Thursday, August 4, 2016


That's the sound of me coming back to earth. It was going to be so easy, right? I'm going to eat moderately and the birds will sing and I will float down 25 pounds like a leaf on a whisper of wind.


My body apparently did not endorse this scenario. I am eating moderately, My Fitness Pal keeps assuring me that I will see wonderfully lower numbers on the scale, but it is Not The Case.  I've been having trouble sleeping because I'm getting hungry at night-- either not getting to sleep until I have a snack, or waking up uncomfortably hungry. Since I am not prepared to sacrifice my sleep or go hungry during the day, I guess I'm going to have to be happy about the 6 pounds I lost and not expect too much more.

 I guess the deal is that I have one of those bodies-- big shocker, really. You know, where people assume you're hitting the pastries because you're big, when you really eat less than 2000 calories. I suppose between perimenopause and thyroid issues and a long history of weight struggles including anorexia and borderline obesity, I should not be shocked that I find it difficult to lose weight. I should be grateful I am not somebody who maintains 400 pounds on 2,000 calories a day.

So the decision is, I'm going to keep eating this way because I feel good on it (except for the hungry at night problem). I no longer have biliary pain, I enjoy my food more, find meal planning way less stressful, and I don't get uncomfortably full-- those things are all well worth having.

So I'll be making friends with this body morphology. Isn't my husband's soap dispenser cool? I dragged him to Home Goods where he kindly put up with my debating all the options.  It was like something out of an SNL skit.
I am also going to work on getting kick-ass fit :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Two Articles

Worth checking out this article from the New York Times.

I was fascinated by this research from Robert Lustig, the pediatric endocrinologist:  short sugar study.

The former has some enlightening points to make about dieting as a road to weight control.  The author mentions a Finnish study where former Olympians in weight-conscious sports like wrestling were three times as likely to be obese later in life as peers from sports where dieting to make weight is not an issue.

The Lustig study was only nine days long, but they were able to show rather dramatic improvements in metabolic markers just by substituting starch for sugar.  Keeping calories and weight stable-- the kids had drops in cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar in nine days.  Lustig believes added sugars are particularly villanous, unlike David Ludwig (different pediatric endocrinologist, different hospital) who thinks that starches are equally bad as they are similarly broken down in the body. That is the line as nurses we have been giving diabetic patients-- carbs are carbs and it doesn't matter where they come from. But I think I'm more in the Lustig camp than David Ludwig's. (Couldn't these guys have settled on aliases or superhero names or something? Way too similar.)

Worked out with weights timidly this morning. Haven't done that in ages. I am super hungry today, not a coincidence, I'm sure ;)  S'ok-- I'll go eat some starch :)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

You're In Luck

Somewhere I have a wordy argumentative post started, but it's too much work to find on Google Drive, so I will simply say: Hiya!

Hand relatively steady on the tiller here. Still loving my plan, though there is always room for fretting-- you can get really very overfussed with this stuff.  Since I am eating at regular times, it's easier to track in My Fitness Pal, so I know just exactly how much sugar I'm getting (79 grams!) and how my macros are embarrassing (42% fat-- um...)  When, really, I would like to remind myself that in about a month I've more or less convinced my body to eat at mealtimes and not between, I'm enjoying my food immensely, eating vegetables every day, and I feel good. I don't dread meal planning (everything is bad!) or cooking so much. I lost six pounds by the doctor's scale, without anything that can be reasonably called suffering.  A typical day looks like this:

homemade sourdough bread with butter
shake with almond milk, banana, and a little whey protein

slice of pizza with the family
rainbow salad with vinaigrette and sunflower seeds

slice of sourdough with jam and butter
3 mini Hershey bars
handful of pecans

pork chop
1/2 cup of grilled potatoes
salad with vinaigrette
2 mini Hershey bars

It adds up to somewhere between 1700 and 1900 calories most days, bearing in mind that calorie counting is notoriously hard to get right. I'm quite sure I was eating over 2,000 before, so I have good hope that I will eventually level out at some pleasantly lower and sustainable weight. It's not a nutritionist's dream. I need to trade some of my added sugars for fruit, and I suppose I could eat less bread, but homemade sourdough is delicious and filling and life-enhancing, so maybe I won't, either. The key seems to be not exceeding the 18 grams of sugar. That (and maybe drinking lots more water?) appears to be what is keeping me comfortable. And as a happily married, middle-aged mom, let me assure you: I like comfortable.

Coming up:  Wordy Argumentative Post, as soon as I find it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

I'm Back & A Couple of Brief Pseudo-Reviews

I spent the last week visiting friends in the Pacific Northwest. Gorgeous & the best cherries. Still adhering to The Plan, although "loosely adhering" would be a fairer description of some days.

This week's mini-reviews:  Secrets of the Eating Lab by Traci Mann.

Spoiler: do not read this book if you are hoping to lose a great deal of weight without surgery. Dr Mann does not believe it can be done and you may just disappear in a poof of unbelief.

I did like this book. It's funny and readable in pointing out some inconvenient but important research. We all have a bias of some sort or another, and Dr Mann's bias is that losing significant weight is very, very difficult, and she certainly has the studies to back it up.  Our current system is very invested in the idea that obesity can be fixed if we just do good things, but the data on dieting is not really very supportive of this received wisdom.  Her review of the evidence suggests that weight is something like 70% hereditable, just under height which is 80% hereditable.  It would certainly be a game-changer if we decided as a culture that there's not much you can do about being overfat (although, perhaps, not changing the game in the direction we want.)

Dr Mann isn't totally hopeless. She believes you can use strategies (she proposes several from her University of Minnesota lab) to move towards the bottom of your "natural" weight range-- for an average tubby person, maybe fifteen pounds down.  She doesn't think weight cycling is healthy (stating that 87% of studies show negative effects of weight cycling) and suggests that maintaining a stable level of obesity with otherwise healthy habits may be healthier than losing weight you can't keep off.   She is way pro on exercise but not as a means to weight loss.

I liked the book. I don't think it quite accounts for the dramatic population-level changes in BMI that we've been seeing. I am pretty convinced that irregular mealtimes, 24-7 availability of hyperpalatable, high-calorie food that requires no work to prepare or eat, sweet drinks every day (regular or diet), and, ironically, too little value placed on the rituals of eating nice food, have all been very hard on American waistlines.   I think that culture might have more influence on body weight that she seems to acknowledge, although she does uncover support for the "hang out with healthy eaters" theory of weight control. So what's my take home from the book?

  • Try not to be miserable about your weight.  Really.
  • Cover up food you don't want to eat. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Hang out with healthy eaters.
  • Exercise. It's good for you.
  • Think of the food you're trying to avoid as something nonfood-- the marshmallow as a fluffy cloud (would that work? Hmm.)

I've covered the can-it-be-fixed aspect of overweight on this blog before.  Reading the research is fascinating, but it kind of leaves us close to where we started:

Obvious it can be fixed:
Obviously it is very difficult (80% of the other weight-loss blogs on the internet, including mine).

For myself, I'm still very happy with my program, even though I've only lost about four pounds since I started at the end of last month. Adherence has been imperfect, but it has been (a) freeing and (b) great for improving the quality of my diet and also (c) my digestion. Even if I don't lose any more weight, I hope to eat more or less like this from here on out.

My other mini-review:

Gwynnie Bee, the clothing rental service.  Basically, yay Gwynnie Bee, if you are able to justify to yourself roughly $100 a month for the pleasure of borrowing clothes from a vast rotating closet.  I am treating myself to a few months' worth-- half the pleasure is seeing what's new and fine-tuning my requests to those I think will be most fabulous.  I get the service at $89 a month, with the first month free. The clothes come in size 10 and up. The website is constantly updated and easy to use. There are plenty of pictures and user reviews. The clothes are shown on size-10-and-up women, so you get a reasonable idea of what they will look like on you.  You don't have total control of what you get, but you can add any number of things to your closet (the virtual space where you list your favorites) and you can mark certain things as priority.  So far I've found they do a decent job of sending my priorities first. You don't have to clean anything unless you want to, you can keep each item as long as you want, and send it back free in the provided blue bag. If you really like something, you can click "buy" and not send it back. Some prices are good, some high.  It's a fun way to take some risks with clothes, and if you are currently transitioning sizes, it's great.

I have to do a better review of Dr Nwe's program and how I'm doing with it.  Next up:)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How do I love thee?

We had one more ER visit for a member of the older generation.  He's fine, thank God, feeling better. That's three this week, in case anyone's counting. Hoping we can get back to our regularly scheduled summer as much as possible, though it's not the summer we started out with.  The little one (taller than me) is doing better, and was even doing some stretches yesterday.  She can do the standing-foot-touching-the-ear thing which in a tall person is truly impressive.

I am still feeling terribly pleased with my new eating plan, which is mostly pros with only a few cons. I lost three or four pounds at camp (granted I walked over 10,000 steps every day). Dr Nwe says you should shoot for 7 pounds the first month.  I started this what, a week ago? So if I can lose three or four more in three weeks I will be pleased with myself.  So what do I love so much about this program?

Flexible, portable, adaptable
For life
Reduces carb cravings 
Results in less sugar
Makes you feel better physically and
Keeps you from getting to that ultra full place where you feel mad at yourself for eating too much


I end up eating less fruit because I want to save my 18 grams for jam or something.
I could see where you would start popping extra bites here and there, skimping on vegies or fudging the sugar limit.

But as they say in Lord of the Rings, today is not that day.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ugh II

Daughter number two is laid up with a bad sprain, and daughter number one just called me late last night from West Philadelphia where she is staying for an internship.  She had flank pain and wasn't sure how to get to the emergency room. Poor kid. She's on antibiotics for kidney infection and feeling better, but I am 3 hours away and not able to leave or help because I'm volunteering at camp. It's a wonderful camp and the people are beautiful, but it is very hard not to be able to leave to help either daughter or my poor stressed out husband.

I do have time, because the camp has been quiet.  I read this article which is nothing new to people who read a lot on the subject-- the research suggests exercise alone doesn't help all that much with weight loss.  My personal view is that lots of continuous movement helps quite a lot, but occasional bursts like Zumba three times a week don't accomplish much from a weight loss perspective. I'm glad to see the beauty of exercise emphasized in the article-- as in, don't give up on it just because it's not the answer to obesity. It is interesting that of my chosen weight loss reads this year (not such a shocker, since I start with a bias), none of them endorse hard exercise for weight loss.

If you're looking for an amusing tool, here's the USDA's Body Weight Planner which is linked in the article.

Have been trying to figure out my new techniques at a place where I have limited choice over what I eat. It's been a little awkward-- what do you do when hate the only entree?-- but with the help of a stash of nuts and chocolate, I've been making it work I think. When I nipped back to bring my injured girl home, I stepped on the scale and I had lost four pounds since I started less than a week ago, but my weight fluctuates a lot and I don't want to get too hung up on the numbers.  I do check regularly, because (a) it's just a number, and not a measure of my human worth and (b) I don't like bad surprises. It's like giraffes on the savannah-- you keep that lion in sight, she's not going to hurt you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


So, when last we visited our heroine, summer was going great.  Up like a rocket, down like a stick. I found out Friday I have Medical Things that have to be dealt with-- hopefully it will all be okay in the end, but testing and visits and possible surgery are in my future.  And then on Monday my beautiful, sweet 14 year old broke or badly sprained her ankle 2 weeks before her fancy ballet Summer Intensive in Seattle. So lots of crying over the last week.  Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery, etc.

I have to say I am really on board with the Fat Me Not system.  It fits me to a T and very much accords with my own views on weight control. It's super easy, and it's portable. I'm at camp right now and all I have to think about is filling my plate appropriately and drinking water with and between meals. I love that I can have my sweet treats but I don't get those urgent cravings, perhaps partly because I have been awash in misery, but I think my body is happier too.  My problems with gas and GERD are better. I enjoy my food more and think about it way less. I've lost a few pounds but I am hoping to eat this way going forward regardless, because I feel way better whether or not I lose significant weight. I do think it results in fewer calories generally.  I am not sure why this one clicked-- I think it's the way she presented the information, and key for me is the 18 grams of sugar at a time guideline.  I used to put my reluctant kids to bed with the reminder, "More fun tomorrow!" and I use that when I eat six blocks of chocolate or 1 cookie-- more fun next time.  So combined with wearing my fit bit and the relative ease in summer of getting 10K steps in, that part of my life is going well.

So if anyone is reading this and wants to try it, here are the key concepts, though I recommend you buy the Kindle book for $2:

1. Eat meals off a nine inch plate, half for produce, one quarter starch and one quarter protein.

2. Limit sugar to 18 grams at a time.

3. Drink 8 oz of water before and after meals (basically a poor man's gastric balloon)

4. Eat every 3-4 hours, 3 meals, two snacks.

Gorgeous day, I have 4500 up on my Fit Bit.  I could do work, or I could ramble around outside a little bit.  All things considered, I think I'm going for the latter.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


So it’s summer, which is incredibly awesome when you work for a school district. After a dark and bummer spring, it’s been bright and gorgeous and blowy. I’m out on the porch enjoying 81 degrees with a little wind and some puffy clouds.  This is the time of year when being me is an awesome gig-- wholesome cycles of work and relaxation, lots more physical activity comes in naturally, and there’s nothing in particular at the moment, knock wood please God, hanging over my head. I get to just exist in a space of feeding my family, working in my garden, arranging helpful activities for my loved ones, a and snuggling with my SO. So, yay.
That said, I’m still too fat. My GERD has been better but it’s still a thing. I’m on thyroid meds now-- my 24 year old was diagnosed with moderate hypothyroidism last fall, prompting me to get mine checked. My TSH was a little high with some symptoms, so I’m taking Synthroid for it. Overall I think the Synthroid is a good thing-- not losing hair constantly, more energy, don’t have the burning eyes or weird muscle aches. Getting titrated has been a thing but I’m feeling good at this point.
My weight is at the very tippy top, even though my behavior hasn’t been too out of line. I suspect peri-soon-to-be-menopause (cycles have been way off since I started Synthroid) and of course the thyroid stuff. I will be 50 in two months. How about them apples.  Something needs to be done, and I’ve been kind of hemming and hawing. Five factor/clean-eating with cheat day is certainly a viable option, but I am kinda not sure the cheat day thing is the best in the long run.  Anything highly restrictive or requiring lots of forethought is of course Right Out.  I tried the 21 Fix in the winter, got rather hungry on it, changed it to clean eating and then sort of fell off while on vacation at my dad’s. So no lasting weight improvement from that-- not the program’s fault, it just didn’t match my needs that well.  I was looking at some weight/health articles (always looking at some weight/health article) and I followed a thread for the Slimplate System, which is basically just portion controlled plates.  While the plates are too $$ for me, I bought the book on Kindle and liked it quite a lot. I have read so much on weight regulation and dieting that my skepticism is highly tuned. I am particularly annoyed by claims that sound good but do not actually hold up under what we know about weight control, or haven’t been tested.  
So two options I have explored this spring:

  1. Harley Pasternak’s Five Pounds
  2. Fat Me Not, by Myo Nwe and Sandeep Grewal

Harley’s earlier book, the Five Factor Diet, has been the only diet to get me below 185 pounds since I had a kid 24 years ago.  I kept much of it off for several years, and only in the last year or two have I returned to my high weight.  So I was anxious to hear what he had to say. His focus was on lots of gentle exercise (walking 10,000 steps daily), short, focused weight training (5 minutes of a single exercise daily), good sleep (shutting off the phone and getting the blinky red lights out your room at night), and of course clean eating.  He has moved to 2 cheat meals instead of a cheat day.  And that’s the part where I couldn’t really embrace it.  I like my jam and my chocolate and I just can’t quite get behind eating those things only twice a week.
I like Myo Nwe’s book for a number of reasons.  I like her pragmatic view of obesity: not as a personal failing, or a non-problem, but a metabolic disorder in which regulating mechanisms are not operating as they should.  The goal of management should be to get all those metabolic processes in the gut, muscles, and hormones going in the right direction.  She discusses a number of weight control studies, but the bottom line appears to be, eat less, especially less of the wrong things, and your gut biome and hormones will start pulling for you and not against you.  So how do you consistently eat less, without counting calories, which is a pain in the ass, or restricting the type of food you eat, ditto?
Well, you eat off a nine inch plate, and you portion it, and you also drink an 8 oz glass of water with meals. There’s more-- you don’t eat more than 18 grams of sugar at a time, stick to real food to maximize the calorie burning your gut has to do, avoid artificial sweeteners, eat every 3-4 hours, take your time.  But the bottom line is modest plates with normal food.  She insists it’s not difficult, and that it works.
I’m on board. Let’s see where this bus is going.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


I just came back from the most marvelous 24 hours-- it was a house party for Passover, and it was such a delight to be with my husband and daughters and beloved old friends. The cameras came out and I was taken aback, as usual (you'd think you could only be taken aback so many times?) by how big I am. I am All The Way up to the top of my range and I fill like a container-- thighs first, and then finally my face gets fat. I really dislike it when my face is fat.  Being reminded that I'm fat brings up a chorus of tired internal dialogue, like this:

1. Gosh, I'm fat.

2. It's almost impossible to lose weight, you know. I have a whole bibliography.
(More crickets)

3. OK I lost some weight before, but I gained it back.
(Rippling brook and a woodpecker)

4. Ok, so I could probably lose some weight, I would probably feel more effective and empowered, it would be good for my liver and pancreas and set a good example for my children. But I will crave sweets really bad sometimes. I'll get sore. And I'll probably gain it back.

So-- you gain it back.  Science is pretty waffly on whether this is going to hurt you in the long run. And you never go on harsh diets anyway.  So a gentle, whole-foods diet low in sugar where you lose a pound or two a week is going to hurt you physically? You sure about that?

5. Eh.

Exactly. Do we need a list of reasons?  Such as:

your liver
your pancreas
being tubby when you work a field where looking fit does actually have bearing
feeling unsexy, dismissed, or unseen

6. Ok, so that's not fair. Feeling unsexy is one thing-- being dismissed or unseen because you're fat is outrageous.

Yes, it is. What are you going to do about it?

7. No clue.

Moving on.  

8. Losing weight is quite hard, you know.

It is.  You have to use your head and make room in your life.

9. I don't have any room. 14 out of 16 waking hours are spent working in some capacity or other. It kind of sucks.

I know. I'm sorry. Summer's coming. Hang in there. You could wait till June.

10. I don't want to.

Okay then.  But you have to set up for success.  Why wing it and fail? If you're in, you have to be all in.

11. This isn't fair. I have reams of scientific articles proving how this isn't fair. Did you know that obese teens eat less than normal weight teens?

You are also not in line to inherit a private island in Maine. We're going to get hung up on fair? Wouldn't you rather just deal with it and not have liver disease and a fat face?

12. (Crickets)