Saturday, July 30, 2011

Four Weeks For Health: Week 1


In case you missed it last week, I've got a new mini-goal that I'm calling Four Weeks For Health.  The goal: lose one pound per week in four consecutive weeks in order to a)give me a string of weeks with a loss to rejuvenate my progress & motivation & b)put my weight at 150 lbs, otherwise known as the high end of my healthy weight range.

Week 1 Actions (what I did differently):
    Eating my steak over a bowl of my garden's lettuce with a
    teaspoon of olive oil as dressing.  Two GHG's where I would
    previously have had none!
  • I was a religious tracker.  I've been having a bit of a tracking revival &, though it shouldn't be a surprise, I'm finding that the times that I am a truthful, diligent tracker are the times I have success.  Most of the major "weight loss" programs utilize some sort of food journaling.  Why?  Because it works.  This week I reminded myself that I'm not special, or above the fray & I tracked EVERYTHING (yes, even the chunk of ultra processed, ultra delicious white bread that I stole from Coraline's sandwich at a restaurant).
  • I watched my "good health guidelines."  That is fancy WW speak for making sure that I am getting in required nutrition: at least 5 servings of fruit/vegetables, 2 servings of dairy, 2 servings of healthy oil & 1 multi-vitamin.  It doesn't sound hard...because it isn't.  And yet, I realized that I had let dairy slide because I didn't want to allocate points to milk when I could have animal crackers or pita chips.  And here's a big confession: this is the very first time in all of my time with WW that I have ever paid any heed to the healthy oil recommendation.  I guess I always thought that as a woman with a weight problem, the oil would take care of itself.  Turns out it didn't. 
  • I snacked purposefully.  This goes hand in hand with GHGs, but I really paid attention to the difference between a snack & a treat.  Treats are fine in moderation, but snacks should be part of my nutriton plan & give value to my body.  If I was down a dairy serving in the afternoon, I had a glass of milk rather than reaching for a delicious, but nutritionally bankrupt Diet Coke.  If I was short a veggie, I reached for cucumbers with my hummus rather than crackers.
Week 1 Results:  Down 2 lbs!

I am, of course, giddy with my outcome, but in thinking about the purpose behind this exercise, I am not altering my goal for Week 2.  The biggest reason for setting up the goal as I did was to build momentum.  More important than total pounds lost, I desperately need a pattern of success--consecutive weeks "down."  So, my plan for Weeks 2-4 remains 1 lb/week.  Here's to Week 2!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Square Foot Experiment


The Infrastructure
This "spring" we planted our first garden.  If I'm dubious about the timing it is because, as with all projects that I undertake, it is still not finished.  I'm a great idea person...I'm pretty lousy on the execution.  Dave is better on the execution, but gardening doesn't land on his Top 10 List of favorite activities, so it has kind of languished & lazied at a very casual pace.
With that as a proviso, I am pleased to announce that I haven't bought any lettuce this summer.  Not that I'm a huge lettuce eater, but I've definitely eaten more & wasted less as I've snipped it as needed from one of my four Square Foot Gardens.
I started promising Link a garden last summer.  I figured the more I talked it up & the more I got him hooked on the idea, the less likely I would be to flake out.  It worked!  He was very excited at the prospect of being able to grow his own "ta-na-does" & I was excited that maybe he would branch out & try some new veggies--he has, he just doesn't know it.  Did you know that you can't taste a fistful of lettuce in a yogurt smoothie?

I helped--I spread out the tarp.

Aside from the lettuce, our bounty has been limited to exactly 5 grape tomatoes.  Link has had two, Coraline has had 2 & I have had 1.  Dave, ever the gentleman, has abstained.  I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact that he "doesn't care for" tomatoes.  But, we have some promising eggplant & peppers & a few corn plants that, though terribly behind their Iowa-field friends, look pretty good.  Everything got into the dirt pretty late, so we're rejoicing in every bite that comes out of it & ready to hit it hard next year with a little more planning & a little less construction!

I have never, in my whole life, been this excited about dirt.

One box done!
This year has been such a renaissance in my kitchen.  The girl who previously ate exclusively restaurant & packaged foods is now making our yogurt, baking our bread & growing (a few)veggies.  Dave jokingly asked if I wanted to save an orange peel the other day.  When I asked him why I would want it for anything other than the compost bin (another change at our house!), he said, "oh, I don't know, thought you might want to make soap or some other shenanigans out of it."  I took it as a compliment, but did not in fact try to find a new use for said orange peel.  I'm trying to do more with less, but I have my limits.

The very first fruit.
While I don't feel that the garden is necessarily a key to shedding weight or is even causing me to eat differently, I do think that the garden is an unexpected side effect of the journey & the changes that I have had.  Old Sara wouldn't have tried gardening because she was afraid to fail.  New Sara knows that failures are only really failures if you don't get up & try again.  Take that, you "wa-scally wabbits!"  You may have gotten my cauliflower, but you didn't get my brand new gardening spirit!

Giddy for Harvest
Our most promising pupil

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Skirting the Issue


I thought that this would be THE summer...the summer I took the plunge back into shorts after a 15 year hiatus. 

Sadly, traditional shorts are still not in my wardrobe.  The skin on my thighs is just too saggy still.  le sigh.

BUT, I do have one pair of Bermudas that will do in a pinch (I'm not convinced that they are my best look...they really cut me off) & I've rediscovered the glory of the skirt.  It's not the most practical item of clothing for maintaining respectability whilst chasing my kids all over creation, but it certainly helps beat the heat.

Because everyone gardens in a skirt, right?
All in all, I'm quite thankful to these new wardrobe additions because it is STILL beastly hot here in the Midwest, with no end in sight.  I knew it was too hot for civil society when Lincoln opted to go into the library rather than stay outside & spend more time looking at the garbage, fire & police trucks that they had out on display.  I didn't argue with him, even in my summer dress it was too too hot for this cat...but it would have been even worse in my prior summer-standard capris! 

I'll take the small victories where I can get them.

Monday, July 25, 2011

In Dave's Eyes


I admit it: this photo is a staged reenactment, but it was crafted to replicate actual steps that I took in front of Dave.  That sweet fellow made me stop & re-do so that I could see what he sees.  He even snapped the pic to avoid my saggy booty so that I wouldn't get distracted by negativity.  

This certainly can't be my leg...can it?  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Four Weeks For Health


It's no secret that I've been in a slump for a few months.  Two steps forward, one step back, two steps back, three steps progress has slowed to a crawl, & not a Coraline crawl, a lazy baby crawl. 

I think I've finally had enough.  I've been pretty nonchalant about my slowed pace, chalking it up to all manner of legitimate (& not so legitimate) reasons & really not being too upset about it.  I know a lot of people say things like "I've hit the plateau & I don't know why."  I've always thought that was a load of shenanigans.  At least for me, if I'm being honest with myself, I can tell you exactly why.  The problem isn't that I don't know why, it's my apathy.

This morning, I hit my limit.  After a lousy night (if you can call 2.5 hours a "night") of sleep, my 5:30 AM wake-up call came a bit too early.  I knew that I was going to have an up week & for the first time I turned off my alarm & rolled over with the intention of not going to my WW meeting/weigh-in.  Thankfully, even in my sleep deprived haze, I remembered I have a streak to protect.  In 16 months of WW I haven't missed a single weigh-in.  I've skipped meetings if I was short on time or had the kids with me, but I have never not weighed-in.  I have always thought that that consistency was important & today it paid off.

The morning played out like the episode of "Friends" where Chandler & Monica get married.  As Chandler is freaking out about the wedding, Ross convinces him to focus on the baby steps toward the goal: "Just take a shower, that's not scary," "All right, time to get dressed, no big deal,"  until finally the last step is "Get married," or in my case "Sit down in the meeting."  At each step toward getting to the meeting, I was 100% convinced that I wouldn't be able to go any further, I was just so filled with dread at seeing the number on the scale & sitting in that meeting feeling like a fraud.  Pragmatically, my biggest fear was seeing my pounds lost on WW drop below 100 lbs.

When I screwed up the courage to peek at my numbers while sitting in the back of the room (in what was clearly a self-imposed naughty chair), I was at 154, exactly 100 lbs gone on WW.  It was the little glimmer of hope that I needed.

Dave has a theory that part of my problem of late is that it's been a while since I've had a mini-goal that has really inspired.  I had thought that I was close enough to the end to focus on the prize, but maybe he's right.  I've gotten this far by taking "bite-sized" steps to "bite-sized" goals.  So, in the car on the way home from my meeting, I thought about what had been sapping me & what might motivate me.  Last week I was feeling pretty confident that I had strung together my first 3 week string of losses in quite a while.  When I was up 0.2 lbs it took the wind out of my sails.  I really need a string of consecutive weeks down. 

With that in mind, & knowing that I am now 4 lbs away from my healthy weight range, I am committing to a new mini-goal that has me pretty fired up.  I want to lose 1 lb per week for 4 weeks straight.  At the end of 4 weeks I'll have a nice pattern of success to keep me bolstered & I'll be "healthy!"  It's attainable, it's manageable & it's motivational: "Four Weeks For Health!"

Monday, July 18, 2011



It is H-O-T-T hot outside.  I knew a fellow in college who was full of colorful expressions & this is the kind of hot that TR would have deemed "hotter than two dogs [doing something indelicate] in a wool sock."  I'll spare you his original verbiage, but you get the idea. 

Because of the heat, I had planned on treadmill running at the fitness center at Dave's work, where they have so kindly opened the facilities to spouses.  I woke up & my fear of gyms gripped me hard & though I was awake & craving a run, I sat there fretting for long enough that I decided I had to go run outside because I had wasted my driving time being a frightened goose.

I've been going back & redeeming my C25K experience, doing the runs that I skipped in the interest of time on the way to my 5K.  I decided that I would do one of the short interval runs to help me cope with heat & humidity (aside: I'm in awe that I consider 3 minute intervals "short!").  Good idea.  The air was so thick & while I have gotten much better with heat since I have shed pounds (Dave & I unscientifically figured out that my body feels the temperature about 15 degrees cooler now!), I still don't sweat very well so my skin just gets sticky & doesn't really cool off well.

Because of the stickiness, today was the first day that I have felt like surgery is an inevitable at the end of this process.  The topic of cosmetic surgery after weight loss is extremely controversial.  I have taken a fairly political stance on the issue, feeling like it's an individual choice.  As for me personally, there are too many variables for me to know what I'll look/feel like when I'm at goal & have given my body a chance to bounce back.  Even a small, elective surgery has risks & who knows if the negatives of my extra skin will weigh out the risks.  But, Holy Bat-wings, Batman!--today I didn't feel like it was a choice.  The skin under my arms rubbed so raw, sticking with each stride, that I nearly quit running.  Instead I opted for a flapping, airing-out posture that was neither attractive nor efficient.  I think my legs would have had a similar problem, but thanks to Old Navy for cheap compression shorts that keep my thighs in check. 

I'm not about to head over for a consult today, but there might be something to the idea that the skin hampers me physically, not just visually.  Food for thought.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Born This Way


This morning was absolutely spectacular...aside from the fact that there was 873% humidity at 6:00 AM.  Other than that, perfect.

I had the most lovely evening last night, looking back at what I've done, oogling my progress charts, re-reading old blog posts from "mountaintop" times & watching "Big Brother"--ok, that is irrelevant, but I do so love it. 

I knew that, having recently reigned in the tracking monster, it was time to re-tackle the exercise beast.  I was READY to end my lackadaisical workouts of the last month & hit it hard.

I went to Curves at 5:45 & went directly out for a run after that.  It felt good.  Mind you, I still stand by my prior statement that I don't love it & I don't even particularly enjoy it, but it felt good.  It struck me, as Gaga was in my ears wailing "baby, I was born this way-hey," that I was born "this way."  Maybe it's a stretch from the song's actual intent, but I was really overwhelmed by appreciation for my body.  I was born with a whole, healthy body.  I don't have a faulty valve in my heart or a painful & debilitating disease, I have health & strength & vitality available to me if I just put in the effort to cultivate it.  Much like reading & math & writing skills have to be fostered & nurtured, lest a mind be wasted, so running & lifting & moving are skills that need to be "exercised" to reach their full potential.  The body--yes, even my own body which I am so often prone to loath--was born with the ability to grow strong.  I was born this way.  Who am I to waste such a gift in the face of others whose bodies are fraught with weakness to overcome?

None of this is to say that I, for even one second, believe that there is some sort of magical destiny at work in some people's lives that cause them to "have it" while others are left seemingly fettered by impossibility.  I'm strictly talking about the potential of an otherwise healthy body to allow someone to work hard for what they want & appreciating all of the many wonderful possibilities that come with being "born this way."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just Do It


Sigh.  It seems that all I'm doing lately is confessing.  So here goes another:

I don't enjoy working out.  I just don't.  I really try to love it & I certainly love the feelings of accomplishment & power when I'm done & of course the results are hard to deny, but heading out the door to work out is my own personal green mile, every time.   

Since the 5k, my motivation to hit the pavement or do any form of exercise has absolutely tanked.  I came up with a laundry list of lovely excuses:
  • I need to rest
  • Dave needs the work out time (there is some small amount of legitimacy to that as he just completed his first 70.3 this weekend & has needed all of the training time he could get--sooooo proud of him, by the way!)
  • I don't have any clean work out clothes
  • It's too hot
  • The moon isn't in the right phase
Bottom line, that's all rubbish.  I know it's rubbish & now it's time to take out the trash.  I went back & read my post from eve of Dam to Dam & it all came back to me: motivation!  Here I sit in my running clothes, ready to sleep in them so that I have NO excuses tomorrow morning.  With my iron deficiency diagnosed & me already feeling better for just a handful of those magic pills, there is no reason that I shouldn't be jumping back into activity as I have jumped back into tracking.  My plateau is behind me & I am ready to take on the last 18.2 lbs to my goal.

I don't have to love exercise, I just have to do it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Sara & the Pseudo Compliment


I met a real piece of work a couple of weeks ago.  In all likelihood, he's a total jerk, but he made my day--in a shallow & awful sort of way. 

It had all of the Hallmarks of a wild & crazy Saturday night: a little Panera, to Scheel's for a new water bottle for Dave's bike & then Wally-World for some kitty litter--we know how to party.

Midway through Dave's dissertation on the merits of the new & varied options for cycling hydration, a man wanders up to us & says to me, "I don't know if it's really like champagne."  What?!?!  Right, I was wearing my Saturday night special, going out High Life t-shirt, complete with drips of salad dressing & a stretched out hemline.  "Mr. Wonderful" then proceeds to tell us his life story, as his daughters moon about aimlessly--clearly accustomed to their dad's social dalliances.

He spared us no details.  I can tell you where both he & his wife work.  I can tell you down to the month how long they've lived in their house & where they moved from.  I know that his wife is 11 weeks pregnant.   And I know that he's a jerk.  How do I know this?  Somehow, through all of his wanderings through the tale of his life's story, he was able to squeeze in a nasty joke about Lane Bryant.  It was a throw-away joke--one of many as he gave his practiced oration about himself.

As we extricated ourselves from the situation (not until Dave dutifully saved Mr. Wonderful's phone number & promised to call him because we "seem like cool people & we should hang out"), I realized that I hadn't listened to a word out of his mouth after the joke.  But before I seem pious for shutting out the words of Neanderthal man, I must confess: I was elated.

No one makes Lane Bryant jokes in the presence of women who could shop there.  As soon as those words were out of his mouth, words that he had clearly practiced & said before, all I could think was that this man didn't see me "like that."  And I got so caught up in the fact that a handsome, glad-handing, charismatic Mr. Wonderful thought I was thin that I forgot to recognize that he was a total butt-face. 

Nearly 15 years out of high school & I'm still goopy in the knees when a cute jerk says something that can be twisted into a backhanded pseudo compliment--even though I've got a cuter sweetie who gives me real compliments all of the time (compliments that don't have collateral damage, at that!).

I've alternated between feeling giddy & guilty for the last two weeks.  On the one hand, it feels good when a handsome man "hits on" you (even if it is as a couple).  On the other hand, seeking validation at the expense of others is absolutely toxic & I feel horrible about being a part of a conversation that even appeared as though I was disparaging to anyone with weight issues.

And so, I'm sorry.  I didn't say anything disparaging & I didn't encourage Mr. Wonderful at the time, but I certainly glorified his comments in my head after the fact & for that I'm sorry & I promise to look for all around positive affirmations from here on out.  I don't want to build my new self-esteem on the back of anyone or anything but my own hard work. 

For the record, Dave promptly deleted Mr. Wonderful's phone number once we were free stating, "I'd rather get teeth pulled without anesthesia than hang out with that d-bag."  At least one of us is good with perspective.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Binging & (Verbally) Purging


I've heard it many times from people who have lost weight: "I just can't believe I used to eat like that.  It makes me sick to think about it.  I just couldn't do that anymore."  Now, I will acknowledge that one's digestive track does become accustomed to your typical diet & you can cause yourself some internal strife by making sudden shifts...but I don't think that's what these statements are referring to.

I can't speak for others, but for me, if I were to utter anything resembling the above it would be an out & out lie, said only to make myself seem more pious or righteous among other congregants of "food church."  I could eat a whole box of Krispy Kreme then & now.  No sweat. 

For one of our evening meals in Omaha, we went to a local brewery/restaurant & I decided I wasn't going to think about it, I was just going to eat it.  We got the beer sampler, some fried pickles, fresh bread, I had a steak salad sans cheese (but lest you think I was trying to make good choices, I just hate blue cheese) with FULL FAT ranch & I stole some chicken fingers & fries from the kids.  I could have kept going.  The only thing that stopped me was Dave's disdain for dessert & kids who were "well-done."  Otherwise I would have been elbow deep in some red velvet cupcake.

I'm just wired like that.  It gives me joy to eat.  Maybe you can tie it back to childhood, maybe it's something funny with the chemicals in my brain, maybe my taste buds are ridiculously robust.  I don't know what it is, other than a needed reminder that in absence of thinking, for me, there is binge eating.  If I want to keep wearing skinny jeans, I best keep my thinking cap on, too! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Omaha Vacation, New Sara-Style


Over the Fourth, we packed up the van & headed to Omaha for a mini-vacation.  We had a was quite possibly one of my most favorite vacations of all time.  Through the miracles of the internet we scored some great deals on everything from lodging to meals to the water park (deals make it more fun for the grown-ups) & had a great trip for not a lot of coin.

On the drive home, Dave & I couldn't help but think about what this trip would have been like for Old Sara.  We ditched the van as much as possible in the interest of preserving good parking spots & we walked everywhere.  To dinner, to the children's museum, just to go for a constitutional...we put a lot of miles on the stroller.  And that's not even factoring in the walking at the zoo (blast you Henry Doorly for putting your fabulous zoo in the middle of a Mid-Western mountain range) & at the children's museum (twice).  Old Sara flat out could not have kept the pace that we did.  Old Sara would have been hot & crabby & wiped out...after Day 1...moping about all of things that she missed. 

I'm so proud of my accomplishments, but it gives me even greater joy to see how this life is rippling into my kids' lives.  No more do I have to feel guilty for holding Lincoln back from exploring something fun because it might make me look awkward or ugly.  No more am I spending more time tugging at my swimsuit than charging down the water slides.  No more am I spending more time in the hotel room than on the town (even if "on the town" looks a little different than it did two kids ago).  No more am I modeling shame & fear & self-loathing & letting those things dictate what I "can" do.  Most importantly (& most recently), no more am I thinking about my weight 24/7. 
Hatchback Picnic on the Fourth of July
Thank you, Omaha for a fun time, a great weigh-in "on location" & a reminder that I'm not getting rid of this weight for myself alone, but also for my wonderfully weird family.

Here are a few highlights of the many things we did while I wasn't thinking about my weight:
I would never have a)picked my way into the spider web or b)allowed myself to photographed in a fat-rolling-crouch (notice the rolls are still present, I'm just more at peace with them).

Notice the wet hair: I got wet & wild at the indoor water park...slides & all.  It has probably been 15 years since I willingly got my hair wet in any sort of large body of water.  Don't worry, I still have enough fat to float.

A decidedly horrible photo...not sure what it was supposed to be a picture of, BUT--look at those legs.  Those are mine.  Wha-hah?!?!
Even New Sara can appreciate a wall of Jelly Bellies & a well deserved small treat. 
Speaking of's not everyday you hit your 100 lbs Lost on WW mark (115 total).  Ugg sale?  Yes, please.  I can't wait for winter so I can wear my first pair of TALL Uggs now that my calves will fit! 
OK, so this doesn't show ME pushing the land-barge all over Omaha, but I did my fair share & we did a LOT of walking.  We did the Old Market a few times & had a great time exploring downtown on foot.
Slow dancing, just me & my baby.
Old Sara's Hatchback Picnic would have been McDonald's.  New Sara ran into the grocery store for things like bananas, reduced fat Lunchables.  Not the best, but definitely better than the Golden Arches.
Consoling Coraline after the second of two athletic feats of splendor that kept Coraline's injuries down to a dull roar & us out of the ER while on vacation.   This particular one involved me making a dive & clotheslining/catching Coraline as she tried to walk straight down a slide.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Free Fries


As a general rule, New Sara tries to be a largely positive person.  I figure I'm the only one in charge of my response to the world & I'm the one that is most impacted by my response to the world so I might as well make that response pleasant.  I'm no Dave--that man makes Pollyanna look like Oscar the Grouch with PMS--but I do ok.  That being said, I've got a pet peeve & it's time for me to fire up a rant.

You know what I hate?  "Free" fries. 

It is important to me that we still go out to eat.  Not only for my sanity & enjoyment, but also to keep me grounded.  The journey to goal is just practice for the lifetime of maintenance & it isn't realistic to expect that I will never eat out again.  I need to have the skills to eat out, enjoy it, but not blow a whole week's calories on one meal.  Like I said, it takes practice.

We went out last night & I dutifully ordered my meal, trying to balance what is tasty with what is healthy.  I made my list of substitutions, among them being to swap the mountain of fries for some steamed veggies.  Out came the food & there were the fries.  That's not what makes me annoyed.  I was a server for a lot of years.  Mistakes happen, mistakes get corrected.  No big deal.  What makes me annoyed is HOW the fry mistake gets fixed.  Allow me to illustrate.

Problem: Erroneous cheese on a sandwich.  Solution: Removal of said cheese, likely a new sandwich.
Problem: Fries instead of veggies.  Solution: "You can keep the fries for free!"

Like it's a blessing.  To be fair, I was the perpetrator of the Fry Fix many many times, & to all of those whom I fried, I'm very sorry.  Now, as a grown-up who sees value in things over & above free fries, I just want them to take the plate, scrape the fries in the trash & bring me my stupid veggies.  I'm aware of what a great deal it is & I'm aware that they are delicious...all to aware.  I see a pile of those beautiful potato treats singing their siren song & I want to dive in 'til there's nothing left but the grease sheen on my face.  I did everything right, I made good choices (which is hard enough)...please don't tempt me a second time. 

I only ate one of those wicked little waffles* last night, but it was enough to get my blood boiling.  "Free" fries: quite possibly #1 on my pet peeve list.  Or maybe it's #2 after that robo-dial call "This is Rachel at 'card services.'  Please call immediately in regard to your current credit card account..."

*Disclaimer: I hate waffle fries.  They're just a bunch of crunchy skinny fries all stuck together.  Steak fries, on the other hand, make me weak in the knees...mmmm....steak fries.