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Let Me Invite You Into My Mind

I’m not sure if this a ‘difference between men and women’ thing or just a ‘Wendi, you are crazy’ thing (most likely the latter), but here’s a conversation Dave and I had last night:

I just finished reading this article about body composition and was muttering to myself, “Yeah, I wish it was that easy.” Then I turned to Dave and said, “Listen to this.” I read the article out loud – it’s short – and waited for his reaction.

He was nodding along in agreement. I told him that I agreed with the basic concept too, which boils down to this synopsis at the end:

“… So toss your scale out the window, forget about nonsense like body mass index and “weight loss” and instead use your body and transform it into one that looks and feels great.”

Dave knows that I weigh myself every day. He also knows that I try not to let it get to me, but if I’m either on a plateau or, even worse, an upward trend, I can’t help but get upset and try to analyze what’s happening. He always tells me to just stop weighing myself daily because body weight fluctuates so much due to various reasons (something that is also mentioned in the article). My reasoning, though, is that I want to know if I’m trending upwards so I can make adjustments in my diet or exercise before it gets out of hand. I don’t want to weigh myself once every couple weeks and realize I’ve gained five pounds or something; I want to stop it before it gets that far.

Who are we kidding?  I would never wear shoes when weighing myself!

Who are we kidding? I would never wear shoes when weighing myself!

On the other hand, my main goal was to get healthy and I feel like I’ve achieved that. I’m really trying to maintain that, because it was a lot of work and it took a long time. I’d love to weigh less, but I’ve just been bouncing around between the same three pounds, up and down, for about six months now. Maybe this has to be good enough at this point.

What I pointed out to Dave, though, was that the article talked about how outdated BMI is and how it doesn’t take many other factors into account … yet it’s the tool that medical professionals use. On the one hand, they exhort us to toss our scale out the window and not care about BMI, but on the other hand, if my doctor is using it as a guideline then I’m kind of screwed.

“Here’s the way I picture it,” I told Dave. “I go for my new patient visit next month. I already know they’ve got my height down as five feet tall. [I was 5’1” at my other doctor’s office, and I used to think I was 5’2”, so this is like losing TWO INCHES of height. It also dramatically changes my BMI results.] I weigh myself at home in my underwear, but at the office I have clothes on and I know that adds at least three pounds. I would have to weigh 125 pounds, in my clothes, on their scale in order to be in the ‘normal’ BMI range. I have not been that weight since before I had kids and I know I won’t be that weight next month (or probably ever). So I’m worried that the doctor will yell at me and tell me to lose weight, even though I’ve lost 34 pounds in the past year and a half.”

Dave just looked at me, incredulous. “Who gives a shit what the doctor says?!”

“Well, how would you react if your doctor told you to lose weight?” I asked.

“I’d just say, ‘This is who I am.’ They can’t tell me what to do. Only you can make yourself feel this way; don’t give them that kind of power.”

I shook my head. “I can’t help it – I wish I didn’t care about it, but I do.”

Even crazier, I have never really been yelled at by a doctor for my weight, even for all the years I was obese. The only time one of my doctors said anything was when I was 43 pounds heavier than I am now. And then she just casually said, “Well, you might want to work on your weight a bit” in the context of a conversation about my high cholesterol. Probably the one time my weight was a big focus at doctor’s appointments was when I was pregnant; they did kind of get on me for gaining weight then (I gained 30 to 35 pounds with each kid and started off in the 120 range, so I was not overweight to begin with). That’s also when my high blood pressure started.

I also have no idea what my new FNP will really say. She may not even bring up my weight at all.

And there we are. What I wouldn’t give to be able to just swap brains with Dave for a day and not worry about stupid things!

Nervous Nellie

We’re waiting for a furnace repair fellow to show up, so I figured I’d pass the time by writing. The furnace is still hanging in there, but a few days ago I noticed a … burning? … smell right before the furnace fan kicked on. It was hard to describe, not really alarming but definitely noticeable. I mentioned it to Dave and he checked it out. He said it looks like the furnace starts to ignite and then fizzles out one or two times before it finally catches. So maybe it really was the furnace and not the thermostat when it stopped working overnight a couple weeks back.

Our landlady is very cool and she responded right away to Dave’s email. We all have our fingers crossed that this is a quick fix – our landlady for her pocketbook, Dave and I because we don’t want to be without heat for very long. It’s not as cold as it has been, but still … it’s a brisk 18 degrees outside, and we have no space heaters or fireplace here. We would like to be without the furnace for the shortest time possible!

I finally conquered my completely irrational but entirely consuming fear of making an appointment with a new doctor here. I have no idea why I was so frozen with fear over the idea of simply making an appointment, but I was. Finally last week I just told Dave, “Today we’re going to return my library book, then stop off at the clinic and I’ll make my appointment.” Boom.

After I explained my situation to the front desk clerk – new in town, don’t have a doctor yet, meds are running out and I need refills – she said, “Oh, we can do that in the walk-in clinic.” And not only did I have my appointment, I was also being seen that same day, in a matter of minutes.

One thing I was pretty sure of was that I might not need my blood pressure medicine anymore. One of my goals when I started counting calories and losing weight was to be much healthier in my 50s than I was in my 40s. My 50th birthday was looming, so right after my 49th birthday I really dug deep, found my willpower, and started losing weight. I added exercise reluctantly – I hated most forms of exercise – and as the weight came off, exercising got easier.

I don’t credit the exercise with helping me lose weight; it never has. But it makes me feel better, and I look forward to doing it every day. My stamina has increased so much. I told Dave that I used to worry I’d be sent for a stress test, the kind where you run on a treadmill, and I wouldn’t be able to last even one minute. (Seriously.) I feel better than I have since I was in my 20s. My knees don’t hurt any more, I don’t have aches and pains when I get out of bed, and I don’t run out of breath.

There’s been a few times in the past couple months when I’ve felt a little goofy – sometimes my heart is kind of racing, sometimes I feel a little lightheaded. I never know if it’s from perimenopause (which I’ve found can give me heart palpitations on occasion) or something else, so I always ask Dave to check my blood pressure to make sure it’s not sky-high. Every time he’s checked it, it’s been really super low (for me), like 80/60 or in that range. It scared the crap out of Dave, and he kept telling me to go to the doctor because I probably didn’t need blood pressure medicine anymore, now that I’ve lost weight and I exercise daily.

I started on blood pressure medicine when Paige was still nursing, in the mid-90s. My blood pressure was high during my pregnancy with Eric, and it was the same deal with Paige. The doctors and nurses would make a big deal out of it (rightly) and they’d tell me to lay on the table and try to think relaxing thoughts. Then they would come back later and check it again. That never helped me; it just made me more nervous. I’d dwell on the fact that they were coming back to check it, and if it was high would I get put on bedrest? Would they want to induce labor? I would work myself into a worrying frenzy, and my blood pressure stayed high.

This turned into a major case of White Coat Syndrome, and I still have it today. Every time I set foot in a doctor’s office, I get nervous. Crazy, heart-poundingly nervous. Dave has talked to me about it, tried to help me rationalize it and realize there’s no reason for me to worry, but it’s an instant reaction that I can’t control. Deep breathing, meditation – I do them all in the doctor’s office, and I’m still a nervous wreck.

Well, I was already worked up about simply making the appointment, so when I realized I was actually seeing someone that day I was mentally freaking out. They called me back pretty quickly; I got weighed (not bad), they checked my height (one inch less than I thought I was – I refuse to believe I’m 5’ tall and not 5’1”), then did my blood pressure. 140/84. Looks like I’ll be staying on that medication for a while longer, thanks to my insane doctor office phobia.

Then I had to sit there for a long, long time – at least 30 minutes, maybe more. When I finally saw someone, it was a PA. She listened to my lungs and heart, and entered a 3 month refill for my cholesterol and blood pressure medicine. Then I talked to her about establishing myself as a patient there … and that was it! All that worry for nothing.

I went back to the front desk to talk to them about establishing myself as a patient, and it turns out only one doctor is accepting new patients. It just so happens to be the female FNP I was hoping to get, so that was a bonus. I filled out a form so they could get my medical records from Illinois, and then once she gets them she will look them over and decide whether to accept me as a patient. (I guess if I am a complicated case she won’t take me on.) I’m hoping to hear good news, because I really liked this clinic. I guess they’ll call in a couple weeks, and if she accepts me then I’ll make the appointment for my real first doctor visit.

Of course, I’m already worrying about it.

Pushing the Envelope

This time of year has me thinking resolutions, of course. I’m not a big fanatic about New Year’s resolutions – I think of what I’d like to accomplish and then throughout the year I kind of touch base with myself, see how I’m doing. It’s usually always along a theme of ‘My god, get yourself under control woman!” Stop eating so much and lose weight. Stop spending so much and get your finances in order. That sort of thing.

This is the first year that my weight and my finances aren’t out of control. (And what a relief it is.) I don’t plan to abandon my restraint in those areas – barring a disaster, we will still pay off the credit card balance every month and save as much as we can; I’ll still exercise daily and watch my calories and portion control. But those things are habits now, not like I have to make a big resolution-y effort with them.

I’d love to put ‘buy a house in Michigan’ on my list, but that’s too much out of my control, so saving towards one is the best I can do.

I did think of something, though. I started stepping up my exercise last month, as a way to keep off the holiday pounds and also mix it up a little bit – I think my body was getting used to my usual routine. I haven’t had the best luck with jogging; it usually messes up my knees and I get winded so fast. But I thought I’d pull up the Couch to 5K website again, and follow it using my mini trampoline. I’m almost through week 7 now and I can do it! I have no idea, though, if it will carry through to jogging outside. I won’t know until the weather warms up, because I am definitely not a person who feels the need to run in the rain, snow, or frigid weather.

So I have tentatively resolved to run a real 5K sometime in 2015. Dave says he’ll do it with me. I’m nervous about it, but that’s the point of a resolution, I think … do something that makes you a little bit anxious. At the very least, it’ll be a first for me. And maybe I’ll discover that now I like jogging – real, in-the-outdoors jogging. Wouldn’t that be fine?

April 2014 Update

It’s been a while since I did a general update. I’m also in one of those “I don’t have anything to write about!” moods. I feel like I can talk just a bit about a lot of subjects, none of which is hefty enough to warrant a full post. So here’s my ‘little bit about a lot of things’ update. (It may be just a few things, but we’ll see. Sometimes I get going and before I know it I’ve typed five pages.)

First, Dave’s dental quest. I last talked about this in February, and he’s since been to the dental college that was recommended. He’s had three appointments so far. The first one was just a general exam to decide if they would accept him as a patient. That took about 30 minutes and was just $10; we suspect they looked into his mouth, glanced at each other in barely-concealed glee, and did a little jig while they confirmed his acceptance.

The second visit was a full exam with x-rays, and this cost $53 (we don’t have dental insurance, just a dental plan that they aren’t a part of, but their fees are about half the normal fees for the procedures they do). After this visit, which we thought would take maybe 45 minutes and instead took TWO HOURS OMG, Dave looked me in the eyes and solemnly said, “You can never go here. You would hate it, Wendi.” I’d been waiting for him all that time because we thought he’d get his treatment plan at this visit, and he might need me to be his ‘ears.’ Apparently they are very, VERY thorough, and this exam was not without considerable pain for poor Dave. They didn’t give him a treatment plan, just another appointment for a cleaning and the treatment plan. He told me not to come with him for that one.

The third appointment was not as long; I think he was home within an hour or so. Instead of the cleaning, they did a quicker exam and took pictures; Dave talked with the student, Reggie, who was in charge of his treatment as well as Reggie’s instructor. The instructor wants him to have a thorough cleaning before they begin work, so thorough that it will take two visits. (I shudder to think of this.) That’s where we’re at now – the first cleaning is May 5th and we still don’t know when he gets the full treatment plan. They mentioned pulling a couple of teeth, giving him a partial denture on the bottom (no dentures on top), probably some fillings, and a crown was also mentioned, but Dave is planning to ask them to just pull the tooth. No clue what it all might cost, but so far it’s been very reasonable and we are feeling optimistic. It will be SO nice for him to have a full, working set of teeth! Even though it takes three times as long and has been painful, he is really happy that he’s going to the dental college. As a Big Dental Baby, I am happy to continue going to my dentist who gives me quick, casual cleanings.

Just a quick comment on something I read in Daily Writing Tips (they get emailed to me). There was a discussion regarding the use of two spaces after a sentence, and the conclusion was that we should be using just one space after a sentence. When did this start?! I was always, always taught that you put two spaces after a sentence. I think it looks terrible and smashed together with just one space. It’s just instinct for me now; I’m not even sure I could just use one space without having to go back and delete the extra spaces. Is it just me? Am I adhering to some weird, ancient ritual? (And if so, I don’t care … it will always be two spaces for me. [Can you picture me standing stubbornly with my arms crossed?])

I’m reading a book called Heft (by Liz Moore) right now, and it’s fantastic. This was a book I really hesitated to read; I found out about it via a recommendation to someone else. I checked it out on Goodreads and it had many good reviews (and boy, those Goodreads folks can be harsh with reviews so that’s saying something). But the description of the story just didn’t grab me – two main characters, one a grossly overweight man confined to his home, and the other a teenage boy who’s obsessed with baseball. The baseball thing is really what made me hesitate, because I’m not a sports person and have no interest in reading about sports, except maybe gymnastics and ice skating. But there were so many good reviews that I went ahead and got the book and figured well, I can always stop reading if I hate it. I started it yesterday and was immediately pulled in. The sports references (baseball and football) are just small ones, here and there – no pages full of in-depth detail of games and such – and the story mostly touches on the boy’s home life, his friends, things of that sort. I’m about halfway through it and already feel confident enough to recommend it.

Speaking of heft, I’m still trying to lose mine. (What a good segue!) I’m ever so envious of those people who are like, “Oh, I lost 60 pounds in six months!” because I’m just now nudging the 30 pound mark (27 pounds as of yesterday) and it’s been seven months. But I’m not complaining, because I had no big event or goal weight date in mind (no class reunions or weddings, for instance). And I’m not exactly eating lettuce and quinoa over here; I still splurge on pizza once a month, lasagna, things like that. I didn’t change my diet much at all, just how much of it I eat. It’s pretty awesome to be losing weight while still eating the same things I used to eat, so I guess it’s fine that it’s taking a long time. Then again, it’s not like my diet before was bad; my appetite was the main culprit.

But anyway, what I meant to say was that I still can’t tell I’ve lost weight when I look at pictures of myself. I can see it a little bit in the mirror, although I think my face looks the same as it did nearly 30 pounds ago. If it weren’t for the scale, and fitting into smaller pants, I would probably think I lost maybe five pounds. I don’t know if it’s because I’m short and everything is compressed into 5’1” of me or what.

For instance, we went to Goodwill and I got some new clothes. One thing I noticed is that I still can’t really wear a size medium in shirts. I look at them on the hanger and think they’ll fit me, and then I try them on and I look like I’m stuffed into a sausage casing. I do know I have to watch the brands; some of them are junior sizes, I think, and that’s part of the problem. I know I can wear LL Bean or Lands’ End in medium (they mark them as size 10-12). Larges are just a little too big for me, so I’m in a weird in-between place with shirts. I think I have really wide shoulders; I know it’s not my boobs, sadly. I did get a few size medium shirts, and a pair of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans in size 8. Now that was exciting, even though they fit me like a glove. I can zip them and sit down in them, and I can’t even remember the last time I could say that about a pair of pants in size 8.

I took a picture of myself in the jeans and one of the shirts and put it on Facebook. I was mainly excited about the price of the outfit ($7.50 total!) and not really crazy about how I actually looked in the photo. I rationalized it by reminding myself that I’m losing weight mainly for health reasons, and I need to stop worrying so much about how I look. So I posted the photo and then I regretted it. “I look fat in this picture!” I sighed, while Dave tried to convince me otherwise. I think my face looks the same (I really wanted to see my face get thinner, I have to confess.) I think my thighs look huge.

It didn’t help that when I did a search on the jeans to find out their retail price (I love doing that after a Goodwill shopping trip), I came to the manufacturer’s page and they said to buy a size smaller than your regular size. So I’m all excited about squeezing into a size 8, but according to them it’s really a 10. Don’t tell me that! Let me think I wear an 8 now, okay?! On the positive side, the jeans retail for something like $105 and I paid $2.50 for them, so I guess it’s okay that they’re playing fast and loose with the sizes.

The SayWhatClub is having a convention this summer and we might go; it’s in Madison,Wisconsin so we could easily drive. It depends on where Dave’s at with his teeth – he wants to have his dentures first, and I don’t blame him. We’ve been to an ALDA convention and two HLAA conventions, and we always have a good time. (Just to clarify, these are conventions for people that are deaf or hard of hearing. All the workshops are captioned with CART, and they are a lot of fun because everyone there will do whatever takes to communicate.)

Oh, and one last thing – I haven’t gotten the Vaseline package yet, but when I do I’ll definitely update. I think there is a racetrack in Joliet that does the NASCAR thing; you can buy ‘experiences’ where you either ride in the car with a trained driver, or you actually drive the car. That’s not too far from us, less than an hour’s drive, so it would be awesome if that’s what it really is!

A Spring in My Step

Spring has been dragging its heels this year, peeking around the doorway and then retreating. For the past two days, though, it’s taken a big, bold step into the room and we have been enjoying 70 degree temperatures in the western Chicago suburbs.

The sudden warm weather, temporary as it may be (it’s supposed to be in the 40s on Monday, with a chance of snow), has made me think of summer and all that goes with it. Especially hot weather. And shorts.

Now, I haven’t worn shorts in public in over ten years. I had a huge, loose pair of shorts (so long they almost came to my knees) that I would wear around the house on hot summer days. But my thighs have not been available for public consumption in a long, long time. It was a public service, believe me.

Checking out a Pikachu car with the kids; one of the last times I wore shorts in public.

Checking out a Pikachu car with the kids (one of the last times I wore shorts in public).

Capri pants or clam diggers were my go-to summer attire. And if it was murderously hot (which, to me, is anything above 85 degrees) then I stayed inside and enjoyed the comfort of air conditioning. To say that I am not a hot-weather-loving person is an understatement. I actually think summer may be my least favorite season; I would rate them, best to worst, as follows: fall, spring, winter, summer. I love snow and HATE hot weather, so winter beats summer in my book. I do like thunderstorms, though. And if I lived somewhere that was not humid and the summer temperatures never passed 75 degrees, I would put summer in second place.

I was messing around one day this past December, pulling pants out of drawers where they’d been stashed for years. These were my ‘maybe I’ll fit into them again someday’ pants, and as I very (very) slowly lost weight, I’d try them on to see if they fit. Most of these pants were cropped, too skimpy to wear outside at the time I tried them on. I was hopeful that I’d be able to wear them once spring and summer rolled around.

When April arrived and brought some actual spring-like temperatures, I tried the pants on again. I was really excited to see that they were now too big on me; I’d bypassed the point where they fit perfectly, because it was too cold to wear them at that time. So now I was faced with a pile of pants that I could slide off my hips even when they were zipped up. I did have fun with this, putting on the pants and then calling for Dave. “Look at this!” I’d say happily, as I lifted up my shirt to show him the pants listing lazily around my lower hips. After I was done, though, I realized I now had nothing to wear when the dreaded hot weather rolled around.

Since I’m still trudging along on the weight loss path, I didn’t want to spend tons of money on new clothes. And, well, let’s face it – I never want to do that. I buy all my pants at Goodwill, for less than $5 apiece. So visited our two local Goodwill stores and I lucked out, finding three pairs of capri pants and one pair of shorts between the two. Yes, I said shorts.

My problem with shorts is my thighs, okay? Let’s just get it out there. I am super-short and I have never had long, beautiful legs. Even when I was skinny, my thighs were heavy; it’s just how I’m built. I used to despair over this and spend all kinds of time doing leg lifts and other exercises meant to tone problem thighs. I stood in front of the mirror and grabbed the back of my thigh, watching as it magically shrunk in diameter, despairing because I knew it would never look that way naturally. And when you have large thighs and you sit down in shorts, they spread. It is not attractive. Even worse, big thighs rub together when you walk. It’s physically uncomfortable, and usually the shorts bunch up weirdly in the middle, making things look even worse.

I actually did some web searching on ‘shorts for people with big thighs’ to get some tips. I already know that short-shorts are out for me. I’m more in the Bermuda shorts camp; I need some fabric at least halfway down my thighs. One girl mentioned that she buys her shorts a size bigger in order to give some extra leg room, so I decided to try that.

The funny thing is, if you’re short (I’m 5’1”) the general advice is never to wear cropped pants because they make you look shorter. I had to go with the lesser of two evils in the past, and I chose to look shorter rather than expose my legs. The difference now is that I’ve been exercising on a daily basis since the end of October. It’s nothing to brag about; I’m not running marathons or doing CrossFit or P90X. Twice a day I pull out my mini trampoline. I do a mixture of fast walking and jogging for 10 to 20 minutes in the morning (before I’ve had breakfast) and 20 to 25 minutes about an hour after dinner. So my legs are still big, but they’re more toned than they have ever been. And I finally feel brave enough to wear (longer) shorts in public.

So we’ll see. I’ve got the one pair, and I might cut off some of the jeans that I’ve outgrown and make them into shorts (utilizing that one-size-bigger advice). If I really get brave, I might even let someone take a photo of me wearing them. Not yet, though … one small step at a time. 😉

The Curse of the Digital Scale

Up until now we’ve been using an old … manual scale (is that what they’re called?) – you know, not a digital one.  The kind where you get on and the needle swings up and then you squint and try to figure out which line it’s on, exactly – is that the second little line or the third?  You lean down and then the needle swings to a different position, so you stand back up and DAMN, you can’t really tell.  Our scale even has little plastic marker thingies that you can move around, and those make it a little easier.  You can put the marker thing on 152, for instance, and then if the needle lines up with the plastic marker, you can tell it’s on 152 and not 153.  Even that isn’t perfect, though, when you have Old Eyesight.

It’s all beat up and nasty looking, but it’s accurate and you can’t beat that.  (It’s a Taylor, by the way.)  I kept testing it by stepping on the scale just before I left for a doctor’s appointment, and then comparing the doctor’s office weight with my home scale weight.  It always matched.  So even though the scale was huge, bulky, ugly, and hard to read with any kind of precision, we put up with it.

It’s so big that we were keeping it in the bathroom downstairs; there was just no room for it in our regular bathroom.  That was getting inconvenient and COLD, frankly, because our lower level is a lot colder than upstairs, where we do all our living (our house is a raised ranch).  I ended up bringing the scale into our bedroom and sliding it under the dresser, so we could just pull it out when we wanted to use it (and not freeze our butt off in the process).

Something possessed me last month and I decided I was just tired of trying to figure out what I really weigh.  I’m in that period where I’m trying to lose my last ten pounds, and it’s taking f o r e v e r.  Like, a-pound-a-month forever.  So I spend weeks weighing myself and trying to see if I’ve lost that elusive one pound or not.  I figured a digital scale would be a lot easier on my tired, old eyes.

After a bit of research, I decided to get an Eat Smart scale, the precision digital one, like this:

Our Eat Smart digital scale

Our Eat Smart digital scale

(This is not a sponsored post, by the way – nobody knows I exist, and they definitely don’t give me free stuff in exchange for reviews!)

So we calibrated it and set it up in the bedroom, because you really need to put it somewhere fairly permanent; you have to recalibrate it if you move it around, so no pulling it out from under the dresser or whatever.  There just wasn’t a place in the bathroom where it wouldn’t be in the way, even though it’s far, FAR smaller than our manual scale.  It’s pretty, though, and unobtrusive, so I don’t mind leaving it out in our bedroom.

The problem, however, is that it’s always there, taunting us.  “Step on me!  See if your weight has changed in the last hour!”  For someone who struggles with compulsive tendencies, this is torture.  I know, I know you aren’t supposed to weigh yourself every day.  But I’ll be damned if I don’t step on that scale every single morning because COME ON, I have to know.  What do I weigh today?

You’d be amazed how much your weight fluctuates daily, even hourly.  I’ve gained and lost as much as three pounds in one day.  And you can obsess even more with this little beauty because it gives your weight in .2 pound increments.  So if you weigh 142.8 pounds, do you call it 142 pounds?  (YES, YES YOU DO.)  Or do you say well, I’m only .2 pounds away from 143 so it’s really 143?

Even Dave is getting into the fun – he hops on the scale all day long, usually when he’s wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt.  One day I finally convinced him to take off all the extra so he could see what his BODY weighs, not his clothes (plus, it’s fun to order your husband to take off all his clothes).  He lost over three pounds instantly!

I was definitely freaked out the first time I saw a big weight jump, but I’ve been doing it long enough now that I know it’s just how my body is.  The pounds come back off, sometimes in just one day.  I can definitely see why they tell you not to weigh yourself daily, because it can be alarming and discouraging.  I just can’t help myself, though; I look at it as more of a science experiment than a failure on my part somehow.  (Or I try to; I do have days, like today, when I tell Dave how unfair it is that my weight jumps around so much.  Today is an ‘up’ day, can you tell?)  Since I’m not dieting per se, it’s not like I’m going to abandon my diet.  The most I might do is feel discouraged and disappointed, but I keep on keepin’ on.

So don’t mind me – I’m just over here trying to resist the urge to step on the scale just One. More. Time.

When the Mirror Lies

About three months ago, I wrote about body image, weight loss and a book I had read about how to dress so you looked thinner.  I mentioned that I was counting calories, trying to just lose a few pounds before my annual doctor visit in November.

I have always, always hated getting weighed at the doctor’s office.  I hate it enough that it’s kept me from going to the doctor a few times.  Even if I was just going in to talk to the doctor, they would weigh me.  Drove me crazy and stressed me out.

I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself back in October; I wasn’t looking to lose a set amount of weight or anything.  Even two or three pounds would be great, enough so that I weighed a little less than I did at my check-up a year ago.  The funny thing is, my doctor really never mentions my weight.  She doesn’t berate me or try to get me to go on a diet.  If I fluctuate by a couple pounds, she never says anything.  The only time she ever mentioned it was when I had gained about 10 pounds over the year, and even then it was just a casual comment about watching what I ate.  It’s all in my head, this fear of being weighed.

At the time I wrote the blog entry, I was counting calories.  And by the time I had my doctor’s appointment, I had lost seven or eight pounds.  It was very exciting for me, the biggest loss I’d had since 2001, and my doctor was also enthusiastic in her casual way.  The weight loss and exercise also seemed to have a good effect on my cholesterol numbers, which was an added bonus.  (High cholesterol runs in my family and I’m on medication to control mine.)

Well, apparently doing the same thing for weeks on end helped me form a good habit as far as exercising and portion control, something I never ever thought would happen.  I haven’t been writing about it because I don’t want to come off self-absorbed, righteous or judgmental (something that tends to happen when people lose weight).  Also because it’s just something I do automatically now, so I don’t really think of it as being newsworthy.  But I had to talk about it today because finally, after 15 weeks, I have reached my first milestone and have lost 20 pounds.

!!!

Now here’s the weird part.  Before I started this, I would look at myself in the mirror and think I looked pretty damn good.  I knew that my BMI, at 31, put me in the ‘obese’ category; this didn’t matter.  I didn’t think I looked obese (I still don’t think I did, but according to the BMI charts I was).  You would think that now, at 20 pounds lighter – 20 pounds that should really show up on me, because I’m 5’1” and weight loss/gain shows up quickly on a short frame – I would be ecstatic when I look in the mirror.  Instead, I look in the mirror and think I look exactly the same.  I see no difference, even with 20 pounds gone and my BMI down to 27.3.

I didn’t take a ‘before’ picture because I never expected to keep up with the calorie counting thing.  I figured I’d slack off over the holidays (I started this the first week of October) or that I’d get complacent and tell myself that I know proper portion sizes now and I’d stop being so vigilant.  I never expected to set a goal weight and to keep at this.

Part of the reason I started this, besides wanting to weigh less at my doctor’s appointment, was because of that obese BMI number.  It really, really bothered me to know I was obese, even though I’d been at that weight for many years, nearly ten.  I had accepted my actual weight (which I’m not going to say, but let’s just say it was nowhere near 200 pounds).  I figured I was getting older (I turn 50 in August of this year) and my metabolism had slowed down, and I just had to accept that I was going to be a plump, short woman for the rest of my life.

But when I started calorie counting, my BMI was also included as a statistic on the website I’m using (Livestrong).  After I lost those eight or so pounds, I moved out of the obese BMI category and into the overweight category … and it felt so good.  So that’s when I decided to make a goal:  the weight where I fall into the upper end of ‘normal’ on the BMI chart.  I have 12 more pounds to go before I reach my goal.

Maybe when I reach that point, I’ll find some picture of me earlier in 2013, put on the same outfit and take an ‘after’ picture.  That is, if I can find a photo of me where I haven’t cropped out my body.  I hate seeing myself in photos.  Even now – we took some pictures at Thanksgiving, when I was about 15 pounds down, and I think I look horrible in them.  Like I said, I feel like I look no different.  So you will not see me bragging about my rock-hard abs (my stomach is still flabby) or my toned thighs (I have thunder thighs and probably always will).  But I might shout out a little ‘yay!’ here if/when I hit my goal weight.  🙂

I had pretty much been eating 1,200 calories and exercising daily – between 20 to 30 minutes of fast walking on my mini trampoline, about an hour after dinner (while we watch TV).  I throw in one or two days of weight training and I really need to start doing sit-ups.  I stalled for a long, long time, and then I gained two pounds.  I was freaking out about this to Dave – how could I gain weight?!  I was not cheating!  I was eating way below my basal metabolic rate.  It made no sense.

I was starting to think I’d have to eat, like, 900 calories a day – I could really see how people fall into an anorexic mindset.  It completely panicked me that I was gaining weight and didn’t seem to have any control over it.  What if all my hard work was ruined and I gained it all back, even though I hadn’t changed anything in my diet?

Finally I did some reading on how short people (under 5’2”) can lose weight.  I mean, when you’re short you need so many less calories than someone who’s, say, 5’10”.  How do people do it without starving?  I started learning more about that basal metabolic rate and realized I was putting my body into starvation mode.  I thought by eating 1,200 calories I would avoid it, but I was wrong.  As crazy as it sounds, I needed to eat more to lose weight and make my body let go of the fat it was holding onto in case I starved to death.  (Not likely!)  I upped my calories to 1,450 a day (I really should go higher, but it scared me … so I started with the lower number).  After I did that, I lost the two pounds I gained, plus another pound to give me that 20 pound loss.

I am really happy with this lifestyle – I just happened to find something that fits with my control-freak personality, and it’s something I can do forever so it’s not really a ‘diet.’  I eat all the same foods I always have but, man, I weigh everything.  I do NOT trust myself to eyeball a portion size!  I will always, always overfeed myself if I do that.  I’m not hungry.  We throw in pizza nights, Chinese food nights, etc. once or twice a month.  I’m not low-carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo – I’m not even obsessing about fat content.  I just count calories and eat as much fresh food as I can.  Probably my only restriction is staying away from pre-processed and fried stuff.  I don’t have to, but I prefer fresh, homemade food and it’s easier to stay within my calories if I’m not eating anything fried.

I love walking on my mini-trampoline every night – my stamina has really increased.  I know it’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.  Exercise has always been my weak area – maybe now that I’m doing this small, daily amount I’ll eventually branch out into other exercise.

One of these days, maybe I’ll look in the mirror and see a different, thinner me staring back.  For now, though, I have to let my clothes and the scale reflect any changes.  My brain is going to take a while to catch up, I guess.

Magic Pants

Generally when I’m hanging around the house, I wear what I call ‘lounge pants’ … aka yoga pants or, on very cold days, fleece sweatpants.  I like the kind with the waistband that isn’t super-elasticky; there’s nothing I hate more than feeling like my stomach is being squeezed.

When I leave the house, though, I always change into regular pants — usually jeans.  It’s just something I’m weird about; even though my lounge pants are perfectly presentable and other people wear such pants when they’re out and about, it makes me feel icky.  So I change clothes.

Since the start of October, I’ve lost 16 pounds (yay!); between that and my daily walks on the mini-trampoline, my pants have started getting loose.  I have a few pairs of go-to jeans:  one is a pair of Jag jeans in the largest size I own, and then I have two pairs of jeans in a size smaller (my favorite of those two is my pair of Levi 512s).

Just for fun, I pulled out some pants I’ve had stashed in various drawers for years now.  These were all in the same size as the two pairs of jeans, and I’d been holding on to them in case I ever lost enough weight to fit back into them.  I was happy to find that all of them not only fit, but a couple are actually a little too big.  A couple pairs fit kind of weird now – baggy in the butt and legs, the waist fits but pinches just a bit when I sit down.  In other words, once the waist becomes totally comfortable, they’ll be huge in the butt and legs.

I’ve been popping over to Goodwill about once a week to keep an eye out for a pair of Levis in a size smaller.  There’s no way I’d pay full price because I hope to eventually outgrow the smaller size as well (I’m thinking positive here).  Well, who am I kidding – even when I reach my goal weight, I won’t pay full price when I know I can find jeans so much cheaper at Goodwill.

So ANYWAY, today we had to run out to the post office and I dutifully changed from my comfy sweatpants to a pair of jeans.  Just for kicks, I put on the Jag jeans.  These are the size I wore 16 pounds ago, and are two sizes bigger than the size I fit into now.  And they fit like a glove.  I mean, they fit just the same way they did on October 1st.  It’s like some kind of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants thing happening here.

On the one hand, I was a little pissed – I mean, come on!  After two and a half months of exercise and weight loss, how could they fit the same?  Especially when my smaller sizes are hanging off me?!  Then I realized it was kind of funny, and I sort of appreciated having a pair of jeans that still hugs my curves.  (I have to say, they are just a teeny bit saggy in the butt … but not as much as the other pairs.)  I guess they must use some kind of SuperSpandex in their jeans, making them very versatile if you need a pair of jeans to see you through a few months of weight loss, or weight gain — I imagine they work as well in the opposite direction!

Now I just call them my Magic Pants.

Lumps and Bumps

A couple weeks ago I got a book that had been on my Paperback Swap wish list for a couple of years:  How to Never Look Fat Again.  It had gotten some good reviews and I was curious about the advice; I was hoping to learn a few new tricks beyond the ones I already knew (e.g., black: yes, horizontal stripes: no).

Now, I know the only way to never look fat again is to not BE fat to begin with.  But let’s face it, I’m never going to be skinny again; the only way I can pull that off is to go back to disordered eating and popping diet pills like candy, which I refuse to do.  I’m hoping for a happy medium – to weigh less than I do now and (more importantly) to be fit, but to not worry if I weigh more than I did in high school.

I’ve done diets and food restrictions and all that, but what works best for me is to just be aware of what I’m eating and track calories.  The problem I’ve found is that it’s easier to track calories if you eat a lot of already-made, processed food or if you eat out at well-known restaurants that publish nutritional information.  When 95% of your meals are made from scratch, it’s a huge pain in the ass to figure out the nutritional content.  Sometimes I get lucky and the recipes have nutritional info already there; on the other hand, that only helps if I follow the recipe exactly and don’t make substitutions.  Most of the time I end up having to enter the entire recipe into a recipe calculator to figure out the calories.

It takes a lot of time, and that’s the main reason I stop doing it after a while.  But right now I have the extra time, and also the extra motivation of my yearly check-up in about a month.  What better time to watch my calories and maybe drop a few pounds, right?!  (I use either Spark People or LiveStrong to do my calorie tracking; this time around I’m doing LiveStrong.)

When you get older and you’re VERYVERY short, like me, your daily calorie allotment dwindles to hardly anything.  It’s even less if you’re trying to lose weight.  Right now I’m supposed to be eating 1,209 calories a day.  Let me tell you, it’s very easy to go over that without even realizing.  Once I lose weight, that number will go down even more.  When I lost a decent amount of weight a few years back (around 20 pounds, which gets me out of the ‘overweight’ category on a BMI calculator), I was down to about 1,000 calories a day.  I could definitely have stood to lose more weight but damn, I was freaking starving.  After a while I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I always exercise too; I’ve tried just exercising without restricting calories but that never works for me.  You have to exercise SO MUCH just to burn one calorie, and I’m not a jogger or runner or heavy-duty exercise nut.  I always have to restrict calories in order to lose weight; I exercise for the health benefits and because I feel better when I do, but never for weight loss.

Okay, so – watching what I eat, exercising, blahblahHealthyblah, but it takes forever, right?  And that’s cool, I know it takes a long time and I prefer losing weight slowly and keeping it off.  But that means I’m going to look like this for a while.  Hence the book – why not try to trick the eye into thinking I’ve lost more weight than I really have?

The book is divided into sections for all the problem areas most women have.  I looked at all of them except the Big Bust one – that’s never been my problem, never will.  It would be nice because big boobs would detract from tummy bulge but, alas, it’s not to be.  First I checked out the sections on thighs and belly (my biggest problems) and also checked out the arms section; I already know never, EVER to wear cap sleeves and I avoid tank tops like the plague.  I got some satisfaction when the author complained about the fact that most dresses are sleeveless, even though many older women have a bit of arm flap going on, even the skinny ones.  You always have to buy a separate shrug or something to cover up the arms.  Why not just put SLEEVES on the dresses to begin with?!  I wear a dress maybe once every five years, so luckily it’s not really a pressing issue for me; it’s just something I’ve always noticed and it was gratifying to see I wasn’t the only one miffed by the preponderance of sleeveless dresses.

What was most amusing to me was the section on belly bulge (another thing a lot of older women deal with, especially if they’ve had kids).  This has been the hardest thing for me to get used to; when I was younger, my stomach was actually concave a lot of the time.  I mean, I never EVER had a tummy bulge or had to deal with it when wearing clothes.  Even so, I’ve always been super sensitive about anything that clings to my stomach area; even when I was pregnant, I wore very loose tops and would never have dreamed of wearing the form-fitting tops you see pregnant women wearing nowadays.  (Not that it looks bad on them – it’s just not something I would’ve chosen to wear.)  After I had kids, I couldn’t wear an A-line or empire waist dress or top without someone asking me if I was pregnant; if I wore very fitted clothes, people would comment on my stomach.  (And this was back when I weighed about 115-120 pounds.)  I took to wearing leggings with big, loose cardigans or long knee-length sweaters over them, anything to hide my non-existent stomach.

Back in the day (happy birthday, Stacy!!) -- If I couldn't wear a sweater, it was an oversized t-shirt.  Hide my stomach at all costs!!

Me, Stacy & Dave, back in the day (happy birthday, Stacy!!) — If I couldn’t wear a sweater, it was an oversized t-shirt. Hide my stomach at all costs!!

Now I really have a stomach that needs to be hidden, and I can’t stand the clingy fabrics so many tops are made of these days.  What I wouldn’t give for those huge, long sweaters and cardigans to come back into style!  Sadly, the book had no real tips for me in that area.  The main thing, repeated over and over, was to wear support undergarments ALL THE TIME, EVERY DAY.  (The author favors support bike shorts.)  Now, I can break out the Spanx on a special occasion, but to hang out around the house?  I don’t think so.  She also recommends a belt, which is fine if you don’t ever want to sit down.

Actually, that’s my biggest tummy problem – I have lots of pants that fit and look great when I’m standing up, but they squeeze too much when I’m sitting down.  Nobody ever seems to acknowledge this on shows like What Not to Wear – they dress people in these fitted outfits that look cute when they’re standing up, but you know they’re busting out of them if they sit down.  Do these people never sit down?!

So I read the book with an air of resignation; much of the advice stressed support undergarments to be worn all the time, and that’s not what I’m looking for.  I did learn some brands to keep an eye out for as far as jeans (never at full price – I always shop at Goodwill), and she did convince me to try to move away from the oversized clothes I tend to wear.  I know it makes me look bigger than I really am; I am just so loath to have anyone see tummy bulge that I can’t resist oversized shirts.

Yesterday Dave and I headed to Goodwill; he had a 25% off discount card and I was thinking about upgrading some of my fall/winter clothes.  The first store was a bust; I was shopping one size smaller for shirts and that was just too tight for me.  We headed to the other store in our area and I scored – five shirts and a pair of dressier black pants for under $20.  It was kind of funny – I really felt like I was in an episode of What Not to Wear.  I’d reach for an oversized t-shirt and then pull my hand back, thinking, “No … I’m supposed to be looking for v-neck shirts, and not that big.”  I’m shooting more for clothes that skim my body but don’t cling, and pants I can sit down in without asphyxiating.  (One tip:  If you have a tummy like me, try Jag jeans – they fit well and have some give in the waist so you can sit down comfortably … but they don’t sag at the waist when you’re standing up.)

I’m also going to try to incorporate some minor heels into my wardrobe too, maybe with ankle boots or something.  I hate heels and, if given the choice, I’ll wear my Mizuno gym shoes all the time.  I know I have to suffer a LITTLE bit for beauty though, and I can definitely use an extra inch in height.  (I could really use an extra five inches, but I’m not that crazy.)

In closing, if you see me in person and I’m wearing a more fitted top than usual, you don’t need to ask … NO, I’m not pregnant.  🙂

Forty Four and Flabby

I’ve been buying workout videos since the 1980s (Jane Fonda, I’m looking at you) and this is the first one I’ve ever seen that had captioning.  I’ve gone for the burn with Jane, I’ve Jazzercised, I’ve done dance routines with Cher, pregnancy workouts with Denise Austin, I’ve done step aerobics, worked out with Kathy Smith, done yoga and Tae Bo.  I’ve never seen captioning on a workout routine until I rented the “30 Day Shred” DVD this week.

This DVD came highly recommended…one girl excitedly mentioned that she now has muscles in her armpits thanks to this DVD.  I would simply be happy if my armpits didn’t loll over the edge of my bra, thank you very much.

I like the fact that it’s 20 minutes long.  My big thing these days is to try to convince myself I don’t have time to exercise.  Who wants to spend an hour doing the same workout routine?!  But 15-20 minutes…I can do that.  Right now I have two DVDs I rotate through – Walk Away the Pounds (a one mile walk that’s done in 15 minutes) and I Want That Body, with 15 minute segments that work your arms, thighs or abs.  I am not a hardcore exercise freak.  Actually, I loathe exercise.  If I could lose weight by sitting at the computer or sitting around reading, I would be in heaven.

Unfortunately, life is not fair.  As a teen and in my early 20s, people always told me that “it would catch up with me”….”it” being my metabolism, I guess.  I was skinny in high school, freaking out if the scale went over 100.  I blimped out to a horrifying 115 in my 20s, but finally accepted it since getting under that weight became nearly impossible.  Being short (5’2”) doesn’t help matters – a weight gain of 5 pounds looks like 20 pounds on me.

So I went and had kids…gaining about 35 pounds with each pregnancy and taking a year or two to get the weight off.  I headed into my 30s a little heavier but not terribly so.  It was easy to take off that extra 5 or 10 pounds simply by cutting back on snacking or being more careful with the types of food I ate.

Then I passed 35.  Oh my God.  My body rebelled, my metabolism shut completely down, and I gained weight hand over fist.  I was pissed, you guys.  I hadn’t changed my eating habits or exercise habits (of which I had…none).  I just got older.  The weight piled on and now I am officially obese according to BMI charts.  Come on, man!  When I look at myself, “obese” is not the term I’d use to describe my figure.  I’m no fool and I know I’m overweight but geez.

Have I mentioned that it isn’t fair?  You see hugely overweight people in movies and on TV that are stuffing their faces with donuts, cake, candy, fast food.  It’s always implied that if you’re overweight, that’s how you’re eating.  Well, I’m here to say hell no.  I eat like a normal person.  The only candy I have is a mini candy bar snuck here and there when we have leftover Halloween candy.  I eat a piece of cake at birthdays but no, I don’t chow down on a whole cake by myself.  I don’t binge.  I don’t eat late at night.  I just eat my regular food, and I get fat.

So I decided I needed to increase my physical activity to raise my metabolism.  I know the mechanics of how you lose weight.  I have read all the books, tried all the diets.  I’ve tried Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers.  For some reason I actually gain weight when I exercise, and I’m not fool enough to think it’s because I’m gaining muscle.  I don’t work out that hard.

It took up til now for me to decide to not obsess so much about the number on the scale.  Eat healthy and exercise.  Exercising makes me feel better, even if it makes me gain weight.  I think I look better.  So I work out.

I was exercising regularly before my CI surgery, and only just this past week got back to it.  I read the great reviews on this DVD and added it to our Netflix queue.  It came in yesterday and last night I casually told Dave, “I think I’m just going to pop this workout DVD in for a bit…I just want to see what it’s like.”

The instructor, Jillian Michaels, comes on and talks for a while.  No captioning, but I didn’t expect it.  Then you choose your workout level (1, 2 or 3).  Of course, I pick Level 1.  I’ve heard chilling things about levels 2 and 3.  Level 1 begins and the first thing I see is [upbeat music].  It’s captioned!

Now I’m completely fascinated.  It starts off with a simple warm-up so I follow along…it feels silly to just stand there watching the DVD.  Then there’s jumping jacks.  Okay.  I’m a little concerned that I’m going to knock the TV off the stand from the vibration of me jumping on the floor, but I gamely keep up.  I can feel my processors lifting up and settling back down on my ears with each hop.  I’d like to hold them to my ears but you can’t do jumping jacks with your hands against your head.

I follow along half-heartedly through other segments – push ups (uh, yea…I think I’ll do mine against the wall, thank you), simulating jump rope (again with the bouncing processors and precarious bouncing of the TV as I hop).  Hand weight workouts and lunges are fine and I actually do all of those.  Then it’s sit ups.  I don’t mind sit ups…I can usually do them with no struggle.  It’s the yoga-based ab exercises where you hold your weight on your hands/wrists that I can’t do, because of my carpal tunnel problems.  Sit ups, though…bring ‘em on.  Except…don’t.  I can’t do sit ups wearing my CI’s.  My hands behind my head knock my headpieces off.  My processors are sliding back and off my ears.  I’m trying to look at the TV at the same time, to see what we’re supposed to be doing.  Finally, I give up and sit out the sit up section.

It’s back to jumping jacks.  I try, and then stop the DVD.  Gasping and wheezing, I tell Dave, “I don’t think I’m going to buy this DVD.”  He’s shocked, because I’d been really looking forward to trying it.  “Why not?!”, he asks.

Well, I tell him, I can’t do these exercises with my CI’s.  All the workouts I’ve been doing up til now are done standing up – walking, weight lifting.  I hadn’t done any floor work at all.  I just can’t do sit ups or jumping jacks and keep the processors on my head.

In the end, though, he talked me into giving the DVD another chance.  I’m going to try it without my CI’s on.  Since it’s captioned (yahoo!) I can follow along even if I can’t hear.

I think I’m going to wait another day or so to try.  Even with just a few minutes of half-hearted following along, I’m in pain today.  I feel like crying every time I lower myself into a sitting position.

As they say … no pain, no gain!

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