Thursday, May 31
I outlined a new eating plan for myself previously based on doing the exact opposite of what I did to get so fat. It's a great plan. Except that because it's more about sanity and moderation, neither area being a strong point for me obviously, I very shortly failed to be on any plan at all.
This was followed by my attempts to work out a carb-calorie-fat cycling plan based on Tom Venuto's plan. That whole percentage thing ended up so complicated to work out my menus for that I gave up. So from January to mid-May I had no plan, gained a little back, mostly water weight, and I am nearly back to where I left off. It's aggravating to have to keep "retracing" steps I already worked hard for.
Friends and I were talking the other day about how the long "stalls" people claim really should probably be considered "maintenance for awhile" in some cases. When people can't really focus/plan/cook/eat/exercise as they need to for losing weight, but they are at least not relapsing into cultural lousy eating habits, it isn't really a failure to lose weight, but a success in staying on plan and NOT gaining any. No matter how long it takes to gradually lose weight, if one is not gaining it, it could definitely be worse. I'm here to tell you... it could be worse.
With the wisdom of hindsight, I now understand that anything "sane" and "moderate" will not work for me at the moment, because if I am not "forced to pay close attention and count stuff," then I am simply not paying enough attention, period. Attention, intention, and expectation are critical to the success of anything. I'm very driven by what's in my head... I'm convinced that my weight loss is not just a matter of numbers but a matter of what I want to create in my reality.
I also admit that I have not been particularly good at following any plan at all. That I have done ok losing weight can probably be chalked up solely to the fact that I weighed so damn much to begin with.
Problems: I don't eat often enough, and don't eat enough protein, enough calories, or even enough carbs (since I usually do want to stay in a certain range) most days. This is a combination of factors. First, that most of my life I didn't eat until night, and so it's easy for me to shine on or just forget to eat until late afternoon or evening. Second, that I'm lazy and tend to fail to plan and fail to prepare, resulting in me not having food available when I am working or otherwise busy, so I end up skipping food since I haven't time to cook and don't want to eat off-plan.
I know that a lot of people who have problems eating too much, or binging, or craving carbs, probably dream of having my problem. But the reality is that I got this fat greatly thanks to the 'starvation response' to begin with. I've often tracked my food alongside someone else's who weighed like 1/4 - 1/3 what I did, and eaten the same things, same quantities, and not lost weight. That's why I get so irked when people act like if someone is morbidly obese they must just be daily ingesting 3 pounds of bon-bons so gosh, if they'd just stop that, surely all would be well. Obviously between body metabolism, food allergens, eating frequency and more, there are other considerations.
But I am determined to set a goal and a standard, and just work toward achieving that. For the remainder of my 12 week cycle (about 9 1/2 weeks), I am going to EXPERIMENT with a carb cycling ketogenic diet. Let's see how it works. My weight chart is online, I'll add in my CCKD info somewhere so if there is a correlation after a few weeks of it, between loss/gain/unchanged, maybe it will be apparent to all.
Big Daddy D started a carb cycling plan after hearing me talk about this many months ago. He posted results that he had. It is SO invaluable for lowcarbers to actually experiment with this stuff, and document the results. If we don't do this kind of experimentation, it just isn't done, or isn't known to us.
I am using a TWO WEEK CYCLE (14 days). Technically I'm beginning 6/1 tomorrow, but the start of 'week 1' on the cycling plan actually begins Monday 6/4.
My New CCKD Plan
To simplify, all Monday through Friday are 'normal'. Week 1, the weekend is lower carb than normal. Week 2, Saturday is higher carb, Sunday is lower carb. That is to jump start getting back into ketosis after the high-carb day knocks it out. And the high carb is only one day per two weeks. (It might need to be more. But I have to start my experiment somewhere.)
Normal is up to 40 carbs. That's total, not deducting any fiber or sugar alcohols. Counting ECC it comes out to closer to 20 (particular since most of my carbs come either from fibrous veggies or high-fiber ingredients like flax seed or almond meal or high-protein bake mixes).
Lower carb than usual is 15 or less carbs. That's total, not ECC. Essentially this means I eat meat, eggs, and a protein drink.
Higher carb is approximately 150 carbs. I'm going to see how this works, I may adjust it downward, but I want it to be high enough to be a major difference, and to allow some things I will never get to eat otherwise.
If the carb cycle were a graph, it would look like this for a month:
If this doesn't work, I will try something different in the next 12 week cycle. The problem is that as I lose weight, it becomes hard to tell if a difference is related to my eating plan, or weight loss slowing/the body attempting to find homeostasis, or muscle gain from starting to work out and get some cardio, etc.
I am making the following safety rules to go with my high-carb days, though.
1. Any non-LC food must be planned in advance. Whether it's dinner out or what I note below, it should be planned. That's the only way I can keep carbs and calories in the range they need to be. It's not a "hog-wild" day, it's a "deliberate big increase for a single day".
2. There should be an emphasis on things I like but don't get to eat on lowcarb but that are relatively healthy as far as nutrients and variety go, like legumes (maybe pinto or black beans), and carby veg/fruits (like corn, or fresh-squeezed citrus juice), and maybe oatmeal (which I adore).
3. I don't have any problem with lousy food on that day as long as it's small and planned in advance. If eating one single-pack slice of key lime pie every 2 weeks helps me stay totally on plan the rest of the two weeks, I'm willing to do that. As I get thinner I probably won't have as much leeway on such things but for now I think I do. As long as the numbers come out right I'm not complaining.
4. Here's the hard part: I have to eat sufficient protein on the highcarb days too. Which usually means lowcarb food and a lot of it, to get that much protein down my throat (120g). So the reality is that these days are more likely to be standard days "with several high-carb snacks" than a whole day of just eating whatever.
Life is an experiment. I have proved fabulously successful at the unintentional Getting Hugely Fat experiment. Now I want to continue my trials in the Getting Vastly Thinner experiment. If this doesn't work, I'll do something else. But I think it will. Now that I have everything -- food journal, weight tracking, exercise tracking -- publicly on googledocs for anybody to see, I guess everybody will be able to see just how successful (or not!) I might turn out to be with the new experiment. Wish me luck. ;-)
Wednesday, May 30
I did some research on starting basic free weight forms that I could do with just a couple little weights they had at walmart. Most of these can be done just standing, or with a chair, or in one case a counter to lean against.
I made a nifty spreadsheet with all the info for a bunch of good starting forms, including details on doing it and links to a visual of how-to online. Find a sample of it and info at my new blog, Tomboy Tough. It is just for my exercise stuff.
And no, for the deviant males who have asked after seeing the title and design, it is NOT a lesbian blog. Sheesh. Men! ;-) (But what if it were? So?? Heh.)
I'm starting where I am, which is pretty much at ground zero. My first day is June 1 and it involves 2 x 30 seconds on an exercise bike, and 3# weights for a few shoulder exercises. It will grow, but I insist on starting so easy that I cannot possibly complain about the burden of expecting myself to do it.
Anybody who doesn't have or isn't using their exercise plan and wants to join a "google shared spreadsheet" with me, let me know via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I figure the only way I can get off my butt to do this is if I have to 'fess up to friends.
"Exercise is not negotiable."
-- Dr. Richard Atkins
Monday, May 28
And of course, most of the drivers are homicidal morons, because that is the way it is in every town.
I used to ride my bike to work, about 8 miles, when I was about 20. I was really into biking then, just loved it. I was using my older sister's racing bike, which is almost a different creature than the bikes I'd had before. Most bicycles, you turn the pedal, and the wheel turns with the pedal, and it is your job to turn the pedals well enough to push your weight plus the bike's weight. Racing bikes, you turn the pedal once and the bike flies off into the sunset with you clinging to it like a wild horse. I never knew that biking could be so fast, smooth, easy and fun. I took to riding the bike literally everywhere. My favorite was riding late at night when there wasn't much traffic in my town, with classical music in my walkman headphones. I always felt like I was the hero and it was my movie soundtrack.
Well, my ten year old daughter really wants a new bike. She hasn't had one in a few years, since her far-too-small bike was given away. And I'd love to get her one, but it isn't exactly the safest thing. Now, we do have "neighborhood streets", that while not exactly safe, are at least "reasonable" if you are paying attention. But there is no way I am sending her out alone. She has friends who ride alone all over town, and have for a couple of years. I guess I am a more neurotic mother. I just know that I couldn't live with the outcome of that if it wasn't good.
And of course, I can't ride a bike. I'm too fat. The hilarity of me even getting ON my exercise bike would probably make a great youtube video if it wasn't horrible. (And even off again, for that matter.)
I'd sure like to ride a bike though. I would sure like to ride with her through neighborhood streets over to the park, for example. It wouldn't take much to get to the point where I could, I think. As I dimly recall, a little practice goes a long way.
The only problem is that bicycle seats are small -- it would bruise me horribly -- and bicycles just aren't strong enough to hold my weight. The balance issue is not a problem in general, but is too risky at my weight; if I actually fell off my bike, which can happen to anybody, my weight plus momentum could break bones.
Now that I'm old, I actually like the idea of the big tricycles. I actually started liking them even when younger and thinner. They seem sort of bizarrely old-fashioned, in a way only a true luddite can appreciate.
I used to see those in magazine pictures all the time, some lovely young woman riding one with the groceries in the back basket, and some perfect child following with little bike and helmet and flag. I'm sure they're heavier, which would make riding them more difficult, but of course the perfect woman in the perfect picture never looked to have any problem with it.
I had dismissed the kid's pleading for a bicycle. She is not riding alone in this town, period. And I can't ride with her. So forget it. That sucks. Especially since SHE is getting chubby and desperately needs exercise. But that's the way it is.
Today I came across this, though:
A thousand bucks. Holds up to 550 lbs. A tricycle, with fenders and baskets and oversized seat, AND a battery backup motor that'll help you through hills, or help you get home if you get too far out and are exhausted.
For half the price, a regular bicycle with the high weight rating:
I probably couldn't afford this for at least a year, as I have other things to save money for. Who knows? Maybe a year from now I could be down to 350 lbs, and even more willing to do some biking.
It's nice to know an option like that exists.
Sunday, May 27
But funny enough, even in the lowcarb world, there's a whole cornucopia of warning labels people hang out for education. And they are probably all correct. But as a friend of mine pointed out, sometimes it seems there is no end to it!
A talk came up about yummy chorizo. Which led to my pointing out it is pig lymph nodes, which are the toxin collectors of the body, and I find it too gross to eat.
So I eat Soyrizo, a substitute that is nearly indistinguishable from chorizo. But this leads to posts about the many deadly dangers of humans ingesting soy.
OK, so maybe a reader thinks, "OK then! I'll have some bacon or sausage with those eggs instead." But no, then you get to hear about all the terrible nitrites in those, or the horrible Omega-6 balance.
"Ok, ok!" our fictional lowcarber protests. "Then I'll just have a small burger patty, that's simple and quick." But wait, there'll be a whole page about how well-cooked meats are not so good for you and really we should be eating them nearly raw.
(And don't even THINK of doing serious reading about Mad Cow Syndrome or you may never eat meat again.)
"That does it!" you hear. "I'll just have a freakin protein drink already!" No babe, don'tcha know, that is PROCESSED and not really "food"?!
And this is on top of the fact that most anything that ever even thought about being a grain, mating with a grain, or residing in the same package as a grain, is probably doing damage to a huge chunk of the population through grain/gluten intolerance.
Oh yeah, and about a zillion people are sensitive to caseine, the protein in milk.
And if you make all those yummy foods you're using artificial sweetener. You just know that no matter how great sucralose (what's in splenda) seems today, in 10 years (if that) we'll be hearing about how it kills you.
But wait, there's more. Turns out there's plenty of suggestion that merely the sweet "taste" of something can cause insulin spikes by association.
For godssakes! So we have Pavlov's Pancreas, too. Great.
Recently I posted here about making processed foods in the home -- using eggs, butter, protein powder, flax seed meal, etc. etc. to create high-protein cocoa muffins, for example. I was saying, is it any worse to do that, than to have eggs fried in butter, a teaspoon of flax seeds and a protein drink? If so, why?
Here on the blog the comments were like, hey whatever keeps you on plan. On my LC journal the comments were more like, that's the wrong direction man, you should be eating real food.
But most 'real food' isn't portable in a ziplock without refrigeration for a couple of days, for instant-grab yummy munchy food that is also good numbers for my daily eating goals. And eating muffins, or mock danish as a friend of mine does (and she certainly lost weight), regularly, doesn't mean one is not also eating meat and veggies.
It might mean, though, that you stayed on-plan.
Though I guess, maybe it wasn't a very good plan. Maybe.
I think in a perfect world, we would all live on turkey, broccoli, pecans, avocados, and some fresh herbs and lots of water. (I'm ignoring the many things that could be warnings, even about those.)
But in the real world, I don't have a butler, so I live on what I had the time, money, and energy to make for myself. The easier something is to make, the longer something lasts, and the easier it is to eat the leftovers, the higher a rating it gets in my Worthy Foods Book.
I think the better people get at eating 'real food', the healthier they're likely to be. Then again, if food or time or money or frankly, energy to do something proactive is limited -- or appetite, or foods you're not sensitive to or don't dislike, are limited -- then you take what you've got.
You do the best you can with the options available to you, and hope to live another day to work toward that perfect-world dietary plan. Chances are, soy and chorizo and bacon and processed protein powder are not going to kill you done in moderation.
If eating protein donut holes or a mock danish every day for a year is your idea of a high protein breakfast, well, if it helped keep you on plan, got you enough protein, kept down your carbs, kept down your calories if necessary, and helped you get healthier, then I'd say it turned out to be a good thing, didn't it?
Who knows? Less weight and sufficient protein for the long term might mean more energy for more focus on whole roasted chickens in your future.
Wait, don't tell me. That stuff will KILL me, because . . .
Friday, May 25
Today I was reading the blog Weight of the Evidence, and she was talking about trying to successfully live, let alone lowcarb, on a pitifully small amount of money.
It got me thinking about gardens. You know, the last century's radical shift away from gardening is not just about free time. If anything people have more free time than they ever did, culturally -- they just have other priorities, of course. I suspect it's more about a trend of basically avoiding responsibility, in a way. I don't mean if you don't have a garden you're irresponsible (haha!), I mean that as a culture at large it seems like we grow more and more toward "paying someone to feed us or fix us."
Like to example the latter, my friend didn't want to do lowcarb because her doctor said it was unhealthy, so now she's on a drug to relieve acid reflux. Or another woman I met who said she had a gastric bypass not just for the weight issue but "to deal with major medical problems" like acid reflux. Holy cats on a pogo stick batman! Apparently the second one didn't know that 10 days on lowcarb (off gluten in particular) solved my major acid reflux problem instantly, bam, GONE -- and the first just didn't care. Don't bother me with facts. Don't expect me to eat well. Here's money. Give me a pill and shut up about it.
Well as much as so many folks wax on about "fresh fruits and vegetables," I'm led to think that they don't know much about the vegetables sitting in their walmart produce section. The carbs are often much higher, the nutrients vastly lower, in what you buy at the store, because those are genetic strains designed for single-point harvesting (not gradually like most plants), and to withstand shipment in a box over long distances without visible bruising or spoilage, and to taste as sweet as possible. In short, they are designed to be big sweet cardboard. Kind of like the breakfast cereal version of vegetables. Not to say they're bad!--they're not. Just to say that most the stuff in the grocery just doesn't compare to what you can grow at home.
(By the way. You can even grow mushrooms at home. We buy mushroom compost, from a local firm that sells the typical little white ones you get in the store. It's usually pretty hot (not really ready to be used IN the garden, needs some more biodegrading) but we dumped some in a bed we weren't using. Months later, we pulled out several groups of mushrooms, that were literally like 9" circumference. I'd never seen anything so gigantic. Apparently these little guys don't have a growth limit on them, they are simply harvested at that size consistently. You can get mushroom kits from most seed selling sources.)
My point is that it's close to free -- not quite but nearly so, moreso over time -- to grow your own vegetables, that are as fresh and nutritious as they can be.
If you have, anywhere on your property, a square of even occasional sunlight, even in short-day climates, of at least 2 foot by 2 foot in size (well you could do 12"x12" but that is really cutting it close! ;-)), you can grow a small garden.
I'm serious. Anybody who has not read the terrific book "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew, please do yourself a favor and read it. It is SO worth the read. It's simple, interesting, kinda humorous in spots, and lays out a garden plan that is actually fun, even for kids. You can sometimes find it in libraries or used. It shows you how you can grow the maximum yield (food) in the minimum amount of space, soil, water, and effort.
If you want to see my standing garden -- last year when it was in use! -- visit The 8-Cat Garden and browse through the maybe dozen posts there. Not much on that blog. I am not gardening this year because between getting my ex to move out, focusing on my diet, on my job, spending more time with my kid (and taking months off to eat high carb which made me feel exhausted and not inclined to plant when I should have!) I won't be gardening this year.
I might give in this weekend and throw a few seedlings for herbs and peppers and tomatoes in the ground but whether I feel like watering them during the summer heat for their survival is still up in the air I'm afraid. The new grape arbor however I'll find a way to get water too. The horrid re-re-re-freeze we had after it had already warmed up and bloomed into Spring this year, killed nearly all the vines dead it appeared, but some life is coming back near the ground on most of them and I want to help them survive.
But enough about me -- though I AM the center of the universe, if my ego is any indicator -- I was supposed to be talking about gardening.
Since the dawn of whatever time God, Aliens or Happy Chance taught man that sticking seeds or fruits in the ground would make something grow, mankind has been growing food. If you went back a century, in any country you may live in, you'd probably find a great majority of the population (outside the inner cities of course) who flat out could not have lived were it not for the serious gardening they did (and often other things, like raising chickens and goats, making butter, etc.).
Let me repeat that. People grew food because they could not afford to shop much, especially if they had lots of kids. So why does that never seem to occur to people today??
I used to do programming for my living and I don't know if it's related, but I was kinda worried about Y2K. No, I was not buying a gun and a fallout shelter in Montana. I was buying stored bulk food and medical supplies in case the apt. complex across the street, full of old women and single moms and kids, faced some bureaucratic no welfare checks today kind of problem.
I was pretty casual about it until the official meeting with the president and leaders of all major media sources resulted in a total blackout on the subject except for the occasional mocking of someone worried. Had they said, "Well it could be an issue, but we don't expect it. It's a good idea if y'all keep some water and food and TP around in case the just in time inventory system, computer driven as it and bulk product transportation and fuel often is, has any difficulties," then I would have done exactly that and not worried about it. But the mysterious silence instead -- I guess applying that "don't ask, don't tell" motto to leadership, as well as other controversial subjects -- completely freaked me out. I had a 2 year old at the time I first started thinking about it. As any mother knows, this is related, of course. The biological instinct to protect the child is overwhelming.
So I set out to educating myself. I read so much stuff via internet and via book that it was like cramming for a hard college final, but every single day for like 18 months. I know more about making a homemade brick wall from scratch, delivering babies, baking without an oven, and composting human waste, then you could ever want to know, as just a few examples.
Totally by accident, I came to realize that not only was I a city girl, but I was utterly ignorant, totally dependent, and would basically die left to my own devices. I really had no idea how ignorant I was until I really started studying everything. And one of the most astonishing, horrifying, yet interesting subjects I ended up reading a ton about was natural gardening.
Some people think that even as you read this, somewhere, some machiavellian evil overlord is conspiring to squash research for lowcarb and push carbs not just for product sales but to make the medical industry yet more money and humans yet more dependent on pharmaceutical.
Well, I don't know about that. Probably. Maybe?
But I do know that even as you read this, those sorts are conspiring and implementing every plan they can to make it so food seeds are unavailable to the public, so food is patented and licensed and seeds aren't even allowed to be kept or sold or traded, or if they are, they are designed to not work at all for a second season's growth.
I know, it sounds extreme. It is like an onion, if you study this subject, you just keep thinking it can't get any worse, and the more you learn, the more you're just completely lost for words on what a 'Grand Plan' it seems to be at some level and how well it is working thanks to the ignorance and unconcern of our population. When I started reading about seed saving and the whole situation of seeds in our world, I was stunned. Were it not for the amazing efforts of a small number of die-hard, ridiculously driven, overworked altruists over the last couple decades in particular, to found tons of seed saving organizations and share seeds and develop farms just to perpetuate and keep rare seed strains alive, and to gather seeds from all over the world -- the situation would be 100x worse today than it would have been without them.
I know most people think you just go to the store and buy a packet of seeds. Easy, right?
A few are the sort that will reproduce next year if you know how to save them properly, if you prevent cross contamination of the crop, if you store the seed well, if you have decent soil (which is generally built, not bought). Most of them aren't. Most of them will grow nifty oversized and over-sweetened (carby!) vegetables and fruits for you and if you want to grow anything next year, you'll need to go buy more seeds, or what you'll get may or may not look or taste anything like what you plan.
Now look again at how many options you have in that store. Do you realize that there are hundreds of types of peas alone? Who knew?? How many of those do you see available to you in the store? Probably one. Maybe two. How many different companies do you see on those seed packages -- and do you know if they actually share a parent company?
Most people have never given a second thought to the subject of gardening and seeds and the availability of seeds -- and seeds that will bear fruit you can collect seeds from to grow another season -- I certainly hadn't. Might be worth your time. Especially if you don't have much money.
It's a basic survival skill. It's the sort of thing we all should know a little about, just because we are human, just because we eat to survive.
And it's more fun and not as much work if you do it right. Even I at 482 lbs could garden -- you just plan it to fit what you can do. Even a small planter, near enough your door/traffic that you see it regularly so watering and care is easy and totally minor, can grow more 'stuff' than you might imagine! Yummy stuff. Green onions and a diced small roma tomato and a pinch of an herb can make a major difference in a morning's scrambled eggs.
And add a lot to your health. And save a lot for your pocketbook!
Wednesday, May 23
I just got a pic taken of me during my recent Business Trip From Hell. It's horrifying. I think I want to eat something involving chocolate and pizza and never wake up.
I feel like there is psychologically some total disconnect between the me I think I know, and the me I see
* in mirrors (which I avoid)
* and store windows (which I avoid, not too hard since my weight makes me so shy I'm not real public-sociable anyway)
* and photographs (which I loathe to a degree words can't express).
Every time I see a photo of myself, I am shocked anew. Who is that hideous creature? Holy cats, how did that person get so freakin HUGE? Oh my god, you mean that's ME? That's what OTHER people see me like?!
I have a best friend, who is a man. I love him. Ridiculously. All the weight I have lost is in great part thanks to his ongoing daily support of me, his consistent insistence that he adores me, and his encouraging me to be the best of whatever it is I want to be.
I'd like to have my womanly way with the man, the sooner the better. He is taking a vacation to hang out here for a week or two in late August or September. But it's hard for me to understand how any man can find even tolerable, let alone interesting, let alone sexy, the outer package of me that I find so unfathomably hideous.
I know they say you have to love yourself. I think I'm a decent person. I've got at least half a brain, and a good heart on better days. But I can't seem to get my head and my heart around what I look like. I hate that. I wish I could just kill that person in the picture, that horrible evil monster who took over and ruined my life.
I know. This is displaying some problem psychology. But that's how I feel right now.
Tuesday, May 22
I'm getting closer. I've removed my previous crepe recipe, which had good and bad points, in favor of this one. The current experimental version is 1.1, the v1.0 being the previous plain (vanilla with sweetener) crepe. The good part of 1.0 was that it was actually pretty decent, and with some ricotta and fruit inside and a little bit of sugarfree jam nuked and drizzled across the top, it was very yummy for breakfast. More like a crepe made of eggs, protein powder and other stuff, than a "real" crepe, but I didn't mind at all, nor did my 10 year old. The bad part was that the batter thickened so fast it was just weird.
If you want to see the whole recipe, click on the below pic for a full-size image with the nutrition counts etc. Be sure to see the "variations" at bottom.
This makes 3 crepes.
* The first one, I wanted to mix up chopped chicken, pesto, red peppers and parmesan, but only had pesto. Just that, rolled up in it, was really good.
* The second one, I separately nuked pepperoni on a paper plate till crispy, then nuked some mozzarella on top of it, and flipped its plate over onto the crepe, and rolled that mix up inside it. Yum.
* The third one, I scrambled 2 eggs and added shredded cheddar and hot sauce, and used the crepe to eat it all like a large taco. Worked fine, though you have to hold it a bit carefully (and let it cool first).
Per crepe, Equiv Carbs: 1.85 Protein: 10.05
Sunday, May 20
Now if we were talking about what the scale said in general, like for a few days running, this would make sense to me. They are working toward better health and fitness, so obviously, being able to see they lost or gained weight matters.
But every day? Twice a day? More??
The body is a great part fluid, which is pretty heavy. And the exact percentage and quantity of that fluid varies, with many factors involved. Some of these factors are well known: The fewer carbohydrates you eat, the less your body will retain water. The more sodium you ingest, the more your body will retain water. The more water you drink, the less your body will retain water. When my Monthly Mess is about to arrive, the body in its need to dilute and rinse out the womb, collects massive water in the tissues to be sure it has it available.
There are 4,982 other reasons for "fluctuation of fluidic levels in the body," of course. They are all secret. Only 3 people know them, and they would have to shoot you if they told you.
Now given this situation, and given that our food and liquid intake varies a little, the body and external temperature varies, the precise amount of exercise varies, the hormonal levels (of both men and women) vary, and with most scales, even the way you stand on it might make it vary, it seems to me the general lesson here is something like:
I understand the need for feedback. If one isn't observing results, re-evaluating strategy, and implementing change when needed, then it isn't much of a plan.
But at some point you gotta ask yourself, is my monitoring serving a purpose of correction and/or inspiration? Or is it causing me more angst in the long run, with the constant variations?
I think psychology plays a great role in weight loss and change of fitness level. Weighing is supposed to be a realistic feedback and, hopefully, at least occasional inspiration. I have seen people who are actually losing weight, consistently week by week, who literally spend at least half of their days per week stressed and worried and guilty because so often the number had gone up slightly instead of down. Well when the overall trend is good, but a good number of daily weighings make ya feel bad, then the psychology is now more harm than help. I call the scale obsession the "Faint-by-Number" plan.
I see people in the forums saying things like, I ate this and that and today I'm two pounds heavier! So I guess food X is bad for me! -- er, well you know, maybe, maybe not. Might have had more sodium. Might be an intolerance issue. Might be one of a zillion other even unrelated factors. If it was 7500 calories in the middle of the night then ok, it might have made you fatter. But otherwise, small weight fluctuations are going to happen just like mood fluctuations do: they are both about the balance of the body, which is not a static thing in one place, but a dynamic process constantly re-re-adjusting to homeostasis. I also see the opposite effect: Well I ate birthday cake last night and I'm down half a pound this morning so it's fine! Heh. Well, you know... the longer-term numbers, and whether carb cravings knock someone off plan, will tell.
I'm not saying the Faint-by-Number approach is inherently wrong; some people really need that constant feedback. I'm just saying that I observe it is demoralizing when weight loss that is not rapid is approached that way, as their comments indicate.
For those who would really like to weigh EVERY SINGLE DAY I thought this might help. You can download free here in Excel format a simple spreadsheet that will not only let you track your weight, but will give you a 3-day, 7-day and 10-day "average" of your weighings. This is an idea I got from someone else I cannot recall the name of now (sorry). It allows you to see the "trend" of the weight change, not just the daily numbers. Also there is a page that automatically gives you a little graph of your weight as well. There are only a few tiny instructions, to set the date and graph for your unique numbers, they're on the sheets and easy.
Folks who already have spreadsheets, or are tracking their weight in a free online place like fitday.com won't need this, but for those to whom spreadsheets are greek, it might be helpful. Click on the pic below to download the spreadsheet file, save it to your hard drive, and then open it in Excel. If you don't have that program, try Open Office, an awesome office product that has the equivalent of all MS's stuff, FREE, and will open Excel (as well as Word docs, Powerpoints, etc.) just fine.
Click on the pic below to download the xls file. Save it to your disk (remember where!) and open it in a spreadsheet program.
Now look at the averaged columns. Note that on the (fake) date 6/3 our (fake) person gained half a pound. But the 3 day average shows 0.1 lb lost since the last measure; the 7 day average shows .3 lbs lost since then; and the 10 day average shows 0.6 lbs lost.
So on days when you feel like freaking out because your weight is higher, consider the larger "trend." Look at how the numbers move in the averaged columns. Much less "wiggle factor" than the day to day weights. When the 3 day, 7 day, especially 10 day, averages are moving, then you really know that it's more than a variation or fluke, you're not just guessing. If the larger averages aren't growing much, relax a little. It MIGHT just be the normal variations of the body. :-)
Friday, May 18
I never knew about the ability of egg and protein to combine into a semi bread-like texture for example, since typical highcarb eating combines eggs with
I think it's important (I've said this before) that lowcarbers not name half their foods like "fake versions of highcarb stuff". So for example I don't call it mock apple pie, I call it Zucchini cobbler, and then say in a subtitle it tastes just like apple pie. As long as people are comparing lowcarb dishes to highcarb dishes, or only evaluating lowcarb foods by "how much like" highcarb foods they are, then psychologically, as well as to others, it's a "specialty diet", not just different foods. (Because then you're not really saying "I eat different foods" but rather, "I eat the same foods in a substituted form". Kinda like the plainwrap or no-name version instead of a popular brand.)
I think lowcarbers should be delighted that cauliflower can do a dish that tastes a lot like twice-baked cheese potatoes, or chicken fried rice, but I think that should have its own name that lowcarbers learn to love, not "I'm pretending to be a potato or rice." I think we should celebrate the food our eating plan has, not as a substitute for high carb food, but as its own culinary delight. Who knows? Maybe some lowcarb foods, if they are not pretending to be fakes of highcarb, but are just proud to stand on their own as what they are, might migrate into a few highcarb diets as well. Plenty of highcarbers are willing to try a cauliflower dish. But they have no reason to try a 'fake potato' dish since they can just eat potatoes.
In California where I grew up, there was this place called Kaiser's Nutrition. They had carob flavored "Hercules Flips" drinks. The first time I got one, I did it as 'fake chocolate' -- I thought it was a substitute of sorts, and I thought it was healthier. (Oh brother.) At first, I was disappointed, because really, it didn't taste a damn thing like chocolate. But then later, I realized that it tasted really, really GOOD, and I loved it! In fact, it has a unique taste unlike anything else I've ever had. As a substitute for chocolate, it was pitiful. As a new food I'd never tried, I loved it. If you see what I mean.
It made me realize that how we "frame" our perceptions about our food is important. Substitutes are always 'diet' or 'fake' foods, psychologically, not their own thing.
There are many foods -- curry, pesto, etc. -- that do not taste like anything else in the universe but what they are. They are "new" to people the first time. If they were presented as a substitute for something else, they would surely be a disgustingly poor version of whatever it was. But on their own, they're divine foods!
Over in the lowcarber.org forum, a member named Atlee posted this great recipe she called "protein powder donut holes." After about 100+ replies to the thread, most ravingly positively, I finally got around to trying them. I'd like to officially offer thanks and prayers for a long happy lowcarb life to Atlee for sharing it freely!
My versions of things are seldom exactly like the original, and then I usually number them like software and they "evolve" as I try different flavor or other variations. I can later refer to v1.7 and v2.3 as my favorites worth keeping, for example. I rename them, partly to match what I think is best descriptive, and partly because it seems unfair to represent someone else's recipe in a way that is not what they provided. (I do always provide refs and links to the source, teacher's pet that I am.)
These things (protein batter deep fried into balls) are totally reminiscent to me -- in appearance, not taste -- of "Hush Puppies" (fried balls of cornmeal batter). So I am calling them:
1 scoop protein powder (I used Designer Whey, Vanilla Praline)
1 egg (I used large)
1/2 cube (1/4 cup) butter, fully melted (I used regular salted)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used artificial as it's way lower carb)
2-3 Tbsp sweetener equivalent (I used 6-8 drops of sweetzfree)
coconut oil in a small deep saucepan, about 1" deep of it
Nuke butter to fully melt it, stir in everything else, stir well. Let sit for a few minutes. Stir again. Original creator suggested using an ice cream scoop but I only had a large table spoon. Heat oil to boiling. Drop in a spoon(s) of the batter stuff in the pan. It poofs up into balls with the heat. Flip them over, only takes several seconds till they are done. Drop on a plate with paper towels (to drain oil). The ones I cooked longer that were pretty dark brown were better. I think it made 6-8 of these (my sizing was inconsistent).
They came out with a nature and look rather like hush puppies: sorta crispy outside, dense yet light somehow (bit breadish) inside. Ry and I were amazed at the result (given the ingredients), they were really good!
Click the image below to see a nutrition count with ingredients and instructions; print in landscape mode and it should fit on one page.
Alrighty then. I think I'm going to try and make this again today and put the stuff in a ziplock and squeeze it into the oil more like a funnel cake and see how it is. Calianna said she tried it like that and it was really good. But first I think I have to come up with some kind of something to dip it in. Big Daddy D mentioned LC cinnamon rolls (oh my gosh!) so I'm off to see if his blog has any ideas for a sweet dip. I do remember seeing cinnamon streussal something on there, yum!
P.S. or maybe I'll just break down and try Tracy's Chocolate Mayo Pound Cake which actually does look pretty darn good.
Edited to add: I tried it again with strawberry protein powder and didn't like it. I forgot the sweetener though! Don't do that. :-) I did it like a funnelcake but I didn't care for it that way cause (a) it was thinner and the inside wasn't as moist and (b) I overcooked it by cooking it to the same color of the balls-ideal. So if you do the funnelcake format (cut tiny hole in corner of ziplock with the batter), it doesn't need to be cooked as long as the balls. We are talking about only seconds of difference here really. :-)
Thursday, May 17
I think I'm a guilt-freak and I'm trying to figure out if I should feel guilty about making concoctions out of stuff like protein powder, flax, eggs, cream cheese, like, "You should be eating chicken and salad! There's no excuse!" or whether I should say "Hey, it tastes good, it has good nutrient-numbers, it keeps me on plan, so it's good."
There is a 'ground base' we could start with. Vegetables and fruits. If you buy them fresh, or better yet pick them fresh, that's as close to unprocessed as you can get. So we all assume that this is the best thing in the world, right? Assuming the veggie or fruit is not so sugar/starch laden that it functions like nature's pasta once it hits your innards. And of course fresh spices, which rock.
Then we move to 'mildly affected' foods. I go to the butcher shop which sells me the 1/4 of a side of beef from a local grass-fed farmer's cow just taken a couple days before, and he gives me a bunch of frozen shrink-sealed stuff that looks vaguely like a frightening science experiment, perhaps some new version of The Blob that too much time thawing on my counter could unleash on my innocent small town, but I know it will look like meat when unpackaged. Before I eat this, I have to cook it, no matter what my cats think of this uncivilized practice. So that is somewhat processed but it is "mostly" unchanged. I think.
What about seeds I grind? Surely a flax seed in 412 eeeny-weensy pieces is no less healthy than a flax seed whole? Is a flax seed eaten plain vs. mixed into a protein drink vs. baked in a muffin any different?
Then we move to processed foods. First, the dairy. I use cream, half & half, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, ok let's just be clear, I pretty much worship cheese in every form it may come in, not counting cheap American processed cheese food in little plastic wrapped slices which I consider an affront to the Cheese God that I will not abide. To be fair, hard cheeses are only processed in their root creation, far as I know; however all the other dairy stuff is pasteurized at the least, homogenized probably.
I'm not sure what either of those are in detail except according to my father, who spent his childhood swiping the big lump of cream at the top of milk bottles on the way to school in the morning from around the mid-40s to mid-50s, it has something to do with why he can't do that anymore. How his stories of luscious cream in the frosty cold mesh with his other stories of walking 2 miles to school barefoot in the snow with only a hard biscuit for lunch is beyond me, but these are the mysteries of parenthood. I have already assured my ten year old that the tragic deprivation of my childhood makes any complaint she may have for the next 8 years pointless and whiney. Dad taught me well.
I'm not really sure what difference that processing makes. My friends used to have 'raw milk'. I thought it tasted disgusting. Another friend drinks skim milk. To me this tastes like I imagine lapping up the dregs of my cat's water dish might. I am a whole milk kinda girl, although I can deal with 2%/1% if I must. Not just whole but even the somewhat intensified milk that Braum's sells, as they are the dairy slash fast food milk source of my choice. This is because it tastes awesome.
(But to be honest, it's also because super walmart, in their attempt to sell me 114.7 items I did not intend to shop for, puts the milk literally at the other end of the store away from the front door. They oughtta have quarter mile markers in that store, it's so big. If it were much bigger, it would cross the state line. I really like milk but I am just not making that much effort for it frankly.) Now that I'm VLC (very low carb) again, milk is out, which since it causes a craving response in me and I'm probably allergic to it in some bizarre way, is for the best.
So ok, dairy products are generally processed but I assume this processing is mostly just making them (a) fit to drink, (b) infused with vitamin D so my programmer / project manager "mole" lifestyle without sun is compensated for, and (c) less likely to kill me from some side effect of industrial dairy cow farming that I had not foreseen. Is it bad that they are processed like that? I don't know. I don't seem to have much choice in the matter though. My cream does not come with variants like "non"-homogenized. Is dairy technically a processed food?
Next we move on to the severely processed. Let's start with my favorite frankenfood: Low Carb Slim Fast drink in the can. 190 calories. 10.5g fat. 4 carbs, 2 fiber carbs, 2ecc, 20g protein. Plus a buncha vitamins. You cannot beat those numbers. After even my super walmart abandoned the LC version in favor of the omnipresent "Optima-reduces appetite!" version (with lowfat and 2g protein?! how does it do that?), I had to order it from Amazon. According to my estimates I need to buy stock in Slim-Fast's parent company, since a hefty chunk of my limited single-mom income is going toward it for the next 7.2 centuries, which is how long I expect my weight loss to take. No, I am NOT on a slim-fast diet, before anybody keels over with the horror of it. It's simply that I am trying to eat lots of times a day, I need a ton of protein a day, and I loathe protein powder. I can mix protein powder in with a slimfast and actually get it down my throat though, so it is helpful to have in my daily intake.
Is it bad to drink the stuff? Oddly the LC version has a lot less chemicals on the ingredients list than the other I compared it to some months ago. If it's the difference between not having a meal (which is my biggest problem: not having food ready in advance, not having time to make it when I'm working, etc.) then I figure it served a noble purpose, despite its processing.
OK now we get to home made stuff.
Let's say I take some eggs, and some cream, and some ground up flax seeds, and some protein powder, and some cocoa (Penzeys.com 24% high butterfat dutched!), and some sweetener (fiberfit and sweetzfree), and some almond oil, and some hazelnut flour (lower carb than almond flour), and I mix it all together in a bowl and then I bake it, for my cocoa muffins v1.8. The protein powder is very processed. The cream is pastur-homogo-something'd, and I'm sure the cocoa has gone through more processing than Liz Taylor's face. The flax seeds were ground up. But hey the eggs were pure!
OK so pop quiz: is it healthier for me to eat this that I make in my kitchen, than to eat something with similar ingredients I buy at the store? (No, it doesn't exist at the store. Humor my example.) Aside from maybe a single preservative ingredient or something, would there really be a difference?
If I am told to "avoid processed foods", does this mean that my combination of ingredients (ranging from pure to excessively processed), mixed and baked into some chemical conglomerate that even my kid likes (which only proves it's probably killing us from the inside out, given her other tastes), is a "higher grade, but still processed, food"?
Is it better for me to eat my eggs scrambled, vs. mixed up in a breadish, because they are less processed that way? Or is the fact that my breadishes are composed of protein, flax, nuts, etc. sufficiently redeeming?
Should I feel guilty about having many dozens of liquid flavorings/extracts, nearly three dozen flavors of DaVinci sugarfree syrups, "alternative sugars" in like 9 different forms, NOT/Starch etc. for thickening -- all pretty close to totally artificial ingredients? Am I losing dietary brownie points for eating things that were not one with God within the last 48 hours?
I want to quote this great passage from Dr. Michael Eades' blog about natural vs. well, unnatural, foods:
There is so much hype about the crappiness of the standard American diet crawling with processed foods of every stripe that it is easy to fall victim to the if-it's-organic-it-must-be-healthful con. Homemade ice cream with organic cream and organic sugar and home grown fruit seems so much more wholesome than store-bought, but your pancreas can't tell the difference. If you eat it (in large quantities) they will come. 'They' being enlarged fat cells and hyperinsulinemia. And 'they' come whether it's 'organic' or not. (Again, were I planning on going face down in the ice cream, I would prefer it made with 'wholesome' ingredients, but I wouldn't fool myself that my pancreas wasn't going to pay the price.)
So theoretically is my Low Carb Slimfast a better choice than frozen corn and peas microwaved? 'Cause even though the latter are "real food" and "natural," they'll kick pancreas butt better than an LC cheesecake will?
Speaking of LC cheesecake, how are they? I don't know. I've made three tiny ones (enough for 2 ramikens) but unfortunately, my hand, the spoon, and my mouth, conspire to eat it out of the Magic Bullet blender cup before it ever gets to the ramikens to bake. I would trade sex for the stuff it's so good. I haven't made it in eons because I think I like it too well. There has to be something sinful about anything I feel that passionate about.
Tonight's food: Godzilla Burgers. A replay on the hamburger mixed with some mustard, worcestershire, oregano, and Gorgonzola crumbled cheese. I'm hoping to make several and freeze a few and fridge a couple. My kid loves these.
Tonight's experiment: a sweetish that started out called 'protein powder donut holes', moved into 'LC funnel cakes', sidestepped to another form of 'waffles', etc. Most lowcarb recipes like this are actually "concept recipes", much like the flax bowl muffin or mock danish or pizza quiche, which you can modify like a mad scientist. There is an original, then variant versions, and four pages of raving, at the lowcarber.org forum, link here.
Now there's that guilt again. "It's fried!" Maybe I can use coconut oil. Trying to get more calories and fat in my diet anyway and it's ridiculously hard. It's dominantly egg, butter, protein powder. If it's encouraged for me to eat eggs fried in butter, coconut oil in my coffee, and protein powder drinks, is it less healthy for me to eat something vaguely akin to a fried pastry? I mean, if I were putting a little sweetzfree or splenda in my coffee nobody'd comment, so adding it to my fried-thing shouldn't matter.
Is it like a matter of "the moral of it" -- morning coffee, protein drink and eggs are somehow inherently better than all of those ingredients (except the coffee) in a different form? I mean is it just WRONG for me if I were to adopt some recipe (using this one as an example) that is "homemade processed food" and eat that quite a lot, rather than fresh veggies and steak?
I guess my point is that recommendations from others in LC-land sometimes seem a bit contradictory or pollyanna and I'm wondering what "really" matters.
Tuesday, May 15
You know, I've been on the internet since 1993, pretty much full time plus, not counting that from 1995 till present my job (on TOP of my other time on it) has been internet based. I am as world-weary street-wise a net punk as they come. I can hang in playgrounds that would send most people screaming into the night. Nothing phases me at this point; nothing shocks me.
But the lowcarb internet world has surprised the hell outta me.
I swear, I have never -- NEVER, in all these years -- encountered a community of people who were, across the board, so GOOD to others, so encouraging, so sharing.
I've been in projects that I personally paid thousands and worked years to support and had maybe 12 people out of thousands even bother to be kind let alone say thanks. And yet, in the lowcarb world, the minor effort of my journal and this blog and whatever I might post on lowcarber.org has brought more kind, positive, personal response from people, via email or my lowcarber.org journal or this blog, than I have seen in any other field online in 14 years combined.
People I would have zero in common with outside of "food choice" have shown me more kindness and humanity than plenty of 'online buddies' I've known for a decade. I don't mean my buddies are bad to me! I just mean that people in lowcarb are often exceptional. They go above and beyond. I feel like I have met more people worth making friends, "real friends," thanks to lowcarb than any other source of people.
Despite the debates and social politics on the forums, still you find huge numbers of people being warm and compassionate and supportive on the journals than I've ever seen in one place before. I've seen support forums. Even for food. But lowcarb seems different. Could it be that unlike other eating plans, lowcarbers may have existing issues with food or emotions or life, but they are not starving and miserable at least, like most lowfat lowcalorie plans? I don't know what it is. I just marvel at it regularly.
My email address is thedivinelowcarb at gmail dot com by the way. I just realized today that I didn't have it anywhere on this blog. I guess that would explain why I get so many messages through my lowcarber.org account even though it's about this blog.
I've gotten half a dozen private messages and several on my LC journal, in response to my 'Hideous Truth' post. Several of the private messages told me some of their own stories. It's really amazing what deeply wounding, mortifying things people have to suffer when seriously obese, and the amount of sheer grim determination to get through it they have. I am starting to think that really overweight people may be some of the strongest people around. I think if you plucked the average thin person off the street and gave them the kind of issues the severely obese have, they'd go postal, or show up in ER within a day.
That lowcarb not only seems to congregate so many good people, but seems to be an avenue for genuinely improving (and even saving) their lives, is truly inspiring.
Monday, May 14
Sunday, May 13
You are the rare, the overlooked, yet incredibly useful dodecahedron: the d12. You are a creative, romantic soul. You often act without thinking, but make up for your lack of plans with plenty of heart. You easily solve problems that stump others, but your answers tend to put you into even deeper trouble. You write long, detailed backgrounds for all your characters, and are most likely to dress up as one or get involved in cos-play. You can be silly at times and are easily distracted by your own day dreams, but at the end of the day you're someone who can be depended on.
Hilarious. Wonder if I can fit that into my resume somewhere.
I just need to get over myself and get my act together. Violins already, oh, it was soooo hard walking through the airport because I'm too freakin fat -- oh gimme a break. Yes, it sucks! Hell yeah! It's freakin HORRIBLE. No doubt!
So DO something! Sheesh. I make even my own eyes roll up in exasperation sometimes.
I kinda wish I could plan lowcarb. You know, then before I did it, I could eat the things I love the most (like fresh squeezed orange juice, and fresh pumpernickel). But no. When I get the up the gumption to DO something finally, it's always a decision in the NOW, something that puts determination and fear and hope all together in one package that has to be opened and implemented right then or lost.
So I am officially back to eating proper lowcarb again. I didn't eat today (Saturday) until 10pm, and very little. Some carbs but hardly any. That's bad of course -- my problem is not-eating, more than eating badly, but I was so physically miserable from the whole airport/walking experience that I spent most the day lying in bed sleeping and waiting for my muscles to recuperate enough to move. I wasn't eating because I wasn't up. I'll do better tomorrow.
At the store tonight I got stuff for a variety of egg dishes, lots of pork for a semi-chili verde dish, and some hot spicy sausage and hamburger to make morning meatballs with. I am not intending to be ultra-low-carb indefinitely, I actually hope to be moderate-low and 'cycle', but I need to kick in ketosis and kill the cravings that doing so is likely to invoke and drop the water weight I'm carrying.
I start a new weight and exercise spreadsheet Monday 5/14.
1 - high protein damn it. If I don't get at least 120g protein a day my body is eating itself. Gross. And not fair.
2 - low carb. I'm re-inducting here so it's mostly meat-egg and some cheese and a few basic veggies in very small amounts (like avocado, tomato, onion, peppers) for now.
3 - timed small meals. I work from home for godssakes, how hard can it be to eat every 3 hours? I don't want to hear any more excuses from myself about this. Make it work.
4 - water. I should be drinking at least a gallon of water a day, preferably more. I have a huge britta container. I work from home. There is no reason this should be hard.
5 - exercise. Next time I think walking through an airport is going to hospitalize me, maybe it friggin should. It's not like I don't have more than enough education about what I can do to lose fat, gain muscle, improve my oxygen absorption, etc. I'm a walking encyclopedia of invaluable fitness information I haven't been bothering to use.
6 - attention. Part of paying attention to what the bleep I'm doing with my food and exercise and life, is planning it out and writing it down.
7 - intention. meaning in part, prayer. I don't care what the religion of the day is for me, if I can't find 30 seconds twice a day to thank God for my life and ask for help in getting my act together on all fronts, then I don't really want to do it. I probably should have put this first.
8 - expectation. I need to weigh and find out the reality of the moment, and set a goal, and expect that when I next weigh, it's going to be closer to my goal. I really believe that the mind helps the body -- that they are inseparable -- and that making what I want clear, matters.
I promise that next weekend you will hear from me and it will be good news about proactive behavior and measurable results.
Saturday, May 12
This is going to be long, whiney and gross because you know, I just feel like being brutally honest about how totally f--king hard it can be to do basic things when extremely obese. For godssakes.
Supersize people don't talk about this stuff because it's mortifying and horrible. But I don't care. I'm going to.
I had to take a business trip. I need 2 plane tickets, company only pays for one, I gotta go to keep my job, so $467 for a ticket right off. My clothes are overworn and ratty so I buy a dress, $79+. Get the wrong size, the reship overnight morning delivery an extra $61. Of course the trip itself requires a lot of gas for the airport roundtrip, parking, tolls, etc. All told it cost me ~$670 to go to the corporate office for a couple days.
So I'm off to the airport. Unwilling to do the extra walking that checking a bag is going to require, I minimize what I take to a laptop bag with some toiletries and another rectangle bag with my clothes. The laptop bag is a big leather deal and it doesn't seem heavy... at first.
One plane wasn't too bad. A smaller plane, the two seats I had were relatively flat. The backs seemed relatively flat. My knees were stuffed hard against the back of the seats in front of me (not because I'm tall -- I'm only 5'6 -- but because my size means my legs are not really starting from the back of the seat) and my feet pressed against my bags. The flight isn't bad, and not all that long, although my legs, hips, back muscles all feel so sore after.
Of course we came down a skinny steep stairway out on the tarmac, which required I have an attendant carry my bags, while I walked down sideways (hips didn't fit moving forward), slowly, hanging onto the side rails. It's ok. I'm so used to feeling utterly humiliated by now that it doesn't matter; the people are at a distance, above and below. It doesn't phase me much. Take my bags and go.
So I'm at the Denver airport, a mile from end to end. I find myself at one end, looking at my boarding pass which tells me my connecting flight is about 60%+ toward the other. They have moving sidewalks down the middle for the larger planes.
First I'm tired. Then I'm really tired. Then I'm pausing because I'm having the typical exercise induced asthma attack, which severe obesity brought to my life; the heart simply cannot get enough oxygen to that much body fast enough.
This is partly because I am not exercising regularly; the muscle's use of oxygen improves when I do. Somewhere in the back of my head a foul-mouthed drill sargeant part of myself was yelling at me for not getting off my ass a whole lot more.
I continue walking. The laptop bag was way too heavy. I'm starting to sweat like crazy. I suspect my face is turning red. I want to take my time but I don't want to miss my plane. And by now I've developed two secondary problems, both of which are severe.
The first is that because my muscles are so overused, they don't want to work anymore. When I go to take a step, the muscle response needed to lift my hip, thigh, knee, calf, and foot a sufficient amount into the air and forward and down again, is only about 90% dependable. I'd begun stumbling when my leg didn't lift as planned, regularly. I have already reached the level of exhaustion that a thin person almost never would short of the end of a long marathon or mountain climbing trek.
The second is that a bizarre fat-deformity I have, had been getting more extreme. I wonder if others have this, and I assume someone must. In early January with minimal water weight, weight loss, etc. it was nearly gone (although the skin, sized for its former glory, then had all the charm of a testicle -- gross but true). But it had returned.
This stemmed from a chair problem. I sit all day. I sat on the very edge of the folding chair I had for work which was cutting off my circulation between the butt and thigh. My weight was too much to scoot back on the chair; it dug so deeply into the back of my thighs it hurt. I decided the circulation problem was dangerous. I bought a 1.5x regular armchair. This allowed me to sit partly back. It did mean the chair went to the middle of my thigh, but the cushioning of the armchair made it possible without the hard, blood-cutting-off edge of other chairs, and it was vastly more comfortable. Of course over time as the cushioning, overwhelmed by my weight, gradually flattened, it got firmer and firmer.
After many months of sitting on my armchair, a curious thing had happened. Nearly 500# at the time, I had pressed so hard all resting on my butt and legs, that most the fat from the back of my right thigh (which I sit harder on apparently), had been pressed a bit to the side and inside of my right leg. Eventually I had a sort of football shaped super-solid big lump of fat. Instead of being distributed around the back and inside of my leg (where it came from), it was gathered into a big fairly solid "bulge". If my front thigh were North, the bulge is southwest. It's half "behind" the thigh and half on the "inside".
When I'm not ketogenic (which is low water weight), or when I've been sitting on anything harder than a bed for even half a day -- this gets more extreme, larger, and firmer. If I drop water, stay on very soft surfaces and massage it, it loosens up into the simple fat it is, and if I am not sitting on it to continue the bulge problem, it begins to redistribute where it belongs. But since my job is sitting and I'm not in great shape so I'm sitting most of my time off, as well, it's never really getting to this curative effect!
It is partly between my thighs which means that walking with my legs passing each other is close to impossible. Imagine having a football duct-taped to your inner back thigh. It's in the way! Walking requires the legs together so this doesn't work; walking becomes ridiculously hard. It takes a ton of effort with every step to "push past" the major problematic interference. Let alone to do this without looking like a clown to onlookers.
Meanwhile, doing so starts to chafe the thighs until they are nearly bleeding, so there's agony to boot.
Then there's trying to sit. As it gets larger and firmer, it sticks out 'behind'. So if I back up to sit in a chair, it pushes the chair away from me. In fixed chairs, this means it feels like something is poking me as I back up to it, and I have to sit with open legs, positioning The Lump so it has room between my legs and off the edge of the seat. In non-fixed chairs, it can be like slapstick comedy, trying to sit down. I solve this by sitting with my back to walls, which I actually do anyway if I can (regardless of this). That way the chair can't back up to escape me.
So I am trucking very slowly on my way, when it occurs to me that having a coronary, along with an asthma attack, with bleeding thighs no less, in the middle of the Denver airport would contribute to missing my connecting flight.
Forget that I feel like I might rather die than continue to my gate. How I feel isn't what matters. If it were, I'd have stayed home.
So I ask at a counter for an electric cart to take me to my gate, which is still half a mile away, but at that point could have been in Tibet for how I felt about the distance.
It came, it took me, and I got to the door for boarding as the last person walked in -- just in time.
The moral of the story is, I wasn't in good enough shape to make a connecting flight, not if I'd had twice the time.
So next was a bigger plane. There are three seats across, two of which are mine. The seats are not flat. They curve up at the edges. I take up more than one seat. So this means the seat is digging really hard into me. The arm that "lifts up" does not sit behind the backs of the seats. It is slightly in front, which you would only notice if you were sitting against more than one seat, of course. Which I am. So the arm of the chair is sticking out and digging into my back.
It was impossible to sit straight in this situation, so to minimize the degree of pain, I sat leaned half-sideways against the wall/window, so the majority of my weight was on my right half. I had slightly more leg room, but still not much, so my knees cramped along with the rest of me. The chairs under me and the arm behind me hurt, sure. But I was ok.
When I went to get off that plane, every muscle in my body hurt. Apparently, holding myself like that for hours had the equivalent effect of sleeping in some terrible position, where you wake up and you can hardly move because every muscle and peripheral muscle in your body is whining about it. Not that I did not already feel horrible mind you. Worse, because I was sitting in a firm chair for hours -- in the same position -- and leaning hard on my right side no less -- my "bulge" of fat had now gotten even larger but more importantly, firmer.
It was now huge, and nearly as tough as my kneecap, and starting to hurt badly from the inside of the skin, because it is literally almost more than the skin, stretched ultra-tight around this suddenly bigger bulge, can bear. I know what will happen if this were to keep up for too long. The skin would hurt in a way you can't imagine, on the inside, and then little rips in it from the inside would occur. It would look and feel like a tiny soft spot, in the middle of which fat cells and blood cells would start to fill, much like an unusual zit. Gross. But that doesn't happen unless the skin is breached from the inside. And since my life style does not require I constantly sit on firm surfaces -- and until a few months ago I was ultra low carb, which means my fat cells were not swollen with water again until the last few months -- this has not been an issue in a long time. I hope to myself that the business trip doesn't make it an issue. Already the entire lump around the edges hurts badly. That's ok. It competes with how much the chafed thighs, amplified by the lump, hurt already.
So walking is now even more difficult to do at all, let alone without looking like Monty Python's "Silly Walk" comedy routine. The pain of every step nearly makes me falter. I am surrounded by people, though. So I put the standard, I'm-a-fat-girl-with-a-good-personality face on the situation and I begin my walk toward the area where a shuttle from my hotel could come rescue me. I must have looked bad despite my efforts, because numerous strangers offered to help me along the way.
Getting in the shuttle (a mini van) was another joy, since this by now huge solid bulge on the back-inner right thigh, combined with my difficulty in lifting my legs at all, means that climbing very upward and turning sideways and getting into the seat is easier said than done, but I manage it fairly quickly, using a sudden major effort, using my weight for momentum, and ignoring any accompanying pain or discomfort. What is a little misery next to 7 people staring at your efforts close up? I'd rather have the pain.
By the time I get to my hotel, get out of the van, carry my stuff in, get my room key, get down the hall to the elevators and then down the hall to my room (is it some cosmic law that connecting flights and hotel rooms must be nearly as far as possible away from wherever you start??) I am nearing the end of what I am physically capable of standing, despite immense personal will.
I didn't even mention that this entire day was spent pointedly not going to the bathroom since on the plane it isn't big enough I'm sure (I nearly got stuck on the train bathroom, with my hips so firmly lodged against each wall) and at the airport I didn't have time.
Let's not do too much detail on the fact that that when I am rather bloated as I was at that moment, and/or when the digestive process was less than firm, I'm not going to end up clean without a shower, which is why I tend to take a shower any time I do something serious in the restroom, which working from home allows -- and being anywhere else doesn't. I'm usually ok but part of that depends literally on the geometrics of it for positioning and reaching. I don't want to risk this rather disgusting (and acidic painful itching misery) potential of it not working out well, so I don't. I just hold it.
I go into my hotel, drop my bags, take my clothes off -- which was easier said than done as I could barely move, and had to wrestle my underwear around the by now giant lump on my leg -- and I stumble into the bathroom, finally. I take a shower and wash my hair. I stumble into the room, into bed, call my best friend and my parents, and fall asleep in the middle of the call with my friend. I am that wiped out.
The bed is soft. The pillows are soft. The comforter is soft. That was great.
So I wake up at 6am with the alarm. Whoopi Goldberg is a dj with some 'soft jazz' station. I think for a minute, how many people can have a voice like that? Nope, it's really her. I start to get up and discover that my body doesn't want to move. Apparently, the standard level of volition is not sufficient to force my muscles to respond. I feel as if my body weighs 3000 lbs and has been embedded several feet into the mattress for centuries.
OK, I tell myself. First, I will just pull my foot up so my knee is sticking up as I lie here on my back. It took quite some time. I had to re-effort and pull my foot up inch by inch. Every muscle from my foot to my neck hurt while doing it. I eventually get both legs pulled up. I lift an arm. Yep, every muscle involved there was sore too, mostly from carrying the bags and that funky leaning-syndrome the plane required. I sigh. I'm glad to still be alive of course. I think that I feel better than I did when I fell into bed. But I have a hard time remembering ever feeling quite so physically bad before.
By 7am, I am finally able to get my butt out of bed and start getting ready to be downstairs at 8am.
I can't decide. Should I eat? If I eat, I risk having to use the restroom before the day is over. What a nightmare. It's not impossible that could happen anyway, although my body, interestingly, seems to support me on this subject in a way that seems unnatural but wonderful -- on my former train trip, I literally went like 2.5 days without using the restroom despite eating three good meals a day, solely because I knew I couldn't fit in the bathroom. There is something to be said for mind over matter I suppose.
I decide not to eat and I don't have time by then anyway, so I go downstairs to meet my coworkers. I look a bit like a sleep deprived ghoul, but otherwise, the side effect misery of my trip so far is, I hope, completely invisible to everybody else.
I pray that my coworkers will not have the standard cultural reaction to my size. I hope especially that my boss will not. I know that being fat makes me de-facto "uncool" in the most major way.
I know that the quantity of makeup a woman wears is inversely proportional to the likelihood she will acknowledge my existence at all, let alone have a conversation with me (let alone without looking completely disgusted and opinionated while doing so, should she be unable to avoid it). I've had more than enough people talk through me, over me, around me, to have figured this out by now.
Blessedly, it turns out all my coworkers are nice, normal people, who don't seem to have any major reaction to my weight.
"I parked outside, not far" says the girl who is driving the mini-van for our little team. Of course, their idea of not-far when they are generally thin and carrying either very light bags or something that rolls, doesn't really match my idea of "not far."
I can barely walk. Every step takes weird effort because of the bulge interference, every step means my thighs scraping each other's raw surface in pain (I am wearing soft pants underneath my dress but there is about 4-5" of thigh before the crotch of them, which is what is chafing), my muscles are so sore that large steps are impossible, my heart's ability to get blood to extremities quickly is limited so fast steps are un-doable unless I want to have a pseudo-asthma attack in front of everybody, and my feet wail in pain with every motion.
No problem. I walk slowly, as if I am casually sauntering, and I slow down more as I feel my breath rate and heart rate start to climb to accomodate the oxygen needs. My coworker from New York, a tall thin beautiful blonde that has been my best buddy as we work via internet, notices and hangs back with me so it's not such a big deal. I make a note in my mental journal to pray for her to get some cosmic brownie point for having compassion and pulling it off in a way that seems casually unapparent.
Again I am climbing into the side of the mini van. I can only sit in one seat -- the one by the door -- so it's a good thing nobody else is my size. We park in a space equally 'fairly close' to the office, which is to say, not fairly close at all in my estimation, and I go through the whole process again in reverse.
Then we reach the front of the building. The front door is about two stories higher than street level. There are about 4 sets of steps on a long cement sidewalk to get in the front door. Oh boy.
In early January, minus water weight and with more regular exercise, I could have walked those stairs normally, at least half of them, albeit slowly. But not today. I have to do two feet on each step, like a little girl, to get up. Every once in awhile, a coworker looks back, which I see peripherally, and as if I don't see them, without looking at them, I suddenly make a herculean effort to take a step 'normally' so it isn't so obvious.
It occurs to me, with limited humor, that I am putting as much effort into "seeming" ok as I am into being ok.
So we are now in the lobby of the corporate office and it's time to walk to the conference room. I again put myself at the back. I walk as fast as I can, but I feel my breath and heart start to rise. By the time we reach the conference room, I hang back and don't enter for about 60 seconds, while I breathe as deeply and quickly as I can to get my body oxygenated so I won't have to do that in the room.
My boss had been told about my size in advance; she had an armless chair there for me. Two hours of sitting on it was very uncomfortable. This is not the fault of the chair which was decent. It's because approximately 400 pounds is just too damned much weight, period. It's going to be miserable no matter what you're sitting on, at that weight, unless it's a thick feather pillow. I realize my Battle Of The Bulge is getting worse by the hour with the firm surface issue going on.
We have a break after 2 hours. My boss brings in snacks. Thank god, I think. I've had no caffeine, no food, I've already put in more equivalent exercise than most people have by the end of a workday, and I really want some caffeine and protein because I want to wake up my brain and sustain my body.
She brings water and chocolate cake slices and big wrapped cookies. Apparently this is her idea of snacks to keep everyone going.
"Is there someplace I could get a Dr. Pepper?" I ask politely. "Ah, sugar!" she laughs.
I pause. Is she implying that chocolate cake and giant cookies are not sugar? What planet is she from? "Yes," I grin. "And caffeine, which is the important part!" She works out getting us some sodas too. Well, better than nothing.
I skip the snacks. Sure, I'd be made more alert by that sugar. Sure, I'd love to have a big chunk of chocolate cake. And then I'd be snoring on my laptop keyboard an hour later. And I don't even want to go into what eating chocolate does for my digestive results, which I was desperately hoping to keep on an even keel during the day while away from my hotel room.
Another two hours in the chair. By now I am dying to stand up and maybe pace a little. We are all going to a business lunch, which means I get to move, yay.
We walk back through the office, then down all the stairs, then through the parking lot, to the minivan. I saunter, and come in last. I hope I am not sweating too much, and I climb in the minivan.
We are having food at a Greek and Italian restaurant for lunch. This union of food is actually a pretty good idea that probably only a marriage could bring about. I drool over the italian food; pizza...... yum. I recall how I swell up like a fish from the amount of salt and gluten in pizza and I decide on a small Gyro (greek seasoned thin meat strips in a soft flexible pita, with some kind of dressing I'm not clear on and some veggies) and a greek salad. I eat only a little salad and give the rest to everyone else. My Gyro was really good. I don't dare eat more, since I'm hoping to not have to use the restroom until nighttime.
We pile back in the mini van and return to work. The parking lot, the stairs, walking through the office. I'm getting better at this, I tell myself inside. It doesn't seem as overwhelming as it did this morning. That's a good sign. Alas, by that time, every muscle in my body hurt so bad, and the chafing on my thighs, and the skin all around the bulge, and some sleep deprivation, and my poor feet, that I just felt BAD, period.
I honestly felt so bad that it seemed appropriate I should be sitting in a hospital bed. I couldn't even remember ever having felt quite so bad all at once before.
Another four hours, turned to 4.5, of work. I feel much worse by then, added to more issues with my leg's bulge and butt-misery from sitting in the firm chair. During all this, of course, I am working to be attentive, cheerful, and participative in our meetings, since that is why I'm there.
A few times, I realize that something I just said was a bit brusque, and I cringe inside, at how bad this must look to my boss and others, and I try to find something to say differently as a slight hope at redeeming my image. Working from home is probably part of it. But anybody else at that table who felt as bad as I did, I am sure, would have been 10x a rabid dog.
That is beside the point. Morbidly obese people just have to deal with the misery, pain, exhaustion, and still act chipper. It takes twice the work on cheerful personality to compensate for the cultural knee-jerk social reaction to fat. It's not by accident so many fat people are considered funny, you know.
Well it's time for the business dinner they have planned. Back through the office, down the stairs, across the parking lot, and into the minivan. I wonder, my god, how long is this going to take. How long until I can quit smiling, until I can use the restroom, until I can lay down on my soft hotel bed and pass out. We drive to a place in San Francisco. Of course there is no parking nearby. What was I thinking. We park down the block behind the building and walk.
The restaurant is like a bar environment. The seats are fixed wooden benches with padding and fixed tables, and further, they are set up on a little platform off the floor. There is no way I am going to fit in that fixed-size bench situation, and if I did, it would take me 5 minutes to get in and 10 minutes to get out and I probably wouldn't be able to breathe in between. Not to mention the sheer humiliation of it in front of everybody.
I ask for a chair, and they bring one. Of course, to meet the tables, it was basically a high stool. I find if I stand on the platform, and hold the back of the stool firmly so my bulge can't push it away, and I sit sideways mostly on the front left corner of it, that I can sit. Of course I'm not sitting, I am "leaning". But since it rather hurts with that much weight pressing on that small surface area, that's for the best I suppose.
I can't believe everybody is eating again. These people ate 3x what I did at lunch and they are discussing seafood appetizers, drinks and major steak and lobster dinners, while I'm still stuffed. The irony that they have decent figures and I don't, but that even on a daily basis I'm pretty sure they eat a lot more than I do, is not lost on me. I know. Kill your metabolism and reduce your exercise and that's the way it goes. It's not their fault they're normal. Don't resent the difference. Just find something to eat with them.
I couldn't perch on the stool for long. I had to keep moving it aside and just standing, changing feet (which by now really hurt), moving around. Fortunately since the table was elevated it wasn't quite as big a deal as it might have been otherwise. It was still embarrassing, but I ignored it. You do what you must. They didn't leave until 7:30pm, which was a very long day for me given how I felt. My coworkers and I walked back to the mini van and back to the hotel.
It's a measure of my exhaustion that I seriously considered leaving my computer at work and then in the car, just so I didn't have to carry it to my room. I'm an internet freak, I live on the net, so for me this is a major statement. But I dragged it up to my room. Used the restroom, finally. Took a shower. Set the alarm. Called my friend and passed out. So much for the computer.
Day two I actually felt better. Which is to say, I felt utterly horrible, but I was not worried that I was not going to be able to act normal anymore.
On the way in the door, I met my boss's boss, and my boss's co-boss, both of whom are pretty important to my position. I was so delighted, NOT, to meet them while lugging my heavy laptop back up the stairs into the lobby. I tried not to breathe hard as I shook their hands and smiled. I did all my extra breathing as I slowly walked down the halls to the conference room.
It was harder to sit that day though, because in case this obvious point escaped thinner readers, about 400# plopped firmly on any firm surface is essentially going to cause what amounts to bruising particularly at the edges of the firm surface. Not the black and blue kind you see on the outside, but it is definitely felt. Most really obese people are so chronically bruised they hardly notice it. I'm using to a soft surface all day so I did.
My friend and his wife took me to dinner Thursday night. He is a physicist that I met ten years ago by phone and online, and have known via internet since. His wife is a former big money business executive, who later went back to school and got a PhD in "Women's Spirituality," a degree I assume you can only get in liberal states. She turned out to be highly intelligent and I was instantly crazy about her. I wished I had more time to spend with them.
They asked if we could walk from their house, a block and a half to the restaurant. I tried not to cringe. Damn. As long as it's slow, I said, and so we sauntered to our food. Which was really good by the way but not nearly spicy enough for me.
The good doc wanted to take a picture of course, he is a picture nut. I hate pictures with a passion that by this point in the rant, I bet you can imagine. But he approached this with, "No matter what you say, I am going to insist on a picture!," so I realized that refusing would only be like some big social neurotic show on my part, and so I said, "OK!" cheerfully.
Of course, my horror at the output on the digital screen was just something I had to squash inside. That is the way I am. Sort of a thin-haired brunette, Star Wars jabba-the-hutt in a flowered dress, with a head that looks too small due to the size of the body. Well, you're ugly. Deal with it. Move the hell on.
That night in my hotel, around midnight, I was so exhausted I didn't even get out my laptop. I just went to bed and thanks to the soft mattress, was instantly asleep.
I had to get up at 3am, of course, in order to be downstairs at 4am, to be to the airport and check in by 5am, to leave on the plane at 6am.
I had lots of time so making it through the SFO airport to my terminal was not impossible, just long and tiring. The airplane was ok, although afterward I could feel the sore tiredness from the top of the back of my neck down to my feet, from my knees and feet being so squished against the chair in front of me.
I wanted to ask for an electric cart in the Denver airport again, but going home was a smaller plane so down on the lower level. "No problem," a guy tells me, "I'll get you a wheelchair." I laugh. "I don't fit into your wheelchairs," I say plainly, as I imagined, even if I did, the misery of some poor airport person trying to push me and my bags in a wheelchair. This would probably save me a heart attack but give them one instead.
He says, "Well it's fairly close. Go to the end of the terminal there, down the elevator, then it's just a bit out." Yes, just a bit. Ha. Ha. Ha. I did make it there ok. Only because I had a lot of time, was able to go very slow, and stop pretty often. The bulge on my leg had been restored to its former huge firm glory by the previous plane flight's seating, though it had been pretty hugely impressive to begin with, so it all took time. And looked odd, I am sure. But I got there.
My father picked me up at the airport. I didn't have to walk too far to the door or to the car, for which I was grateful. Yes it was hard, but it wasn't unsurmountable. I took my shoes off. I leaned over and ran a finger softly down the sole of one foot. It shuddered violently with the pleasure after all that pain.
I thought about how bad I've been to my body. My body which managed to NOT use the restroom until late night both days, solely because it wasn't convenient. My body which helped me survive this trip even at great suffering to itself. My body is nothing but wonderful and kind to me and I treat it horribly, make it suffer, and then gripe about its suffering like it's my body's fault instead of mine.
I went home. My little girl was brought over by my stepmom and I hugged her and we talked for a bit and then she went to play on the computer and I just passed out lying on my bed. I had to get up after 4 hours, as I had promised her we would go to mexican food for dinner and then watch a video, "Mama-baby date night" as we call it.
I could barely move, as if a little more sleep had just relaxed my muscles and they had no interest in moving ever again. We had dinner, watched a movie, then I went to bed and again, fell asleep instantly. I had no desire to call anybody, even though I often think I can hardly live without my best friend. I had no desire to get online, even though I usually think more than 12 hours away from an internet connection is inexcusable and worrisome.
I woke up a few times last night. Once I wanted to move and couldn't!
The next time I managed to move, to turn over. I swear it felt like every muscle, even teeny tiny muscles I didn't even know existed, from my upper neck to my feet, howled in aching exhausted protest. My thighs rubbed against each other, the chafing wound of them by now more like red rough canvas feeling than sticky anymore. A foot tried to curl up in a charlie horse and I fought it for a few minutes until the muscle cramp resided. I fell back asleep again.
Now it is Saturday. I am sore everywhere, I am muscle-tired, I am still bloated, maybe from the food or something, but I am better than I have been in days.
The cats are out of food. I need to go shopping. So I'm going to have to get up here and do a major walmart shopping spree. Walking. Heavy cart. Big bags of cat food, cat litter. Loading the car, carrying it in. It's a small thing, but I'm not looking forward to it.
I feel like I've been through four days of boot camp. Or worse. But it was just a couple days for a business meeting!
The complication and misery that extreme obesity adds to a life is ridiculous.
The bright side of this long gory saga is this: we see how well resuming eating carbs has worked for me.
I am definitely shopping today for low-carb food.