Thursday, October 28, 2010

Well, that was fast

Tracking food and exercise is still too difficult for me. I found a bunch of old, unhealthy thoughts creeping back. I don't want to go back there, so I'm going to give it another rest.

I've still been eating healthy and exercising. Yesterday afternoon, I went for a loooong walk with Mr. Bojangles and his new friend, a black lab named Stella (as well as Stella's owner, my friend Stacy). Up and down the hills, wrangling dogs and disentangling from leashes. I'm loving the new push to incorporate more activity into my life. Also, I haven't had any cokes, diet or otherwise, in a couple of weeks now I think, so maybe I'll keep that up. It's been a long time that I've wanted to break that habit, and the cheap sparkling water at Kroger is a great alternative.

Last night my friend Asa came over for low key hang out. Jay made quinoa and heated up some black beans. I steamed some kale. I was ravenous and had two big helpings, then had a leftover cinnamon roll, and finally quelled the beast with a small bowl of grape nuts with molasses. No guilt: if I'm hungry, I eat. It's interesting to note, though, that the grape nuts and molasses did what the cinammon roll couldn't. They were both sweet and carby, but the fiber and whole grains plus the unrefined sugar and minerals satiated me in a way that the processed, hydrogenated, refined carb treat couldn't.

My body is telling me things all the time. I'm glad I've begun listening.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sixteen tons, and what do ya get?

A few months ago, I decided to stop dieting. I was sick of hating my body and always feeling like a failure. I did some research into Healthy At Every Size and Overcoming Overeating, and decided to implement some strategies. I've spent a few months appreciating my body, being grateful for everything I have, and learning to love myself a lot more than I ever thought possible. I threw out every piece of clothing that didn't fit and make me look gorgeous and, with the help of my mom, got a great new wardrobe for the size I am right now.

I've also spent the last few months eating whatever I want, whenever I want, and working on eliminating that cycle of guilt/shame/restriction/rebellion. I slowly started to focus on cravings, on the source of those cravings, and on eating more intentionally. I focused on how food made me feel. I focused on sleep and healthy movement.


In the course of this whole reawakening, I've learned some things. I feel healthiest when I eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Dairy makes me groggy. Animal fat can make me feel nauseated. Beer gives me the toots. Refined sugar makes me crave more and more refined sugar.

The other day, when I stepped on the scale for the first time in months, I had to spend some time talking to myself. Weighing used to be a daily activity that could make or ruin my morning. I told myself that I thought I was probably about 260 lbs. I told myself that, if I was more than, that, I would not feel ashamed or unhappy. I also told myself that, if I was less than that, I would not feel pleased or proud. It's a number. It's just a number.

I stepped on the scale and waited for it to settle on a number. 259.8 lbs. I smiled, but this time it was because I was proud to know my body so well. Proud that I was so in touch with myself.

The reason I'm back on this blog is because I'm ready to contribute again, from a new and healthier perspective. I'm back on Sparkpeople to track my eating and my work outs, and bring more precision to those observations I'm making. I've gained some weight, and I might not lose it, but this is about taking care of myself and being healthy. I've never loved my body more than I do right now, and I will love it if it gets heavier and I will love it if it gets lighter.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My pants, nooooo

All the hard work I put in over the last year (and abandoned this summer before all the health crap) has been undone by my eating habits since my surgery.

"Oh, I have holes in my abdomen, now I can eat whatever I want! My body has a new way to process the fat I eat, that must mean I can eat however much I want! Everything made of chicken is probably good for me, right? Yeah! La la la!"

[buzzer]

I was down to 184 at my most recent slimmest, down from a high point of 202 in the summer of 2009. Yay me for that progress. Unfortunately, I'm back up to about 192-194, depending on the time of day I weigh myself.

And besides feeling out of shape and worrying about what this weight is doing to the durability of my remaining internal organs, I can no longer wear the size 14 jeans that I bought this spring for my newly smaller self. I didn't notice as much when I was trapped in dresses for several weeks, but now that I'm wearing waistbands again, I can only wear the size 16s, and not all of those, either. Anything that digs into my abdomen is uncomfortable, though not dangerous to the incision above my navel anymore. It disheartens me to think that it was only 3 to 4 months ago that I bought some of those clothes, and already I'm on the north side of the next size up. And it's going to take so much work to get back to where I want to be - back in those damn size 14 pants.

I'd gotten out of the habit of stepping on the scale shortly after my surgery, when I was concentrating on getting better and exploring all the fast food I'd been missing out on for the last 8 years as a vegetarian. When I recently hopped back on to weigh the dogs (who have both lost several pounds this summer on orders from the vet), I was not pleased, and I stopped weighing myself for a week. Sadly, ignoring the scale and continuing to eat as if there were no consequences did not bring the result I pretended it would: surely, the number would be lower. Not higher. Alas.

My main problems are, in no particular order: cheese, fast food, going to the gas station during the work day for snacks, not eating vegetables, processed meat, full sugar sodas, almost never cooking.

My dinners used to consist of Quorn or soy crumbles in quinoa and mixed vegetables, or a Boca patty eaten on Oroweat sandwich thin, or similar. I'd also bake vegetables. Now, I pick up fast food for my boyfriend and me to eat, or I have a deli-sliced chicken sandwich with Cheetos. I follow it up with full-sugar sodas, snack crackers, dry sugary cereal, cookies, whatever snacks are in the house.

My boyfriend makes wonderful, wonderful food. If I would eat reasonable amounts of it, I'd be absolutely fine. But I don't. He makes a chicken pasta bake that is divine. But it's got a lot of cheese and has pepperoni in it, and every time we've had it, I've eaten large squares and gone back for seconds; I am loathe to think about the calories in each Eve-sized serving. He made a roast in a crock pot last week. It was so good, but it was really fatty. And yeah, I absolutely ate the hell out of it.

Eating because of boredom at work is a problem. It's hard to keep focused on work some days, and it's so easy to tell myself I should help myself to two of the donuts I brought for the office or five of the Laffy Taffys sitting in the candy dish. I also neglect to either bring a satisfying lunch or eat breakfast (though sometimes I stop en route to work for a fried chicken patty on a biscuit from McDonald's or similar), then wind up going to the gas station and buying a low calorie drink... and a candy bar or cookies. Not good for me, and not good for my bank account if I'm spending $5-8 every trip most days of the week.

Tracking my food on Livestrong.com helps me think about what I'm putting into my body, and if I think about the nutritional content of what I'm eating, I'll try to eat healthier. I've found that being mindful is the only thing that keeps me in check. I've begun to question why I made such bad food choices so often. It's an issue that I'm going to explore and try to deal with more effectively. My life is going to be controlled by my health problems as I get older if I don't do something about my weight while I'm relatively young and able to bounce fully back from something as serious as surgery in a period of just 6 weeks.

Sure, exercise helps me lose weight, but I won't pretend that walking 2 miles every other day is going to cut it, because it sure as hell hasn't been a miracle cure in the past, and I've relied on "I'll burn off the calories from this sugary snack during my workout" for far too long. Eating less food and eating higher quality food are most likely going to be my best tools for losing weight and improving my health outlook.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pushing on

My last post here was over two months ago. In the meantime, I've recovered from that particular attack of plantar fasciitis, but my lifestyle has undergone two major changes: I am no longer a vegetarian, and I had laparoscopic surgery in the first days of August to remove my gallbladder.

I went to the hospital in late July after suffering back and abdominal pain that lasted 5 hours instead of going away after 3 hours, like it used to do. I was in the hospital for several more hours before I got pain medication, got a diagnosis of gallstones, and was sent home with muscle relaxers to stop the gallbladder from getting upset. I was also put on a very low-fat diet, and I stayed on it for a week. Then, I had a 14-hour gallstone attack that ended in emergency surgery and kept me in the hospital for 3 days.

During the week that separated my hospital stays, one of the few ways I knew I could get the calories I needed without fat was to get more protein, but there aren't many low-fat sources of protein that are also vegetarian, and I was getting really sick of eating a can of refried fat-free beans every day. Additionally, I'd started to crave chicken, and I've always said that I would leave myself open to the possibility of going back to being a carnivore.

That being said, eating meat was weird in the first days and weeks. I've gotten mentally better about just eating it, though I still pick out overly fatty pieces of chicken from bowls of soup and spit out chewy bits into napkins as discreetly as possible. My boyfriend is pleased at the change, as it's the first time since we started dating in 2003 that we've made the same dinner foods together and both eaten the same things, and he's been happily grilling things for me, making me soup, experimenting with stroganoff recipes. He's never pushed me to do anything I didn't really want to do and has been very much there for me no matter what steps I've taken. He's also pledged to help me have a better mental attitude toward food.

My surgery recovery has gone well, though I had some speed bumps along the way to healing. These setbacks mostly involving lifting things that were too heavy, which would set me back a few days. It's now mid-September, and I just recently started wearing pants again (I have been in dresses for a month and a half, buying 3 more and starting to sew a fourth in order to have some variety); waistbands pressing against my abdomen don't feel as much like torture, though it's still not as comfortable as it was before. I've got shiny scars forming above my navel and across the right side of my stomach like a constellation, and they are less tender, less angry, with each passing week.

One of the reasons my pants were so tight, unfortunately, is that my weight fluctuated wildly post-surgery with the water my body retained as I healed, and then I lost muscle and put on fat as I stayed inactive for so long. While the number on the scale is close to what it was two or three months ago, I can definitely tell my body has put on more fat and I've lost much of my muscle definition.

After taking my body out for a test drive while on vacation recently (an hour walking around downtown Austin, some very light swimming), I feel able-bodied again. While I'm not ready to jump back on the elliptical or go back to The New Rules of Lifting for Women just yet, I'll happily put on my sneakers and start walking, now that high temperatures at night are in the low 90s and 80s in these last days of the Texas summer.

Starting to walk again, and soon, is absolutely necessary, as I signed up to do the Koman 5k for the Cure next month here in Dallas. One of my good friends is a breast cancer survivor. Participating is one way I can show solidarity with her, with the added benefit of being able to raise funds for things like cancer research and mammograms. And it's a heck of a motivator to finally get back into my beloved Nike shorts.

In order to do this walk without hurting myself, I plan to start walking one mile every other day and ramp up the distance to the full 3.1 miles by mid-October. Stretching before and after, as well as foot strengthening exercises, will hopefully keep plantar fasciitis at bay.

Becoming active again will help me keep my moods in check. The surgery was a crazy time, but I have to admit to feeling emotionally great afterward because I'd taken care of a long-term medical problem (though it had forced my hand), and everyone I cared about and who cared about me was wishing me well and helping me out. As time goes by, the high ends, and you go back to normality. I've noticed that I've been a little down over the last couple of weeks, maybe because of the seasonal change, and I want to check that before it gets worse.

My diet isn't quite under control. I went kind of crazy with the chicken noodle soup right after the surgery, and I went from having grilled chicken and grilled vegetables all the time to rediscovering Chik-Fil-A and Wendy's. But I still try to watch ingredients and nutrition labels when I buy food, as that habit is thankfully hard to break. My main dietary problems right now are sodas and fast food/restaurant food. Ugh, so many heavy cream sauces. I've striven to make good dietary choices while dining out, but it is sometimes difficult.

When I get all the elements working, as time passes, as I continue to heal, I can slip back into my smaller-sized jeans again and continue working to make myself healthier in every way.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Swoosh trademark

I can't tell you how badly I wanted to volunteer to do something to help after Hurricane Katrina hit. A lot of the refugees came to Dallas (and I gained a couple of good friends due to that exodus), and volunteers were needed for a lot of things. But despite my intentions and fervent wish to be helpful and ample amount of free time, all I did was donate money. At the time, I blamed it on the shock of being newly single (though there was a reconciliation just around the corner), living by myself, being incredibly lonely and unhappy. But how much of that was allowing myself to be stunned by my circumstances, and how much was me not taking charge of my life?

I've been something of an anxious coward for years. It takes so much effort for me to make scary phone calls (from making healthcare appointments to ordering pizza to calling an old friend, and I wish I was kidding), and more than once, I've driven to an event, driven around to see what I could from the car, and then left feeling foolish, fearing being seen as foolish for trying to participate, being in the wrong place, showing up alone, doing it wrong. I feel like my intentions are written across my forehead and are a source of ridicule to the world. It's kept me from participating in a lot of things, made me back out of commitments, made me afraid to make promises and plans in the first place.

Being too afraid to participate in things is something I've been working on. And I'll admit, part of the reason I'm working on it is because I fear how other people judge me for my cowardice and my willingness to quit. But another part is me being more comfortable with myself, thinking much less about how I'll be judged, because what do the opinions of strangers really count for in most areas of one's life? And why do I think I'll be judged negatively? Outside internet comment boards, the world is generally eager to approve of other people's efforts.

Maggie let me know yesterday that she was proud of me for attending one of the counter-protests against the Westboro Baptist Church in Dallas this past weekend. And I admitted to her that I squelched my urge to flee, driving up and down the streets around the protest looking for both a parking spot and the courage to get out of the car. She said that the Eve she knew a year ago wouldn't have gone at all, and she's right. The Eve of last Friday went, had a good time, and didn't need someone else to come with to make sure she flaunted her space invaders/Futurama sign. I'm sure I would have required company to make me go through with my intentions of showing up a year ago.

I really feel like the support that Maggie's given me, the support I've gotten on this blog, and working out some of my issues with myself by writing blog entries for Fanci Fun Time have been instrumental in helping me be and act a little less afraid of doing things. At any rate, I've started to see more clearly through my own excuses. That's not to say being able to order pizza online instead of calling hasn't been a great improvement to my life, but instead of just whining to myself that doing something would be hard or scary, I ask myself what is stopping me, telling myself it's not that scary, other people do it all the time, etc. That's another thing: the world generally doesn't know your insecurities, and it doesn't judge you for having them unless they cause you to screw up in a major way that affects other people and society at large.

My life might not be the best, but it's the one I'm responsible for making for myself, and I can't be a woman who goes to protests, advocates for animals, writes that damn book already, gets her broken-down body parts examined and fixed (hello plantar fasciitis doctor's visit!), has a successful relationship and great job, has a stable financial situation, and takes awesome trips if I expect someone else to push me out the door or into a desk chair or out of the airlock (wait, what?) to make these things happen.

I am Eve, and I can do things. Not everything. Just many things. And many things I didn't think I could do before.