Weighty Matters

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Different Measures of Success

After a wonderful weight loss in the first two weeks of the new plan, I’ve had a frustrating week.  I’m still carefully following the plan.  However, I not only haven’t lost weight, I’ve gained a couple of pounds.  There might be a couple of things factoring into my body’s reaction.   I did three challenging rowing workouts this week.  I wasn’t great early in the week with drinking enough water.  My digestive system has been extremely sluggish.  Even knowing all of these things and absolutely knowing that I have not deviated on the plan, it’s hard to not be disappointed.

I will give myself permission to feel frustrated and disappointed.  However, I am determined to not let it throw me off of the wagon.  We already know that I have an unhealthy obsession with the number on the scale.  I cannot afford to let that be the only, or even the main, measure of my success.  It is definitely a great time for me to reconnect with Non-Scale Victories or NSVs.

Here are some of my other successes from the past week.  I went to a business dinner last Tuesday and, on Wednesday, we ordered from a restaurant for lunch one day.  At the dinner, I bypassed the dinner roll and the white rice and only ate foods that are on my plan.  For lunch, I did not order my favorite sandwich.  Instead, I ordered a great wedge salad and supplemented it with protein I brought from home.

I really, really worked hard at each rowing class.  Not that I don’t work hard every time, but these three classes included some challenges we haven’t tried before.  On Friday, when doing sprints, I hit a personal best on power – hitting 222 watts of power on several strokes.

I’ve faced temptations — then turned my back and walked away.

Even today I went to a big luncheon fundraiser.  I declined a cocktail.  When dessert came, I ate the whipped cream and fresh berries (both on the plan), took one forkful of the cake and then stood up and placed the plate out of my reach.  Later one when took a trip to the supermarket, I cruised by all kinds of food items that I would normally buy and eat.  Instead, I stuck to my list and that was that.

Although I wish the number on the scale would go back down, I can see the overall weight loss.  I can also feel that even just 11 pounds — or 8 with the weird gain – has reduced the pressure on my right knee.  I have less pain in that joint.  That’s huge.  Last month I was so depressed by how much and how frequently my knee hurt.  To be aware of the improvement is not just a physical thing.  It’s a real mood booster.

Three weeks into working a strong food plan, and working it so well, creates such an improved attitude.  OA has a saying that nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.  Alleviating the compulsive overeating is a relief.  I feel better about my plan, my progress and, yes, about myself.  This, my friends, is a NSV beyond measure!

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In the Middle Seat

I almost titled this post “To Boldly Go Where I’ve Never Gone Before”.  Well, at least where I haven’t gone very often and not in a long, long, lonnnnggggg time.

Last Thursday, I left on a business trip to California for a conference.  On the way home, for some reason the travel agent had not been able to select a seat for me even though I was confirmed on the flight.  I tried several times to select a seat before the day of the flight and each time the system refused.

This caused no small amount of anxiety all because I stressed on the great what if.  What if the only seats available weren’t aisle or window seats?  What if, (insert choked, fretful, gasp) the only seat available was In. The. Middle??  (Cue the doomsday organ chords.)

I was the first person in line at the gate when the attendant arrived to assign seats.  It didn’t help the anxiety when she announced on the microphone that they “might” have an oversold situation and were looking for three volunteers willing to give up their seats for a free flight and other perks.  Actually, the thought of not getting on the flight at all suddenly struck me as ever so much more worrisome since I would then miss the connecting flight, subsequently miss the shuttle van home, and be stuck in Miami for Lord knows how long.

However, even though I was reassured when she confirmed me for a seat, I couldn’t stop the queasy dread when I saw that the situation I so feared had come true.

I was seated in the middle of a row.

All of the dread was a throwback to my days of Super Obesity when I could barely fit in any airline seat but could at least manage to just barely squeeze myself in between the arm rests and use a seat belt extender to buckle up.  Even one one end or the other, I made sure to lean as far as I could away from the person in the middle so that I wouldn’t crowd them more than absolutely necessary.  I always hated it when I’d see the expression on their faces when they realized that they were stuck sitting next to the really heavy woman.  Needless to say, I always avoided middle seats – for my own sake as well as any other travelers.

I’m truly surprised that no flight attendant ever flagged me and said that I’d have to buy a second seat to accommodate my bulk.

Anyway, even though I know I fit in normal seats, I couldn’t shake the sick feeling while I boarded the flight and slowly made my way to my appointed row.  I gingerly slid into the row and oh-so-carefully took my seat.

Without any problem.  I sat down in the seat and realized that not only did I fit, I had a little room to spare on either side.  The arm rests weren’t cutting into me, nor were they trying to automatically flip up, pushed there by any overly thick part of my body.

I fit.  Comfortably.  Comfortably for me and for the people seated on either side.  I was so relieved that I closed my eyes, sent up a quick gratitude prayer, and breathed out the air I’d sort of been holding along with my apprehension.  I relaxed and enjoyed a very pleasant conversation with my row companion to the right.  It felt good.  It felt, Lord help me, normal.

Another hurdle jumped.  Another NSV realized.  Booyah!


As part of my long weekend away, I went on a Whale Watching trip in Southern California.  Here are a some of the photos because, no matter what the topic, there’s always a place for cute animal pictures.



Leaping Dolphins

Humpback Flukes 1

Northern Fur Seal

SL on Buoy-1

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Putting Myself Under a Microscope

Sorry if it looked liked I dropped off the face of the Earth. I was away for a family wedding and, for some reason, it felt like I shouldn’t post publically that I was going to be away from home. I had a wonderful time seeing my aunt and cousins for a happy event. The last two times we were together were for my uncle’s memorial and then my cousin’s. This was the wedding of that cousin’s younger daughter and I was very pleased to be invited and to be able to go.

The family was equally happy to see me. It was fun for them to see me in that new blue dress, 110 pounds thinner than the last time. Not only were we able to spend time with each other at the wedding and reception, but I took today off from work so that I could stay up with them all day yesterday. Good times, for sure.

I did a lot of thinking on the flights up and back. I have some emotional crap going on. It might not be the best time for me to process it here on the blog after a long day of travel. You know how little kids can go-go-go-go-go and then suddenly run out of steam and turn into whining, crying, cranky beasts? That’s how I feel right now. Still, it’s all on my mind so I might as well spew it out.

I think I’ve been fooling myself. Even on the days that I’ve thought I was adhering to my food plan, I think I’m veering off of the mark. I haven’t been as strict and careful as I should be and I’ve ignored that I’ve allowed myself a lot of little variations here and there. Those little missteps add up in more calories and carbs. Even a healthy fruit smoothie, when made wrong, can have too many calories. A small treat that I let myself have every day ceases to be an occasional indulgence and certainly is no longer either small or a treat. It becomes like a big rock on a rail that makes the train jump the track.

Calling it for what it is, I’ve been in denial. Instead of sticking with a plan and eating pattern that would keep me losing, I’ve shifted myself enough to be in maintenance mode. I don’t binge on quantity and keep up enough activity that I don’t gain. At least that’s something.

So, I’m putting myself and my eating under a microscope and getting tough. This is not the time for a gray-area abstinence. I need some black and white reality. On the flight home, I decided to put myself on a one week plan of full liquids — which was pretty much the plan for the two weeks before I had surgery. This means protein drinks, smoothies (but not overloaded with too much fruit!), Greek yogurt, and cream soups and broths. Sugar free gelatin and popsicles. Minimum of 80 ounces of water. That’s all. I can do this and stick to my need to take in some nutrition about every three hours.

I want to be clear that this is not a crash diet to try to lose as many pounds as possible in a week. For me, doing this reestablishes my mental discipline. By strictly defining my options — full liquids — I cut out the opportunity to gray the area or blur the lines.

The plan sounds crazy restrictive, but there is ample flavor variety. I’ll have the full amount of necessary protein but keep the number of carbs low. By not eating outside of my designated “meals” at the right times, I also omit extra snacking. With the right nutritional balance, I’ll also retain my energy levels. By sticking to the plan, each day I also rebuild some mental and emotional strength. Any weight I lose will be a bonus.

I promise to check in each day and let you know how it’s going. It will be helpful for me to have the support too. Please wish me success!

Before I end the post, I want to share a couple of positive things from the weekend that I forgot to mention at the beginning. Yesterday, I dressed in a pair of new jeans – size 16W! Looked pretty darn good in them too, I’m happy to say. Today, when I took my seat on the plane and buckled up, I thought of all of the years that I had to ask the flight attendants for a seatbelt extender. This inspired me to take a photo. I buckled the belt at its biggest to show the gap between my body (in a tan shirt) and that belt. Even knowing how much weight and how many inches I’ve lost, it’s hard to fathom that I’ve gone from not being able to buckle the belt around my body to this:

Airplane seatbelt


Free Wheeling

Maybe I’m fresh in the honeymoon period with my new bike, but I couldn’t wait to go out for a ride this morning. I slept in a little, then needed to drink my morning protein shake, and then, to be fair to Nat and Pyxi, needed to get them out for a nice walk first. Once those things were accomplished, I strapped on my helmet, grabbed my phone and ID, and pedaled off. (I always take identification, just in case. I probably should also take my health insurance card, also just in case, but that seems like challenging fate or setting myself up for disaster.)

When I shared with some friends about buying a bike, one asked if I’d ridden the Old Seven Mile Bridge yet. Since I only got the bike yesterday I hadn’t yet had the chance, but the idea staying in my mind. That was today’s destination. Before you get totally wowed, no, I was not biking over seven miles of bridge. That would be the “new” Seven Mile Bridge, which was built in the early 1980s. It was built alongside the structure now known as Old Seven. Old Seven is more than 100 years old. It was built by entrepreneur/visionary/business magnate Henry Flagler. His original thought was to connect a railroad down the Keys. There’s a lot of history in that tale. Suffice it to say that the railway did not survive, but his visionary practices opened up the Florida Keys to the rest of the world. (Old Seven was a star of the movie True Lies. That whole chase scene near the movie’s end was filmed on this bridge.)

The old bridge is in a deplorable state of disrepair and everyone is in constant discussion on how to save it, what needs to be done, how many tens of millions of dollars it will cost and, above all, who is going to pay for it. I hope above all that these questions get answered and Old Seven is saved because I think it’s a Florida Keys treasure. It’s great for walking, biking, viewing sunsets and the water with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. For safety’s sake, the Dept. of Transportation closed it to vehicular traffic several years ago. We are concerned that they will close it to bikes and people soon, which will be a horrible shame.

Okay, that’s enough of the history, on to the bike ride. I live about a mile and a three quarters from Old Seven and there’s a bike/pedestrian path along the Overseas Highway. This is a good thing because people, mostly tourists, drive crazy in the Keys. I wouldn’t want to be on the actual road. I’m happy to say that already this morning, I’m a little steadier as my bike riding skills return. (Check the update note I tacked on to yesterday’s post about my close encounter with a hedge last night.) I felt more in control of my steering. That said, when I approach another cyclist moving in either direction, I’m quite happy to be the one to yield.

Once I reached the bridge, I knew I had approximately 2.2 miles to reach Pigeon Key, which is as far as one can go from this side. I haven’t done this ride in 20 years. I so enjoyed the warm stretching of my legs as I pedaled and the kiss of breeze on my skin. It was mostly overcast this morning, so I didn’t have the sun beating down on me, but it was warm and I worked up a sweat. Feeling strong and confident, I decided I’d go the distance, and go it I did!

When I reached the end, I stopped and chugged some water before turning around. That’s when the ride became more challenging. It requires significantly more effort to bike ride into the wind, which was blowing about 10 knots per hour in my face. There was a time when I would have internally whined about this, but this morning, I absolutely relished having to work harder, knowing that my body was up for the challenge. I’m pretty sure I broke out in a smile a time or two when I felt my cardio rate rise and my muscles respond!

When I made it back to the parking lot at the bridge’s beginning, I all but cried out, “Wheeeee!” as I allowed myself to coast for a dozen yards. In the grand scheme of biking, this success wasn’t exactly like finishing a segment of the Tour de France, but I was darned happy!

On the way home, I stopped at a little convenience store to pick up some milk and ran into a couple of serious cyclists. I could tell by their bikes and the way they were outfitted that they were putting in some mileage. It kind of surprised me when the man looked at me and said, “Nice bike.” “Thanks. It’s brand new,” I replied. “You picked a good one. I used to sell them,” he continued and then asked if his wife could take a picture of him posed with the bike that he could send his friends. I agreed and asked if they’d take a picture of me in return. We chatted for a few minutes and I found out that they were biking down to Key West (another 47 miles from where we were stopped) and that their journey had begun in Jacksonville! Holy wow. It takes me eight hours to drive to J’ville! I told you they were serious. I congratulated them on being so close to their destination and then sort of laughed. “It isn’t much in comparison, but this weekend is the first I’ve ridden a bike in about 20 years,” I told them and then explained about my weight loss and how getting a bike is another step in reclaiming my physical health and fitness.

The guy then said something really terrific. “Just keep riding and you’ll get there. You don’t have to go fast, you just have to keep pedaling.” I love hearing that. I don’t have to do this fast, I just have to keep doing it. That’s my new bike riding mantra.

Here’s the picture that the couple snapped of me. The shirt’s about two sizes too big, but loose and comfy felt good on the ride.



Pain Free Mammogram!

I have a couple of NSVs today. First the one of lesser significance. It’s the first full week of the regular football season. As I write this, my Philadelphia Eagles are battling the Washington Redskins. I’m wearing an Eagles T-shirt that I bought for game days a few years ago. When I got it, I ordered a 3X so that it would fit comfortably. It still fits comfortably, but as a nightshirt rather than a regular T-shirt. Seriously, the shoulder seams hit me at the middle of my upper arms and I could step outside my house wearing only the shirt and not worry about compromising my modesty and flashing the neighborhood. That’s how big the shirt hangs on me now.

I kept it instead of getting rid of it in my clothing purges. It comes in handy as extra sleepwear some nights and can also serve as a bathing suit cover up. Mostly, I just want to hang on to it until I get around to ordering a new Eagles shirt to support my team. Booyah!

The second NSV is brought to you by the letter M, for Mammogram. Given the area of my body that got screened, maybe the topic should be brought to you by the letters DD.

I’ve always been good about going for my regular mammo screenings, even though I hated going when I was my fattest. For one thing, it’s embarrassing to not be able to close the wonderful hospital gowns. What’s more, my upper arms were so big, that the tight sleeves practically cut off my circulation. Then there’s the whole challenge of placing my boobs on the machine and, positioning me correctly in other ways. My large size made the process really difficult for the technician.

Oy, the pain! Older machines called for significant boob compression to obtain acceptable images. My flesh always needed to be compressed even more so that they could get a good read in spite of the fat. Mammaries mashed between the plates, I held my breath and thought of England. Okay, I held my breath and tried not to whine, moan or whimper. It wasn’t the tech’s fault that I was so uncomfortable. I knew she felt bad and didn’t want to make her feel worse.

My friends, I am here to tell you that today was an entirely different experience. Not only am I 170 pounds lighter than I was the last time I had a mammogram (Yes, I’m a few months overdue.), but the hospital upgraded to a new, digital imagine machine! I don’t know if it was all because of my smaller body size or a combo of less flesh and better technology, but the boob compression didn’t hurt at all and it was a lot easier for me to position my arm and the rest of my body. In a much shorter amount of time, the tech was able to obtain clear, good images of my breasts, and I was able to breathe without crying.

I don’t have results yet, of course. The images must be looked at by the radiologist. Honestly, I don’t anticipate a problem. Although a first cousin on my father’s side of the family developed breast cancer in her 40s, that is the only family occurrence that any of us know of. I’m able to self-check much more reliably these days and I haven’t felt any lumps or anything else. I’m a few months overdue, but it’s not like I’ve ignored regular screenings for years. So, I’m sure in a week I’ll get the letter that informs me everything’s okay.

In the meantime, I’m so happy that the experience was so positive. It’s another check in the plus column for losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. I have my annual appointment in a few months with my primary care physician who also does my pap tests. At that appointment, I’ll be able to tell her that I am officially post-menopausal. It’s now been a year and a half since my last period. Booyah! I know that my doctor will now request that I have a bone mineral density test. She suggested I have one after I turned 50, even though I was still menstruating. I couldn’t because, unfortunately, I was beyond the weight limit for equipment for that test at any of the diagnostic centers in a 100 mile distance of home. No such problem now! Are three Booyahs in one post too many?

Next month, October, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Have you had your annual mammogram? If not, please schedule your appointment and go. If you’ve gone, please ask your friends and family members if they’ve been screened. If not, encourage them to make their appointments. Tell them from me, that today’s improved equipment doesn’t hurt, but even if it does, they still need to go. Enduring a little pain now may save their lives later.