DAY 007: Shaken, not stirred

Spoiler alert:  This has nothing to do with how I take my martinis.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to express how the last few months have been for me that led me to the point in my weight-loss mission where I find myself today.  In particular, the last 6 weeks of that have turned me into a raw, exposed nerve at times.  When I saw that today was #007 in my numbering scheme, a bit of an opportunity presented itself.  It’ll be a bit of a stretch, but hey, that’s been true for my pants of late; why should my writing be any different? 😉  So, let’s say I’ve been feeling existentially shaken, but somehow not stirred to action.  (It’s tortured, but whatever.  I’m sure I’ve done worse.)

Most of the year was pretty decent, just extra busy.  When things weren’t busy, I didn’t use my time the right way.  If I could go back to the summer and kick myself in the ass, let’s just say I would.  I did have an ankle sprain in there, but even still… I leaned hard into excuses that allowed me to stray from my healthy eating and abandon exercise altogether.

Zooming in on one cross-section of time, I take you to the period of late November through late December 2017, AKA the holiday season.  Call me over-analytical (and be correct), but a highly symbolic thing happened out of precisely nowhere.  The week leading up to Thanksgiving, the piercing I got to mark the halfway point in my mission got irritated.  It was slightly warm to the touch, and I could feel there was some sort of ball of nastiness between my earring and the hole in my ear.  I the area as best I could without taking the earring out, but after a few days of those attempts, there was no change.  I finally decided to do the obvious thing my body wanted me to do and remove the earring to give the hole a thorough cleaning.  The second the post left my ear, the nastiness ball got even larger and warmer, and the hole was imperceptible.  For the ensuing 2 weeks, it became a one-to-three-day cycle of cleancleanclean, scab slowly forms over site, scab falls off, repeat.  I haven’t been able to figure out what could have caused the sudden flare-up, but it was a week before I dared try getting an earring back in.  When I did, it was my sharp piercing stud from when I got my lobes pierced at age 11 — ohhhh, yeah, I still have those little pink studs in all their juvenile glory — and it hurt more than the original cartilage piercing did.  I’m pretty sure I partially re-pierced it.

That long-winded account is to say, I don’t view it as a coincidence that this happened at a moment in time where I’d solidly backtracked to the pre-halfway mark.  My piercing might as well have said, “You no longer have the right to this.  Come back when you’re serious.”

This saga is persisting even now, albeit to a lesser extent; but I am mostly leaving the earring out, periodically re-piercing the hole to drain it of blood (there’s a blood bubble that’s shrinking, but still present) and cleaning it.  I am not about to let that sucker permanently close.  At one point, I tried to insert the earring I got that hole pierced with, but my ear swelled up around it immediately and I had to take it right back out.  It was several days before I could do anything with it again.  I don’t know if I’ve developed a sudden allergy to sterling silver — is that a thing that can even happen?! — but it was wild.  I guess I’ll have to keep watching it.

Right after Thanksgiving, I had a minor car incident when a friend’s mom hit my car in her driveway.  No one was hurt, but it was enough that my car needed significant repairs, and I was without it, out of state, for over two weeks.  This meant a huge inconvenience at home; hours on the phone with insurance adjusters, rental car agents, and the auto body shop; and an unplanned trip back to my hometown that cost me 8 hours on the road and personal time off work to pick up my car when it was finally fixed.  It was an unwelcome bout of stress and annoyance.

Then, just before Christmas, my grandfather died.  I don’t think I need to expound on that.  Suffice it to say, I loved him very much and everything about letting him go was awful and painful, sometimes physically.

When I finally got back to my place after the unexpected, prolonged time at my parents’, I was drained.  I couldn’t get out of the terrible mental spiral of, What will they say about me when I die?  I need to quit my job and do something that matters.  Life’s too short.  I’m so unhappy.  Like a broken record, over and over again.  And I came damn close to doing something rash.  When I would re-pierce my ear during that period, I liked the pain.  I admit to doing it more than usual because I liked the pain.  The psychology attributed to cutters suddenly made sense to me:  giving myself this physical pain was a type of release valve for the internal pain I was feeling but didn’t know how to express, let alone work on solving.

I needed to get myself back into some semblance of control over the situation I was downward-spiraling myself further into.  That’s why I decided to do a fast to end the year.

After devouring breakfast on New Year’s Day, I signed up and weighed in for a new DietBet.  The pot is currently at $195,870 with 6,532 players.

This past week, I signed up for two additional DietBet games:  a Kickstarter that currently has 13,355 players and a pot of $400,650, and a Transformer that currently has a DietBet record (!) of 7,022 players and a pot of $932,400.  (Both are still open to new players — join me!)  These three new bets are in addition to the Transformer I joined in November that’s still in progress — and that I have lost both rounds of so far, but that I will come back and win!

Even after all the turbulence of the fall, I remained in a sort of helpless stupor where I knew what I needed to do, but I just couldn’t get myself there.  I’ve had to force myself back into meal prep and ratcheting up my give-a-shittitude, and the mental effort of babysitting myself has been tedious and exhausting.  It’s starting to take hold, though.  I’ve gone from being emotionally shaken to having finally shaken myself out of that rut.  I’ve gone from being emotionally not stirred to having finally stirred myself into taking charge.

I’ve already made some progress in spite of that, dropping 3.2 pounds since Monday night.  I’m definitely a long way from being all in, and I have yet to get a proper workout under my belt this time around, but it’s coming.  I’m going to get myself there.  There’s no alternative option.

Life’s too short for regret.




Mean, not-so-lean 2017

For this entry only, I am ditching my usual format of numbering the days because, well, that saga is over.  To put it better, that chapter of the seemingly never-ending mission has closed.

I can’t believe that at this time in 2016, I was getting ready to weigh in at under 200 pounds for the first time since college.  I made it to that milestone, but lost my way in the middle of that year, and then, between a series of fits and starts and flirtations with getting back on the healthy track, I just surrendered at the end of last summer.  It was one too many punches in my ever-expanding gut, and I couldn’t be bothered.  Last year — OOOH, that feels good to put 2017 in the past! — pinned me to the mat and I quit trying to get up.

I steered into the skid so hard, I can’t believe what the scale told me when I forced myself to get on it today.  By rights, I really should have gained a metric fuck-ton of weight.  I devoured all the marked-down Halloween candy, all the yummy fall treats, enough Thanksgiving dinner and homemade treats while staying with family, and basically just kept going down that path until kingdom come.  It got worse when my grandfather somewhat expectedly and somewhat unexpectedly died the week before Christmas.  I went home to my family and we ate our feelings for a week, then I gorged myself on Christmas cookies and more discounted candy.  Once I came home to my empty house after all that emotional zig-zagging, I consciously continued the bender.  I truly don’t remember the last time I worked out, but I want to say it was… early October?  Ugh.

The night before my grandfather’s funeral, I got a punishing migraine.  I get them from time to time, but I thought I had identified the main cause of them — a too-tight hair tie around my wrist — and hadn’t had one since.  Well, turns out crying/fighting not to cry/not sleeping well/not eating right/getting no exercise/having crazy emotions can produce them, too… with a vengeance.  I was knocked off my feet in a cold, dark room for hours, finally throwing up so violently and forcefully I’m surprised it wasn’t coming out of my eyes and ears in addition to my mouth and nose.  That was only my third vomit-inducing migraine, and by far the worst.  I never want to feel like that again.

Yesterday, I decided the way I would end the year-long migraine that was 2017 was by fasting.  I just didn’t eat for 30 hours, from the time I went to bed on the 30th to the time I “woke up” this morning.  Why the air quotes?  Well, because fasting is — duh — a detox, and my body had a LOT to detoxify itself of.  (Yes, I am aware that I am not detoxified now after one day of not eating, but the process started.)  I got a nasty migraine again in the afternoon yesterday, and it didn’t fully dissipate until after I ate breakfast this morning, meaning I was essentially awake all night in mind-numbing pain, in spite of my perfectly lovely NYE plan of sleeping right through the stroke of midnight.  2017 just couldn’t let me go without one last kick in the head.  (At least I didn’t yak this time, although that at least would have provided some relief.)

Sooooo, when I got on the scale this afternoon (after 2 meals and 2 snacks), I was certain that I would see at least a 12-pound gain from my last weight check on December 3rd.  The proximal dehydration from my 30-hour fast, coupled with the month and a half of eating everything in sight and making zero effort to counteract any of that damage with physical activity, really should have ballooned my weight waaaaaay up.  And yet — don’t ask me how — I weigh 2 pounds less than I did on that date, and only 2 pounds more than I did when I weighed in for a Transformer DietBet on November 14th.

OK, body.  You came to play.

My meals for the week are prepped and portioned.  I stayed fully on my meal plan today and am on track with my water intake.  Yesterday was the reset.  Today is technically day 1.  Now let’s see about not stopping until the work is done.

And thanks, universe, for the solid of not making me 20 pounds heavier.  I’ll try to remember this when I’m working my ass off and the scale isn’t budging at all.  Mysterious ways, amirite?

Happy new year!


DAY 750: True come dream

Two nights ago, I had a major first.  While unconscious.

I was dreaming that I was at some sort of banquet-y lunch with a massive dessert table.  Of course, I gravitated directly towards the dense, chewy, chocolate chip cookies displayed on it.  I picked one up, studied its delicious mushiness, and placed it back on the table.  I picked up another, gave it the same inspection, and set it back down to examine another.  After the third or fourth time I put a dream-cookie back down, I shrugged and walked away.

No, no, no, you don’t get it — my dreams are the place where I relatively safely, albeit at the cost of fleeting waking guilt, stuff my face with nutritional contraband.  I always eat the illicit brownie, piece of cake, cupcake, ice cream, chocolate, or cookie.  But this time, subconscious-me chose not to eat that little piece of dessert heaven.

I still don’t think you heard me.  In my dream, which I have never been able to control, I opted out of a cookie indulgence.

It might sound silly, but this almost feels like a bigger deal than making the safe choices in real life.  Why?  Because DUDE.  This means that the lifestyle change has so deeply permeated my mind that it now lives in my subconscious.  I have embraced it so wholeheartedly that even in my dreams, which express my true desires, I’m going for the healthy option.  I truly, at all levels, want to be healthy.  The cookie, real or imagined, no longer has the hold on me that it used to.  Even at my strongest point of total weight-loss dominance last year, I never managed to achieve this level of mental strength and control.  I’m sure I haven’t dreamed my last food-binge dream, but I’m also sure that having dreamed my first opt-out-of-food-binge dream is a BFD.

Dream-me’s actions are rooted in my general lived experience, but they also come from a specific incident at the end of last week.  On Friday, I was stuck at a work conference for the third day in a row, and it was a Whole30 dieter’s food desert.  (Incidentally, on day one of the conference, The Sugar Association’s Board of Directors was meeting down the hall from my group.  I should’ve burned it down.  HISSSSSS!)  At lunch that day, I was wringing my hands over whether or not the cold-cut turkey set out was compliant.  I had hungrily taken three slices to cut up into my plate of lettuce and cherry tomatoes, but it seemed unlikely that the lunch meat was safe to eat because it almost always contains added sugar.  Finally, I decided not to risk it and pushed it aside in favor of my boring-but-safe rabbit food.

While this inner struggle was playing out, I was looking it up on my phone and wondering aloud to a co-worker who knows of my Whole30 endeavor about the predicament, and another co-worker overheard and asked what was going on.  I explained, and she was kind of horrified to learn what Whole30 was.  She asked, “What do you do when you have a bad day?!”  (Implication: what do you binge on when you want to eat your feelings?!)  I simultaneously appreciated the completely normal, honest reaction she had, and also felt a sudden click of recognition that this is what they’re talking about when they refer to unwitting, sugar-addicted victims of SAD (Standard American Diet).  It was the first time that struck me in such a crystallized way.  As I was processing my reaction to her reaction, I checked myself to make sure I didn’t come off like one of those goddamn judgmental, holier-than-thou dieters.  I took a beat and said, “One of the things Whole30 helps with is changing how you relate to food, so it gets you away from doing that.  I mean, it helps that it’s no fun bingeing on carrots.”  She chuckled, and that was kind of the end of it.

Leading up to this conversation was my walk along the lunch buffet line.  Coming away with a plate of greens and some puny vegetables was a big, fat bummer, even though none of the options looked stunningly awesome.  Passing the cookie-laden dessert table and sitting down to eat with my cookie-laden colleagues was a bigger, fatter bummer.  I really wanted a cookie.  I vocalized that I really wanted a cookie.  I even went back over to the dessert table, knowing that I wasn’t going to take one, just to look once more at what I was missing.  I told myself they probably weren’t as good as they looked, shrugged, and walked away.

And then a few nights later, my true came dream.

What’s funny is that when I’m all by myself, I could give a rat’s ass about a cookie.  I don’t think about junk food normally; I just go about my day and eat the things I’ve spent hours and hours planning and preparing for myself.  It’s these social situations that are murder.  Already, it’s hard even finding something that I’m confident will be compliant, but then watching everyone else be able to indulge in whatever without having to think about or care about what they’re eating, is extra hard.  I never feel like I’m about to cave in those instances, but I do feel resentful and envious of the people who get to eat things other than lettuce.  (Always prepared, I did have my home-cooked lunch with me that day, and at an odd hour of the afternoon, I snuck back to my office for the sole purpose of microwave access so I could eat it.)

I only have 4 days left (including today) on Whole30.  I’m starting to feel apprehensive about going off the program when it ends.  It’s like after spending all of 8th grade English being absolutely forbidden from ever writing with a being verb — sounds impossible, but is really just super challenging — I felt guilty when I started using them again in 9th grade, even with full permission of the teacher.  True story.  Even though I will have successfully stuck it out all 30 days, it will feel wrong to start consuming grains, dairy, etc., again.  I’m also nervous I’ll suddenly regain a lot of weight, and I simply can’t afford to do that.  Unfortunately, I literally can’t afford to maintain this diet fully, so it’s a bit of a conundrum right now.  At this point, I’m thinking I may end up going on for at least another week, to give myself a bit more time to figure it out with a little less pressure because the 30 required days will have passed.  In any event, I had anticipated feeling relief by the time I reached this point, so it’s a total surprise to be feeling hesitant about going off of it!

In non-Whole30 news, I’ve been good about sticking to my work-out regimen, even in spite of some scheduling challenges.  In addition to arms and cardio, I’m keeping my new core workouts on regular days, and I’ve noticed it’s been helping with my digestion (unless that’s just a huge coincidence).  On Sunday, I did back-to-back classes at my gym, and my legs still haven’t forgotten — but it hurts so good.  My sleep has been much better and more consistent, and I am feeling more energetic overall.  I know I said this was non-Whole30 news, but the truth is that it’s probably related to at least a small degree, of course.  I’m relearning more and more that all of this is a delicate balance, and every component of it matters.

DAY 743: To sleep, perchance to food-dream

OK.  It’s day 20, and I feel like I’m back tracking.

I have slept terribly the past two nights, in spite of taking melatonin on Sunday night.  Last night, after 2+ hours of trying and failing to fall asleep, I ultimately gave up and went to the kitchen to start preparing today’s lunch and tonight’s dinner.  Still not wound down from that, I went ahead and filed my taxes.  Finally, I trudged back upstairs around 2 AM where I lay awake for another hour before finally dozing off sometime after 3.  I also peed four times between when I first lay down and when I scraped myself off the mattress when my alarm went off for the 5th time this morning.  I usually only get up once or twice throughout the night.

I also had the worst headache yesterday that I’ve had since starting Whole30.  Two pills didn’t kill it during the day, and it clung on and on until I took another dosage before my first attempt at going to sleep at night.  It then took a while to dissipate, which at least it finally did.  As I sit here typing this, I can feel another one creeping on.

I continue to have inexplicable and frustrating stretches of constipation.  That just infuriates me.  In. fur. i. ates. Me.  Anti-bloat diet, my ass.

And to add injury to insult, I am all of a sudden having knee pain.  KNEE PAIN.  For the first time in my life, I have aching, stiff, sore knees through absolutely no strain or exertion.  I’ve been totally phoning it in on the physical activity, and what little I’ve gotten has been pretty non-strenuous.  Even at my heaviest weight of 303 pounds, my knees were fine.  I’m years and miles away from that point now, and partway through this healthy dietary tweak, I’m struck with it out of absolutely nowhere?  Not fair.  Also, not logical.

What the eff is going on here?!

This better be the death throes of toxins leaving my body or something.  I am SO irked about what I’m experiencing this far into the program.  The hardest shit is supposed to be over.  It’s been almost 3 weeks and I have experienced, mmm, approximately zero of the program’s touted health benefits.  For all the extra investment — and I do mean investment — of time and money to stick to the strident rules of Whole30, to experience nothing even close to “tiger blood” is outrageous.  Not only am I not feeling better, but I’m actually feeling worse.  I am so glad I’ve ignored the guideline about not weighing yourself; if it weren’t for my knowledge that I’ve dropped a lot of weight, it’s hard to imagine I could convince myself to stick out these last 10 days.

Oh, oh, oh!  But THEN!  I’m all skittish about stopping after day 30 because what if all the pounds that fell off were just water weight, and I instantly gain it all back during reintroduction?  I won’t fit into my MoH dress.  I’ll be miserable and inconsolable.  It will all have been an utter waste, in every possible sense.  Ugh, I can’t even let myself think about that, but the thought keeps popping into my head.

I’m exhausted.  What I wouldn’t give for a guilty food dream right now.

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 680: Going against the (mi)grain(e)

This past Saturday, I had possibly the worst migraine of my life.

At some point after all the vomiting, a new sense of resolve overcame me.  It’s well past time for me to have found a way to kick myself in the ass hard enough to get back on the fitness express, but I just haven’t been able to really tap back into the feelings that gave me so much strength and power to go hard around this time last year.  Maybe it was all the incidental cleansing from the migraine-induced yakking, but somewhere in my mind, the right synapse finally fired and reanimated those atrophied senses.  I finally felt truly recommitted to The Mission.

On Sunday, when I was back to feeling 100%, I prepped my week’s worth of meals and portioned them out along with my snacks.

Yesterday, I hit the gym for the first time in months.

Today, I signed up for 2 new DietBets.

I’m back, baby.  Go time.

P.S. WordPress tells me that, quite fittingly, this is my 100th blog post!