Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Adolph and I Have Amicably Parted

Adolph and I are through! He gave me what I needed, so I am grateful. But I've grown, and he's stayed, well, static. So I find that I can move forward in life without him.

Thank you, Adolph, for increasing my flexibility. May the next person who next tightens your screw claim the same success.

And I can also add what I hope will be the final entry to My Healing Timeline of My Broken Wrist--
125 Days--End Hand Therapy

(Thanks, Dan, for teaching me to work through pain and for your kind-hearted listening. I will long remember you. Hope to see you on X-mas Eve.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Challenging Food Beliefs

So I told a few people recently that I'd read that there was a study done that showed people who ate peanut butter every day had a lower risk of diabetes. I was met with scoffs and comments about low sample size. But! I found the study--and it's a valid one--the Nurses' Health Study conducted by Harvard and published in Jama.

In this large prospective cohort study of women, we found that consumption of nuts and peanut butter was inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes, independent of known risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including age, obesity, family history of diabetes, physical activity, smoking, and dietary factors. The inverse association with nuts persisted in all subgroup analyses.
See Nut and Peanut Butter Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women from Vol. 288 No. 20, November 27, 2002

And all they ate was 1 T a day.

I can't say I've been as successful finding studies that compare milk sources--cow's, soy, almond, and rice.

Trainer D is trying to get me off cow's milk because she says it is all fat and adults don't need it. I can't say the idea set well with me. I don't think I have anything against almond or rice milk (I'll get to soy in a minute), but it just seemed like kind of an extreme start. And I know VEGANS do it, so it probably is healthier on some level, but is the switch really going to help me lose weight? (I did find a study that showed no difference between cow and soy milk for losing weight. . . but I haven't gotten to my issues with soy yet.)

And isn't weight loss my first goal? Still, D gave me food for thought about picking only the healthiest foods for myself. . . but before I could really ponder this and give it serious consideration and think it all through.. . I told hubby and PhD. They quickly made it known that their vote was with my other hand (not that I had had a chance to show them my other hand yet). And that is, the big red flag about giving up food groups. . .

Drinking soy milk I'm pretty sure about. It's a "no." First of all, it tastes sweet to me, so it doesn't work as a milk substitute. What's more is the ongoing controversy about whether it reduces your risk of breast cancer or can increase the risk in women who have estrogen-sensitive cancers. (Not that I've had cancer, but I have lots of fat, and fat stores estrogen.)

Studies show the amount Asian women eat seems to be OK. I'm assuming they eat mostly tofu. I guess the next thing I need to study is whether they drink soy milk.

But you see what I mean about this getting me off task? Still, there is a draw to eating only healthy things. Like D, I'm aware that you can follow plans like Weight Watchers and not necessarily get your nutritious needs a day. . . say if you always eat low-fat chips and packaged snacks and desserts and puddings instead of eating fruits and vegetables--and milk!

I like the idea of eating vegetarian meals, and they look so pretty. Not that I want to eat only vegetarian. And I like the idea of getting off sugar substitutes--I mean what have they really done for me? I'm been eating sugar substitutes since I was 7; they aren't exactly making me thin! But, as hubby points out, I don't really like the natural taste of things. . .still, I think I could make some transitions and eliminations. Like I could sweeten plain yogurt with a bit of jelly or jam as well as fruit.

And then there's the fat free stuff. . . probably harder to live without because it's harder to live with the smaller amounts of the full fat stuff. . . like sour cream and ice cream . . .

So much to consider. But as PhD says, you try one thing and if it doesn't work, you switch. And that's what I'm paying her for I guess--to make sure I switch versus quit.

Did You Notice My Exercise Log?

So have you noticed my new widget? On the top right of this page I now have an exercise tracker. This is to keep me from having to use my blog space to keep track of my exercise. If you are interested, here's how to use it:
  • Click on any of the scrolling exercises and it will take you to my tracking space on fitlink.com.
  • Once you're there, you can see any of my workouts for a day (look for dates listed on the right).
  • If you click on the magnifying glass to the right of the exercise, you can see how to do the exercise and what muscle groups it uses.
  • If you click on my name on the widget instead of an exercise, it takes you to my profile on fitlink.
  • And if you click on home (upper left) when you get to my profile or exercise page, you get a calendar showing how consistent I've been.

I know this sounds silly, but it's kind of neat to realize that the exercises that D does with me are typical for other people too. I had thought it was cool of her to do the same kind of exercises in different ways--like a chest press on the ball, or on a machine, or on an incline bench, or with a pulley machine--because it keeps it interesting and each position kind of works a slightly different area. But, duh, it wasn't just her being incredibly smart and making it up. There they are all--all their various forms right there on fitlink. But the fact that she knew & I didn't, and that she wants to keep it interesting is all part of the trainer push!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Santa Rosa Farmer's Market

I really want to feel more in control of my high-powered camera that I treat like a point and shoot. . .These peas had a glowing white outline. . .help?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Summer Remnants on the Deck Stair

Photographer's lament: This looks better full screen. . . Any suggestions for how I could have improved this shot?

What I Did Yesterday to Feel Proud

Yesterday I made this delicious sandwich for myself for my lunch (in the am!)--I was trying to mimic the Mediterranean veggie sandwich at Panera, but with fewer calories.

1 oat bran, low carb pita, sliced in half
On half (using the halves like slices of bread, not like a pocket, which I find always crumbles), I spread a thin layer of dill hummus
On top, sliced cucumbers
On top, mild banana pepper rings
On top, slices of red bell pepper
On the other half of the pita, a thin spread of goat cheese
several slices of fresh basil in the cheese and put it on top

Supplemented with Amy's Tuscan Bean soup, which I found needed spicing help

I also went to the gym, and was very proud that I stayed, even after some confusion with my trainer about when/if we were meeting. I'd had this memory recall a few days ago. . . I remember telling my friend no exercise feels good for the first 10 minutes! It always takes a bit longer and some exertion to feel good when you're moving, I think. So I was determined to go at least 20 minutes on the treadmill and move past the ache in my lower back.

Even though we didn't meet, Trainer D came by and instructed me. She encouraged me after my 10 minute warm up to do what we had done the day before, plus some (what else are trainers for?). So the trainer push was to do:
5 minutes with the incline at 1.5
5 minutes with the incline at 2.0
Then 5 minutes back at 1.5
I did this, though I slowed down the speed a bit a minute or so into the 2.0 incline. And then I did a few more minutes before the cool down.

Monday, September 22, 2008

He Wasn’t In Hospice

It is written that it’s a natural progression for loved ones to desert the dying before they are dead. Mothers can’t continue visiting terminally ill children. Families stop visiting people in hospice if they are there longer than expected. People are left with attending hospice workers who keep them out of pain until they meet death. The cliché it’s sad but true is such an understatement. The truth is, it seems horrible. Horrible for everyone involved because you know the deserters can’t feel good about themselves, and it hurts too much to even imagine the deserted.

It’s likely more common for us to leave people when they don’t appear to be dying at all. We get exhausted by their ways; we don’t know what to do for them any longer. Our trying to help them is hurting us. You know the kind of stories I mean. Someone we love gets involved with drugs or alcohol. Someone with an illness—physical or mental—takes too long to get managed. Someone’s grief takes longer to resolve than we have the patience for. Someone can’t seem to get what they want in life, who can’t achieve some lifelong goal that they keep talking about, maybe while striving and failing, or maybe never trying for it at all. Even someone who is repeatedly suicidal. I’ve been one of the leavers. And I’ve been left. I have empathy for both sides.

In this story, the story of my sweet niece who shares my birthday—so I’ll call her 25andaspiring—there is no leaving. In this story, my niece’s boyfriend—I’ll call him Big Ben because of his love of watches and his gentle nature—has habits and patterns that cause many people to leave him. His parents do. His successful older brother does. His step-mother does. (And I do not hold this against them. I understand their actions.)

But my niece, 25andaspiring, does not. She believes in him. Believes he has so much to offer—a sweet nature, a bubbling sense of humor, an untapped intelligence—that he just needs to realize it is there so he can push the muck away to reveal it. She believes he will be able to continue to leave behind his teenage stint with meth addiction. Believes he will stop using alcohol when he realizes how much he can achieve.

She loves him, and he adores her and makes her recognize her infrequently recognized beauty. She loves him even though he calls her every 3 minutes during family dinners (and he knows they are going on). She loves him even though his idea of an evening together is her watching him play computer games. She loves him even though his anxiety keeps him from being able to get beyond his night job, where he has the company of only one other man (it even sounds like a dark place), and from where he calls her all night, keeping her from sleeping, listening to her sleep. She loves him even when his drinking gets worse, when he doesn’t trust his prescription drugs to ease his ever-growing anxiety.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking words like user, loser, addict, alcoholic, enabler. I’ve thought them too.

When my mother loved a loser, I hated them both. I hated that she couldn’t see that he offered her nothing. That all he did was take from her and take from us, her daughters. I thought she was weak, and I hated her for not tossing him out.

Then I loved a loser. An alcoholic who took my money and threw mean liquor-filled words at me—much like Big Ben did to 25andaspiring. And I was so proud of myself when I decided to leave him. Proving to myself that I wasn’t like my weak mother. And I learned that love isn’t enough to decide to build a life with someone. Love is essential. But it isn’t enough.

So why am I so compassionate about 25andaspiring? It’s not because I think she could change him. I find her hopes for him naïve. And it isn’t that her relationship with him didn’t take anything away from me—because I miss having time with her, mourn that she gives him her every free moment. I worry again and again about her not recognizing how she is so unlikely to have a satisfying future with him. Because it seems impossible for him to see past his own painful needs how he might help lift her up and help her achieve her goals as much as she wants to help him. We all worry about this—her parents, her brothers, her grandmother. He’s sweet, but we don’t want him for her.

I think my compassion is fueled by how she doesn’t seem to let his downhill motion get the best of her. Unlike my mother and me, she doesn’t seem to respond with mean, hard words. He doesn’t bring out any ugly in her. She holds him and holds him, hoping love will be enough.

And now, my compassion is at its peak, now that poor Big Ben is dead. He died on Friday night.

We are not sure exactly of the cause—we suspect that he took more anti-anxiety drugs than he needed, mixed them with OTC drugs to help problems he refused to go to the ER for since he didn’t have insurance. And despite my mindful keening of, dear niece, how could you not know this was going to happen? How could you not know he was on the path to this happening despite all the times he turned out OK? I know she is tormented by these thoughts herself. So, my preliminary thought is that she was stuck. Or maybe the thought is just she stuck.

What could she do? His parents wouldn’t help. She used all her resources—her credit cards, her prayers, her encouraging words, her persuasive pleas. What other resources did she have? An exhaustion sets in, a dullness. She loved him.

She told my sister that she knew months ago that it wasn’t going to work between them, but that she just couldn’t bring herself to break up with him. She just couldn’t do it. He was so vulnerable. So alone. And my sister said, “Think how you would feel now if you had. You’d never forgive yourself. You stayed by him until the end.” She stuck by him though he was spiraling downward. He wasn’t in hospice. No one had marked him for dying. Yet, he was deserted. But not by 25andaspiring.

I cry for her, and I’ll use all my resources to help ensure she is not stuck like this again. And I'm grateful that at 45andaspiring, I have more resources to tap.

I met with D and this is what we did:
  • 11 minutes Treadmill at 2.8 mph
  • 10 step ups on step (2 tiers) with 8 lb weights overhead press (wrist felt those!)
  • 10 set ups on step (2 tiers) with 8 lb weights lateral raises
  • 10 lateral leg raises with 8 lb weight and lateral arm raises (both legs)

Then 2 sets of this circuit:

  • 15 chest presses with 10 lbs on incline bench
  • 15 flies with 10 lbs on incline bench
  • 15 rows with the "pulley" machine
  • 15 lat pulls (60 lbs)

Then back to the treadmill

  • 7.5 minutes with 1 incline at 2.6 mph
  • 7.5 minutes with 1.5 incline at 2.8 mph

Saturday, September 20, 2008

If You Want Me to Feel Comfy. . .


  • Couches that face each other
  • Enough places to sit for everyone
  • Food brought to me on a plate
  • Someone making a point to sit near ME
  • A place set for me at the table--even if it's a card table
  • Any kind of cake or cookies set out, and a place to sit to eat them (my grandma E's old metal kitchen table with the red top always had things on it against the wall, but you were always welcome to come in and sit while she and others worked to eat a fig newton)
  • Being told by someone who means it to get whatever you want out of the kitchen
  • More than enough pillows & at least one extra blanket
  • Households that keep all kinds of pain relievers--aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen
  • Warm hugs hello, goodbye, and sometimes in between


  • All the seats taken--no place to sit (especially if the seats are taken by the people who live there--not by other guests)
  • People lying on furniture when there are already not enough places to sit
  • Tiny towels that don't come close to wrapping around your body
  • "See-through" towels
  • Reusable plastic cups that are scratched up from being in the dishwasher so much (I don't mean disposable ones.)
  • Small portions of food for a big crowd
  • People watching TV in the room where people are visiting
  • People who keep complaining about their lack of funds, using it as an excuse not to be hospitable
  • Whispering

Exercise Pain Update

My arms, thank goodness, stopped aching (no rain yet either!). And I only have a tiny red dot and sore spot on my foot from dropping that 8 lb. weight on it. AND I met with D yesterday too. In addition to my abs that were already sore, I'm sore basically all around my upper legs.

Here's what we did:
10 minutes on the treadmill
2 sets then a 3rd set with extra weight added
15 leg presses (unsure of the weight--2 large weights on each side of the bar)
15 leg presses plie style (toes turned out)
15 toe presses
2 sets: 12 wall push ups (recommended for the wrist)
2 sets of 20:
crunches on ball
side crunches on ball
2 sets:
5 lbs wrist curls

After the first and second set of leg presses, the arch of my left foot was really hurting--hurt as a I did it too, even though I tried changing the distribution of my weight to my heel versus whole foot. But D had me get up and walk around between 2nd & 3rd set and and stretch it, and I was delighted that it didn't hurt on the 3rd--and I was relieved that it doesn't hurt today! And it's that's why you pay for it--you pay for the trainer push.

And I scheduled 3 sessions for next week. (That's just step 1.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First Day of Training Down

Timeline of a Broken Wrist Continues. . .
113 Days Return to working With My Personal Trainer

So today. . . after much internal struggle and dragging of the feet. . . I met with D for my first training session since before I broke my wrist. I was supposed to meet her at 5, and when I went downstairs to the gym, she wasn't there. So I appropriately looked around, asked where she was, and then went back to my desk. I had been anticipating seeing her and kind of wanted to get moving, but also had that, "ugh, this will be hard," feeling and felt very antsy about trying to get out of the office early. (I haven't focused well on my work since returning from the funeral.)

So, I left her a voicemail. Then, she called my cell phone, saying, "where are you? you should be warming up with your cardio. . ." which I kind of ignored. At 5:40, she called my work phone. I said, "Are you still there? Can I come down?" (You're amazed, aren't you?)

So I think I was sweating before I even got to the dressing room. The workout was an easy, let's-get-back-going one. . . thank goodness! But at least it's done--I have my first day of training done.

Here's what we did:
  • 6 min warm up on Treadmill
  • 10 step ups on each leg on step raised 2 tiers
Then these strength-training exercises: each with 8 lb. free weights in each hand
  • 15 bicep curls
  • 15 side arm raises
  • 15 overhead presses
  • 15 tricep curls (over head)
  • 15 rows from a mild squat position (before this I dropped the weight on my foot!!!)

On the ball, with 10 lb. weights per hand:

  • 15 chest presses
  • 15 flies (these were hard with my hand)

On the ball:

  • 20 crunches
  • 20 side crunches

Then lots and lots of reps with a 1.5 lb weight, palm up, moving my wrist forward and backward--mindfully.

Working Through the Pain. . . Literally

Remember that pain I said I had learned that you sometimes have to work through. . . ? Well, IT'S HERE. . .

Before I even opened my eyes this AM, both my forearm sand my hands were aching. Not muscle soreness like "hey, I can tell I worked out yesterday. . . " (I have a bit of that in my abs). No this is like that more intense, ongoing pain like you get in joints before it's going to rain. Before I even was totally awake, I was saying. "Honey, can you bring me 3 ibuprofen?"

And now, I'm at my desk. . . and the aches are back.. . now also in my shoulder. . .

I think this is just my arms' way of saying. . . hey you're using us again!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Weight Loss Tips That Work--And That Don't

I've taken a step. Last night, I met with a new therapist (mental health, not hand, if you've been paying attention). I'm a total believer in therapy if you can afford it. It's the most selfish thing I think that I do for myself. Almost an hour talking about me, me, me, without having to worry what the other person wants to talk about or if they'll like me tomorrow (though, of course I do worry about that because I want them to like me greatly).

So this is my first female therapist in a long while. And it's my first one that is a weight loss/eating specialist. That's a bit scary--like trying your last available resource. . . what's next if this doesn't work?

For homework, she asked me to make a list of things that had worked for me in the past--in terms of losing weight, and what doesn't.

Weight Loss Tips That Have Worked for Me Before
  • Taking a moment before eating to think about which foods and portions will make me feel good later--10 minutes later, 2 hours later, the next day. (This is hard--have to work through the pain of that F-it feeling.)
  • Writing down what I'm going to eat--BEFORE I eat it, so I can tally it up and make alternate choices that fit better if necessary.
  • A clear understanding of my limits for the day--when to stop.
  • Thinking of the week as a whole, not just day by day (making choices on Tuesday, based on what I anticipate will happen on Sat.)
  • Practicing positive self-talk.
  • Talking about my success with others
  • Walking--with my husband
  • Walking with my cell phone
  • Wearing my pedometer, not so much because it urged me to walk more, but allowed me to praise myself for what I had done and to see consistency
  • Planning meals in advance--especially for shopping
  • Having a grocery shopping day (Hard because it's hard to put the right amount of time to plan in advance--I either take too long looking at recipes and making menus so I've used up my energy before I get to the store, or I don't plan much at all.)
  • Varying meals
  • Having one "exciting" food per lunch and dinner--fresh raspberries or stewed tomatoes with a little melted Parm & bread crumbs on top (so I have incentive to eat what I've planned when I want to bail out).
  • Exercising most days (then you don't have to decide if you are or not)
  • Working out with a trainer (keeps me from talking negatively to myself because I'm too busy and keeps me from focusing on others)
  • Packing my lunch and a snack
  • Mental tricks
  • Realizing most people who are fit and lean work at it and don't eat just whatever they want

Weight Loss Tips that Do Not Work for Me

  • Setting an amount of weight to lose in a certain time period
  • Cutting out food groups
  • Making ANY food completely off limits
  • Being "allowed" to eat limitless amounts of food (makes me uncomfortable)
  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Talking about gaining weight in front of others--or my failures (this makes me hate myself)
  • Putting up fat pictures of myself, as though I'm supposed to hate who I am now (who I've been most of my life)
  • Just trying to eat healthy foods, with no clear limits for the day
  • Things that feel gimmicky or over thought--like counting carrots as points in Weight Watchers or limiting how much fiber you can count (unclear tweaks make me suspicious of Weight Watchers motivations--which, obviously, are more about them continuing to collect my money rather than to help me)
  • Eating out
  • Sitting in on my thousandth WW meeting listening to people talk about how to eat at a party
  • Listening to people talk about failure at WW meetings. . . or those who come and yak, yak, yak, but aren't losing weight
  • Not having much flexibility to get back on track if I have a bad day (like on Core)
  • Feeling like a victim of my genetics, or of my job, etc.
  • Giving in to feeling defeated that I keep having to do this over and over and over
  • Paying for training or Weight Watchers sessions or ANYTHING in advance!
  • Not knowing how to "count" things--having to estimate ingredients and serving sizes and put it together; causes me great anxiety and usually makes me want to quit

I want to move on and have something new to talk about. I don't want my tombstone to say, "She spent her life fretting about her weight, and she died fat."


After I ate the lunch (that I didn't pack) and was contemplating getting an unhealthy salty snack to take back to my desk, I saw my trainer--D. I haven't worked with her since before I broke my arm. I got permission from my hand therapist last week to start lifting weights. So I set up 2 appts with D--one for Thursday and one for Friday. And I asked her to calculate how many more I have left (that I already paid for). Dun, Da, Dun, Dun

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why Are Peacocks in Cemeteries?

I am not sure why I found comfort in the fact, when I heard it, that we were burying my Aunt Judy on the same day that my grandpa died--10 years apart. It doesn't feel like 10 years.

Some of the people I saw this last weekend I hadn't seen since then. Some of them hadn't been born yet. Like my cousin-once-removed, little 4-year-old Gracy. I witnessed Gracy doing something that I wish we could all do in life and get the same response she did. She walked from person to person, saying the same sentence, "I'm leaving," and then doing the same simple act (whether they were standing or sitting)--falling forward into their bodies, hands at her sides. And they always made the same, simple response. They hugged her. It should be this simple to garner a touch. We should all feel so much uncomplicated warmth for each other.

I spent time at my Aunt Judy's visitation hours talking with Don & Bill--the friends of my cousin, Tim, who introduced him to his partner. After sharing stories--about Tim's unconscious introduction of the rainbow flag to me, and how that had a role in the interview that got me my current job--Don asked me if I was a "Fag Hag." I immediately didn't like the sound of it. They laughed at me not knowing what it meant.

I grabbed my Uncle's hand (my uncle who also happens to be gay) and put my face close to his cheek, and said, "Does that mean someone who loves people for whoever they are and who always wants them to feel comfortable being who they are with me?" Because I want it to be that simple. I want my family and friends to feel like they can put their arms at their sides and fall into me and know I will respond with a hug.

But that's not what they tell me Fag Hag means. It means, they tell me, a woman who chooses the company of gay men because she enjoys being around them. I still object. I have family & friends who are gay, but not because I "gathered" them or because I prefer them.

I think people make love too complicated. Love is easy. People walk by easy love. Like my aunt who rejected who step-granddaughters by giving preferential treatment to her biological granddaughters. I don't get it. Loving children and accepting love from them is typically so easy.

Loving my gay cousin and uncle is easy. Loving my cousin's partner is easy. I don't have to think about it or choose to do it. I would have to work at it to reject them, and it would cause me pain. It is much harder for me to love people who talk of entire nations beind damned because of their beliefs.

Some people need rules for loving. Some people need to read and reread the Bible to remind them to love people or to forgive people. I forgive people because it hurts me and makes my life miserable when I don't. I don't need a fear of a hellish afterlife to urge me to love.

My mother cried during my aunt's funeral when they talked of the afterlife and the rules required for seeing those we love again in heaven. She tells me it's hard for those who believe to accept that they won't see nonbelievers.

I don't believe. But her pain, pains me.

So, imagine how I felt when I looked up the question I'd been wondering about, "why are peacocks in cemeteries?" and I found the answer that they are the Christian symbol of immortality. I was looking for something else.

So I kept looking, and I found this on a women's site, and it seems to fit much more appropriately to me.

A literature professor of mine theorized that the reason O'Connor was so drawn to the peacock was because of its dichotomy. On the one hand, the peacock is this beautiful bird, with connections to the divine. On the other, the peacock can be a terribly, terribly obnoxious bird - they emit horrible screeches and can be awfully aggressive. My professor theorized that the peacock seemed to O'Connor a perfect symbol of humanity itself - capable of both the most beautiful and horrible acts imaginable.

Peacocks roaming a cemetery could represent the human dichotomy--our desire for the divine, and our groundedness--the choices we make every day to make each day a hell or a heaven for ourselves.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Adolph Has Graduated!

My wrist torturing device aka Adolph was graduated today to the bottom hole of the big diaper-pin like element, and its angle was also changed. . .should only have 3 more weeks to wear it! Then back to hand therapy one more time! Also got a big glob of blue-green silly putty like stuff to squeeze on.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

If Weight Watchers Was My Lover, Would You Tell Me to Leave Him? Part II

Really, the best part of my years-long relationship with Weight Watchers lasted only about 9 months from about July 1999 to March 2000. But it was an awesome period of time.

I felt a confidence I probably hadn’t felt since the 5th grade.

Many days, I walked 3 times a day—in the morning and the evenings with my husband, and at lunch with my friend Lynn. My husband likes to remind me how we walked in ice and snow. I remember getting up to take the early train all that January because it was just too icy to walk outside. The early train allowed me to walk on the treadmill at work, shower, and be eating my breakfast when people arrived. We took up bowling—candle pin, “big” ball, and even duckpin while on vacation around Baltimore.

We talked about what we were eating to anyone and everyone. We ate delicious things. Two weeks into the plan, we took him South on vacation with us, with him urging us on to share entrees, get up in the AMs and walk, walk to dinner, eat shrimp on a salad with cocktail sauce as dressing for lunches, keep fruit granola bars in the car for a 2-point snack, and figure out how many BBQ ribs we could manage to count so we could taste them and still stay on track points wise. We both lost 10 lbs on a two week vacation!

The end of my fairy tale relationship with him came when I changed jobs and we moved states away, leaving Boston after 11 years and heading to New Jersey.

He wasn’t the same in the next town. We met in different places until we found a comfortable spot (I strongly prefer meeting rooms—no churches for me!), and we hunted for the best chaperone. . . but the sparks were gone.

Still, I respected him. And I didn’t want to go back to what life was like before him. I was walking and watching points. I walked during my lunch hour—even with my boss’s boss. I ate delicious veggie sandwiches and sushi for lunches. I did well at keeping off the weight. In fact, my husband and I started riding bikes. It was amazing. Riding bikes was very likely the first new physical thing I’d done since I’d first started learning to ride in the 3rd grade. Oh, and we started doing Jane Fonda videos. . .”crunches” became part of my vocabulary.

Then—one and a half years later—I changed jobs and we moved states away AGAIN. This time we settled in Alabama. It took a 7 or 8 pound increase for me to seek him out again.

He wasn’t the same. Chaperones pointed at people to ask how much they lost, meetings focused on the stupid questions like how do canned tomatoes count and how many carrots can you eat before they actually eat into your point allotment; and every person who lost a blasted pound this week (regardless of their history) blathered on. Sitting in meetings with him made me feel panicked and bad about myself.

My knees started hurting when I sat down (I will never let Southern women talk me into wearing heels again!) I joined a fabulous gym that catered to rehab and started lifting weights to strengthen my knees. A trainer noticed my persistence and convinced me to work with him. It was life-changing! It was a new me—not the me who had hated gym, who cried in gym. This me was lifting weights and grunting to do them. This me left work faithfully 3x a week before lunch to meet with my trainer. Some evenings I went back to the gym to swim. I discovered Zoomer swim fins. I bought goggles. I bought a heart rate monitor. I found myself demonstrating “The Plank” to family members, and talking about “my trainer” at work. Sore muscles became part of my every day. It hurt to sit because my glutes hurt—my knees were strong. I had never been at that level of activity and fitness.

I tracked my food at home, writing it down, based on his guidelines. And before we moved for the 3rd time in 5 years, I was 8 pounds less than when I had left him in Boston 4 years before.

And then we moved again, two and a half years after we’d arrived. I can’t really even talk about meeting back up with him in Boston. We tried the same haunts. . .even with the same chaperone, it didn’t feel the same. I gained weight immediately during the 2 months I lived with a friend, waiting for our house to sell before I could re-unite with my husband.

I joined a gym and even met with a trainer once—spraining my thumb on the first day. Then I didn’t go at all for 9 months. (It was a very pricey gym.)

My friend Lynn was still there, but we didn’t walk. My new job was a disaster.

I couldn’t figure out how to reconnect with him or with exercise. I sought counseling to see why to try to find the magic with him again.

Briefly, I tried meeting with him again and even used a pedometer. My nickname with our chaperone was “Pedometer Girl,” which made me totally tickled.

But my counseling sessions became taken over with discussions about my ending job, my husband’s diagnosis of cancer and its treatment, and the zillions of fears and issues both those things raised. I did work with a trainer briefly to try to stay somewhat in balance. But I stayed way clear of him. My weight kept creeping up and up. I wasn’t quite back up to where I had started when I first met him.

We moved again--this time to Atlanta, this time with my Mom for 2 months waiting for hubby & the house to sell. We’ve been here about a year. My weight is at a new all-time high. I don’t even know where he meets. I tell myself (well, and others tell me too), what would meeting with him do for me that I don’t already know from our previous relationship? Why spend the money? Some people suggest I get over thinking about him with body-changing surgery. I guess I just don’t believe that changing my body to something else is guaranteed to change my mind.

I’ve paid a trainer and was meeting with her infrequently—until the wrist incident.

I am debilitated once again in my life. I can barely get over to put my shoes on. Getting up and down off the floor is exercise. The stairs in our house make me breathless. I have tons of clothes I can’t wear. I’m in the largest possible size you can buy even in a fat woman’s store. I’m as wide as a refrigerator. I weigh more than a football player. My thighs measure what some women’s waists do and my upper arms are as large as some women’s thighs.

As before, I am sick of my weight being the main issue of my life. There has to be more to life than worrying about losing weight. And, of course, worrying about it gets you no where. It’s that down the drain thinking. I don’t just want to see Weight Watchers, I want the old thrill back. And if I can’t get that, I’m not sure what else there is for me. . . what else will give me the healthy discipline and support to work? What else can I believe in like I believed in him?

Friday, September 5, 2008

If Weight Watchers Was My Lover, Would You Tell Me to Leave Him? Part I

My parents first introduced me to Weight Watchers when I was in the 3rd grade. I didn’t like him at all. He was all about rules and regulations. In fact, I remember reaching for something to eat in his presence and my mother screaming out, “You’re breaking the law!” It pissed me off. Whenever he was around my parents served things for dinner like bland white fish and very yucky apple desserts that were euphemisms for “pie.” Luckily, he didn’t stay around long.

My dad alone introduced me to Weight Watcher’s replacement—Dr. Atkins—when I was in the 8th grade. It was a brief, seemingly successful relationship that was over as quickly as it started. Inspired by my dad’s enthusiasm for what Dr. Atkins would do for me, my time with him was full of pork rinds and ham. One good thing, I suppose, was that it was at this time that I finally returned to eating eggs after a stubborn adolescent absence. My exercise was playing Frisbee with the kids I babysat. I lost about 35 pounds—from about 170 to 135. I think I weighed 135 for 1 day before the scale was rising again, but it was exhilarating to fit into my mom’s wide-lined cream soft corduroy pants—my target through the process. As soon as I ate any fruit with Atkins, though, I had diarrhea. The charley horses in my calves were so repetitive at night (from lack of calcium—no milk, etc.) that I couldn’t sleep.

My third or fourth summer home from college, I counted 1200 calories a day—the limit set by my weight-lifter boyfriend. His motto was, “Hungry? Go to bed.” My exercise was walking the neighborhood. I lost umm. . . I think about 35 pounds again. (Yes! It was 35 pounds--starting from 195--the weight I was when weight lifter boyfriend picked me up and guessed it right. In my struggle to keep from regaining it ALL, I hooked up with Overeater’s Anonymous (OA). In OA, I struggled with my higher power, got blissfully seduced by a 13th stepper (enough to get rid of the weight-lifting boyfriend), and slowly regained weight.

A few years later, about a year into my first professional job (~1990), I bumped back into Weight Watchers. I walked downtown to meet him during my lunch hour. We met above a jewelry store. Our chaperone (aka Leader) was a woman who’d lost a lot of weight and who now wore layers upon layers of clothes. I remember asking her once if she ever suggested therapy for people needing to lose weight. The meetings were small. I remember feeling very vulnerable. He’d changed into a food group devotee—giving me a chart telling me how many breads, proteins, milks, and fruits to eat each day. I struggled to lose 10 pounds, the last 2 coming and going, coming and going. (I had gotten over the 200 mark--and every time I got close to going below it, I'd regain.) I think it was during this time that I experimented with step aerobics. They had free classes in my office—the first day after, it hurt to breathe.

There may have been fleeting glimpses of Weight Watchers in my life after that, but none memorable until 1999. My beloved grandpa had died the previous fall. My hubby had stopped smoking on Jan. 1, and had gained weight. We had to put our dog of 12 years to sleep in May, and a week later my father-in-law died unexpectedly. I was blue. I bought The Art of Happiness and verbally referenced Changing for Good. I asked my husband if he’d be interested in joining Weight Watchers. He was.

I’ve already told you about Bob being there when I first saw Weight Watchers again. Then, it was truly a love affair. I loved him. I loved the mental aspects of him—based on my dad’s NLP—the winning strategies, the storyboarding, the positive self-talk.

I loved the tools he offered to help me become a normal eater—things other people somehow learned naturally when growing up—like banking points for a big meal.

I loved that he didn’t give me any specific food restrictions—I planned for a weekly ice cream cone.

I loved our chaperone—she directed our meetings like no leader before or since—she encouraged people to talk only when they had reached a 5 lb milestone—so the focus was always on people building/accumulating success. Meetings were inspiring, hopeful. . .

When people hit the established markers for rewards—the 10 lb red bookmark; the 25 pound magnet, the 50 pound magnet—she invited them to come to the front and share what they learned so far. I lived to share my successes.

At the beginning, I stayed quiet until I had something to share—could prove to myself that I was worthy of speaking. I loved that the leader made me walk the walk in order to be able to talk the talk (using the OA lingo). It’s so easy to say it all . . . doing it is so much harder than saying it. Having to do it in order to be able to say it made me feel powerful.

My goal was to lose or stay the same every week. I met that goal for about 6 months—50 pounds. I believed in him; I believed if I followed what he said to do, it would work. I took comfort in finally being told what my limits were—limits that were directly related to my current size.

His points didn’t feel gimmicky to me—they seemed like a simpler way than having to tally the 3 key numbers—the calories, fat, & fiber. We became fiber junkies (this was when you could count it all! Not just 4 grams.)

I wrote down my food. I started out walking 20 minutes a day, because that was what he told me to do. We added time every 3 or 4 days. I was able to hang on in my head to the next weigh in, the next time I’d be with him, to keep myself on track. He seemed so perfect, so easy to be with, I couldn't figure out what had stopped me from hooking up with him before in my life.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Memories of Santa Rosa

Funny E-mail: Supposedly from High School Essays

Before I pass the full list on to the Word Mechanic for him to have his say about, I wanted to memorialize the ones I quite appreciated or that gave me a chuckle. (Thanks bobpsy!)

  • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  • His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
  • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli, and he was room temperature Canadian beef.
  • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  • The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.
  • From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
  • Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
  • He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Continuing Is Easier Than Starting

It's not staying on a food plan that is so hard. It's starting and stopping and starting and stopping.

The key is to stick with it. It's toughing it out through the hard times--figuring out what to eat when you're already hungry, getting a really healthy choice when you eat out so that you stay within your limits, or walking away from something that smells or looks really tempting--that builds your stamina & drive and ability to make the healthy choices. It's kind of like marriage. You can't appreciate it fully until you've worked through some challenges. . . if you always just jump (fall off the diet wagon, etc.), you don't get the same kind of deep satisfaction and communion.

Things I know help me stick with a food plan:

  • Writing down what I eat before I eat it
  • Knowing what my limits are for the day (so I know how thing how things fit)
  • Packing my lunch
  • Eating a variety of food
  • Exercising most days (it makes me feel longer and leaner)

What advice would you add to someone who needs to lose a lot of weight?