Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pardon my dust

This is a semi-private blog in that I don't care who reads it, but I don't solicit followers.  That being said, if you're a follower, thanks!  But also, I'm sorry.  I decided to compile my ancient blog into this one so I added about 50 posts today and if you get notified when I make new posts, you may have been emailed repeatedly.  Ooooops!  Thanks for your understanding.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You're one workout away from something

Actually, I need to be fair and stop being so Gen-Xy about this.  It's a lovely quote that seems to have lost its creator across the interwebs:  You're one workout away from a good mood.

Hey, it's Tuesday!  Still no idea why I only ever seem to want to post on Tuesdays.  I get introspective on Tuesdays.  How weird.

So two and a half months ago I embarked on a new Whole 30, and I did NOT do it perfectly, I did cheat, and I did NOT keep starting over because, as I've stated, it screws me up psychologically.  BUT, I did finish, and I lost about ten pounds.  That was awesome.


I had the food fiesta that is traditional after finishing one of these challenges.  However, instead of it lasting a day or a weekend or a week as is my usual habit, this food fiesta has lasted a month and a half.


I had to quit fitwit.  The schedule with Kevs' job and the kids going to two different schools across town from each other (with me doing all the driving, plus working my full time job, plus being in the band, taking care of the house / garden etc.) was just too much for me.  For a little while I was bringing them with me and then Kevs would show up ten minutes later and grab them, but we didn't always meet at the same place and it just turned into a big huge stress ball.  So I quit.


I joined the gym at work and worked out there exactly three times.


On the third workout, I seriously aggravated my very injured back.  I had just started getting treatment from a chiropractor, because I am afraid of traditional medicine's approach to curing back pain.  When I went to see him the next day, he told me to lay off exercising for a couple of weeks.


At the next treatment he gave me some exercises to do every day to strengthen my back and not feel like a lump.


I did them exactly once.


I joined the Y with the family, mainly because the kids want to swim in the winter, but they also have a kick-ass gym and the kids like going to the child care area while I work out.  I figured I could go swimming there without hurting my back, and after the two weeks were pretty much over, I tried the elliptical trainer and found that it did not hurt my back.


I never went back.


Somewhere in the midst of all this (September 11), I quit smoking.  Which means instant weight gain, and yeah, good for me, etc., but it still sucks.  It also means pain hurts more and everyone irritates the hell out of me and I sleep all the time and I smell everything and almost everything smells gross.


I have gained back all but 30 pounds of what I've lost since 02/11 (when I finally got serious).  At one point, I was down to almost twice that amount lost.  I didn't gain it all back in the past six weeks, but this is just depressing.  I feel horrible, my clothes don't fit right any more, I'm in a shitty mood (which I'm told one workout will fix), and on and on and on.  My band has a gig coming up on Halloween and I'm going to look like just as much of a big fat whale as the last time we performed, which was in May of 2011.  This is so, so depressing.

So, diet is like 90% of it, I know.  But exercise is still essential, even if it only accounts for a small number of calories being burned per session.  Exercise is critical for health / mood / keeping weight off / metabolism and all that good stuff.  I don't think it has to be as critical as fitwit, but I like fitwit's style and I do think it's the biggest bang for your buck in terms of time spent.  The diet part is the part that always kills me. 

This recent Whole 30 was extremely successful, not just because I lost weight, but because for the first time ever I lost fat and gained muscle.  This happened because I think for the first time I was eating fairly strict paleo but still making the effort to eat enough calories.  I discovered coconut butter, which was a big help.  So now, out here on my own, no challenges or constraints, I need to find some way to do paleo most of the time, restrict treats to appropriate times, and eat enough to sustain muscle while losing fat.

This is the problem.  I've never been able to find a balance.  I've never been able to keep it off.


Day 15 - A Song That Describes You
OK, except for the fact that I have brown eyes and I'm a chick, this song describes me exactly.  The inner me.  Some of the time.  Special relevant lyric:  "And if I swallow anything evil, put your finger down my throat..."

Behind Blue Eyes, by The Who

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Whole New Mess

My oh my, yes oh yes...  Time for a new Whole 30 mess.

I'm on Day 3.  Day 1 was fine.  Day 2 was fine until lastnight when I ate my weight in cashews.  It is really, really amazing to me how in the midst of eating clean as a m***f***ing whistle I can still find something horrible to do.  Technically I never fell off the wagon, but jeeeeezzzz....

So, nuts are fine on the Whole 30.  If I had a handful of cashews, or maybe even two handfuls, all the skinny ladies doing this challenge would be clapping their dainty yet powerful hands with approval.  I struggle to imagine the looks on their faces watching me shovel down seven handfuls.

#5 - It is indeed possible to overeat on even very healthy foods.  I saw a loss this morning anyway, so that's good I guess.  (BTW, Whole 30 says to stay off the scale the whole time but I just can't do that.  I will gain 40 pounds somehow if I don't look at the scale for a month.  OCD / PTSD)  It's one problem I have with Whole 30 in general, though...  There's no counting calories or macronutriens or any of that, which is a lovely break, certainly.  Their thing is to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full (I believe).  My problem is that since I've lost the ability to tell when I'm full over the years due to my VERY SERIOUS  sugar addiction, I just don't freaking know what full feels like any more.  I barely know what hunger feels like, either.  I sort of know when I'm busting at the seams, but that's about it.

And WHAT IS UP  with all the skinny ladies on this challenge anyway?  I've been using their facebook group and after a few days I'm thinking, WTF?  How much further y'all tryina take this sh*t?  Here's a collage I made without any permissions from facebook of them:

OK?  Sh*t.  Irritating.

30 Day Song Challenge
Day 16 - A Song That You Used to Love But Now Hate
Hall and Oates, "Private Eyes"
Man, I loved the sh*t out of this song when I was about 8 years old.  And fat.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Baggage and The Work Pantry

When I was three years old, I was at my Grandmother's house one day and looked down at my chubby little toddler forearm. It was the first time in my life I had this singular thought that has stayed with me ever since:

“I’m fat.”

Now I’m 40 and I still think I’m fat. I still am fat.

Since about age 8, I have been “on a diet”. Here’s the part where we make harsh judgements about my mother and strongly refute the notion of being on a diet versus embracing healthy blah blah blah... But that’s not what this is about.

A little over a year ago, I started working out with fitwit regularly and adopted the paleo diet. For the first time in my life, something is working. Yes, it’s amazing, but that’s not what this is about, either. From age 8 to age 39, for a sum total of about 31 years, I was trying to achieve something and chronically failing. That’s quite an impressive track record. Those should have been the most vital, vigorous, fun years of my life. Maybe they were. But I was out of shape the whole time.

Don’t get me wrong, I had brief successes, and I had some very active times. My life was never ruined by it. I had lots of other achievements, a great social life, lots of meaningful experiences, all in the face of being fairly unhealthy. At age 39, upon adopting paleo as a way of eating, I learned that almost everything I thought I knew about food was wrong. I was born in 1972, during the height of the “war of the macronutrients,” when the grand debate between sugars vs fat was in full swing. By the time I started dieting around 1980, dietary fat had long since been declared the enemy. As it turns out, fat was declared the enemy primarily for political and economic reasons, and as it turns out, that declaration was completely wrong. Sugar is the enemy.

For 31 years I ate high-carb faux foods and as little fat as I possibly could, and I was starving, and it wasn’t sustainable, and I failed. Over and over and over again. Now I’m forty years old, and it is wonderful that I am healthier than I ever have been, and I’m excited to build on it and get healthier and in better shape and stronger and faster and more flexible than ever! But G**D***IT I wish I had known this twenty years ago.

So, I could wallow in regret, like everyone does from time to time, and I could throw away all the time and effort that was invested in my stupid health efforts for the past 31 years while I was doing everything wrong, but the reality is that failures ARE opportunities, no matter how cheesy and motivational-poster-y that makes me feel to say. I am not going to “forget everything I ever knew about diet and fitness.” Maybe it takes a special kind of stubborn to cling to old ideas so tightly, or maybe the only way to stay sane is to realize that I was actually doing something right in there amidst all the wrongness. In any case, there are some important lessons that I learned that I think stand true no matter what health and lifestyle and fitness changes one is trying to make. Almost none of these were my original thoughts, by the way, but they are all personally tried and true.

1. Fitness is not an intellectual matter. If I lost 1/100th of an ounce for every hour I spent analyzing and stressing over my weight, I would have wasted away long ago. It is not a puzzle that has to be unlocked. It is not a mystery to solve. In fact, the less you think about it, the better you get at it. You just have to do it. You have to be a robot. You need not have internal conversations about whether you should or should not exercise. You must set aside time to chop vegetables. Making habits is not about motivation, it’s not about thinking or remembering, it’s not about depression, it’s not about liking it or hating it, it’s not about shoving your mother-in-law’s face in it, and it’s not about how awkward your Dad makes you feel about your hip circumference. It’s about doing it. Brushing your teeth is not about any of those things either. It’s just about doing what you’re supposed to do. You want your car to work? You get the oil changed every so often. You want your body to work? Do what you’re supposed to do.

2. If you don’t have a glass or bottle of water within reach, panic.

3. Any kind of exercise is good exercise. Some kinds are better than others, some are more crucial than others, some are more enjoyable than others, and some are more sustainable than others. They’re all better than sitting, standing, or lying down.

Those are probably the most important ones, but there are others. “Going paleo” is a huge, massive undertaking and a radical change in lifestyle. The challenge is NOT in eating the foods. The foods are delicious, and there’s something in there for everyone, believe me. The challenge is partially in giving up the foods that are bad for you, sure. But the biggest challenge is in reconciling your current lifestyle and the paleo diet as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Let’s say you currently work until about 7 pm and then have dinner and cocktails with friends at a restaurant every weeknight. How likely are you to switch to going home at 7, preparing and cooking food for up to two hours, eating alone and then going to bed? Maybe you would try it for a week or two, but in the end it would prove too radical a change to be sustainable. You have a lifestyle you enjoy, and changing it completely will not work for you. Notice, however, that this paragraph says nothing about food. Going paleo means changing what you eat. At first, it seems that the only way to do that is to also change your lifestyle radically, but that just doesn’t have to be the case. Go out to restaurants every night after work with friends. Order steak and a salad. Get club soda with lime juice and mint. Get a glass of red wine or two every so often. Done.

Personally, as a busy working Mom, one thing that I have always relied on heavily is what I call the “Work Pantry”. The Work Pantry is a place - sometimes a drawer, sometimes a cupboard, where I have things I need to eat at work. It serves two purposes. First, it has condiments that I might need. Second, it has emergency snacks for when I get super busy or forget to pack something or when I have PMS or whatever the case may be. The Work Pantry keeps me from saying, “oh f*** it, I’m going to McDonald’s.” The Work Pantry is one of those things that has ALWAYS helped me to stay on track with my diet, no matter how misguided that diet may have been. (And a misguided diet is still better than McDonalds, IMHO.)

The Work Pantry has always had, and will probably always have:
Paper plates and bowls
Salt and pepper
Medications I may need at work (pain reliever, neosporin, cold medicine, stomach relief, etc.)

The Work Pantry used to have things like:
Granola bars
Packets of grits
Protein bars
Fat free chips
Snackwells cookies

This is my current Work Pantry:

Tea bags
Almond butter - for apple slices!
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar - to dress salads
Pepper sauce - favorite condiment since going paleo
Dried cherries
Dried papaya
Dried peaches
Vegetable juice

Now, real quick, before you say, “Oh you lying b**** those dried fruits have added sugar and that vegetable juice is a nightmare!” let me just remind you that the Work Pantry is partially about preventing yourself from making horrible decisions. It’s emergency food. You plan to eat after your 11:00 am meeting and then notice you are booked with meetings until 3 pm. Should you nibble on almonds and dried fruit and sip on vegetable juice until you can properly feed yourself? Or should you show up to your 1 pm meeting five minutes late with a Happy Meal? Which reminds me:

4. Some bad decisions are much, much better than others.

30 Day Song Challenge
Day 17:  a song that you hear often on the radio
Stealer's Wheel, "Stuck in the Middle With You"
One of my all-time favorites, with one of the best bass lines ever.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Oh hey there

Hi! I haven't blogged in almost a year! Neat!

I've been meaning to, though, for reals.

You might think that like so many others, so many times before, I just fell off the wagon and never got back on. To the contrary! I got so busy getting sexy that I never had time to blog! Seriously. I've lost somewhere between 60 and 70 pounds over the last 14 months, and I just couldn't be more pleased. I'm still doing fitwit, and still trying to eat Paleo. The Whole 30 was a massive FAIL, though, I have to admit. The reason I cannot do whole 30 is because it's too much of a mind fuck. One of the many, many rules of whole 30 is that if you slip up, you have to start over from Day 1. That's just insane. So here's what would happen: I would eat a bunch of garbage for about a week before starting Whole 30. This, in my small, crippled foodmind was necessary because of the 30 days of utter deprivation staring me in the face. So then I would get to, at best, Day 9 of 30. Inevitably something would happen and I just couldn't control myself and I would drink a beer or shove a ho-ho in my face or SOMETHING. Yes, I'm weak and pathetic, Melissa and Dallas. I've also been known to start dancing in public places and have sex before marriage. It's called joi de vivre, people. Look into it. So then, bam, I'm back on Day 1. But you know what? Day 1 is scary as a mofo. There are 29 more after that one. So instead of jumping back on the wagon, which is totally, totally necessary, I would go back to eating a bunch of garbage in preparation for Day 1. For at least 3 days, sometimes a week, and then at some point I reckon I just gave the fuck up on Whole 30. If you can do Whole 30, you totally should, and I admire you for it. I cannot. It is bad for me.

The 30 Day Song Challenge
(Well heck yeah! I can pick this back up right where I left off if I want to!)
Day 18: A Song That You Wished You Heard on the Radio

I never hear any of the songs I really love on the radio, generally speaking. Or, I hear it once on the radio, instantly fall in love with it, the CIA notices it in my iTunes account, then calls all the radio stations and tells them to destroy their copies of it. Anyway, I kinda wish I was hearing this on the radio right now.

"Casting Agents and Cowgirls" by Busdriver

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Does anybody really know what day it is?

I've lost track of where I'm supposed to be on the Whole 30, I think Day 10 maybe? But it doesn't matter because if you cheat, which I did, you're supposed to restart, which I'm not going to.

It's demoralizing, that's all. To go several days and then have to start back at Day 1 is demoralizing to me, and we can't have any of that. More specifically, I can't have any of that. I thrive off of results, accomplishments, things I can be proud of, and I don't typically respond well to punishment, guilt, beratement, etc. Who does, really? And feeling guilty or freaked out or scared about my weight problem has done about all it's ever going to do for me, believe me!

I'd be much better off, I think, focussing on the good things. Yes, I did cheat a little on Sunday night and quite a bit on Saturday night! The good thing is that I stayed on whole 30 the whole rest of the week. The other good thing is that I lost a pound this week. The other good thing is that Saturday marked the commencement of the dreaded "monthly visitor," which means that I should have been bloated, horribly cranky, tearful, and shoving junk in my face ALL week last week and into this week. Instead, I did not retain any water, my cravings were vastly reduced and (while intense) quickly satisfied, and I was a little grouchy Saturday (NOTHING like I usually am at that time). I could really go on and on about the benefits of eating Paleo / Primal / Whole 30 / Whatever you wanna call it. It's wonderful.

The off-roading is the tricky part. The cheating. I read the Whole 9 blog entry about it, and it's very sensible advice. It's not exactly right for me, though. They say in one of their many articles on the subject that the only good reason, and it is a good reason, to cheat is mental health. So, what is it exactly about a cheat that I need? I need a minute to not care. I don't want to pull out a flowchart, I don't want to have the gluten-free pizza, I don't want to ask the waiter what the ingredients of the brine were. I want to not care. Just for a minute. I TOTALLY agree with what they say about not scheduling cheats, and I TOTALLY agree with what they say about having a cheat 'item' or 'meal' and don't turn it into a whole cheat 'day.' Having said that, I will say that it's a slippery slope. An item can turn into a meal that can turn into a day that can turn into a lifestyle. I know that I am fighting, seriously fighting, to find a balance here. BUT, I don't think continuing to do "12 weeks challenges" or "Whole 30" or any other little chunks of time is really going to get me to nail that balance down. I eat a Paleo diet. All the time. Except sometimes I cheat. Hopefully not too often.

30 Day Song Challenge
Day 19: A Song From Your Favorite Album
"The Beast and Dragon, Adored" by Spoon (from Gimme Fiction)

Fucking brilliant song, brilliant album. It was my favorite album as soon as it came out in 2005, during what I consider the most visceral time of my life. Good music was better during that time. This one blew me away.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Still Alive on Day 5

Here I am. Day 5 of the Whole 30. Check.

It's going fine so far, but man am I ever tired today! I guess I'm always a little tired on Friday, but I started to feel sleepy on the way home from work yesterday, and then I slept in a little this morning due to my inability to be awakened. And now I'm just beat. I need my exercise back! I'm actually kind of jonesing to go back to fitwit. And I've always done my best at my workouts there, but I have a renewed spirit to actually really work and improve my performance. God, it just helps so much. More than anything, there's a scheduled time and place that I *have* to go. This past 2 weeks I've been dedicated to try and workout a lot, intentionally giving myself some extra rest days, but if left completely to my own devices I just don't get up and go. I'm going to the kettlebell class again tonight with one of the girls from fitwit. Then if the weather holds out I'm supposed to go on a long urban hike with my bff. We'll see how the rest of the weekend pans out. Also I had a slight headache on Wednesday that could have been from sugar withdrawal. It probably was. But it wasn't too bad.

Yesterday I wore a dress to work that I couldn't fit into earlier in the season. Hooray! I love little victories. Every pound that comes off is such a little gift to me. I love each and every one of them when they go. The shirt I'm wearing at work today was from last summer and it looks too big and kind of ridiculous on and I'm just workin' it. Also this week for some reason people decided to start noticing that I've been losing weight, and I've finally stopped trying to find a problem with that. It's great! I love it! It's weird that I had to lose 30 pounds first, but shit, I'll take it.

Also, I had a very psychological accomplishment recently... Finally, somehow, I seem to have internalized the concept of a "small cheat". I'm not great at it yet, but I'm getting much better. By "small cheat", I mean that just because I have pizza for lunch doesn't mean I have to have frito pie for dinner. It's not over if I slip, in other words. I always understood this on some level before, but it's always been a really slippery slope for me. It probably still is, but I've just felt more willing to return to my Paleo diet right after a slip or cheat now than I have (with whatever kind of diet) in the past.

30 Day Song Challenge
Day 20: A Song That You Listen to When You're Angry
"5 Years" by Bjork

Man, this song says it all. And so hugely empowering.