Saturday, February 27, 2010

Too Comfortable

Typing with paint-covered fingers. When my life opened up after cutting back my hours this week (hoo-yah!), I got home improvement fever. I've been painting and hammering and sewing like mad. What I haven't done is (let's face it) much formal exercise. The truth is I like it here-- I like having the scale bounce around an okay number without my having to angst or sweat it (literally). My new things all fit and if I gain a bit one day, I go easy the next and all is well. It feels very normal and pleasant and unstressful.

Except that I know my blood sugars are not that great and I've lost some muscle. Even if I never lose another pound, I'll be healthier if I exercise at least half an hour a day. Which is certainly not too hard for me. I've seen bloggers write that they wish they had a medical reason to lose weight to motivate them, and it certainly worked for me, but on some level I feel like I did my part, I lost my 10%, so why am I still prediabetic? I'm prediabetic, of course, because I blew out my beta cells by teetering on a BMI of 30 for almost 18 years, tripping an underlying predisposition. Bummer. I have figured out how to feel much better-- by Eating Like a Grownup, more or less-- so I am going to take a minute to be grateful for that.

Today was Cheat Day and while I lurve Cheat Day, there's no question that I spent the afternoon in bed sleeping off a carbohydrate overload. I feel like I'll never be hungry again (um--right!) Some Saturdays I eat pretty normally with some junky stuff in there. Today I pretty much ate from the Nacho and Pinwheel Cookie foodgroups. So probably not much over on calories but I feel like a dog that ate socks from the laundry basket. Don't do it, people.

I did take a brisk moonlit walk with my spouse and my nutty dog, which was the kind of gentle but purposeful exercise that's just the ticket when you feel like your stomach is full of socks. I am contemplating a cherry protein shake for dinner. Maybe. If I ever feel the need to eat again.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I could not look my blog in the face until I did some good exercise, so it's a relief to report I got to Zumba today. This past week I've been pedaling hard trying to wrap up at work so that I'm ready to go back to prn, and today was the first day of a whole week off. I am pleased I didn't break anything, clicking my heels. No more feeling like I'm being quartered (pulled apart in four different directions, wasn't it? Yuck!)

Weight-wise, I am not exactly sure what's going on as I had salty (delicious) ham yesterday and I don't want to upset my delicate psyche by seeing 175 or something equally distressing. My 12's still fit, even the skinny ones, and my best friend whom I saw this weekend kindly told me that she thought I was at ideal weight and didn't need to lose another pound. I am not Ideal Weight by any standard except the fond eyes of friendship, but it was nice to hear. I actually thought I looked pretty mushy in Zumba today. Doesn't take long for those muscles to turn to ooze.

Tomorrow I'm pretty tightly booked but I have slotted half an hour to do my weights. I've really noticed a loss of strength, tsk tsk. The weights do matter.

I look forward to catching up with everybody. Spring's coming, guys! Hang in there!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pant Pant

So my day is reaching something very close to a resting point, if you don't count dinner for five and picking up my MIL's medicine and salting her walk and dropping off a c-diff sample and shopping for my daughter's gifts and buying birthday party food for nine 8th grade girls. Believe it or not, this represents the downhill portion of the day. Not that I'm counting or anything, but in ten days exactly I get to go back to something resembling a normal schedule, and I am going to burn some calories clicking my heels, you can believe it.

Good News: Wednesday (my last visit to the scale) I weighed 170 again. Yay.

Less Good News: Today I came home starving and stressed with exactly 7 minutes to cram in enough food to sustain life, or at least keep me from the dreaded Intermittent Fast (horror!) In seven minutes I had

a protein shake
2 mini boxes of Nerds at 50 calories each
6 small squares= between 1-2 ounces of Cadbury Fruit N Nut Bar (all there was)
8 pecan halves
6 triscuits

And half an hour later I had a slice of cheese and 2 more triscuits.

When I let it go too late, I have a hard time catching up-- my body doesn't seem to want to flip over into, "I'm good, thanks. You can stop!" When I am generally in better shape I seem to handle it better, but my sugars are up even if my weight is down. I wonder if metformin helps with that FEED ME NOW feeling. All the carbs I just ate are probably not going to help me with lower sugars/feeling better/normal hunger vs feeding frenzy.

Anybody out there with this problem? I don't feel like I'm eating to stuff down emotional distress or because I have to have more of that fabulous __________. I'm eating to feel like I'm fed, and sometimes (when my sugar is racing around in my blood stream instead of in my cells) it's really hard to get there. What about you? Does this happen to you too?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Turn Up the Flash Gordon Noise and Put More Science Stuff Around

Interesting stuff at Body Recomposition, which I am boldly attempting to link, in spite of my failures of last post. (I have scrutinized, and my html looks good. Gremlins.)

In this article about leptin, there is discussion about the difficulties of long term calorie restriction and how it drops leptin levels, which may contribute to that "GOT TO EAT" feeling. If I'm getting this right, full diet breaks or (yes!) cheat days may help to raise leptin levels which presumably help with satiety over time. The author feels that eating lots of carbs versus fat is more helpful with this.

So I haven't been futzing around for the past three months. I've been on a diet break to restore my leptin. Sounds so much more respectable.

There is discussion of set points vs settling points. Personally I am of the settling point school-- if you change your environment (more apples, fewer cookies) your weight will move down within a range. I've seen studies that say maintainers use slightly fewer calories than the never-overweight, and other studies that say calorie burn is equal for both groups. I'm deciding not to worry about it.

There's good buzz about intermittent fasting, which I am skeptical of for one reason only: unpleasant personal experience. When I was putting on my first 20-too-much at age 12, I fasted most schooldays until 4 pm when I got home, followed by large quantities of toast. (Not deliberate, I just wasn't together enough to get breakfast or lunch.) I really believe the fasting followed by large late starchy meals contributed to my weight gain. My other experience with it was as an anorexic, fasting on days following a binge, which combined with stringent restriction certainly kept my weight down to that ideal parent-scaring BMI of 16. Or more recently as a hypoglycemic-then-prediabetic, where it pretty much makes me feel like shit. There's some persuasive stuff about IF out there. Just not my cup of tea.

So that's the Science round-up for today! You can slip off the protective eyewear and hang up the labcoats. Tomorrow will by the psychology discussion where I tell you all about my (completely internalized) raprochment with my Zumba instructor.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Shake Up That Crystal Ball

There is a great post over at Escape From Obesity that led to a spot of self-examination around here. Lynn predicts the level of effort required to maintain different weights-- questioning whether or not it is worth the effort to reach each one. She expressed doubt that a surgeon-general-approved-type weight would be attainable for her, let alone maintainable. Check out the post, interesting stuff.

OK, now that you're back: who here has done that? Theorized in advance like that?

I used to figure that losing any significant weight was just too hard. God knows I'd tried. I was eating whole foods and exercising, and not getting any thinner, and I figured that was about what I was willing to do, until my glucose readings lit a fire under me and I suddenly realized I was capable of doing quite a bit more.

And the truth is, it hasn't been that horribly hard to drop 10%. I'm not saying it's easy peasy-- it's not-- but once I got the weight down, eating plenty of calories along the way (usually in the 1500-2000 range), I figured out that a modest amount of exercise (around 3 hours a week) and eating decently most days are enough for me to stay where I am. On some level I didn't believe this a year ago, but it's true. A modest weight loss like mine can be achieved and maintained without wreathing and writhing and fainting in coils (thank you, Lewis Carrol!)

But a more significant one? 20% 25% That I can't address from experience. I've been sub 135 and found that it required vigilance and a certain willingness to tolerate hunger. To paraphrase the '40s beauty Gene Tierney, "Hollywood has its rewards, but I remember being hungry for much of those 25 years." (She maintained a Hollywood-style BMI of 18 by losing on a Harper's Bazaar diet and then sticking with it for years). I maintained around 145 until my kids, and that took exercise and some degree of care, but nothing fanatical. I don't know whether that would be true now. The science suggests my metabolism shouldn't have altered by more than a hundred calories or so since then.

So what's my point? I have two opposite ones, of course.

1. It's a good thing to be honest with yourself about what you're willing to do to manage your weight for the rest of your life.

2. It's a good thing not to mislead yourself the other way-- as in (speaking from personal experience here) popping a box of Good N Plenty here, a cheesy bagel there, exercising erratically, and then shrugging and saying, "Losing weight is just too hard."

The freaky part is that losing fat is, in my opinion, less of a straight road than you'd think. There are hacks and tips. Bodies get more efficient or less so. In my own experience, I've starved and lost nothing, and eaten comfortably (from the right stuff) and lost fat. It's hard to predict what you'll be able to do, until you give it a try and see.

What do you think, dear reader?

PS: I exercised before work this morning-- 25 minutes of weights and elliptical-- which made me late but my body has felt nice all day. I ate well. And I had plain iced tea twice instead of diet soda, which I tend to imbibe in toxic amounts when I'm overbusy and stressed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I was not thrilled with my health behaviors yesterday-- it was my husband's birthday, featuring too much fondue (good stuff though). I am still under the weather and have felt oddly "diabetic" the last couple of days-- I get too tired, get hungry too quickly when I shouldn't be, feel a bit loopy and weak. I checked my fasting sugar and it was bad--118. Obviously weight loss alone is not enough to keep my numbers down. I almost wrote a post about "I'm going to do this tomorrow," but I thought it would be much better to do it, and then write about it. Which I did. I ate much better today-- smaller portions, better foods. Some leftover chocolate, but otherwise on the mark. Since I'm still not feeling great I allowed my work out to consist of shoveling (a foot and a half of snow!), pulling my daughter on her sled and helping with the snowblower (hey, that thing's heavy!) Funny how improper behavior => not feeling good. Let's hope it works the other way too.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


That was something they used to say in Pogo a lot. I persist in this belief that I can smooch my husband when he is sick and continue poaching his drinks. Does anybody besides me remember my getting sick last fall from exactly this strategic error? I have a tummy ache, which I guess is good from a calorie intake front. Eating hurts. It's not bad, really, probably not even good for any weight loss-- I'm still bouncing around 172 which is lucky, really.

I had a bit of an epiphany. You know when you get a shift in how you look at something, and suddenly you feel fine about it? My self esteem has been shit-canned since I tried to take on more hours at work. (Sorry for the colorful language: that word just says it all.) I felt awful about myself, far worse than I ever felt about being too fat. I kept punching myself figuratively. Why can't I do this, why? I kept trying to find ways of thinking about it to feel all right, but I still felt terrible (bear in mind, all this pressure was coming from inside, not from anybody else.)

Today I was thinking about a book I read called Margin by a physician actually (any shock that he's in health care?)-- in the context of the exponential spike in information over the last few decades. How we keep doing more and more because we can. How margin disappears from our lives in all kinds of ways. And I realized that a margin expressed in time is more important to us this year than a margin expressed in money. And that's okay.

Desperately obvious, right? But somehow it took me two months to be able to put it in terms that I was able to internalize and accept.

I could draw the analogy about how this works in fat loss too, but you all don't need me for that. What I will say is that I am grateful I've been able to maintain my weight even when my free time got sucked up by the proverbial Hoover. I have this idea that I'm going to kick butt when I get a bit of margin back at the end of the month. Will I? Stay tuned!