DAY 038: The proclivity for negativity

DietBet Kickstarts 1 and 2 (out of 3) have ended, and I’m a two-time winner!  I have just a bit more to go before I meet the goal for my third one that weighs out this time next week, and I have every intention of winning it.  Anyone in a DietBet has every intention of winning, though, right?  Or they wouldn’t be betting in the first place.  The money is a huge motivator… but it shouldn’t be the focus.

Unfortunately, I’m seeing a new trend in the DietBet community that I’ve never seen before in almost three years on the site:  whiny, complain-y, negative comments about the modest winnings.  Both of my recently-ended Kickstarters heavily showcased these gripes.  In most cases, they came from people with misguided expectations about how much money they would come away with if they hit their goals — these folks pretty clearly didn’t bother to read or understand the rules before joining the game, or before shooting their mouths off at the end of it.  I know it’s disappointing to “only” win six bucks after working your tail off for a month, but imagine how much worse it must be to come within a pound of your goal after working your tail off for a month, and losing your entire buy-in on top of that!  (By the way, those people are the ones who financed your six-buck win, complainers.  And then you bitched about it.  Double ouch for them, huh?)

Many people have been quick to point out to the ranters that DietBet is a place for support, motivation, and accountability; it is NOT a get-rick-quick scheme.  It’s why I’ve come to DietBet every time I’ve felt myself slipping and needing to get back on track, and as long as I stay focused, it works for me.  Not because of the money, but because of the support.  I once hosted a DietBet, albeit a small one, with a $10 buy-in that only had about a dozen people in it.  We were VERY active as a group with posting and interacting, and we had a blast losing weight together.  At the end of the bet, none of us profited a single penny because we ALL met our 4% goal.  That wasn’t a fluke coincidence; that was because we were in it together.  The fact that we only got back our initial investment was beyond worth it because it meant that nobody lost the game and everybody had lost weight.  We were really there for each other.  It was the best DB game I’ve ever played.

The wonderful thing about January is it does flip a switch in people to make changes in their lives where they feel unhappy, and weight is probably the number one thing people resolve to change about themselves at the first of the year.  It’s fantastic when people make strides towards health and self-improvement, and even more fantastic when they succeed.  Unfortunately, it means many newcomers flood gyms and websites with the most earnest of intentions, but without a real plan.  They haven’t done the research, and then it’s everyone else’s problem — sometimes fault? — that they aren’t having their sugar-free cake and eating it, too.  If you’re pissy because you didn’t rake in a windfall on a community weight-loss site, honestly, shame on you for having that expectation in the first place.  There is nothing anywhere in the rules or FAQs that should have led you to formulate such an idea.  Congratulate the people who busted their asses to win, just like you did, and get back to work.   **steps off soap box**

Ironically, all the negativity in the air on DB right now has triggered some positive thinking for me.  I’ve been kind of skittish lately about the eventuality of my foot surgery, which is likely to happen next month.  I know that as long as I plan, I can avoid regaining, and can even continue to make progress on my weight loss.  Even still, it’s hard not to feel kind of nervous about being essentially immobilized for such a long period.  That’s a slippery slope to negative self-talk.  What the pouters on DB have inadvertently reminded me with all their negative talk is that it’s incredibly unappealing and counter-productive.  I’m not on my mission for any other reason than that I want to be.  And you know what?  I can do it.  I just have to decide to.  Multiple times a day, every day.  The only way to do that is by staying positive.

In the meantime, I really hope this influx of downers is not the start of a new trend on DietBet.  It really crushes what has always been a positive atmosphere for most players.  No one is here for that.

DAY 026: Tearing myself a new one

At some point last winter, I noticed a pain in my left bicep during certain normal movements.  Raising my arms in certain ways hurt, lifting certain things in certain ways hurt, and even certain light Zumba arm moves hurt.  It eventually became painful to sleep on my left side, which is my usual position.  The only thing I could conclude was that I had somehow torn a muscle.  Although I didn’t have any kind of scan done, my (new and less wonderful) doctor confirmed it when I saw her for the first time in May for a physical.

I’ve been doing independent weight training on my arms since I started this weight-loss party back in March 2015.  I have always been careful with controlling the motion of anything I lifted, taking it slow, and making sure the weight isn’t too much.  I somehow still managed to hurt myself pretty severely.  The best I can figure is that when I started doing arms again after enough of a hiatus to decrease my strength, I worked out as if I had never stopped and over-exerted my muscles when I should have ratcheted down the amount of weight I was lifting.  Muscles are built by a process of tearing and rebuilding, but when a tear comes from an injury, it’s not magically healed by a protein bar.  It needs to rest until it’s ready to work again.  You can’t rush it.

The doctor told me in May to stop with arms weights until my bicep was healed.  Foolishly, I gave it a week and then resumed my normal circuits in spite of the persistent pain.  The only reason I ended up stopping is because I abandoned health altogether when things got rough in the fall.

A year later, I’m finally healed.  I hit my arms circuit last night for the first time in several months.  I was a little tentative and ginger at the beginning of my workout, especially when it came to the exercises that really used to hurt when my muscle was damaged.  But you know what?  I feel good today.  I have the satisfying soreness from a good burn, but no pain.  Soreness is fine, but there should never be pain.  Got it.  No more being stupid.  But also… I forgive you, past self.

On Tuesday, I was chatting with a friend as we were leaving work together.  She asked, “Are you dieting?”  I said, “I’m eating right.”  She said, “Your face looks good.”

And that’s where it starts.

Hello, saddle.  It’s good to be back.

DAY 021: A woman’s right to chews

The recent days have been a blend of several non-scale victories and several non-scale fails.  A quick recap:

NSV:  I made it the full week between scheduled weigh-ins without sneaking a peak at the scale, which made seeing the loss today highly satisfying.

NSF:  I caved.  I had coffee this morning.  My sleep may or may not suffer, but I honestly can’t even say I’m that upset about the coffee.  This presents an interesting experiment opportunity at zero caloric expense.

NSV:  I chose moderately healthy options for my meal out on Thursday, last night, and this morning, and succeeded at staying within my calorie limit every day this week.

NSF:  My moderately healthy brunch choice this morning, it turns out, was actually not that healthy.  Nutrition calculators are wonderful and terrible at the same time — if only I had looked in the moment instead of after the fact!  It blew up more than half of my daily limit!

NSV:  I still stayed within limit today by severely adjusting my meal plan for the rest of the day.  Lunch was a banana, my PM snack was carrots, and my dinner was steamed broccoli.  It sounds extreme, especially on a day when I got a good cardio workout in, but you know what?  I’m not hungry!  This isht is working, y’all.

NSF:  I didn’t get to the gym all the days I should have this week.  I could have done more good if I had.

NSV:  I still hit my step goals every day this week, and I did still make it to the gym a few times.

NSF:  No more data — which means NSVs outnumber NSFs!

NSV:  I managed to fully prepare and portion out my meals for this week in spite of having company staying with me — a LOT of work and sore feet, but also highly satisfying!
The lesson for me here is that we have a right to choose what we chew, and we can even allow a few calorie-dense selections into the fray.  My Thursday and Saturday meals were both dinners this week, meaning I could budget my intake throughout the day and go into the meal knowing exactly how many nutritional points I had to play with once I had the menu in my hand.  That worked well.  Today, since my meal out was in the morning and of higher caloric value than either of my other meals out this week, it was more painstaking to stay under my limit because there was so much time left in the day.  But not only did I make it work without feeling deprived, I also felt more motivation to work out as a result.  I will keep my right to what chews I make because I know how to operate within the rules.

And my body knows it.  It shed 4.6 pounds this week.

That means I’m gonna crush those 4 new DietBets.  Ahhhh, this is more like it!

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 7.25.39 PM

It also means I’m at -7.8 pounds so far for the month, and solidly within reach of losing the 12 pounds I wanted to lose in January.  It’s going to take some hard work, but my 3 weeks of habit forming are now officially in the books.

Let’s rock.

 

DAY 019: Souped-up menu

One of my big weight-loss philosophies is that you can’t eat everything you like, but you should like everything you eat.  I’ve learned this about myself:  if I’m not happy about my food plan, I’m far more likely to stray from it.  To that end, I’ve spent loads of time combing the net and my 4 healthy magazine subscriptions to build myself an ever-growing solid arsenal of go-to recipes that give me a good rotation of options to mix and match indefinitely.  Meal planning and preparation take up a HUGE amount of time for me, but they’re essential components of success.  After all…

cantoutexercise
getfit
rest
…and so on.

Adhering to my “like everything you eat” philosophy sometimes gets tricky when layered in among my efforts to try new things (which often means more than once — some new flavors can be acquired tastes), not overload one meal with the bulk of my day’s calories, get enough nutritional variety, and stay within my daily macros.  It’s a time-consuming puzzle to put together my weekly meal plans, but it’s usually fun for me.  However, there are times when I remember the hard way that there are certain things I really just don’t enjoy eating or am sick of at the moment.  I can usually put the distaste aside, scrunch up my nose, and eat the thing I’ve forced upon myself, especially when it’s paired with something I really do enjoy.  Prime example:  I’m still not exactly bananas over bananas, but they’re transportable and I’ve come to not mind them, so I usually schedule them as a snack with some yummy almond butter or yogurt.  This week, I had a miss:  I threw in some grape tomatoes, which has reminded me that I borderline hate them — and I made the unfortunate mistake of coupling them with a lunch it turns out I’m not wild about right now.  The only positive is that I’m hungry enough at lunch time that I’ll eat just about anything, and I’m OK with the split-pea soup, it just doesn’t hit the spot, ya know?

My mismanaged menu (re)taught me two key things:

  1. It’s fine to include a few items I find OK, as long as there’s something I really like to balance it out.
  2. I’m fickle.  The odds are 50/50 that I’ll have changed my mind on something I haven’t had in a while, for the better or the worse, or that I still like/dislike it just as much as before.  (I’m looking at you, grape tomatoes.)  That is, if I can remember how I felt about it in the first place.  (I’m looking at you, split-pea soup.)  So, when I’m not sure, I need to not group two questionable items together in the same feeding.  I just need to be a bit more thoughtful during menu prep.

I like souping in the winter, even when the temperature varies wildly between single digits and the high fifties, so I’m making up for this week’s soup miss with a soup for next week I’m already craving:  classic matzo ball soup… with whole-grain matzo meal.  Uh, yeah.  I’m jealous of myself.

TGIF — this week’s menu misfire is over!  Happy weekend, kids 🙂

P.S.  No, I didn’t go off plan in spite of not loving my choices for the week.  Bam!  #NSV

DAY 017: The foodstuffs dreams are made of

They’re baaaaaaa-aaaaaack:  the food dreams.  With a twist.

Last night, I don’t even remember what I was illicitly eating in my dream when I reached the level of semi-consciousness where I realized I was dreaming.  At that point, I immediately grabbed a bowl of whipped cream that appeared from nowhere and started eating it with a spoon.  I could take or leave whipped cream in real life, so that was a surprising splurge!  Haha.

This was the second night in a row of food dreams, but with different indulgences.  I always hit this point when I start a new health routine.  It’s not even just one point; it’s more like a starting point of what will be an intermittent pattern that continues indefinitely.  Oddly, it seems to happen at times when I’m not having any waking cravings and am actually feeling pretty secure in my food and exercise choices.  I usually feel insanely guilty when I wake up, before it hits me that the sinful eating I did in my dreams didn’t really happen.  The best is when, like this morning, I become aware that I’m dreaming and I can go hog wild with no consequences.

The weird part about last night’s dream was that, before the whipped-cream plot twist, I had an internal struggle about an indulgence of a different kind:  weighing myself.  It’s always a bit of a challenge not to weigh in between my usual Sunday night times, and I confess that I do usually give in around Thursday.  It’s been particularly challenging not to step on the scale this week, after annoyingly posting no weight loss at all last week.  My next scheduled weigh-in is still 4 days away, and I feel like my body has made it over the week-2 slump and has responded well to my consistency with diet and the introduction of regular exercise.  (I made it to the gym after work yesterday!)  I want to wait until Sunday to see the progress, and I’m so hopeful for a big number to offset the stall from last week, but I’m being diligent with myself not to.  If I can’t resist the damn scale, which should be an easy thing to resist because it’s THE ENEMY with a gremlin living inside it, how am I gonna say no to donuts and cookies and bowls of whipped cream?

Sooooo, I’m gonna ride it out.  In the meantime, I’m trying to prepare myself for a possibly disappointing number on Sunday.  I have to remember that the scale only tells me my relationship to gravity, not how I feel.

Unless it’s a big drop.  😉

DAY 009: Coffiend

I’m not a coffee addict, but I do like my coffee.  It’s actually the coffee I like, by the way; I take it black, no cream or sugar diluting the hearty, nutty, bitter flavor.  I usually amble down the block on week day mornings to pick up a cup for myself to drink at work, and brew some at home in my French press on lazy weekend mornings or go for the bottomless coffee pots alongside leisurely weekend brunches with friends.  The smell of the roasted beans, the taste of the soothing liquid, the feel of the warm mug between my hands… I just enjoy the stuff.

I have a 3-year losing streak playing Starbucks for Life, which sees my fiendish behavior amp up significantly every year as I invariably rack up 2 out of 3 stickers in every category before ultimately only gaining dupes for the rest of the game’s duration.  That’s when a mild addictive pattern does start to form, born out of addiction to the possibility of winning MORE COFFEE, however improbable.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed I’m much more sensitive to caffeine than ever before.  I stopped drinking it after 12 PM a few years back when I realized it was wreaking havoc on my ability to fall asleep at night, but now it seems that if I have it more than a couple of days in a row, my sleep starts to suffer.  And so…

I’m giving up the brown stuff.

TEMPORARILY.  Like, for the rest of this month (and then we’ll see).

Conventional wisdom goes that it takes three weeks to form a habit.  Today was the first day I had no coffee, and three weeks from today is January 30th, which is just before the last day of the month.  So I’m going to be attentive to my physiological responses, where sleep is concerned as well as what effects it may have on my hunger and energy levels throughout the day and decide after that window whether or not it’s worth continuing the coffee hiatus.  I’ve given up coffee before for almost the exact same reason, but since it was during Whole30, it was impossible to isolate which impacts the diet was having on me vs. which ones coffee was, and/or how the two interplayed.  I’m really down with this sort of torturous self-experimentation, so hey, let’s call it science and party.

I didn’t sleep well last night, which is surely part of why I’m feeling draggy right now, but I’m sure the lack of coffee is also contributing to that.  I woke up his morning feeling as if I had been partially awake for a few hours.  It would be awesome to wake up from a full sleep to the sound of my alarm, rather than from a semi-conscious state in anticipation of my alarm.

Speaking of this morning, I noticed at one point of my semi-consciousness that my VivoFit wasn’t on my wrist, which is odd because I’ve been sleeping with it on for 3 years.  I felt around for it in the sheets, but it wasn’t there.  When I finally got out of bed, I saw it was lying on the floor.  I had clearly removed it and tossed it in my sleep!  Oh, subconscious self.  Don’t look for the symbolism, don’t look for the symbolism, don’t look for the symbolism…!

Also, last night, I finally did what could be classified as exercise.  My Wii Fit balance board arrived, and I did a Wii bit of activity for 30 minutes!  🙂  Baby steps still count towards that daily goal.

I’m hoping that once the caffeine fully leaves my system, I’ll get into more of a natural energy cycle that will make working out more productive.  I have a gym session in mind for tomorrow, which I don’t expect to be an easy time, but starting never is.

Don’t think, just go.  **breathes**

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.