Sunday, September 17, 2017

My Screen is Cracked

My phone dropped out of my purse at the gas station. I have a cute, not very protective case I bought at Cath Kidston in Bath,  a nice reminder of our overseas trip.  But I knew in the back of my mind it wasn't tough enough and sure 'nuff, my screen is madly crazed. And it really bothered me at first, because it meant disorder and ill luck and poor planning and poverty (I don't want to spend the $$ right now). Then I started getting used to it, as in, well, I don't have to worry about that anymore! (Mind you I could still drop it in the toilet, as happened with my last phone). And I am wondering if there is an analogy to obesity in here somewhere. It's already cracked, right?  So if I screw up, it's no worse. Those bothered, upset feelings are receding, and I'm accepting the situation.

Our natural tendency is, scientists tell us, is to revert to baseline happiness. So whether you win the lottery or lose a leg, a year later, you're about as happy as you were before. Mostly I think this is absolutely wonderful. I have found it helpful in decision making, helping me move through Optimizer's Paralysis.  I will get so used to this cracked screen I'll accept it as normal and push on.

Except I'm not really, and I'm getting the damn screen fixed as soon as we pay the IRS the money they unexpectedly demanded.  The screen is not beyond my resources to fix, and while I'm not sure it directly impacts my happiness much, it does have an effect on my quality of life.  They key thing-- not beyond my resources to fix. So, okay, my analogy is falling apart, but the point is: the initial alarm and dismay I felt when the baby weight did not come off faded a long time ago. And I'm pretty sure that a BMI of 22 is beyond what I can manage with the changes I'm willing to make. Fair enough. But am I really meeting a reasonable standard, for a middle aged woman in good health with reasonably good resources of time and energy (even if my screen is cracked)?  Can I look at each day and say, that was a decent effort? What does a decent effort look like? 

To me-- 3 meals a day of 80% whole food. Not much sugar. 1/2 hour of fairly vigorous exercise. 

Fair 'nuff.


1. Still NoS-ing.  I have a couple of mods-- I avoid snacking every day and I am not as strict with sweets, though I reserve baking for the weekends.  My N days don't look too different from my S days. I haven't been plating my meals dependably. Two things that might prove to be part of a Reasonable Effort.
2. My A1C was only 5.5, which is normal, woo-hoo. I credit No S and what I believe is the improvement in insulin regulation.
3. I didn't train really for the half. My husband decided not to do it which is probably wise, as he would have crippled himself finishing. I walked ten miles and got one of the nice young men to drive me back to the finish line in a cart.  Could barely lift my left leg for 24 hours but no permanent after effects. Many of the finishers had BMIs higher than mine. Inspiring.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Interesting Bits

First, a research study.  I eat 'em up.  Whether or not it's a good study, I leave to the editors of the Lancet, although I believe they once published a discussion on whether the touch of a menstruating woman could turn a ham rancid, although that was back in like 1893.

In more modern news, this study takes us a little further along the hey-wait-a-minute road regarding fat intake and saturated fat intake in general, and it has some interested observations about diet in general in terms of longevity. This is a global study which followed 135,000 people over 7 years. Bearing in mind that diet studies are notoriously hard to conduct, it does reach some interesting conclusions:

* Optimal longevity was seen with a diet that was about 35% fat, 55% carbohydrate and (presumably, unless the Lancet has their own version of math) 10% protein.

*When carbohydrate edged above 60%, that was not so good.

*No mention of protein percentages specifically in what I read, but we know how to add. 10% tallies with other stuff I've seen which found that a relatively lowish percentage of protein was best for preventing certain kinds of disease, that correlation mostly evaporating when it was vegetable versus animal sourced protein.

*Get this:  higher saturated fat was associated with lower risk of stroke. Oi.

*Lumping fruit, veggies, and legumes together, eating more than 3-4 servings a day was not associated with much increased benefit. Huh.

*Of those, fruit was associated with the most benefit. YAY.

*Raw veggies better than cooked.

So, all very fascinating, and also reassuring for those who like to think our bodies kinda want what they kinda should have, so long as they have not been confused by excessive snacking, desserts, and processed foods. The authors point out that the lower need for freggies is good news for countries where food in general and especially fresh food is expensive.

So in a spate of ADD hyperfocus, and also I'm back to working part time this year, I resurrected my nutrition app and put my meals in, fiddling with the macros. My breakfast basically fit the profile:  1/2 cup oats, a chopped apple, 1 T each walnuts and raisins, and 2 t each raw sugar and butter. It was delicious but a little too filling, erg.

In other news, I have been NoS-ing since last March. I am really pleased with not feeling too hungry or thinking much about food between meals, which I believe to be a victory of insulin regulation, but I'm still eating too much at meals to lose weight. I counted yesterday, was over 2000 calories, and was down a bit on the scale this morning (because let's face it, 2000 was a little less than I've BEEN eating). So I'm going to track meals for a few days to get a sense of things. Will report here dutifully for follow up.

Read Minihabits for Weight Loss, which was recommended elsewhere, and have acquired 1 successful mini habit, which is one (count 'em, ONE) sun salutation per day, but I do do a 30 second plank, so that's worth something, right? Right!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Review: Aqua Zumba!!

First off, Aqua Zumba is 55 minutes of being ten years old and bouncing around the pool with happy music playing. What's not to like? All my natural buoy function makes it easy, but I'm cool with that. I don't think it did much aerobically-- my heart rate got to maybe 110.  And I'm not sure I burned that many calories because, you know, natural flotation gear. But it felt lovely on the joints and lower back and it was just plain entertaining. I felt very sorry for the instructor up top demonstrating everything without the benefit of water, but she seemed to be perfectly cheerful about it. I was called "miss" (I'm 51 next month) so that gives you an idea of the median age for water exercise. But it's all good.

In weight news, I am 5 pounds down because of two weeks sightseeing in Scotland plus stomach flu. I can warmly recommend the former. DH and I got talked into walking a half marathon in the fall with friends. I was freaking out about the race cut off time (4 hours) when my friend reminded me:  "You don't even have to show up on race day. You're doing this for the training, not the race, remember?" So I'll try not to panic about some kindly Amish person worrying about me as they reopen the road and I start getting passed by buggies. We are hoping to get in a training walk every weekend with shorter walks during the week. We did four miles last weekend at an 18 minutish pace.  Will report in how it goes this weekend. Not working (summer!) has certainly been amazingly helpful in getting exercise in. I'm sure my husband could peel out without me, as he is much taller and a practiced walker, but he is too good-natured to leave me in the dust.

And now I'm going to take a minute to argue with my last post.  Not that I am taking back my harsh opinion of the marriage manual which dismayed me so much-- uh, uh, no way, you pretty much suck, dude-- but I am going to argue with my premise that weight loss is sort of impossible. That's been the dialectic of this blog-- can it be done or not? (me as Exhibit A)--  but I think there's enough evidence to say it's sort of changeable, if you accept that you're dealing with some pretty powerful forces, biological and cultural, and that compassion is always indicated.

The reason I'm taking the time to argue with myself is that a dear friend who has gained quite a bit of weight recently was asking if I have heard of the Health at Any Size movement. Which I have, and I agree with much of it (fitness first, avoiding weight as a moral issue, being wary of restrictive diets). But I admit to feeling worried that my friend has decided that weight loss is not worth pursuing, perhaps even that as a goal, it is tainted with sexism. I don't know that that's true, but weight is such a minefield subject (my friend is young and pretty, so it's all the more loaded), I didn't feel I could talk about it except in very general terms.

I worry about the next generation, about their being burdened with flesh that is heavy to carry physically and otherwise.  A proponent of Health at Any Size might argue that the flesh is not really the burden, it's the cultural disapproval that hurts.  To that I'd answer, no, seriously, forty extra pounds is a drag.  You can cut that problem in half if you take out the moral judgment-- I'm all for it-- but it's still a drag. I worry that we'll get to a place culturally where even moderate measures like avoiding junk food or snacks and seconds will be seen as oppressive and moralistic. And yet I think people get so allergic because they are harder on themselves than any but the most hate-filled critics.

Curious what other people are finding as they try to mentor the next generation. What messages about weight or health do you feel comfortable sending out?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Another Snit Post

Or maybe just a sad post.

School's let out, so I have been an amazing blur of fitness activities. Daily exercise of either trail hikes or Jazzercise.  The sun's been shining and I feel good!  Until I read a self help book!  Now I feel terrible!

It was a self-help book about Marriage. As someone with a Marriage I value highly, I thought I would read it and see if I could garner some helpful thoughts. I deleted the Kindle Unlimited feeling more or less devastated.

It's written by a Christian Pastor, which is sometimes a bit of a yellow light for me. I am a church-going leftie Christian myself, but there are some forms of Christianity which make me really batty so I exercised caution going forward. He seemed to be older (my age? older?) and frankly admitted to a marriage failure which was very painful for him. (Where all this fits into a fitness blog which become clear, hang in there).  He cited an oddly high statistic for infidelity, 70ish percent for women and men, which is higher than you normally see in general and quite a bit higher than you usually see for women, making me think, Ah, he cheated.  Well, it happens. He felt this failure gave him unique insight and maybe it does. He has the Perfect Romantic Marriage with his second wife whom he met on Eharmony, so he thinks his scientific method really works.

So what's the scientific method?  Beyond the familiar and perfectly valid Love Tank business-- (1) women should put out whether they feel like it or not and (2) they DEFINITELY shouldn't change physically from initial factory condition. Don't cut your hair, change how you smell (?) and DEFINITELY don't gain weight. Because Men Are Visual.

There's other bits-- women are the emotional gatekeepers of marriage. Men are simple beings, etc etc. He writes that his first wife asked for the divorce-- he does not explicitly reveal why, but it's pretty clear he cheated on her after she wouldn't sleep with him. Based on textual emphasis, we can guess she Changed (gaining weight seems statistically the most likely), he lost attraction, she felt hurt and closed down the marital bed, he went elsewhere, she booted him, and he experienced quite a lot of pain from the divorce.

It's easy to get annoyed by all this but mostly I'm struck by how sad it is. Because it's a different story depending on what you think about weight change.  If you believe that it is mostly voluntary and preventable, then motivation like keeping a loving marriage should be enough to overcome just about anything.  If a partner gains weight, they are being lazy or careless enough to jeopardize their partner's feelings of affection and their children's security-- that's huge.

If you believe that weight gain is mostly involuntary, it's an even sadder story.  Because the marriage has broken down over something that's no more preventable than a car accident or an illness.

And that's why our cultural narrative matters so much.  There's a lot of data about weight and health out there. There's not very much to show that weight gain is reversible.  People can and do alter their weights, sometimes permanently, but the statistics are not favorable. Prevention of weight gain may be a different story, but it's hard to study.  Last I checked, weight is thought to be about 80% hereditable. It may well be that this was the necessary evolution of this man's marriage-- a slim, physically affectionate wife was super important to him, and in the end that's what he got, although he had to change horses mid-stream.  Probably better than perpetually wanting something from his wife that she was just not able to give him.

I could take from this story that this guy is not a very admirable person for insisting that women must avoid weight gain if they want to stay married.*  I could take pains not to marry someone like that. (Whew!) The melancholy nugget I prefer to salvage from this particular shipwreck is accepting that this marriage, and ones like it, broke down for something that was probably outside anyone's control.  I will go out on a limb and say that I don't think castigating the male partner for sexism or faulty taste is helpful-- attraction is a fickle beast, and not necessarily something you can voluntarily change any more than weight.  But the burden of the persistent cultural message-- that you can fix it if you just try hard enough, that if you haven't fixed it, you're lazy or you don't really care-- is something we can try to change.

Anyway-- I feel a little better now. Off to take a walk on the trail with my husband, whom I will try very hard not to be giving the side-eye since he has vigorously protested being tarred with this particular brush, LOL.

*My FIL who was a colorful character cheated on his first wife after she got fat having kids. (HIS kids, I  must point out.) He told his second wife, my MIL, upfront that he would divorce her if she gained weight. She was on board with that, having quite a lot disdain for fat people herself. She did not gain weight, but she did get old and critical, he cheated on her, and she divorced him.  After which she quit smoking and gained 30 pounds. My FIL never did quit smoking, but he lived to a sere 85 doing things his way. If there's a moral there.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


So I seem to be in the same place as last summer--- I have my fabulous new program of moderation that is not, sadly, resulting in any particular weight lost from my personal body. I'm a few pounds down, I definitely like this way of eating.  My sugar consumption is down and vegetables are up. Meals are more satisfying and more social. I don't get caught chewing. But I'm not cutting enough, or exercising enough, to move the needle much. I've lost a handful of pounds (maybe five?) in the two months. But the sacrifice is so mild it feels kind of good, except when I can't sleep because I'm hungry and when that happens I'm having a damn snack, ok? So I'm going to hang with it. I'm hoping in the summer I can get more movement in and that might buy me a few more pounds or at least shift my body composition so my face is not so plump.

That's the state of the union. Sorry I don't have a tale of triumph or at least some interesting face-plant to tell you about. Next time.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Can I Share My Testimony?

So I am in the evangelist stage of my Thing. My adult son and daughter have been very good natured about it. My son even said he'd do NoS with me. My son is a young adult "flatting" with friends (actually they share a house, but I love that term. Check out the New Zealand vampire flick "What We Do In The Shadows" if you want a rather gross giggle.)  So there's not a lot of regularity to his meal structure. I am feeling rather preachy about the value of fasting between meals, if you can dignify a five hour span with that term. It's reaaaally hard initially if you're not used to it, but once your body gets the memo and stops pumping out insulin 18 hours a day (I am picturing these overworked drones manning the beta cells), it gets so. much. easier.  DH is onboard (he always quietly does whatever health measure I'm attempting, without much vocalization or apparent difficulty.  At least until it came to quitting diet soda. That he has found quite tough.)

It's not that NoS is easy, necessarily, but it's the easiest method I've found that's effective. The weekends are a little easier to manage because they feel like a relaxing of boundaries rather than a snatch and grab. Though there is some snatch and grab going on when there's stress, to be sure.  I enjoy the gentle practice of self-care-- this little piece of discipline that makes me feel somehow, I dunno, more complete as a person. There's less GERD and flatulance (the beloved power couple!) and more gustatory and social enjoyment at meals.  My weight trend is down instead of up (yay) so even if it's quite slow, I'm okay with it.

Note to self-- some foods I want to eat daily or close to it:

dates, figs, prunes in moderation
whole grains/rye
whole grain cereal
broccoli (thank you, Rainbow Salad)

A commenter nudged me about my exercise. Which is a Thing. I do a few Sun Salutations here and there and work in the garden, but it's definitely waaaay lacking. My life is pretty filled with work and second shift, and I'm not good about making room for it.  I noticed a local Jazzercise class I'd like to try.  (How not-hard-core can you get?) But it's better to start somewhere. So next time I check in  I hope to have more to report.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Not Iron Fist

PSA. It's just silly. The guys are watching-- they enjoy making fun of it.  I hear Luke Cage is much better.

Taking a moment to be grateful for my awesome husband. I had a very pleasant food day, three agreeable meals and a hot cocoa at four. I've lost a little weight, my blood sugars are better, and I'm feeling quite comfortable and peaceful around food.  And I'm realizing partly why I can do this is that I don't get any pressure at home. My husband has never been anything been positive about me, never commented on what I do or don't eat except to occasionally worry that I have not had enough-- he knows I take the family's health and my own seriously, and that I try to keep that in mind when I'm feeding us.  I can't imagine what it would be like to be married to somebody who commented on what I was eating, insisted on stocking junk food, whatever.

Need to step up exercise. I have been getting up early some days for a bit of exercise in the morning, but have not been consistent-- poor sleep, etc throw me off easily. I need to do real exercise at least a few times a week, gotta get that figured out.

FBS 96 this morning.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

But It's So Boring

Still liking No S very much-- progress being made generally I think, though only a couple of pounds in the weight department. But it's so simple, it leaves very little to talk about. Time for a bullet list:

* In case you didn't get it the first 27 times: No sweets, no snacks, no seconds, except on Sssssaturday, Ssssunday and Sssspecial Days, or if you are that snake from Sesame Street.

*Think I convinced my pancreas it's okay. Not thinking about food much between meals for the most part which is lovely.

*Meal planning is less onerous, because meals have assumed more importance-- I'm hungry and I want something yummy.

*Next step is easing back on portions.

*Need to move more, always.

*Thanks to Oregon Cottage, I discovered the use of magnesium supplements for my chronic problem not to be named*.  Life changing. Seriously.

*I know I am yelling down a well, but if you're reading this, I hope you're having a good spring.

*Kinky Boots on Broadway was great. We had lunch at the Starlight Diner. My daughter said, "This is the best meal of my life and the food isn't even that good!"


Friday, March 10, 2017

Careful, Tantor*

This marks one week, and I am thinking I am ready for a tweak, which is to do something about my portions at dinner. Which are large. Because I have often been eating after a less than ideal 7 hour fast. Though I am proud of myself for fasting for 7 hours-- I didn't even know I could.  The other tweak is to try not to eat at 7, because that is a looong time from a 12:15 lunch. In all I think I am doing surprisingly well not snacking, not even particularly tempted yet (resolve is strong so far).

The biggest threat I foresee is getting discouraged because I'm not losing weight, resolving I have to be stricter, and getting strict in ways that feel punitive and unsustainable. So it could go that way.  

Or, I could find that the inconvenience of not snacking or eating candy and desserts during the week is insignificant compared to the inconvenience of being insulin resistant and frequently hungry (or whatever you choose to call it when your stomach is full but your cells are crying out for glucose). I could keep it up and slowly but steadily drop some of my extra pounds.

Nothing exciting happening on the scale but I was not expecting too much yet. If I can drop a couple of pounds this months I will be happy. Ok, three pounds. Three pounds I will be happy. Four pounds I would be happier :)

*So if you've read Jonathan Haidt's Happiness Hypothesis, you know about the elephant and the rider. I picture mine listening attentively while I tell it, "And now, Tantor, I'd like you to weave between the flowerbeds.  Ok?"

Thursday, March 9, 2017

First Week

I started NoS Thursday afternoon at a deli in Baltimore :)  I am pleased with it/myself so far.  To recap

No sweets
No snacks
No seconds

except on days that begin with S (Saturday, Sunday, Special Days).

Because I am insulin resistant and Large, with imperfect control of my schedule, no snacks scared me. And to be sure, the first few days were hard.  I could feel myself languishing a few hours before a meal.  So I've been less concerned with how big my plates are or whether something qualifies as seconds, and more on eating enough to get through to the next meal. I figure I can always trim the size of my meals once I've got that down. I've also used juice or coffee with cream and sugar to get through. Essentially I'm trying to train my pancreas. Is there an app for that?

As far as the weekends, the plan is to stick pretty much with three meals (pancreas).  The no-sweets during the week thing has not been too bad since there's always fruit.  Last weekend I made some yummy baked things and had them with meals.  I have not generally been what I think of as a binge eater and I don't want to start-- I don't even want to read too much about disordered eating, since it is not a place I want to spend time.  I've seen my dad's lifelong struggle with what I feel is disordered eating and a legalistic relationship with food, and it just makes me sad.  Don't want to live there. And it's very hard, because there is pervasive subtle and not so subtle shaming around obesity.

To strengthen the framework of my resolve:

Snacking an independent cause of fatty liver and belly fat

Two large meals are better than 6 small ones in controlling blood sugar and weight

Dramatic evidence you might want to eat a big brekkie

So what is the nicest thing about NoS so far? The shift from feeling that all food has to be "clean." (There's something Freudian about that, don't you think?) I do mostly eat things with reasonable nutritional value but I do love getting away from the Manichean notion of Good vs Evil.  I mean, I believe in evil and good, but I prefer not to apply those concepts to food.

I may not lose significant weight until my pancreas is trained/I'm able to trim my meals, especially dinner, a bit. But that's okay.  Right, future Larkspur? Right!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


So yesterday was a little weird-- it was very hard to wait for dinner from about 3:30 on, but I did it with help of some juice and seltzer.  I am pretty sure my body released a load of insulin at around 3:30 to cope with my usual after school snack, and when that didn't materialize, my blood sugar went splat. I actually tested it with my dad's glucometer--85 which is fairly splat for a random glucose on a prediabetic person. So my insulin is working, yay for that.  Made it through till dinner, and then again around 8:30 or 9 felt distinctly uncomfortable & antsy. Had hot milk with some hot chocolate mix and felt good after that, able to sleep. I'm just used to steady doses of carbs and my body is having to accept being fed three times a day.  Also I was very thirsty and peeing all day. Strange.

Things I like:

-- not grazing all morning and feeling like a heifer in a field caught chewing her cud (hopefully a large-eyed, mild, adorable heifer, ok?)
--having to think about food only at meal times, although some thought and effort has to go into making those mealtimes filling and nice
-- not getting gnashed between the gears of "everything is bad."

*Just Keep Swimming

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


So I'm following the No S Diet, and I am encountering the following Challenge Points:

1. Is coffee with cream and sugar really ok?
2. Eating a lot of sometimes not great food at meals. The "eating a lot" part has to do with making it to the next meal. The "not great" part, well, I am specifically thinking of last night which was Five Guys. I went from noon to 7 without eating which is practically a lifetime record for me and I was definitely in a "what sounds attractive and is not too much work or time?" space.
3. Weight was rather dreadful today but I will put that down to salt (see earlier) and weight training yesterday-- pleasantly a bit sore today. The progenitor of No S recommends you don't weigh often, but I think I will weigh daily or almost daily because I don't (usually) let it freak me out and I find it a a helpful nudge to behavior.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

"HEY! Don't open that! It's an alien planet! Is there air? You don't know!"

So I was having my follow up for my Medical Thing, which appears to be ok for now kenahora, and there was a scale involved, and my doctor let me know that I gained 9 pounds since last fall. This is not a shock because I do get on the scale. In some ways it was a relief to have someone come out and say it. I have had periods of being hungrier than usual-- I've done plenty of navel gazing on the subject, and I know what my normal hungry is-- as if my body viewed gaining weight as an important strategic objective. So, objective achieved.

(Let me just say about my doctor that he is an extremely sharp and lovely person. I didn't feel shamed, just, "Hm, what does this mean?")

My motivation to Do Something just went up.  I have been uneasy in other ways-- the pants that always needed a pin to stay up don't need a pin, I am finding candy wrappers in my car (yes, I know I put them there).  I am feeling some shame and frustration which are two emotions I try to limit as much as possible. I’ve been getting up early a few days a week to exercise, and occasionally fitting in a short but grueling steep hike, but more is needed.

My chosen method to Do Something, as detailed in exhaustive reasons contained in the previous 40,000 pages of this blog, would be

1. dead simple
2. gently limiting while still allowing the occasional slice of homemade apple pie with all butter crust
3. not weird, rigid, or time consuming

The problem with these gently limiting techniques is that weight loss is slow, and if you loosen your grip or slip up, you don't lose at all. (See August 2016). I know I was telling myself, Well, I can just eat what I want whenever if I'm not going to lose any weight. If you're a set point theory person there is some truth in that, but apparently my body no longer subscribes to set point theory, so we're going to adopt a new theory, which is...

Trying to build up the suspense here...

No Sweets, No Snacks, No Seconds. (Yes, it's a book and a website:)  The author, Reinhard Engels, is a really entertaining writer and he makes a lot of sense to me. I don't think he has delved fully into the dark waters of insulin resistance and regulation (which would probably do more to support than undermine this system), but I can obsess over that on my own.

A similar system is Eat Like a Normal Person which I ran into on Pinterest.

None of this is new. The nutritionist Jane Brody used a similar method to lose 35 pounds back when oxygen was forming. I have tried it myself at times-- used it successfully in college to get down to 129 1/2 and was definitely All That for a while there. French people eat this way, or they did in 1984 when I spent six weeks there,

I worry about a couple of things-- the difficulty of making it through from breakfast until lunch, and the difficulty of not eating when I get home from work at 3.  Eating enough at meals and hopefully training my body to release insulin at certain times and not others (if it will agree to be trained) will help. I worry that I may not lose weight on it and will get discouraged and quit.  But one small advantage to being Quite Fat is that I suspect I have a good shot of losing at least some weight by cutting out snacks.

So here we go.  I started yesterday at lunch.  I thought it would be murder to get through until dinner but it was really okay. Likewise this morning. I have exciting leftover chicken marsala from Carraba's for lunch and I plan to make something lovely and special on the weekend which is tomorrow. So, week 1.

Note to future self: rapid weight loss not expected. Hang in there.