Saturday, October 24, 2015

The dreaded "P" word

Well, well, well. Here we are again. I've been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now, but never got around to it. Mostly because I was frustrated and didn't feel like being publicly frustrated. (I do enough of that on Facebook regarding gun control and Planned Parenthood. Let's leave it out of my weight loss adventure, shall we?)

But I digress (as usual).

First! Some good news: my weigh in yesterday was 213.9. That's right on target for my next goal. It was a welcome sight because I've been bouncing around 220 since my last post.

Y'all. That was a long time. Long enough that I was feeling like I had plateaued. *shudder*

Here's the thing. I knew that eventually that would happen. And I even thought I was mentally prepared for it to happen to me right around the 220 mark. I sat at 220 for years when I was finishing college. 220 is just where my body did its thing without any help from me. I wasn't surprised that when I got there my body was all, "oh, hey! We know what to do with this! Let's just chill here for a bit, ok?"

No. Not ok. And way more frustrating than I anticipated. Every weigh in that came back as 218 or 221 or somewhere in between made me increasingly discouraged. I was also dealing with a lot of general life stuff. Trying to sort out a catch 22 I found myself in while trying to get started as an Uber driver. Starting a new job. Fighting an unemployment appeal. Working on a grad school application. The kind of grown up stuff that can already make your head spin and seeing the same "220" on the scale week after week was rough.

Truth be told, (as is my habit, because the truth is fun!) I was still counting calories and doing pretty well there, but I'd let my water consumption drop off significantly and I was not exercising. At all. Maybe once a week I'd walk to the grocery store or the post office. Less than a mile round trip. Hardly what anyone would consider regular exercise. So I shouldn't be surprised that things slowed to a halt.

Lucky for me, getting things moving again was as simple as re-adding some of the things I'd been doing previously back into my routine. I'm back up to 8 waters a day minimum and I've started a daily work out routine. Nothing crazy. Nothing time consuming. But I'm impressed with what a huge difference a few minutes of strength training seems to have on my body. I do about a 1 minute plank every day and a few minutes of easy cardio or squats and things. There's a name for that - when your strength training isn't using weights - just the resistance of your own body. But I forget and I'm too lazy to look it up. But that. Push ups and crunches and squats. That kind of stuff.

And according to Mr. Bathroom Scale this week, that seems to be enough for now.

The next target goal for HealthyWage is 206 by 11/15. My next personal milestone is 200. Both numbers should be here before you know it! Probably before I gorge myself on turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie.

Cheers! And if I don't see you before then: Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First Milestone Problems

My pants are too big.

I know: "Poor me." "What a wonderful problem to have." "That's great!"

And, yes, it is great. My pants don't fit because I hit my first milestone. I made 220. Ahead of schedule, even. This is all wonderful and fantastic and I'm really pleased with myself.

But my pants are too big.

Now, it's not really a problem. They're not unwearably large. I probably won't be able to walk long distances in them without needing to hike them up repeatedly, especially with my pockets loaded down with keys and wallet and phone as I'm known to do, but they're still behaving like pants. They're covering all the important parts and not falling off me at the slightest provocation or if I look at them funny or take a deep breath.

But they're about to.

And, realistically, I've already had to discard several pairs for this exact same reason, and sort of reveled in it. There's something satisfying about letting go of a thing and giving yourself permission to never need it again. "These shorts no longer serve their intended purpose. It's time for them to move on." Bam! See ya, shorts!

But I just bought these pants.

Remember that time when I was going to work for a cruise ship? (Yes, there's a whole unrelated story there that I'd rather not go into right now. The Reader's Digest version is "Blargh, so I may not be going.") I had already lost some weight and needed black work pants, so I spent some money on some clothes. You know? For work. Several pairs of pants. Jeans and corduroys and Docker's and dress pants. More pants than I have ever purchased at one time in my whole life ever. And to what end? (No pun intended.) I now have a drawer full of brand new - some of them never been worn - pants that are too big. And getting bigger. Or, rather, I'm getting smaller, but the semantics aside...

My pants are too big.

You know? The more I think about it, the less upset I am. Kids, I just stepped on a scale that told me 218. I refrained from kissing said scale, but that's a big deal! That's headed down the path to Milestone #2, and I have no room *ahem* for complaint. That there is cause for celebration!

Maybe I'll celebrate by buying new pants...

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hey! I hit my first goal!

Hi folks! (You like how I say "folks" like I have more than one follower of my blog? Heh.)

Anyhoo, I have some pleasant news to share. In one of my earlier posts I talked about some milestones I have set for myself. In addition to those, I split the calendar into quarters so I could have an easy gauge of wether or not I was on track. What I'm trying to say (not very succinctly) is that in order to be on track for my HealthyWage wager, I needed to hit 230 by August 15...which I did. Woot!

But! Even more exciting, I weighed in this morning at 224. You guys! That's just 4 pounds from my first milestone of 220. That's college weight, y'all! That's pretty huge for me (no pun intended).

I know, I know, that's a lot of numbers to digest. And I know this adventure is about more than numbers. I know that I am more than a number (though the Social Security Administration might disagree). I understand all of that. I also understand that for a lot of people, seeing a number on a scale is scary. For me, it keeps me motivated. From my heaviest, I've lost 43 lbs. That's a three year old. I've lost a whole person! (Well, a small person. Okay, half a person...maybe a third...I guess in my case closer to a quarter...but STILL!)

So, now that you've had a chance to wallow around in my happy dance, I wanted to document other things I'm doing. Primarily trying to keep on top of the "extra skin" issue. It's a thing. I mean, my skin had to stretch to accommodate that toddler's worth of weight I've lost. And it's been slowly stretching for years. (That sounds kinda gross, but hang in there.) The wonderful thing about skin is that it is really elastic-y. So, yeah, it's all stretched out now, but it can (and will - eventually) pull itself together. (Pun intended.)

It occurred to me that this is something that I can work on at the same time as I'm losing weight, instead of making it an entire additional process afterwards. Now, don't get me wrong - I am under no delusion that after losing nearly 100 pounds in a year that I will walk away with no sagging skin. But most of what I read said that it takes a year or two for your skin to tighten back up (for most people), and I figured why not try to make as much of that year the same year that I'm losing weight in the first place? Make sense?

Here's what I've learned (Science Time!!):

Pretty much everything I read said the first step to avoiding (or reducing) extra skin is not to lose weight too quickly. It'll be easier for your skin to keep up if you're losing 1-2 pounds a week. I'm shooting for 2-3, so I'm feeling pretty good on that front.

There are different layers of skin and they're made of different kinds of cells. The outer layer (epidermis) cells are the ones that slough off and replace themselves pretty regularly. Maybe every month or so. When your skin stretches, your epidermis generates more cells to compensate. So, as your skin retracts, those cells just sort of...go away. You can encourage this going away business by exfoliating. But, in reality, those cells aren't the problem. (Like I said, they recycle every month or so.) The dermis layer underneath is the stretchy bit. Those cells have elastin and collagen that makes skin stretchy and supple and wonderful and tasty...nope...not tasty. Just making sure you're still paying attention. The point is, you can encourage the elastin and collagen in your dermis and this will help your skin "snap back" after significant weight loss. (Or so I've read.)

So, the idea of "extra skin" is kind of not true. The dermis layer doesn't grow, per se. It doesn't generate additional cells for expansion like the epidermis. The cells that are already there stretch and expand. So the idea is to provide those cells with what they need to produce lots of collagen and elastin so they can shrink and tighten back up!

I did some research (read: Google search) and it turns out what your skin needs most is moisture. (I know! Shocker, right?)

So, I went to Lush and bought some potions. An exfoliating, super moisturizing body bar thing (that scratches me, but in a lovely way) and a body wash with olive oil which provides a lot of awesomeness for your skin. (I also let the guy talk me into face wash, and shampoo that comes as a bar. A bar of shampoo! Are you comprehending what a crazy great idea that is? You can toss it in your carry on and not have to worry about all the extra quart size zip-lock bags at security! And it won't leak on your clothes! Because it's a SOLID BAR OF SHAMPOO! This is GENIUS! *ahem*. I digress...)

The idea is, you want to avoid things that dry out your skin (too much sunshine, chlorine, the state of Arizona), and do things that hydrate it instead (drink lots of water, moisturize, dance naked in the rain). The dermis needs LOTS of moisture - so I'm trying to keep up on my water intake. Water is awesome. It's good for all sorts of things.

Also, blood flow is important and the best way to increase blood flow to your skin is massage. So, I also picked up some cocoa butter that I'm massaging into just about every bit of me in the evenings and now I smell like chocolate when I go to bed at night.

There are worse things.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Did you miss me?

I haven't written one of these in a while, and the reason is this: I haven't seen a scale for three weeks. Not for lack of trying! (I actually did go look in the fitness center of every hotel I've been in - sometimes twice.) They're just not around.

Which I suppose is fine. I know people who abhor scales. They think that number is an accusation and they want nothing to do with it. That's fine. I find myself a little freaked out. I was holding on to that number to give me a sense of accomplishment. I was using it as an added boost of confidence or inspiration to work harder. Not having seen it in three weeks is a little distressing.

The moral of my story is, I can't tell you my number this morning. And I won't be able to for about another week (when I finally see the inside of my apartment again), but I think it's going to be okay. Instead, I'm going to tell you about the things I am clinging to in the absence of the number.

My arms hurt. They hurt to the point that it's hard to take my shirt off. Not like "I think I broke something" hurt. A very straightforward "Oh, you haven't used those muscles in a, ever...have you?" hurt. I've been doing my Hero's Journey nearly every day (I did push things back two days because of an excessively long travel day followed by a 16 hour work day, but otherwise I'm chugging right along) and my arms are sore. I sure hope the sore is worth it. I'm starting to feel like it is because my push-ups are getting easier (read: I can do more of them) and my planks are getting longer (one day I had to do three two minute planks. Ouch. My abs still hurt. Good thing today is another ab

I'm choosing to interpret all that sore as progress. When I have to have good posture because my abs protest if I slouch because they think I'm doing a crunch, I feel like that's a win. When I have a hard time sitting in a chair for the entirety of a 90 minute show because my back is sore from Superman's,
I take that as a good sign. If I struggle to put on my shirt in the morning because it hurts to lift my arms above my head, that's just an indication that I'm getting stronger (and probably need to eat more protein, but baby steps, people.)

The rest of me is running on the faith that if I continue doing the things that have been working, they will keep working - wether I can measure the progress in numbers this week or not. I've been good about tracking my calories. (115 days in a row logged in MyFitnessPal so far.) I fell off the water wagon for a bit, but I'm back on it. That, added to the strength training, should be enough to see some results when I get back on that scale.

Fingers crossed!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Losing weight in the Lone Star State

You guys, that title rhyme is going to work for EVERY STATE I GO TO! Aren't you lucky?

I just wandered down to the fitness center/laundry room combo here at the Candlewood Suites (it's one of the things I like about Candlewoods. It lets me be extra productive because I can work out while I'm doing laundry. And the laundry is free! Wins all around.) and discovered a severe lack of scale. I'm kinda bummed because I was really really really hoping I'd be have hit the 230 mark by today. That would put me at my 1/4 mark weeks ahead of schedule. But, alas, I have no way to measure this.

My last weigh in before I left Los Angeles to head back out on tour was 233.6, so I know I'm close. I'm not going to sweat it.

Speaking of sweating, I've started a 60 day work-out program called Hero's Journey. You can check it out here. I have been putting off weight training for too long, which is ridiculous since building muscle does all sorts of good things (burns more calories while resting being the one I'm most interested in at this time) and can be done without any equipment at all. Just the resistance of your own body. I have literally no excuse for not having started sooner.

Anyway, I started on Wednesday at level 1 (with plans, if I like it, to repeat the journey on level 2 and then 3, achieving badassdom sometime in the next 6 months.) Day 1 was a lot of jumping around and squatting and mountain climbers (which I hate, but not nearly as much as I hate burpees). When I got done, I was feeling so strong and pleased with myself that I decided to do some push-ups for fun.

At no time in my life have I ever done a push up for fun. I was clearly not in my right mind.

I decided to do as many push ups as I could until I couldn't anymore. That turned out to be 5. Yes, just the 5. Yes, I know that's not very many push ups. I'm no Gaston or anything...

I'm not even the guy who lost to Gaston. BUT! They were 5 real push ups. No cheater knee push ups. And they were deep. I mean, not beautiful with perfect form or anything, but I challenged myself to do the best push ups I could manage, and so they were deep for me. (I tend to wimp out early on push ups...and other exercise in general. Here's to turning over new leaves! Several times if necessary!) And today I hurt. Today I have discovered that it is possible to be sore in places I've never even thought about before.

I've decided to accept this muscle ache as a sign that muscles are happening. It's a good thing to be sore. It's concrete evidence that my 5 chintzy push ups meant something.

So, my weigh in will have to wait, but the work outs aren't going to anymore. The time has come to be my own hero.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Or you could think of it like booze...

So, here's a thing that is just true: if a big girl (like myself) loses a little weight, it is very hard to see it. I know this. And, frankly, I am not expecting anyone to notice at this point. It's like when you have long hair and you trim a couple of inches and no one notices. It's all about fractions, people. I think of it in terms of flour, because I bake things (bread pudding with my roomie most recently - think portion control, not "diet"). If you have 2 cups of flour and you take out a tablespoon, you're probably not going to notice. But if you take that same tablespoon out of 1 cup of flour, it's more likely you'll be able to tell. If your hair was only shoulder length and you trimmed a couple of inches, now you have a pageboy and people will comment.

The point is, when a girl my size loses 15 lbs (today's weigh in was 234.7!), it's not a significant enough fraction of my total weight to really take notice. I mean, I hardly notice, and I'm living in this body.

Which is why it was all the more special (once I was done being skeptical), when someone did notice. Because when someone takes time out of their day to tell you that they can see your progress because they have seen you wear that outfit before and they noticed that it looks different - better - on you now? That's something. That feels like an achievement. That is something to stop and appreciate.

I haven't been at this very long. I know I have miles to go before I sleep. But I have already received so much love and support and encouragement that I would be some kind of awful if I didn't let you all know how much it means to me. It's a lot. The kudos and "hang in there"'s on Facebook. The "don't give up"'s from my dad. All the "you can do it"'s and the "you go girl"'s. They mean something to me.

Thank you.

I'm not giving up.

I did eat bread pudding.

Friday, June 26, 2015

An ounce of cure is worth a pound of bacon?

The last two weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster for me. A week ago I weighed in at 237.8 and I was feeling pretty damn good about myself.

"Good work, me!" I said, "You bounced back from your bad week and you're headed in the right direction again. Well done."

And what magnificent thing did I do to get back on track? Nothin' special. I went on a couple of walks. I was more careful about my calorie deficit. I played A LOT of video games and slept in and sat on my butt for long hours. The week was remarkable only in that it wasn't remarkable at all. And yet, there was the number I was looking for. Back in the game. In it to win it.

I thought to myself, "Self! This is almost too easy! Even when you 'misbehave', all you have to do to get caught up is increase your activity level by a tiny bit? How much did you walk total for the week? 20 blocks, maybe? 3-ish miles? That's almost nothing. Now, it was outside in the heat and involved some small hills, but give me a break! Imagine if you really got to work on a treadmill! Imagine if you *gasp* ran." I started getting all excited because I knew that the next week I'd be at the gym a lot. My friend had spoken with a trainer who was all set to give me four really intense training sessions, and if I could recover from a stumble based on nothing more than what I had already been doing, this trainer was going to put me way ahead of the game. Just in time for me to go back on the road for a few weeks and not collapse into a steaming heap of fail.

So, this week started. I got up, bleary eyed and grumpy and headed to the gym to meet the miracle worker who was going to help me lose an unachievable number of pounds in just four sessions. "This is going to suck," I thought, "but will be SO WORTH IT come Friday when I weigh in."

(because mornings)
The trainer wasn't there when we got to the gym. We got word from him a few minutes later that he'd had a death in the family and wasn't going to be able to make it. Ok. No problem. Only a minor set back. I'm still at the gym, and, hey! There's a spin class starting right now! I can go burn a zillion calories in a dark room on a bike! Perfect. Day = Success!

I never did meet with the trainer, but I did go to the gym 4 days in a row (which might be a record for me). 2 spin classes. A yoga class with some treadmill time beforehand. And today a strength training class. Mostly arms and shoulders, which was good. Even focusing on arms and shoulders we somehow did 9 billion squats. I'm not sure my knee would have made it through a leg day. Yikes!

And I've been carefully keeping my calorie deficit a genuine deficit. I have been eating more calories than previous weeks, but still well below the extra that I "earned" from my miles and miles of spinning classes. (If you ever want to watch me sweat like I've been running through sprinklers, you should watch me in a spinning class.) All systems go. Everything on track. Practically looking forward to my weigh in this morning because I'd been so good. "Good" by my standards, anyway. And compared to the last few weeks? Fah ged aboud it. Those weeks don't even count compared to this week.

So, class is over. Nearest scale is here at the gym. Get it done.


Um...excuse me? That's not funny, scale. Now I know I'm wearing shoes, but these shoes weigh 1/2 a pound, if that. So, what are you trying to pull here, huh? I was expecting you to land somewhere in the 235 range. I mean, I wasn't expecting miracles or anything, but I was certainly expecting a decline. What is this shit?

Needless to say, I'm disappointed. No, not disappointed. Disappointed would mean I had failed. It would mean that I could clearly see the mistakes I made and would be able to correct them. What I'm feeling is discouraged. My poor little brain is running a thousand miles an hour trying to figure out where I went wrong when everything looked so right. I guess I didn't drink enough water? Could falling short on my water intake account for weight gain? Maybe. What do I know? I haven't been getting a full 8 hours of sleep a night. I hear that's important. The gym classes were in the morning and I tend to stay up late. But I've still been getting 6 - 7 hours, if not more. That should be plenty for an adult. It's not like I'm a growing teen that needs buckets of sleep to function. I'm probably going to start my period in a few days. Could that be it? I've never noticed that I gain weight before I start my period, but maybe and I just never noticed? I guess?

Too many questions. Not enough answers. The problem with experimenting on myself is that I'm not a good control group. Maybe it was the protein shake that did me in. Maybe the scale wasn't calibrated properly. Maybe I've hit one of those terrifying "plateaus" everyone keeps telling me about. I truly don't have any idea, and that is frustrating. Obvious mistakes are easy to correct. (Well, at least easy to identify. Discipline ain't easy, kids.) But when you truly don't have any idea, it's hard to know how to adjust for the next week.

Oh well. So much for my power week. Guess I'll go back to video games and walks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Riding the Excuse Train

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone while a train is passing nearby? It's almost impossible. Trains are big and loud and drown out most of the world around them. Excuses are like that. It's nearly impossible to have a conversation (even with yourself) while a train of excuses for why you can't or didn't or couldn't is passing through your head.

Last week I planted myself firmly on the excuse train and dug in my heels. I weighed in yesterday (I'd like to say it was the first day "I was able" to get to a scale, but the truth is, it was the first day I looked for one) and the number had gone up (as I expected).


I'll be honest with you (because that's what this blog is all about), that number isn't as bad as I was anticipating.

Here's my list of excuses, which, despite some of them being more honest than others, don't hold much water:

1 - "Last week was rough." How's that for vague? I could go into details about why, overall, the week wasn't the most pleasant week I've ever spent, but this isn't a very good, or honest, excuse. The truth is, two days of last week were rough. That's not enough to condemn the entire week and certainly doesn't alleviate me of any responsibility for myself.

2 - "I was traveling." When I mentioned to my mom that I was starting this blog, she suggested that I make it a "how-to" for eating healthy on the road. I almost laughed myself to tears. I have no idea how to eat healthy on the road. In fact, my struggle to eat healthy while traveling is part of the reason I'm on this journey in the first place. When I kicked this off, I was at the last 3 days of a 5(ish) month tour. I had about three weeks off before I was going to hit the road again, and that was a good amount of time to get myself focused and started. But I knew going in that I would have a harder time staying on target while I was touring. So, yeah, staying inside my calorie budget while I'm on tour is hard for me, but not a good excuse.

3 - "My knee hurts." This is true. My right knee has been achy for a couple of weeks. Not to the point where it hurts me to walk. Maybe I overdid it (or, more likely, my form was bad) when I was doing some squats. (Yes, I did squats one time. I didn't die.) Who knows? I managed to do water aerobics with my mom with my knee hurting. I managed to go on a walk with my dad. This excuse is annoying even to me because a) there are people with actual injuries or disabilities that manage to not sit in their hotel rooms all day, b) I bought myself a knee brace and then never put it on, and c) I just told you walking doesn't hurt. I'd be willing to bet that every hotel I was in had a treadmill. I wouldn't know. Despite the fact that my "rough week" included two entire days off, I never even looked in the window of the fitness center at any of the hotels. Wanna know what could have compensated for my less efficient food choices? 60 minutes of walking.

The moral of this story is not to beat myself up about falling short this week. A number is just a number, and overall, I'm still ahead of schedule. The point is to remind myself that (in my case) excuses are just justifications of bad behavior. I'm clever and creative. I spend a lot of time finding work-arounds for problems. That skill can and should be applied to this area of my life as well. Yes, it's hard to stay motivated when you're tired. Yes, it's hard to stay on track when you feel like you freaking earned a dessert today. (p.s. Sometimes you have earned a dessert. Just make sure it fits in your calorie budget!) But at the end of the day, only I am responsible for the food I put in my body. And I also live in a country where I am free to decide my own activity level. How lucky am I?

So, you fall down, you get back up. You fail, you start over. For now, this is like playing Contra with the unlimited lives cheat code. (80's reference!) It doesn't matter what happened yesterday. It matters what happens today and tomorrow. Get back up. Start over. Respawn. Don't punish yourself to the point you get frustrated and walk away.

This is doable. And positive. And it's worth not quitting.

If the excuse train is too loud to be heard over, get a megaphone. Or better yet, move away from the train.

Friday, June 5, 2015

So much for planning

It's that time again. I know you've been holding your breath to see if I'd actually blog again. Well, your lack of oxygen to the brain has paid off! Here's your nonsense for the week.

But first, we do the numbers. (Did anyone else hear Kai Ryssdal from Marketplace in their head when they read that? No? Just me? Great. Anyway, here we go...)

I weighed in today at 239.4 lbs. That's another almost 3 lbs down and I broke the 240 barrier (which was about where I gave up on my last adventure). Granted, the barrier isn't broken by much, and I still have miles to go before I sleep, but I'm still on track. Actually, a little ahead of schedule, which is fantastic because I'm super worried about hitting my first plateau.

I've been wandering through some other people's weight loss blogs (and if you have several months to kill, there are about as many weight loss blogs as there are...I just spent five minutes trying to come up with a clever cliché. I got nothin'. Fish in the sea? Starbucks in Seattle? Mosquitoes in my parents' backyard? Pick your favorite. Point is, there are a lot.) and I've started to freak myself out. Mostly they talk about how this is hard and there are lots of setbacks and drops in motivation that lead to backtracking. This person lost 75 lbs, but it took them 2 years. That person lost 120 lbs, but it took them over 3 years. And my brain (really, my worst enemy sometimes) has started whispering things like "you're in over your head here. You've set an unrealistic goal and now you've got other people's money tied up in it and you're going to lose. It's not physically possible to do what you've set out to do."

Which I'm pretty sure is all a lie.

Here's the thing: that's their story. And my story is not their story. I don't know what their personal struggles were or are - no matter how detailed they are about them in their blogs (I can't know because I'm not them) . I don't know what kind of support they had, or even if they had any. I don't have a detailed account of their methods. Just the things they chose to share. And that's not enough data to make an accurate comparison.

And, for every "I made it but it took me three times as long as you've allowed yourself" there's someone else (you know, trainers and medical professionals and nutritionists and people with degrees who have done studies and research and have experience and knowledge I don't have) saying that the goal I've set is perfectly reasonable. One trainer said that if I committed to him, he could help me lose 100 lbs in 6 months. I'm not sure I'm ready to put myself through that kind of punishment, and I'm certain I wouldn't be able to maintain that energy level in the long term (which is the goal here, right? Get it off and keep it off?) and the very reasonable excuse of "I travel 9 months out of the year" makes that not even an option (however tempting). But, excited fitness trainers aside, the majority of the research (read: Google searches) I've done have said that you can reasonably (and healthily) lose 2 - 3 lbs a week. When I set this goal, I estimated 2 lbs/week and figured that would give me some wiggle room to get me through the plateaus. Here's math:

2 lbs/wk * 52weeks = 104 lbs.
104 > 90.


I actually thought a lot about what I was going to blog about this week. None of that was it. :)

But before I publish this and then tell Facebook what I've done, I do want to mention a couple of other things I've added (or am trying). I had intended to go into some detail about them, but I've rambled on enough already, methinks. Maybe next week I'll flesh this out. I don't have that much detail anyway.

  • I'm taking green tea extract once a day. (This, my friends, was the inspiration for the title of the blog. I know you were bursting with curiosity about that. Now you know.) Green tea is supposed to be good for all kinds of things. The one that particularly caught my eye is it has been proven to target and break down that most evil of all the fats: belly fat. (I don't actually know why belly fat is more evil than fat in other places. But from what I hear it is specifically linked to all kinds of rotten health things, so getting rid of it should be good.) I could be drinking unsweetened green tea, but, quite frankly, I'd rather drink boiled grass. So, since the pill form seems to be just as effective (from what I've read anyway), and doesn't taste like warm mud, I'm just taking the pill.
  • Multi-vitamins! (The chewable gummies, because the 5 year old in me said so.) Just one. Nothing fancy. Women's One a Day. Not the Multivite brand because I don't like them as much. They don't taste as much like candy. (Go ahead and judge. Your judgement means nothing. Vitamins are good for me because I'm exceptionally bad at eating a balanced diet.)
  • Benefiber. Well, actually the generic because when I sat on the floor (it was on the bottom shelf and I have no shame) and read the labels, there was 0 difference. It's all just wheat dextrin and the store brand was 1/3 the price. It did not, however, come in handy-dandy single-serving water-bottle-friendly packets. This made me so sad that I nearly handed over an extra $10 for something I wasn't even sure was going to be beneficial. For experiment time, I decided to just use a spoon like a grown up. (I'd already allowed my inner child to buy gummie vitamins. You gotta draw the line somewhere.)
I'll go into more detail about the Benefiber later, but I will say that I've been taking it for about a week (1 heaping Tbsp in 16oz (approx.) of water per day) with no ill effects. And, true to the commercial, there is no taste or texture difference (that I've noticed).

So, I'll flesh out those choices a little more next week (or whenever I get around to blogging again.) In the mean time, thanks for going on this journey with me and for all the supportive shout outs on Facebook. It means a lot that so many of you are cheering for me.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Weekly Weigh In

Don't get all excited. This is not going to be a daily blog. But, since today is 2 weeks from when I officially started my HealthyWage challenge, I decided what better time to do a weigh in, right?

Let's get the good stuff out of the way first:
Today is 5/29/15. I just weighed in at 243.2 lbs.

That's sort of amazing.

I also learned that my jeans weigh exactly 1 lb.

Here's the deal with these weekly (or bi-weekly - I told you not to get excited) weigh ins. They're going to be on varying scales, at inconsistent times of day, while wearing a variety of outfits. What I'm saying is they're not going to be scientifically accurate. Just a general idea of wether or not I'm still headed in the right direction.

I am more than pleasantly surprised by todays number. And, yes, I know in my heart of hearts that it's just a number. That's fine. It's still that number that is going to win me over $3,000 when this is all said and done, so while it does not define me or measure my self-worth, it's still an important number.

And I'm pretty happy with that one. Down 7.3 lbs in 2 weeks is beyond anything I could have hoped for. Just a scant 82.7 lbs to go! Heh.

Numbers are funny. I have some milestones in my head. They're just randomly selected numbers with no real meaning, but I might as well share them.
  • I spent most of college hanging around the 220 mark. So that's a milestone. (And at my current trajectory, should be very achievable. It's just over 20 lbs away. That should be here before I know it.)
  • 200 is a nice round number which also puts me at that all important 30 BMI. (I'm 5' 8" and did that math here should you have a desire to find out your BMI.)
  • 180 is roughly what I weighed through high school. I felt like a whale when I was in high school. I was heavier than the majority of my friends and more self conscious about it than I'm sure any of them knew. Probably most of my friends had body image issues in high school - it's sort of the time for that. Heck, many of them probably still do. I can't imagine 180 now. To fit into a size 12-14 again? Are you kidding me? 
180 is a huge milestone for me because one of the things I'm really looking forward to is being able to shop for clothes at what I think of as "regular people" stores. I realize this is not a very emotionally friendly way to think of shopping, but there it is. And when I say "regular people" I'm actually talking about places like the Gap and Banana Republic and White House Black Market and even just the not big and tall section at Macy's. You know? Average sizes. Well, maybe below average. What is average anyway? More research is required. But it would be nice to be able to tell the jerk running Abercrombie & Fitch to shove it in the very meaningful way of not shopping there because I choose not to - not because I'm one of the people he's discriminating against.

They're not bad milestones, right? My end game is 160. My milestones conveniently fall into 20 lb chunks (no pun intended). And that first milestone is right around the corner. College sized me, here I come!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Yet Another Blog About Weight Loss (YABAWL)

I worked for a while as a computer programer (when you're done snickering, I'll continue) and if there's one thing programmers like, it's acronyms. One that I heard during my time pretending I was more clever than I am (which, by the way, I still do) was YAPL, which stood for Yet Another Programming Language. With as many blogs as there are out there in the blogosphere (a place with which I am admittedly not well acquainted) dealing with weight loss and the "weight loss journey" of individuals, I don't pretend that I'm going to have anything new or profound to say that will be worth reading. Which I don't say to discourage you, faithful reader. I just want to be honest. Honesty in it's rawest form is going to be (I hope) the crux of this blogging adventure. The uncomfortable, naked truth.

It is also, I think, worth noting that this blog was not primarily my idea. It had crossed my mind a time or two that I should write down my goal and how I intend to accomplish it, and also log my progress, but I had been dismissing that idea for the very reason I mentioned above. Then someone very important to me suggested that I blog about my journey (right now in it's very very early incubating stages) and I found myself reconsidering. And then I clicked that little "new blog" button and here we are.

Let me lay out for you a little more clearly exactly "where we are".

We (and by "we" I mean "me") have committed and are actively taking steps to lose a serious amount of weight. A couple of things happened over the course of the last year that have finally pushed me into a complete change of heart and mind so that I feel I am now, at long last, in a mental state to actually get this done. Here are the things, in no particular order:

1 - I hit an all-time high weight of 267 lbs. Then I saw a picture of myself at that weight. Terrifying.
2 - My girlfriend told me that she didn't want to marry a fat person. That was not a direct quote, by the way, but I got the message.
3 - My "fat pants" were tight. The thought of going up another size made me physically sick.
4 - I read about a program called HealthyWage and did some research and read some reviews. More on this in a bit.
5 - I was told that I was too fat for a job I really wanted. The information was relayed in a way that was far more PC than that. The job required taking a physical which included a BMI requirement of <30. My BMI at the time was a whopping 38. It was a very clear wake-up call.

And those things are enough. They came to me one at a time, and one at a time, they were not enough. But when they all started adding themselves together, it was enough.

So, here's the goal, the plan, the dream - all of which is perfectly achievable, and 100% up to me.

I placed a HealthyWage bet. The way the challenge works is two-fold (and I added a third layer for myself for some extra incentive). Here's a link to their "why it works" page, if you'd like to gather your own info and not wade through my less than succinct explanation, but it boils down to a two part financial incentive. First, you pay in money ("place a bet"), which you lose if you don't meet your weight loss goal. "Lose" as in they keep your money. Goodbye, money! Second, if you "win" they pay you a bonus. The way it works with HealthyWage is you decide how much weight you want to lose, how long it's going to take you, and how much of your money you want to put in. They do some fancy math and tell you how much they will pay you if you reach your goal in the time you've set based on how much you're investing, how difficult they expect your goal to be to achieve, multiplied by the internal body temperature of an angry marmot, divided by the average number of Starbucks orders that are botched in a day, etc.

It was not the first time I had heard of this type of incentive, and the science behind it sounds reasonable to me. (Aside from the nonsensical math I just made up.) After a bit of research into the company, I decided to jump. I decided to bet $50 a month that I could lose 90 lbs in 12 months. It's ambitious. Here's the third layer I was telling you about. I spoke to two people about my wager. My mom and a close friend. They both offered to pitch in to my wager. Sort of like sponsors. They each decided to place a $25 bet that I could achieve this goal. Making my total wager $100 per month. My payout at the end of the 12 months (when I win) will be $3,919, which I will split with my investors. The added incentive here is to not lose money that isn't mine. And since it's 100% up to me if I win, the only risk is in my quitting.

I'm not going to quit.

The other question I've been asked is if HealthyWage offers some sort of weight loss plan. Nope. Just the incentive. How you lose the weight is entirely up to you. Here's what I'm doing right now:

1 - I'm faithfully using MyFitnessPal, which is a fancy dancy calorie counter app that has a huge database of foods (and also lets you add custom foods) and tracks exercise, water consumption, and weight, as well as working with other apps that track steps (like fitbit or the iPhone Health thingy that I don't really understand, but since my phone is almost always in my pocket and doesn't look like a rubber bracelet, I use that.) The idea being that if you have a consistent calorie deficit, you will lose weight. I've used this app before with some success. It's the same general idea as WeightWatchers (though their point system is certainly a bit more sophisticated) which I have also used with some success. What I've learned is that I am successful when I track my calories. When I quit tracking, I lose ground. With the added motivation to use the app consistently for an extended period of time, I know this is going to be a huge step in meeting my goal.

2 - I played a lot of Pinochle growing up and the rules for that game are set up in a sort of graduated system of steps. During a hand, you have to follow suit and play a higher card than anyone before you has played, if you can't play a higher card, you still have to follow suit, if you can't follow suit, you have to play a trump card, if you can't trump, you can play anything else in your hand. That kind of linear logic makes sense to me, so I'm applying it like this: Eat a fruit or a vegetable, if you can't eat a fruit or a vegetable, eat some protein, if you can't eat protein, have a "healthy" starch, if you can't eat a healthy starch, eat something. Eating is important.

3 - I'm working hard to change my relationship with food. I love food. I love sharing food with people. I love eating food. I love the way it tastes and the way it feels in my mouth and the way it smells. I love food. I have a problem with sugar. Especially baked goods. Especially donuts. I'm trying to figure out how to not eat donuts without making donuts the enemy. Because donuts aren't the enemy. I'm not sure there is an enemy, per se - just a mental shift that needs to happen. "Eating healthy" doesn't have to sound evil and donuts don't have to be the enemy. Certainly not all calories are created equal, but in math, a deficit is a deficit.

4 - Water. Lots of it. At least 8 glasses (glass = 8oz) a day. More is better. Peeing all the time is totally worth the many health benefits of drinking stupid amounts of water.

5 - Exercise. This is the one I'm struggling with the most right now. My brain works in dumb ways. It logics itself right out of doing smart things. For example, I know that I can lose 10 pounds with just the calorie deficit pretty easily. I expect the first 10 pounds to sort of melt off. I've done it before. I am confident this will happen with little to no exercise. I also know that I will hit a plateau. I don't know when that will be because I've never stuck with a thing long enough to hit a plateau, but I've heard and read and learned enough to know that a plateau is a real thing that happens, so I assume that it will happen to me. From what I've read, to push your body past the plateau, you have to up your game. My brain tells me that the smart thing to do is to hold off on really exercising until I hit my first plateau - then the exercise can be the "up" to my game. I understand even as I write this that it is a stupid plan full of pitfalls and potential for failure, but my brain is convinced that this is how I should run the opening play of this game. If someone has a better plan, please convince me out of my own stupid. I really do want to get past stupid and get to healthy.

So, let's look at the numbers. I started my challenge on 5/15/15, which means I have until 5/15/16 to achieve my goal and make a bunch of money. My official weigh in was 250.5 lbs. I'm headed to 160.5 to win. That puts me squarely into what is considered a healthy BMI for my height. All the way to healthy. Not satisfied with "overweight" instead of "obese". Not content at the <30 BMI that the job required. All the way to healthy. I'm all in. I know that I can do this. There are people who love me who believe that I can do this. I'm ready to prove them right. I'm literally putting my money (and theirs) where my mouth is.

I've been at this for less than two weeks. The last time I was able to get to a scale (two days ago), I was down three pounds. That is exactly, perfectly, precisely on track. It's a good start. I know there will be hiccups and that this will be hard to maintain. I understand that there will be frustration mixed in with success. I am fallible. But setbacks are not failures. I only fail if I quit.

I will not quit.

Also, because I'm not attending Weight Watchers meetings (or anything of the sort), you, dear readers, are now nominated as my support group. I will post regular weigh ins. Maybe once a week, maybe every two weeks. I travel a lot and don't always have access to a scale, but I will try to make the check in a regular thing. Maybe if there are people waiting on my progress, that will be another incentive. Or it might just be intimidating. I don't know. I haven't done this publicly before. It's new and scary and we'll see how it goes.

It's life, you know? You make it up as you go along.