  I had trained it to be accustomed to a certain amount of movement with less and less mass to carry, and now, it has rapidly re-accumulated a bunch of that mass which was partially caused by, and also which partially contributed to, a significant decrease in movement.  The way that added weight has shown up on me has been interesting.  Whereas I lost it from all over, it really feels like 90% of it went directly to my waist when it came back.  Yes, my face and fingers have pudged out, but the rings I couldn’t wear when I was previously at this weight are still fitting from when I had reached my lowest, but the pants I was wearing when I was last at this weight aren’t.  I know this isn’t any kind of earth-shattering revelation, but the areas that are hardest to lose from, are easiest to gain to.  We all have our trouble spots, eh?  REMINDER TO FUTURE SELF:  Don’t mess around, girl.  It’s too hard to work the fat back off!  Not worth it.

This is so much work.  I’m looking forward to getting back to the place where it just felt routine and second-nature.

Wishing all of you strength and perseverance through the weekend!