Thursday, November 20

The Long and Winding Road

In the late 1990s I lived in a tiny town an hour North of Fort Worth Texas. I worked hours after work on my own time teaching myself web-stuff where I had access to the database and middleware. I would drive home around 10pm most nights, on the small two lane roads that wound around a slightly hilly terrain. And sometimes, there would be fog. The kind of fog where, with your brights on, with squinting and leaning forward, you are just barely able to see about one inch of the white line on the right side of the road, immediately off the edge of the right front corner of your truck.

It starts to seem like purgatory. You're just driving this endless, winding road, in the dark, in the quiet, and the only thing that keeps you from dying any moment now is your faith-fixation on that one tiny little piece of evidence of road.

That's how I've felt about lowcarb much of the last year, particular the last several months. There was a time when I could see the road clearly. I could see for miles. Very-Low-Carb ketogenic diet was my dream come true. Weight fell off me. I lost a ton of medical symptoms. I'd not felt so good since I was 21.

Then I 'sort of' quit losing weight. Or maybe I quiet eating as well plus got more impatient or something. But in the end it did seem to amount to at the least, a great slowdown in weight loss. Perhaps it had been too easy before, because it completely demoralized me when it happened. When I not only couldn't see fast results, but I'd do everything right and my weight would stay around one level on my weight chart--and then start creeping up!--I felt helpless. Angry. Embarrassed.

And I started getting worried about my blood sugar. I could eat sausage and eggs, a meal I've had often on LC, and get a serious headrush-dizzy from a blood sugar crash a little while later. I went out and bought a blood glucose meter etc. so I could try and figure out what was going on. On the bright side, my glucose was not way too high too long. On the down side, my fasting bg was 60-70 and it went to a normal place after eating but then it fell and KEPT falling. The numbers don't lie: I had insulin resistance to a good degree. I knew I'd started with it and it had improved. But I never got that with protein meals before. What changed? Did weight loss trigger something else in my body?

And I worried about lowcarb. Here I'm trying to blog like the poster child for it because it "saved me" and I'm loyal. But I felt like hell. Not until I added carbs -- I started eating more fruit (mostly berries but occasionally a small gala apple), and legumes like peas and beans, and now and then even a corn tortilla, and all the sudden, I felt SO much better. I was eating 40-70 carbs a day but I felt like a new person. That was the good part. The bad part was I didn't seem to be losing any more weight on that approach than the ketogenic approach. And I felt like I was 'betraying' ketogenic-lowcarb because it quit working for me. Didn't I just spend two years talking online about LC? OK now a big chunk of what I thought I knew, apparently I don't.

I thought I had replaced the rules of calories with the rules of carbs. I was willing to pick up that different belief system. But it wasn't really a different belief system. Same plot, different characters. This time the bad guys are South Americans instead of 1940s Nazis but it's the plot we all know. X is good. Y is bad. Do it right and all will be well.

But it turns out we don't really know what causes weight loss for supersized people. We know from empirical evidence that a lot of really fat people do ketogenic lowcarb and lose a lot of weight and often fast. And then somewhere around 100-150 pounds later, some of them stop losing weight. Their body has changed in some way. VLC feels bad. More carbs feel good. But neither are pouring the fat off like previously.

I used to feel like I was on my path. Like I knew the road ahead of me and I walked it confidently. Like I had faith that I could see that winding road way off into the sunset, to that ineffably blurry time when "I would be ... ok". It might take a long time to walk, but I had found the road, now it was just doing it. I felt confident about my positive future.

But lately I feel like I have lost my way. The road has vanished in a fog. Even the experts can't help much if at all; metabolism of the supersized has no decent research; it's clearly different somehow but who knows how. My friends have often run into the same issues I have, and they don't have any answers either.

"Why try?", I wondered. "Day after day after day and weeks later I'm a pound heavier instead of lighter." I got anger. I got despair. And then I got offplan in a big way, and for two months ate utter crap. Leaving me profoundly bloated, so asthmatic I couldn't breathe, I gained some weight, and other issues. It was like an attack against myself.

And then I got my act together again. Regardless of weight loss, I know what I need to be healthy. I'm eating meat. Caul & Brocc. Peppers & onions. Berries and avocados. Pecans. And because I have NO IDEA what I'm doing, where I'm going, how to get there, or if I'll ever get there, the best I can do "wild guess."

I'm now taking so many supplements you'd just laugh if you saw. I'm off all diet soda. I'm greatly reducing dairy esp. cheese. Is this my plan because it's a great idea? Well, it closely mirrors the "Regina's good sense" approach with the eating plan she outlined for me back in... March? Which I was unable to stay with because it was so rational and healthy. So if I do ok at this for a few months I'll be closer to succeeding with her advice than I ever have been.

But I'm not doing it because I have big hopes. I'm doing it because I'm lost. So why not. It's a path. I might as well take it. Frankly I am not overly hopeful. I feel like I lost my faith, lost my lock on thinking I had some idea how my body worked, thinking I could trust that if I ate lowcarb and didn't eat massive calories than I would naturally lose weight, especially with a BMR as high as mine. When this ceased to work anymore, it's like my whole edifice of beliefs about everything lowcarb just came crashing down.

I don't know what makes me have more issues with not-eating and then over-eating than ever in my life; I didn't have them until I lost a ton of weight. Like the protein-reaction, could this be something actually triggered by a sudden high weight loss? It took awhile to kick in, if so.

I'm doing lowcarb in the flesh right now, but not much in spirit. I'm only barely with it mentally. I know it's better for my health anyway. But I feel slightly betrayed. By lowcarb. By my body. That what worked initially has not continued to work. That I have no clear idea on what else to do. And no idea what will work.

I'm only barely on the lowcarb road. It's dark. It's quiet. It's foggy. And I'm just riding that inch of white line with little but desperate faith, because it's all I can see.


Monday, November 10

Low-Carb Drama Queens at All Ages

This post is going to be one of those posts that is embarrassingly honest, at the risk of making me -- and my kid -- significantly less "cool".

Even the lowcarb world has its own version of what is cool and what is politically incorrect. Not surprisingly, anything which does not begin and end with "I eat lowcarb and it's the answer to the universe" is on the un-PC list, and lucky for me, so far, LC really HAS been at least part of the answer to my health universe, so I can't diss that shining ideal. But it hasn't yet been the whole answer, which is perhaps no fault to LC, it just means there's clearly a larger question, and it probably starts with 'nutrition' and possibly exercise involvement, as well as micronutrient (not just the macro of carbs/cals/protein) intake, as well as a drama queen getting off her supersized butt and doing it consistently.

Oh wait, you mean my own effort is supposed to be part of the process here?! Oh yeah! I forgot! (And to think, I was all set to blame Atkins, because we all know that his falling on ice is the reason I eat too much peanut butter and why we should keep buying Nabisco chips. Anybody who doesn't see the connection here hasn't been reading enough modern AP newsline 'public relations versions of ridiculously bad alleged-science studies funded by food producers' marketing designed-as-news.)

Aside from "the rest" of the answer to my health, whatever it(s) may be, there is another issue that lowcarb hasn't yet been able to solve: the issue of a single supersized (5'6" ~370#) 43 year old mom and her obese (~5'2" 180#) 12 year old daughter, hereinafter referred to simply as: The Low-Carb Drama Queens.

Drama Queen cue: "Good Morning!", also known as, "Mo-ommmmm, I'm hungry, make me food! What is there to eat that isn't meat or eggs or dairy or gluten-free almond/flax/coconut and can be made quickly 'cause I'm starving and you have to work?"

Answer: nothing. You will learn to like eating eggs and meat and almond/flax/coconut concoctions 365 days a year or you can starve. Alternatively, you can eat green vegetables (which you loathe). Don't complain. Your friends live on McDonalds and can wear skinny jeans. If you don't learn to live on chicken and flax you will cease fitting into your size 16 stretch denim leggings which already look like they are about to bust 4 seams simultaneously. And Mom will just continue being the size of a refrigerator but slightly better looking.

Should you successfully live on meat and glutenless other-things three times a day for the next seven days plus no bad snacks and no sneaking food in the night, your total reward for this impressive 168 solid hours of dedication will be: er, probably nothing. You might, maybe, have lost a pound, although increased exercise or muscle retention may in turn be making that seem worse instead of better. But you are supposed to have faith that if you combine those 168 solid hours of effort into another round and another round and another round that eventually you will see actual results. No, this does not equate to mom's belief in the tooth fairy.

Drama Queen negotiation: well can't we have enough cheese to stop a German tank in its tracks, like some Dairy Society version of Non-Lethal Weapons, with which we could completely obliterate the taste (and point) of having eggs or meat with the meal? Preferably also with something else high-fat for taste such as sour cream for example, or some lowcarb (but not when it's in quantity) ketchup?

Answer: well I suppose. There, I made you happy! Now, we just ingested a breakfast with as many calories as a federal banking bailout costs dollars, and hence the former experience will be just about as good for us as the latter. It is potentially true that if our overall carbs from all that cheese and sour cream managed to stay relatively low, we might not gain weight, but, given that (a) we can gain fat by even thinking of non-diet sodas (a medical process hereinafter known as "quantum soda metabolation") and (b) the carbs aren't real low in that case, well it's probably going to make things worse, unless (c) miraculously we don't gain fat from it, which merely means that (d) we managed to survive another meal and hours of life and get one meal closer to burnout and flying off the wagon in frustration, all without doing a damn thing about the weight problem.

Drama Queen cue: It's lunchtime, also known as "Mo-ommmm, make me food, I'm hungry! What can we have that isn't what breakfast was and isn't meat or veggies or funky flax/almond/coconut variants?"

Answer: nothing. You will learn to like eating eggs and meat and almond/flax/coconut concoctions 365 days a year or you can starve. Alternatively, you can eat green vegetables (which you loathe). Don't complain. It's not the fault of girls you see all over the place that they were probably born with genetics that make them thin while you were born to a 300# insulin resistant mother with high blood pressure and no prenatal care until 7 months and a lousy diet before, during and after pregnancy. No I'm not telling you that you were cursed at birth, your grandparents already tell you that, I always tell you that your destiny is in your own hands and we can get a handle on this if we work on it. Would you like some asparagus with that? No, of course I am not trying to make you vomit. We're going to have hamburger patties again. Yes, for the 1,928,834th time. Would you like some ranch dressing to dip that in?

Drama Queen cue: it's dinnertime, also known as "Mo-ommm, make me food, I'm hungry! What can we have that isn't lunch or breakfast and isn't meat or veggies or funky flax/almond/coconut variants?"

Answer: nothing. You will learn to like eating eggs and meat and almond/flax/coconut concoctions 365 days a year or you can starve. Alternatively, you can eat green vegetables (which you loathe). Don't complain. Your mother needs to be on a lowcarb eating plan and she actually LIKES meat. Whether this is because she is twice your size and an O positive blood type, vs. your A negative blood type, is unknown, and I heard that's all a 'fad' anyway. To salvage your having to eat meat... AGAIN... I am going to make the meat in a way that you can best stand. I will coat small chunks of chicken in parmesan and bake it and we'll dip it in ranch, or I will drown it in alfredo sauce and we'll bake it. Of course, now we just ate enough calories to ensure this dinner will not lose a single ounce of weight off our bodies, although it may, IF sufficiently lowcarb, prevent yet another ounce from being added.

Drama Queen cue: it's after dinner but before bedtime, also known as "Mo-ommm, make me food, I'm hungry! What can we have that isn't lunch or breakfast and isn't meat or veggies or funky flax/almond/coconut variants?"

Answer: nothing. You will learn to like eating eggs and meat and almond/flax/coconut concoctions 365 days a year or you can starve. Alternatively, you can eat green vegetables (which you loathe). Don't complain. Your growth hormone and many other things have been affected by your being self-sleep deprived and eating carbs before sleep most of your life, so we are solving this by ensuring any snacks are lowcarb. Here, have a string cheese. No, you may not have 11 string cheeses, have ONE.

Next Morning: Drama Queen darling, what happened to Drama Queen mom's cream cheese? Oh, you ate the entire bar with a spoon? And the peanut butter too? And all three of the lowcarb ice cream bar 'treats'? And drink the last six diet sodas? And the entire bag of (8-servings) peas, the legume (not-quite-a-veggie) you like nuked with butter? All while I slept? Despite my attempt to ply you with protein and fat so you wouldn't be hungry? I see. Oh, and you're hungry again because it's morning? Let's re-start that cycle!

End of the week: the scale says, "You ate 2.7 billion calories this week. Your carbs were fairly low, though. You have not really lost any weight. You did rebuild some muscle thanks to the extra protein-aminos. Hence, you have gained a pound."

Drama Queen mom considers her options.

1. Put the child in prison. Build a door at end of hallway that can be locked. Alternatively, explore "the child with the Iron Mask" scenario. This might, after all, lead to her become a rich, if resentful, book heroine someday. Unchecked: not yet tried.

2. Get rid of all interesting food ingredients that allow my average meals to be slightly more interesting, or that allow small treats, or occasional quick foods. This includes cream cheese, peanut butter, any lowcarb treat, diet soda. This leaves: meat. small amounts of cheese. Sometimes a veggie. Check: done. Result: now MY eating plan sucks totally compared to how cool it was before, my variety is lower, my treats are nonexistent, and I can't make anything that doesn't require 'cooking meat or eggs'.

3. Become Mom From Hell. Make food, make complaining about food before, during or after akin to a federal crime by so freaking out at any complaint that child is afraid to mention it. Child will eat it or mom will threaten to rip out her tonsils and stuff it in. Check: mostly done, with variants. I skipped the tonsils part. Problem: this only works in limited duration. Like any other kind of misery, you can get used to it, and then it loses its effectiveness.

4. ____________ please insert your better ideas here.

PJ, aka Drama Queen Mom.

Sunday, September 21

Paying Attention and Water Weight

OK, first I'd like to talk about something odd and kind of embarrassing.

In my last 12 week plan (ended mid-August), not quite halfway through, my weight loss slowed down vastly. To nearly a stop. By a little after halfway through, I had gained a few pounds and wasn't losing anything at all.

I was demoralized. At MY weight, I ought to be losing a helluva lot more weight. I stopped tracking my food, that "obsession taking over my life" since apparently it wasn't doing a damn bit of good. I kept forgetting to weigh... I told myself I didn't care. I was still eating mostly ok but I guess I just kind of gave up, angrily.

I remembered to weigh near the end of the period, which was a low weight even though only a couple pounds lower than I'd been like 10 weeks before, so I put it in my spreadsheet and abandoned lowcarb for a month of true hedonism. Not surprisingly, after a month of high-carb and gluten, I had asthma, allergies, massive bloating, zits, was exhausted, weak, and could barely move in the mornings.

I realized last week that I couldn't find a food log for the end of that period. Now, how can I look at what I was doing and say "This doesn't work for me so let's do something else," if I hadn't tracked it? ME, the measure-to-the-gram, USDA-obsessed, counts to-two-decimals freak?!

Well I went back to start another 12 week cycle. I'm an incurable optimist. I'm not going to be so obsessive about weighing food but I must return to what is right. I know that I eat lowcarb for some reasons that aren't even about fat. So even if I am not losing weight, I still need to eat well. My normal 'extremist' nature tends to make it one or the other.

And looking at my tracking sheet, I realized how much my psychology had been affected by weeks of demoralization in the middle: I failed to even NOTICE that by the end of 12 weeks, it had turned around and I had lost a total of 33 lbs in those 12 weeks. Now, I lost nearly all of that in the first 3.5 weeks. Then I lost nothing, then gained some, then lost nothing, and only re-lost a couple pounds and then a couple more at the very end of that period. Of course, understand that 20 of those "don't count" -- they are water weight I will gain/lose with carbs; I only really counted the others.

The problem is, I blogged about lowcarb not working the way it did for me, and while it IS true that it definitely does NOT cause the degree of weight loss with me it did initially, I think I was injust to lowcarb, inaccurate and not by any possible means fair when I griped about 'no results'. I wonder if I am more psychologically sensitive due to the degree of my weight, or if I just quit believing in it in my despair, I quit paying attention, and so made some assumptions that weren't fair.

Anyway. Seems like people are always assuming anybody who's fat is a moron and lying about their food, so I feel horrible publicly talking about having been a little inaccurate and a lot unfair, as if I'm a bad example of the cliche. But I felt it wouldn't be honest of me if I didn't fess up publicly.


I've been pretty sick the last few days. And I went back to lowcarb the night of the 18th (the two are not related, except that perhaps the HC/gluten caused a lung infection that ended up in sinuses/everywhere).

In 1.5 days -- between late evening 9/19 and early morning 9/21 -- I lost 13# in water weight. Ye gods. That's nearly 2 gallons! I've had to pee like every 30-90 minutes depending for two days, haven't really slept in two days, every part of my face hurts from sinuses, and I am in general very unhappy physically. But it's an amazing thing to drink nearly a gallon of water a day and yet lose nearly two gallons of body-water in 1.5 days time! The minute I ditched carbs and shifted to "meat", took very little time -- it is interesting that every time I would be in the restroom I could feel my right thigh and FEEL that it was just slightly less bloated than 30-90 minutes before! How amazingly efficient the body is.

Already I don't wake up feeling like I'm "overstuffed-inside" and nearly immobilized. I feel kind of weak and unbalanced but I suspect that's as much about being sick as it is such a drastic sudden weight loss.

When I began LC it was 9/18/06. So my recent re-beginning was on my two year anniversary. For all my griping about it not working consistently and more, the fact is that I have kept 100# off for nearly two years now and lost some more in the meantime. I should credit getting off carbs and gluten for more than I do: even if eating well doesn't always result in anything like the kind of weight loss I had initially (I guess I have been unrealistic...), obviously this has worked for me to some degree and the weight has, in general, STAYED off my body -- that is frankly far more impressive than the weight loss, if you look at the maintenance % of weight loss in our society.

I do seem to have some issue with losing/regaining the last 15# several times over the last 18 months but since I keep sliding off lowcarb, I can hardly blame that on the eating plan.

It's always a cascade failure, and it always starts with insufficient protein. Always. If I get 100+g of protein a day, I stay on plan. When I don't, for 2-3 days running, I end up eating something I shouldn't, or deciding to go out to eat, or whatever. It's so obviously a "feeding behavior" much like we measure in animals it's almost embarrassing, though I think it's good that it's become so clear. At least what keeps me on plan -- or sends me off it -- is pretty evident.

OK, I need to get back to feeling sorry for myself here, or I'll be wasting all this valuable time being sick. (haha)

Saturday, September 13

Manifesting Change

Somewhere in the big-screen drama of losing well over 100#, the details get lost. Sometimes it seems as if everything in my life has revolved around my extra weight, and on the changes that have come about as a result of losing a good portion of it, and the angst related to not yet losing yet more of it, and so on.

Lately, I've been meditating. Almost daily, via archetype meditations. These are not passive no-mind Zen kind of stuff. Other terms for this include 'conscious dreaming' and 'active imagination' and so forth. They are a skill in their own right, but done correctly they are not only cool, even amazing, but can make radical changes in your reality. They are silly sometimes, but they work.

I've been meditating and praying about my life and I finally got around to meditating on my extra weight. I found it interesting, but the dream that followed was even more impactive. I felt a sense of excitement after that, as if I can feel on some level that I am delving into important things that need "dealing with". I have more to do on it. But suffice to say it is the first internal work I have done on that topic (oddly enough; my boyfriend pointed out that I seemed to be avoiding the one topic I thought was most important--not a coincidence instead of denial, I'm sure!).

A few things have come about just the last two weeks that are such major changes in my life that I feel like I ought to blog about them.


I am PJ on the internet (and to a few folks offline). I am Palyne in my personal life. There: I am no longer hiding from the world because I'm fat and I'm worried they will know it. I am no longer hiding my internet involvement in one thing because people involved in some other thing might not relate to me so much. You know what? I DON'T CARE ANYMORE. I am not sure how it happened but I truly don't. I don't say that in a defiant or angry way; I say it in a totally accepting way.

Apparently I wasn't really worried about what other people thought: I was worried about what *I* thought. I judged myself harshly. My science-nut persona hates my psychic woo-woo stuff. My fashion-snob persona hates my fat-girl stuff. I've been split into pieces on the internet, separate from my real name, pieces separate from each other, for protection. But now that suddenly my feelings about myself have radically changed and I've started to truly accept myself, my feelings about what others think of me has radically altered too.

The meditation did this. But I can't help but think that the combination of a lot of weight lost, plus the awesome, amazing supportive environment of the wonderful people in the lowcarb world I'm blessed to run into online, has a lot to do with it too.

And you know what I realized? I like myself all the sudden. Yeah sure, I'm really overweight. Who cares besides me? Who matters besides me? I'm working on it, off and on. It'll improve or it won't. It has nothing to do with my quality as a human being. Anybody who thinks it does I am far better off without.

For the first time ever I 'connected' my pieces on the internet. I made a personal blog (at and around weekly I grab posts from all my blogs and suck 'em in there. I linked to all my blogs there. In 13 years online I have never done that. Connected all my pieces plus connected my personal and online identities.

Maybe it seems like a small thing? But I feel as if the iceberg under my surface, the whole thing has shifted. Seriously, "coming out of the closet" about my fat and putting my 'identities' together online, feels as powerful to me as one of my old friend's coming out of the closet (er, literally) felt for him. Like maybe most people would say, "That's who you are, fine," but people "who understand" would realize it's one of the biggest decisions of a life.


Today I had the urge to actually deal with 'the curtain issue' in my house. I have 13 windows in my tract home. Aside from two that are so badly done it's embarrassing, the rest range from uncovered, to the charming "fabric duck-taped to the windowframe" in the back room. I suddenly had the profound and powerful feeling that this simply HAD to change. And right now. I had the money. I wasn't buy anything but super walmart--not like really nice stuff or anything--but since I needed brackets, a couple kinds of poles, sheers, curtains, etc. for 13 windows I knew it would add up bigtime and it sure did. But you know what? I feel like this is another fundamental change in me. In 8 years I've lived here, it's like I have only "existed" here. I have barely "claimed it" in a proper way and really gone about making it like what I want.

Last week I bought primer, paint, and all needed items, to paint my bedroom, which is so hideous that 'welfare tenament' is the closest thing to a description. I bought myself a lovely quilt for my birthday (which is tomorrow, 9/14 -- I'm 43!) with pillow shams.

I can't put into words why after 8 years I finally give a damn. Why I'm willing to spend my money on making radical changes in my environment. About 1.5 years ago I did a few months of massive 'clearing out' process. Maybe this is the next phase. All I know is that for the first time in eons I really care about how my house looks and want to proctively work on making it something I love.


Today I stopped by the salon. I got a slightly geometric above-shoulders cut (longer in front than back) -- she cut off eight inches (8") -- wow. We bleached out a 2.5 inch swath of hair on the middle right side, then colored 2/3 of it a dark wine-red and 1/3 a lovely gold. I have two solid streaks of vivid color in my hair. Oh yeah, and we left a skinny but pretty tri-color braid (similar to one I had when I was 20) -- my 12 year old was "agog" when she saw me!

It's not that big a deal. But here's the sitch: I have not cared enough about myself, paid enough attention to myself, to do ANYTHING more than chop hair off bluntly in over a dozen years, and only because it was more convenient shorter. There was a time when I cared what I looked like, what I wore, what my hair was like. My hair's always been my sense of humor (and a good thing, since it is thin, fine, more sparse since my weight gain, and does absolutely nothing of interest). But today is the first time that I actually had a feeling of INTEREST IN MYSELF.

This interest in myself; the recent sudden acceptance of myself; my renewed interested in making my environment decent; they all seem connected to me.

I feel like weight loss, nice people to encourage me via internet, and meditation and prayer, have combined to make some really fundamental, profound changes in my psychology. I feel like I am "waking up to myself" on some level.

It's a pretty awesome feeling.


Sunday, September 7

Things Change. How Low is "Low-Carb"?

They say that what you learn first, you sometimes learn deepest. It's possible that between The Protein Power Life Plan and the Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, that the "20-30 carbs" part just stuck in my brain. Like some perennial idea, it has re-appeared annually and bloomed twice a season.

Maybe it's because I started so huge--ok, who am I kidding, I've lost ~150 pounds and I am still huge--but I think maybe I didn't pay so much attention to "the rest" of the lowcarb books when they got into "maintenance."

There is no such thing as maintenance when you need to lose 250+ pounds. The expected end of your 'diet' -- the induction part of the eating plan, designed for maximum weight loss -- is a distant dream, a hypothetical hope far off into the sunset.

Even planning for it is unreasonable. You just dive into induction and figure that "someday, when you are nearer a normal weight," you will "increase" your carbohydrate level. That someday becomes the same fictional date used for daydreams, based on "that mythical time when I look acceptable to others". It doesn't exist on a calendar. It only exists as a figment of my imagination.


Eventually there comes a time when things must change. A lot of people who start out "traditionally low-carb" -- basically, the Atkins or Eades plans -- eventually, have to change.

It might be that their weight loss simply slows greatly or even stops. When what you're doing isn't working, obviously, you start looking into doing something else.

It might be that they simply cannot abide eating so restrictively anymore.

It might be that they realize their whole life has obsessively revolved around food thanks to their eating plan and they just can't do that to themselves and their lives and the lives of those they live with anymore.

It might be that they were holding onto that eating plan solely with the iron grip of optimism, which after a long time and still finding themselves "really fat", finally started to falter.

It might be that they've been eating as close to zero-carb as an occasional egg and some spices and alliums make possible, and there is simply no further options in that direction anymore.

Suffice to say that people with a LOT of weight to lose can run into a whole list of problems that people who need to lose a lot less weight seldom do. And when that happens, something has got to change.


When you "expand" your eating plan, and you were "very low carb ketogenic diet" to begin with (VLCKD, <30-40/day depending on the person), obviously what that means is that you are going to be eating more carbs.

And since few of us utilize this opportunity to eat 10x as much broccoli and asparagus as we were eating previously, this means adding in new foods.


Since I began lowcarb, I had some degree of obsession with details. I got my nutrition counts from labels or USDA. I used numbers to the second decimal--third, if available. I did all my measures based on grams with an electronic scale. If it called for 1 Tbsp, I would weigh that, and then look up the grams in USDA, and either match that so my count was correct, or mathematically evaluate what my precise measure came out to. I tracked everything in my food, down to "a clove of garlic" or "some salt and pepper" which I estimated the counts for based on USDA and always estimated high. I kept detailed spreadsheets of my food down to its smallest ingredient.

Why? You could say, "four planets in Virgo; it's a curse." But the truth is probably more social: I have 17 years now of 'awareness' of how our culture at large considers all fat people to be stupid or liars. They assume that anybody fat is eating bon-bons all day or they wouldn't be fat, and anything said to the contrary either implies they are earnest but in-denial deluded, or lying out of embarrassment. So I think I "overcompensated" out of my offended-ego, trying to be obsessively detailed so that I would not ever feel that I was making one of the "errors or untruths" so many people assume on.

I've changed. I cannot do that anymore. I will not do that anymore.

I don't mind keeping a 'general' tally of what I eat, mostly because by now my eating has evolved to where it's mostly whole foods, or ingredients I put together for something, and it's just not that difficult to track even in my head. But I will no longer pursue an obsessive sub-decimal detail about my food intake. I'm not even sure I'm willing to pursue a physical list. I am SICK of it.

Do you know how obsessed you have to be in order to pull that off? How much your focus has to continually be upon food? How careful and/or the chore that even the smallest quick-food -- say, a homemade hamburger patty -- can become? It's ridiculous. I don't want to do that with my life anymore. It has taken over my life when I implement it. I become less a person who happens to be on an eating plan, than a walking eating plan who on rare occasion also focuses on being a person. I just won't do it anymore. I am fed up, put out, done with obsessing on details.

I feel that somewhere, sometime, people are going to look at me and think, "She doesn't even pay that much attention to her food, no wonder she is fat!" But I have paid attention to my food in serious anal-retentive detail and frankly, I haven't really seen that this level of attention to detail makes much difference. I seriously doubt that my calculating the carbs and calories in my garlic and spices, my calculating to a tenth of a calorie when measuring the bell pepper in my salad, really makes any difference. Maybe if I were using calories and trying to lose 3 pounds it would. But not right now.

Because it appears that my body is either willing to lose weight, and will do so with any fairly decent eating plan, or it is not willing to lose weight, and no amount of obsession changes that.

I swear weight loss is starting to seem more like magic, or maybe something in my head, than nutrition.


Apparently I need more than 30-40 carbs a day; but I need less than say, 150 carbs a day. But there are other considerations. For example, calories are not much of an issue when low-carb. But if you're eating a good number of carbs, they become an issue. And eating high-fat is just fine if your carbs are low. But if your carbs are high, eating high-fat as well is not so good; the combination will gradually kill you. So it goes without saying that if I'm going to be eating an adequate protein (for MY size) and relatively high-fat (meat-egg-cheese) diet, that I can't be eating a lot of carbs. I still need to be "low-carb".

How low is low-carb?

There is no hard set definition for 'low-carb'.

If we used research as an example, we'd have to be using the criteria of a bunch of well educated but on sad occasion, not very bright people who have been doing poor research with carefully crafted pre-determined results for a long time. Their version of 'high-fat' or 'low-carb' are numbers that sometimes defy belief. Or, still trying to be 'official', we could use the ADA definition:
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that approximately 50 percent to 60 percent of total daily calorie intake should be in the form of carbohydrates.

Let's see. If I'm trying (and usually failing to achieve this many, but it's my goal) to eat 2300 calories a day, half that is 1150, and a carb has "approximately" 4 calories each, that means according to the ADA I should be eating around 287-345 carbs per day. OK, that will kill me, but first it'll make me vastly fatter than I already am, so I have to disregard that measure as well.

No wonder diabetes is considered 'degenerative' and so many 'pre-diabetic' people end up with it, following advice like this? Perhaps that number is not accurate. I searched the ADA website for something specific. What a labrinth of non-specifics on nutrition counts! I did find this, regarding the ADA's food pyramid, with its primary base of carbohydrates:

At the base of the pyramid are bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. These foods contain mostly carbohydrates. The foods in this group are made mostly of grains, such as wheat, rye, and oats. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, and corn also belong to this group, along with dry beans such as black eyed peas and pinto beans. [...] Choose 6-11 servings per day.

Well, all I know is, "That's too many carbs for my body" no matter how I count it. Given I ate high-carb my entire life, I know the only thing that does really well is make me insanely fat. So I am left using the more modern parlance or "lingo" used by "many" people in commercial books and the internet. Which, of course, varies.

The "average diet" is allegedly in the 275-375 carbs per day range.

Generally, 70-150 carbs a day is considered a "controlled" carbohydrate diet.

Generally, 35-80 carbs a day is considered "low" carb.

Generally, <35 carbs a day is considered "very low carb ketogenic".

Obviously these exact numbers are going to vary depending on who you ask. This is an 'average range'.

So what most people think of as 'LowCarb' is actually the far extreme of the measure. It isn't 'low' carb, it is VERY low carb, specifically so low that it sponsors the body into a ketogenic state. This is the "induction" part of most lowcarb plans.

Of course, most plans are designed for a brief induction, followed by a raise in carbs, eventually raising to a "maintenance" level, which is another big variable number that depends on the individual.


There is a very big difference in your food when you are eating 30 carbs versus 80 carbs. REALLY big. Condiments, sauces, herbs, become almost a non-issue (as long as we aren't talking about flour-sauce/gravies or desserts of course). You can actually eat fruit (wonderful), and carbier veggies (yum, peas!), more dairy, and even small amounts of things like whole oats and beans.

But there is a big difference in your body too, and that difference is ketosis. Ketosis is unlikely to be in place when you are eating 70 carbs a day, and it's nearly impossible to avoid (at least cyclically) if you are supersized and eating <40 carbs a day.

When ketosis makes fat fall off you, it's great. But when it ceases to cause your fat to disappear at a good clip, then its value is questionable. That was, after all, the whole point of invoking that state in the body in the first place. Why else? I never heard that ketosis was good for much of anything besides the weight loss side of it.

If eating ketogenic-level carbs no longer causes a person to lose weight at any reasonable speed, then you have to wonder if eating more nutrients in a wider array of food, with more carbs (but not "a ton" of them), might not be healthier. Or at the least, more easily maintained and more emotionally satisfying for the variety.


I don't yet have a decision or plan of action.

I do however have a few things I DO know:

I am not obsessing-in-detail about my food anymore. I just refuse.

I am not considering 'lowcarb' to be <30g anymore. If up to 100 does not make me gain significant weight or have any blood sugar or other problems, then I am going to expand my food as much as possible and eat what I can. If eating far less isn't making me lose weight and isn't noticeably improving any other health measure, then I fail to see what difference it makes anyway.

So... things change. This is not where I began. This is not what I considered "low-carb" when I began. This is a whole different approach in several ways.

But I tried the other way, the ketogenic VLC. And it worked great!--until it didn't.

So... now, as soon as I figure out what I can personally sustain, I'm going to try something else.


Thursday, September 4

Fat Forever?

You know, things in the lowcarb and weightloss categories have been coming up with me, that I haven't known how to blog about. In part because they are not those happy-joy encouraging, positive things. And in part because I don't really have an answer to anything, I'm just speculating. Let me go ahead and speculate on-blog-paper. Maybe other people have thought about similar issues. Feel welcome to comment because I'd really like other peoples' input on this difficult subject.

I have observed the last few months that I can eat really well, and I'm not losing weight. Or when I do, it's a very small amount over a rather long period of time. I can eat badly, and gain water weight, or actually lose weight on the scale, which is unintuitive, seems quite unfair, is even maddening. Long-term, yes, eating too many carbs drives my weight up, through the water/glycol storage if nothing else. But short term, it often drops the weight several pounds. Maybe because less protein means degraded LBM? God only knows. I can only tell you that the scale does not seem to adequately reflect my eating behavior in the short term. This is the case for other people I know who are about the same size as me, coming from a similar high weight as me.

And for the long term, eating badly will see the numbers rise, but eating well is not seeing them fall. Low calorie. High calorie. Moderate calorie. Low carb. High carb. Moderate carb. Vegetables. No vegetables. High fat. Low fat. With Gluten. Without it. With dairy. Without it. I admit I have not obsessively pursued every one of these, but there should be some vicarious experience here: I have friends online who have pursued many things I haven't, are about the same size with the same history, and facing the same issues.

Now, as a friend recently pointed out, lowcarb has its own near-religious devotion. People will insist that since lowcarb is The Answer™, surely you must be doing something "wrong". You must be having too many carbs... too many calories... you should be doing Intermittant Fasting (IF)... you should be doing High-Fat... you should be doing Low-Fat... you should be adding in Coconut Oil... you should be avoiding dairy... the list goes on.

When I see someone suggest that gosh, maybe "carbs are creeping," I swear I want to punch them in the head. What kind of arrogant denial-of-my-reality crap is that? Put this in the category of "you're fat so you must be retarded." YES it's one of MANY possibilities for people not paying attention, but if I were not paying attention to what the hell I was eating, why would I be complaining that I'm living on X or Z and not losing weight? Or not at any speed that verges on 'reasonable' given the levels of restriction on food intake?

I think this is denying reality. The reality is that there is not much research on morbidly obese people who lose weight via lowcarb. We don't actually KNOW what is "supposed" to happen, what can, what should, what will, or what factors might affect bodies with this history much moreso than bodies which have had "lesser degrees" of it.

It is entirely possible that peoples' bodies vary in terms of what amount of weight they are willing to lose -- or at what rate, with what 'rest for homeostasis' periods in between -- just like metabolism varies. And it is entirely possible that when you start out 500 pounds, you are never going to be thin. BUT: most of us already accept this. "Maybe I'll never be thin again," but most of us do NOT accept that the weight we WILL be, will be 350 pounds. I mean that sounds completely unreasonable right? How could that possibly be a 'proper' weight?

Surely if you just did X, or Y, or Z, the weight would come off until some number we "like better" arrives, e.g., ok maybe you'll never be thin but you might be 30-40 lbs above your ideal weight. What if that is Just. Not. True. ?? What if the body EVER getting to 500# means that it is going to willingly go to around 350-380 and then "sit there" in homeostasis for eons, no matter WHAT you do, and then gradually get a LITTLE bit lower later? What if 300# is your 'thin weight'?

My point is, nobody knows! We act like it's a known, but it's not. There just isn't really research on this stuff. Most the people who've lost "a lot" of weight have lost like 100-150#. We know people can do this and at the end of that be a 'reasonable' weight, but they still have a lot of issues related to their former obesity, from vastly lower metabolism, lower leptin levels, higher hunger compared to people the same weight, need to eat fewer calories to stay the same weight as other people who didn't used to be fat, and so on.

Well, me and friends have lost that much weight, but some of us at the other end of that are still fat. And the 'additional' weight, unlike the first 100-150 lbs, is simply not coming off in any mathematically reasonable way. Not that any of it is mathematically reasonable--because metabolism is chemistry, not math--but it's really quite unreasonable according to our belief systems.

In a previous blog post I quoted Dr. Jeffrey M. Friedman, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller University. Here's a couple of 'reminder' quotes:

So let me put a finer point on this. Imagine you’re 250 pounds. and you lose 100 lbs. to 150 lbs. Now you ask how many calories does that person burn compared to someone who started out at 150 pounds.They burn like 300 or 400 calories fewer per day when they’re at that reduced weight. Now think about it. That person is hungry and now can only eat fewer calories than the equal weight person to maintain that weight, despite the fact that they weigh the same amount.


Dr. Jeffrey Friedman (regarding post-weight loss surgery): …there’s another feature of this surgery that people, I think, ignore, and it’s this: when you do this procedure you limit the intake of a person to about 700 calories a day. Just so you know, none of you could consume 700 calories a day for very long; it is a very small number of calories. Despite that fact, these people still end up being clinically obese at the other end of the procedure. They lose a lot of weight but they would still on average be definable as significantly obese on average after the procedure.

Now think about it, they’re eating 700 calories a day and they’re still obese. I mean if that doesn’t say that there’s something metabolically different about the obese than the lean, I don’t know what does.

Maybe the reality is that I need to live on green veggies and meat and nothing else for about 3 months, for every 1-5 lbs of weight I want to lose. Maybe this is just the way it is. Do I want to lose 1-5 lbs? Sure. Do I think that losing 12-60# in a year would still be worth it? I sure do. Do I think that I can live on an insanely restrictive eating plan for the next several years in the hope that I might someday, and this even assumes the current trend doesn't get worse, I might someday get somewhere NEAR a normal weight? Or maybe only get 100# lower, which would be awesome, but I'd still be morbidly obese?

I'm not sure. In all honesty, I am not sure. I am sure that I can eat generally low-carb -- if we consider ~100 or less carbs a day to be lowcarb, no problem. I can eat gluten-free, that's a bigger problem but do-able. I can avoid junkfood, processed foods, for the most part, that's not that big a deal. But I am not sure that I can avoid every molecule of less than perfect food forever while "waiting for" my body to decide to lose a little more weight.

It is ticking me off that when I eat well, the scale isn't really moving. One reason is because some people look at me as an example, since I'm a blogger so in public. They might be obese too, and see my success so far with weight loss as inspiration. So what the hell do I say now? Why have I stayed in the 350-380 zone (varying) for so long? Why does eating well not seem to drop my weight? When I began lowcarb, even accounting for water/glycol loss, merely keeping my carbs fairly low resulted in super rapid weight loss. Now it seems like very little works to bring about weight loss at ANY speed let alone 'rapidly'.

Now as a caveat to all this I will make one admission: I have not eaten, for "the long term" (meaning a solid 40+ days), according to the "nutritionally complete" eating plan that Regina Wilshire would recommend. In other words I have not gone greatly out of my way to get every vitamin and mineral and nutrient that the body probably thinks it needs, as part of my eating plan. It IS possible that the body is refusing to lose weight that it might agree to, with a more nutritionally complete eating plan.

So far, I have simply been incompetent on this issue. My eating habits have changed so radically the last two years it's absolutely amazing. I eat better than most of planet earth, most of the time anyway. I am on the verge of being a 'whole foods' person (not raw, not vegetarian, but not processed either), with a couple of condiment/sauce exceptions. I eat fewer carbs AND calories than people 1/3 my size. I don't lose weight.

If I up my calories and make SURE I am getting at least 2000 per day, I may lose weight verrrrrrrrry slowly. If I up my protein, I can stay with that. If my protein is not at least 100+g per day, I will eventually be driven by biology to eat higher carbs because my body isn't getting enough protein/amino. So that makes eating ~120g protein/2000cal per day absolutely required. Yet even when I succeed at that (I chronically fall short; I seldom go over--it's just not easy to eat that much protein and still be high-calorie frankly), the weight loss is amazingly slow.

Some bodybuilders think that you cannot deprive your body of more than 300-500 calories MAX a day from whatever your BMR--and it might vary per day and depending on nutrients--and lose weight. They think if you go below that number your body shifts into starvation mode instead of weight loss. The exception being some very obese people and only initially. This would suggest that the only way to lose 'additional' per-day would be to add weightlifting, so the body was reducing insulin resistance, and adding lean muscle mass. Of course when you are body building you generally need to add a few more carbs and calories for other reasons.

But I will admit, that along with Regina's nutrient-dense approach, weightlifting with calorie observation has not been something I have seriously done for 40+ days in order to carefully measure the results.

So I haven't tried 'everything'. Maybe this means I have no right to complain.

But you know what--I'm not alone. Lots of people I know are in a similar situation to me. Some are much smaller. Some larger. All have tried a LOT of different options food-wise. And the fact seems to be that eating plan alone, AFTER a certain amount of weight loss, is simply not the 'solution' to obesity.

Maybe it requires hard core nutrition too. Maybe it requires weight lifting too. Maybe it requires prayer and work on 'belief systems'. Who knows.

I only know that what I have been doing IS NOT WORKING.

So until I get to the point of doing one of the two things I have not yet successfully maintained for any length of time, I feel like I have no real point to blogging about progress.

I feel guilty for not losing weight more rapidly. Like I am letting down people who are watching me. Like people might suspect I'm lying about something. Like it might make lowcarb, which I genuinely believe in particularly for my body, look bad.

What I don't know is if maybe I'm wasting my time. Maybe my body is always going to be enormous. Maybe if we had research it would say, "You screwed it up, it is never getting much better." If I knew that, at least I wouldn't feel so guilty about it!


Tuesday, August 12

The Bizarre Shapes of the Body

One thing is certain: if my life wasn't weird enough already, my body is now contributing to the mix. Thanks to lowcarb my body is smaller than it used to be. This is having some unintended, and sometimes disturbing, side effects.

It's kind of like Frankenstein, or The Bride, where you realize that your body is kind of horrible looking but you are stuck with it. And I say this in the nicest way, because I love my body, as a nature spirit symbiote with me; I spend a lot of time lately being truly 'in' it and 'with' it and letting it know how awesome I think it is. But still, watching it morph as I slowly shrink is just... weird.

Psychologically, I mean.

It used to be that I was simply huge. No detail, really; "huge" summed it all up. At 500# you are simply too large to have much of any definition; you're a round refrigerator for the most part.

At the moment I'm hovering around 357. I say 'hovering' because it varies and I think is refusing to go 7 pounds lower out of some perverse desire to delay my meeting my first major weight loss goal for a few more eons.

Currently, my weight is not dropping at any decent speed, which I expect is mostly because I am not really "dieting" anymore but simply eating in a way that is generally lowcarb and mostly gluten free. Despite this, my body continues to... change shape.

I don't know if it is losing fat despite not losing weight, or if it is simply my body's "redistribution of the wealth" so to speak.

The first change was when I stopped, in fear, getting into the shower, realizing I had something oddly hard under the surface on my side. I felt around it in horror. A gigantic, sort of flattened cyst? A tumor of some kind?

Then I realized... those were ribs.

... yes. It had been that long since I'd felt them.

A variety of small changes happened. And then one day in the bathroom at the movie theatre, I realized that my butt had changed. Now, since I carry the vast majority of my weight in the pear shape -- my face only slightly looks fat depending on the picture, my upper body does but not nearly as overwhelmingly as my lower body -- for the most part, the region hereinafter referred to as the "lowertummyhipbuttthigh" region was, for lack of a better term, just a gigantic blob.

But my stomach has lost a lot of fat (I have a waist, unlike most people my size, as I don't store much fat there the way some do). With a lot of extra skin there, the fat sort of hangs down in a roll very low. And then it turned out that my hips and lower butt lost a lot of fat as well, and much of the fat in that region then started sort of hanging down around the top-middle of that area.

This resulted in me standing in front of the mirror, turned to the side, looking and poking in awe at the new weird shape my body had taken. Now there is obviously a huge lump/roll of fat that is basically the lower stomach and then travels all the way around the back. So the top-half of the butt is superfat, with a funky bulge out to each side.

Rolls and bulges were less an issue when my whole body was one big bulge. You know, nobody thinks about the pillsbury doughboy having cellulite, cause he's fat enough to just be "soft and big". But if he started losing weight you could bet he'd start looking pretty funky. ;-)

Recently I apparently started losing some of the fat on my thighs. Well, maybe not losing, maybe it is just moving elsewhere, who knows. In any case, my thighs which were a semi-solid shape from hip to knee -- just very, very large -- are now oddly creased in the middle and to a lesser degree 'here and there', with bulges and a sort of hanging in places that makes clear some of that dreaded "extra skin" of the superfat-dieter is starting to become more apparent now.

With every pound I get lighter, I get one more pound more deformed.

I am trying not to let this freak me out.

I'm not alone. My online buddy Niki has publicly grieved about this too. And I bet everybody who has lost a significant amount of weight has had some of that.

But it's hard to express the sort of horror that comes of watching your body take the most bizarre new shapes, watching your extra skin start to sag, all that fat hanging around in it in very strange, new ways -- when your primary goal is to look better and feel better.

I grant that I feel better. I grant that I can now fit in most chairs and booths (though it's a squeeze in some), and that I can do many physical things I couldn't before, and wear a 5x pants which means I can actually wear pants, unlike the former 8x+ size that does not exist. I am so much happier. I think I might actually live. And I have nothing but good to say for my shift toward eating "real food", which as a side effect is teaching me to cook.

But it is a curious sadness, to know that the more weight you lose, the uglier your body gets. It makes the whole weight-loss process sort of . . . bittersweet.


Sunday, June 29

The Return of Real Food (+ Almond Muffins)

I realized with a big shock today that every single food that I will be eating in the coming week was something I would not have eaten a few years ago.

Every. Single. Item.

Because they're weird? Because they're lowcarb?

No. Because they're REAL!


I was going through a "loosely" planned menu, so I'd know what to defrost, and basing it on what food I have since I can't shop till near next weekend. I eat a lot of the same things each day (eg usually a blueberry and plain yogurt smoothie for breakfast, and eggs, sometimes with sausage if I have it, as a second late-morning meal...) so it wasn't rocket science.

I'm gradually getting my kitchen organized so really, I pretty much always have the same foods available. I can glance at the pantry and see right off what I have few or none of. I can plan a menu without worrying about what I have (normally) because I always have about the same stuff. I can estimate costs because I buy the same stuff all the time.

Most people eat the same things pretty repetitively. I find that I do this naturally. Having menus actually helps me plan some variety, which I consider healthy, and use a little of everything. My produce varies because that has such a short shelf life. Most everything else lasts longer, or if it can be stored or frozen, a very long time.

I think food can be broken down into the following major categories (I'm probably missing something!). This is a list of what I eat/want to eat, and expect to have on hand whenever I can.

Animal Proteins
> eggs-chicken, eggs-duck, chicken-whole, chicken-breasts, chicken-thighs; turkey-whole, turkey-breast, turkey-ground; beef-roast, beef-steaks, beef-ground; pork-loin, pork-tenderloin, pork-cutlets; sausage-italian hot, sausage-breakfast hot, sausage-gourmet jalapeno-jack; bacon-ordinary

> asparagus, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peppers, hot peppers, zucchini

> carrots

> small organic gala apples, avocados, strawberries, frozen wild blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, tomato

Alliums and Other
> garlic, onions, scallions, mushrooms

> pecans

> almonds, flax, coconut

> cream, cream cheese, sour cream, colby-jack, mozzarella, parmesan, blue

> black beans, small red beans

> sweet potato

Processed foods

> coffee, cocoa
> seasonings (from extracts to mixed spices to GF soy sauce, condiments)
> sauces (4-cheese alfredo sauce, enchilada sauce, etc.)
> drinks (diet A&W root beer)
> artificial sweeteners (generally sucralose)


Back in the days when I worked ALL the time, and honestly thought Subway sandwiches were healthy (healthy enough to combat the bread, Dr. Pepper and Doritos and cookies??), I never ate real food. If I had anything at all at home, it was generally tortillas and bread and bagels and pasta.

My food life has changed so much it's hard to measure.

Last night I made almond muffins. I've seen recipes for this kind of thing in various places but I got this one from my LC buddy Karen.

Almond Muffins
2 cups almond meal
4 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
4 oz (1/2 cup or 1 cube) butter (you can use coconut oil)
1/3 cup sweetener (davinci works well)
pinch salt
Mix the dry stuff, stir in wet stuff, stir very well, bake in 12 muffin tins @ 350 about 15 minutes.
Nutrition counts are here.
You can add extracts, berries, etc. to this for a stronger flavor.

Despite some artificial sweetener, even this yummy "baked good" (and the texture is closer to breadish than most LC stuff) is healthier than the stuff I used to eat and seriously considered healthy.

When I list my foods like above, where the stuff I want least is near the bottom -- I'm working on getting more at the top and less at the bottom -- it really brings home how NOT REAL my eating was prior to lowcarb. There was a day I could not have even imagined eating so much 'real food' -- let alone actually cooking it myself, heh!

I feel so fortunate that I've come to this eating plan. My life is so much better in so many ways. It's almost like finding religion. But I guess the body is so profoundly affected by nutrition that makes sense.

Food is the religious doctrine of the body. You can make it bad or good, but you live with what you focus on.


Tuesday, June 17

What's so hard about low-carb?

Today I was looking at a sample diabetes association daily menu.

I was aghast. I know enough about my body to know that if I were trying to eat that, I would be starving, cold, miserable, obsessed with food, and probably either binging every few days or eventually just giving up altogether.

Lowcarb could save their life. It isn't recommended because apparently the authorities think lowcarb is just so totally impossible nobody could eat like that.

I think the most complicating factor is that there are 1.7 billion items in the grocery store that will kill you, and 200 that won't, 3/4 of which people have never eaten in their life. The situation's worse in restaurants. But that has nothing to do with the eating plan. That's environment. The environment in the home, people can manage.


When I first started lowcarb, I joked that it was "like trying to be Amish in New York City." It was HARD. I was constantly faced with the seeming impossibility of getting food together and dealing with eating out somewhere and cooking all-the-freakin-time and so on. I did it, I lost weight, but it was a major pain in the ass.

Now lately, I've been doing fine on LC, imperfect but acceptable, losing weight, as has my kid. And I'm realizing: why was this hard?

What was so complicated about it previously, that it seemed hard?


I think some was a mental issue. That is, having grown up where endless varieties of crap were all expected to be put in your body for the fun of it, I had a fundamental misunderstanding of one key thing, which is this:

Food = Meat.
Veggies and fruits are nice treats, except if your meat variety is limited (you don't eat organs, 9 kinds of meat, etc.) they are necessary to add in.

Once I got my head around that, and "animal-based protein" became my priority and vastly dominant food source, a whole lot of everything straightened out on its own.

This doesn't mean that I can't make coconut popovers or flax cocoa muffins or almond cookies or lowcarb pizza or whatever. It just means that everything which is not the primary bodily need is something 'extra'. It isn't really in the category of 'food' except maybe by some percentage of it.


I think some was a physical issue.

It is stunning how radically my desire to eat--and WHAT I desire to eat--changes depending on my food intake.

If I eat sufficient protein, veg/fruit and supplements, I pretty much lose most of my cravings for anything else. I don't even think about food except when it's time to eat. And I eat until I'm full and that's fine. And it's a miracle if I can even get as MANY carbs and calories as I'm trying for in my day. I can stand right next to chocolate, cheesecake, pasta, and literally not care. I don't have any desire to eat them.

When I find myself "kinda wanting" things that aren't my basic foods, I know that I haven't had enough protein or fresh foods or supplements or something.


I think some was a habit issue.

I buy decent quantities of chicken and ground beef or roast and I cook it all at once in the crockpot or oven usually. On occasion I'll chunk up chicken and bake it with a sauce, or throw the chunks in my wok, or coat 'em with parmesan-herbs and bake, but usually I just cook it all at once. Then I drop it in the freezer or fridge. I can nuke it when I want food, I can mix it in with other foods, whatever. Now that I've started having some decent amounts of things in my freezer, often in serving-size plastic bowls, the stress about 'not having food' has dimmed a great deal.

It used to seem like a nightmare, the planning and shopping and cooking and cleaning. Now I buy mostly the same things, which takes out most of planning and simplifies shopping, I cook more seldom for 'full meals', which simplifies cleaning, too.


I think some was a cultural issue.

I grew up with the idea that a meal had several different components to it. You were supposed to have a little meat, a couple of side dishes, a drink, dessert. Except for much of my adult life, the meat took a hike or was barely-there in the midst of pasta or something.

I grew up with the idea that you ate three times a day. As I got older, I ate one time a day. Now I've completely ditched that mentality. Now:

* I have usually dairy+berries for meal 1, like a smoothie.
{1/2cup plain yogurt, 1/3cup cream, 1 egg, 6 ice cubes, 1/3 cup frozen wild blueberries or half a dozen frozen whole strawberries, vanilla, cinnamon, sweetzfree, blendered}

* I have eggs, usually with sausage, and hopefully a tiny bit of veggie, for meal 2.
{3 eggs and 2oz sausage, or 4 eggs 1oz sausage, or 3 eggs, 1oz meat, 1oz cheese, and part of a bell pepper}

* I may not have a meal 3 but if I do, it might be a bowl muffin, or a meat-centered leftover, nuked. It is usually very small (>2oz protein). It may include beans (some of the higher-fiber (lower ECC) beans) or peas, but not a lot.

* For meal 4 I have meat. Lots of it. Like 9-12oz depending on the meat and other meals of that day. It sometimes has a bit of veggie as part of it, in a stew or alongside (like bell peppers and broccoli in stir fry). Or not. Often it's just plain meat. I often make a quick little sauce of some kind for the kid for dipping.

* I may not have a meal 5 but if I do, it might be a tiny gala apple and a few slices of cheese. I only have this if I began eating early and there's at least 2+ hours before sleeping time.

* I take supplements (finally!), and I recently added a 5,000iu of Vitamin D3 from the Drs. Eades's site ( which I kid you not, within about 6 hours or so greatly improved my "sense of well-being." I think it's made a big difference. I use a potassium salt substitute to make sure I'm not getting too much sodium (I use sauces from jars/cans sometimes) and that I'm getting enough potassium. I drink diet soda, and then guilt (and zits) cure me and I drink only water for awhile, until I forget why I was doing that and go back to diet soda. ;-)

In the end I have about 20-26oz of animal-based protein a day (varies slightly), not enough veggies but some, a little fruit, a little too much dairy but not too extreme, sometimes a bit of legumes (beans or peas) and some supplements.

I'm losing weight on and the important thing is: I feel really good.

I'm deliberately eating more carbohydrates than I used to, but none of it's junk, and none is a ton at once. My highest carb intake is my morning smoothie, except the occasion when I have a meat stew that contains some beans.

I don't feel the way I do in a hard ketosis. I'd be losing weight faster if I were there, but my diet would be a lot more limited.

I don't feel the way I do when I'm eating tons of carbs (like hell).

I actually feel as if for the first time in my life since I can remember, I must be eating in a way that my body is pretty happy with.


And it isn't rocket science.

So what I can't figure out is, up until now, why has it been so complicated?


Thursday, June 5

Kitchen Metaphysics

If life is but a dream, as the sages say, then everything around us reflects us in some way.

And if the universe is holographic, as the sages and some physicists now suggest, then every reflected item or issue on one level, is probably present in myriad others.

It's not merely as above, so below; it's also as within, so without; and as here, so there; and every other possible permutation.

Most of the best advice in both practical and metaphysical terms, starts there.

While I wouldn't take this to the extreme--I'm not obsessing over the deeper meaning in a hangnail--I do think that observing 'the patterns of our reality', so to speak, can be enlightening. It's like an intro-spective activity using the extro-spective canvas. (Yes. I just made that word up.)

I'm the analogy-queen; I can see nearly anything as a dream-symbol, and correlate it to other things in my mind, heart, spirit, or other facets of experience. It doesn't really matter how objectively valid this might be, as I figure anything from 'subconscious intuition' to 'God/guides' can use this process to help me a little from the inside, even were it nothing more than my colorful imagination.


Today I started to make dinner (taco salad: kid-approved). I couldn't help but notice, as I searched for something, that yet again my pitiful old fridge was so overstuffed it was ridiculous. Welcome to lowcarb, where nearly everything is perishable!

This is its normal state, mind you. I sometimes think I compost more food than I eat, mostly because stuff gets buried very easily, unseen, and then gets out of date, or replaced because I think I'm out of it. But as inflation around me seems to make the cost of eating, driving, and heating/cooling my house a lot harder than it used to be, the waste of that becomes a bigger deal.

So, like a cat that stops mid-step to lick a foot in desperate need apparently, I stopped in the middle of making dinner and cleaned out the fridge. REALLY well.

In the back of every shelf, and in the door, were innumerable jars and bottles of stuff. Pickles, pickled stuff, dressings, sauces, jams, you name it. Most of them probably date from a long time ago; although I clean the fridge now and then I usually don't bug that kind of thing, thinking it's still probably good. Most of them are also high-carb. I got rid of all of them like that.

I found a number of things important to me -- a whole chicken, two long tubes of ground sausage, several cheeses -- that were outdated or seriously molded and made me really mad at myself for forgetting they were in there and letting them get buried before I used them. (I thought I'd put the chicken in my chest freezer in the garage.) I got rid of everything outdated.

I nearly threw out a tub of yogurt that smelled like sour cream, despite only expiring two days ago, until I realized it WAS sour cream. I swear, I'm like I Love Lucy in the kitchen!

I had five, 13-gallon trash bags filled with stuff when I was done. I honestly cannot believe there was that much stuff. That's not totally filled, mind you. I just made them as heavy as they could be without splitting; a couple were only half-full, as jars of stuff are heavy. By the time I was done, there was almost nothing left in my fridge. But what was left was well organized and in-date and low-carb.

I recently cleaned out and organized my freezer too (it's a side-by-side), so I felt pretty good about this being done.

I closed the fridge, sat back on a folding chair I'd been using for the job, and considered my kitchen.


I have incredibly little counter space. Not counting one fairly unusable (because it's sorta unreachable) corner, I have about 2', ~5', 2' (three separate counter areas). These have to hold my canisters and other things that sit on counters, coffeepot, all my non-refrigerated bottles of stuff (vinegar, etc.), dish drainer, and dirty dishes (I don't have a dishwasher), and so on. So by the time we're talking about useable counter space, there isn't much. There's enough to make a meal just fine, except if I don't clean everything up really well, or I take up a couple feet with dishes needing washed, the next meal has no place to do anything. I mourn this regularly.

Idly looking around, I realized (I knew this, but suddenly realized this in a new way somehow), that I have, count them, three substantial, nice looking sets of clear canisters. (Lovely cubic thick glass ones, spherical lucite ones, and plastic lock&locks.) Every counter in my kitchen is missing the back 8" as a result.

I considered them anew. Most their contents date from--I am not kidding--the year 2000. Think it might be time to get rid of that stuff eh! If I haven't used it by now, I'm definitely not going to be using it anytime soon--and being 8 years old, I don't think I want to use it, airtight canisters or not.

I considered various strategies to consolidate anything useful from the newer l&l's and spice shelf into the prettiest glass ones, use the l&l's for leftover/ freezer storage, and do something elsewhere with the lucite ones. This one step alone would buy me several feet of 8" back-of-counter space freed up.

Then I considered that on the small counter next to the fridge, half of the 2' space is taken up with bottles of stuff -- oils, soy sauce, vinegar, etc. It took me awhile to get the niggling in the back of my head up to the front, where it pointed out that (a) I haven't used more than a few of these bottles in at least two years, (b) nearly everything there is either highcarb, bad for me (like veg oils), or possibly should have been refrigerated anyway, and (c) was another perfect example, like my fridge, of (1) good stuff getting lost in the shuffle, and (2) me using valuable space in my life to store crap I don't use, don't want, and don't care about. This would free up not only the other foot of that counter, but that newly combined space would be a space big enough to actually work in for something like a mixing bowl or chopping mat.

I thought, so really, here I am sorta chronically sad about how pitiful my situation with counter space is, and yet, there is a solution in several areas, and it's really my own fault the situation IS what it IS: if I simply arranged things differently, the situation would be a whole lot better.

It was sort of disconcerting to think I've been bitching about having no counter space for years, and yet, I seem to have pointedly made the problem worse. And somehow, didn't notice.

Like I sort-of-observed, but didn't become "fully" aware of in a deep way, my obesity for so long.

In an upper cupboard on the second shelf I have glasses I can barely reach. Over on another cupboard the second shelf is filled with pyrex baking pans that somehow didn't make it over to the hanging pot rack shelf and take up space I wish I had for other stuff. And the most reachable lower-top cupboard is filled with cups--most of them too small to be useful, typical coffee cups, most of them cheap and cheesy, mismatched stuff I'm not even sure where I got. Why can't I just buy a 6-set of nice, good-sized mugs? Why have a cupboard totally over-filled with ugly crap that's too small?

As my boyfriend pointed out, based on organizing his own kitchen, having tons of cheap dishes does little but crowd the good ones and allow you to make such a mess of your kitchen before you have to break down and clean it that it becomes monumental.

Under the first tiny counter there is a 'corner' cupboard. I don't drop & kneel as easily as the average person, so I only use the front; it's hard to see let alone reach anything farther back. It was looking kinda frenzied. There's probably 150 cheap storage-container lids there... and no containers. My weekly housekeeping help seems to throw them away, unless pixies are stealing them in the night. I've told her she can do that if something is really gross. Apparently many things fit this description. Given my refrigerator, I realize she probably has a point.

I looked closer into the murky depths and realized I have 3 nested metal mixing bowls in there. I forgot those even existed! And I really could have used them recently. It occurred to me all the crappy stuff I can't use is front and center, and useful things are out of sight, out of mind.

I wondered if that was some analogy to my life. Like how all the trivial crap takes up my daily time, while the fairly important stuff, like prayer, meditation, music, writing, working out, etc. get shoved to the back of my life and forgotten in the shuffle.


I looked at this white wall-unit (bookshelf) I have in the kitchen. It's the most handy, accessible thing in the whole little square kitchen. It's filled with (white) appliances. Which, when organized, looks kinda neat. But as I eyed it critically, it occurred to me nearly everything on it I almost never use. A couple I've never used, like the ice cream maker and extra bowl, or the belgian waffle iron. The yogurt maker I used twice. The dehydrator, never yet though I hope so still. The big popcorn maker I can't use now that I'm LC but don't want to get rid of (yet).

I looked closer and saw that the MP3/CD/Radio I've been looking for going on two months now, was actually stacked/ buried underneath a regular-sized waffle iron on the bottom shelf. And as I sat there looking at it with "new" eyes, I realized that while things I need (like glasses) are hard to reach, stuff I almost never use sits in the most prime real estate of the room.

Again, I surrounded myself with what I didn't need, while pushing what I did need back to inconvenience.

The impact of my whole kitchen hit me. I thought: It hasn't changed much in two years. Why am I just now noticing that it is not structured to support me?

I saw that in some respects, this is an analogy to what I was just blogging about: I have seen it, I have been consciously aware of it, but as my boyfriend pointed out, I hadn't "seen the forest for the trees": the larger pattern and its import hadn't hit me until just now.


He and I were talking about something the other night and this really fits into it. Sometimes, it's like each individual little thing seems like no big deal. Inconveniences with my coffeemaker and my knife block and other things, I just deal with, because they are such trivia, so what. Tons of things. But none are important. None are a big deal.

And yet when you combine all those trivia into one situation, you get this BIG situational pattern that is amazing and eventually, when you realize the scope of it, you have to admit it's untenable: you can't stand it anymore. You realize the situation is now "ridiculous" and "overwhelming" and frankly dysfunctional and things have got to change.

Things that are fine one trivia at a time, are not fine en masse.


They say frogs won't notice they're boiling if the water gets hot gradually. Things pile up gradually. Inconveniences multiply gradually. Weird shit stuffed in cupboards and under things breeds and multiplies until it's frankly astounding how much STUFF you can find in every imaginable area. Because it happens gradually. You see it, but it doesn't sink it. Then one day you see the whole pattern and it does.

Why do we let it go? It's not just 'things', it's 'situations'. How many times have I seen a situation a friend is in and thought, "I would never put up with that." Whether it's the behavior of a spouse or boss or child, or whatever. But you know, they probably didn't start putting up with that. First it was just one little thing. Then another. Until it snowballed into a ridiculous and even dysfunctional situation. But it boiled my friend by surprise because the increase was gradual. I've had my share of boilings myself, of course.

If we had more here-now focus, more sense of self, would we be more inclined to nip inconveniences in the bud, rather than just deal with it?

And while I'm at it, what kind of logic is, "It's ok, it won't kill me." WTF? So what if it won't kill you, neither will arsenic in small doses, does that justify any given thing being tolerated?!

Kinda reminds me of that digitally animated movie A Bug's Life. The grasshoppers at a bar are joking about, what kind of harm can one crazy disgruntled ant do? And their leader, Hopper, says something like, You're right, and he tossed a seed in the air as if it represented an ant, what harm can an ant be? And laughed with them--and then angrily yanked open this chute and utterly buries them in these seeds. He says the issue with ants is numbers, which makes it a serious issue indeed, even if their comparative size/strength individually is not.

His point: if you don't deal with the single issues as they arise, someday you'll have an army of issues to deal with all at once, and that'll be a lot harder to deal with.

Well in a way this perfectly describes "clutter" and "inconvenience" (and other things -- from relationships to kitchens to fat cells to whatever). We let any number of minor things and inconveniences bug us because it seems like more trouble to stress on solving it than just to accept that it won't kill us.

(Yes, I know I'm using the bad guy in an animated film for my philosophy, but stay with me here. I grew up on Disney, I can cry over cartoon movies and commercials, and I even liked the Bee Gees. I am not ashamed.)
  • I feel that keeping all the highcarb stuff represents the things I hold onto that I not only don't really want but know will harm me, but cling to solely because I have something invested in them.
  • I feel that spaces stuffed with outdated food and bowl-less lids and such represents things I have ignored that are missing or going bad in my life.
  • I feel that prime in-my-face spaces stuffed with things I don't much use, while the things I need are nearly out of reach, represents some problem with priorities and attention, like filling my life with such busy-ness that I forget to pray or sleep enough, as one of innumerable examples.

What if, like the mystics say, we actually look at our surroundings as extensions of ourselves?

What if we actually expect that everything we have we should love, and if we don't love it (figuratively speaking here), we should give it away, not keep it prisoner in an environment where it is not utilized or respected? This goes for situations, not just things.


As for the sheer amount of stuff around me:

Sometimes I feel like every single item/object in a room is taking some tiny little piece of my attention just by existing in proximity.

When I'm in very minimalist rooms with a sense of space, I tend to be more creative, more relaxed, and feel rather like more (a larger %) of my "awareness of inner self" is available, since it is not busy with my external surroundings, and not numbed and distracted by the sheer quantity of them.

And every item that is messy, out of place, uninteresting, unwanted, broken, mismatched, etc. seems to add just a little bit of darkness to the mix.

There's a reason magazine ads show large open rooms with lots of light and space. It feels good, psychologically.

So I live in a small dark box some bad architect in the 1950s designed to build cheap. I can deal. But nearly everything I have to gripe about inside my house is something that I can change, and more importantly, something that often, I've made far worse than it was to begin with, or ignored for years, or seriously failed to make even the smallest intelligent decision to resolve.

Apparently the real problem wasn't my dim and boxy little house, it was me.

And it's not that I suddenly have a problem. It's that I had a problem paying attention to the little things when they began eons ago, and went into denial of the big things when they finally manifested quite some time ago, until I just "woke up" one day recently and said, "Hold up here! I've had an unfinished painting job and no cupboard doors for years now! WTF is wrong with me? That's ridiculous! Solve that right now!"


So tonight I did the fridge. Tomorrow I'm doing the canisters and the bottles on the counter. By Friday I should have more counter space and convenience than I've ever had here in eight years.

The important thing is this: It was always there. The opportunity and option was always present. It is merely my lack of attention, intention, whatever, that kept me from observing it, seizing it, and doing something about it.

Every problem I thought of while looking around my kitchen, I realized there was a solution for. All I've seen for years is a kitchen of problems. All I saw tonight was a kitchen filled with answers, and potential too long ignored and badly managed by me.

Maybe that's a lot of my life, too. My health, body/mind/spirit, has no problem for which it does not also have at least one solution. The question is, will I look for it properly, with the open mind to find it? Will I recognize the need to bother looking in the first place? Will I put forth the effort to make it work once I see?

I have a great kitchen, really, despite how bad off it is now and how much I've complained about it -- and I have a great body, really, despite the same general situation. Both are over-stuffed, disorganized, unfinished and badly treated. But they have great potential, and if I treat things well and regularly make an effort, both might turn out to be better than I ever dared hope for.


Some people use church, ancient philosophers, or psychotherapists for analysis. Tonight, I used my kitchen. Make use of the tools at hand. :-)


Wednesday, June 4

"You Know It Don't Come Easy"

I admit it: I deal poorly with failure. You'd think I'd have adapted by now. That by this age of 42, I'd have evolved some kind of gentle but firm, persistent discipline that my friends have so often had. I so admire that. I sometimes think the people I've chosen as friends have often been people with the qualities I most lacked.

This is an odd thing to admit--and will just make me sound like an egotist--but I was blessed, or maybe it's cursed, with a seeming gift for naturally acquiring skills. Just about anything I've ever wanted to do in my life, I decided to do, and it turned out I was pretty talented in that area. From sports to music to intellectual topics to creativity of many kinds, it didn't matter. It's always just been a given.

When I was 12 at the skating rink they made me race the 18 year olds and start halfway back the rink and I still beat them. When I was in 5th grade my teacher used my SAT scores to talk with the class about 'potential' because I'd scored at college level in every area (I think Math was slightly lower). (Irony: I nearly failed 5th grade. My mom died late the year before and I wasn't real happy then.) In high school I read the textbooks the first couple days, aced most the tests the rest of the year that were based on it, to the fury of my friends who studied and did more poorly, and I read science fiction the rest of the time. (Not surprisingly, I nearly failed most of high school, too.)

When I decided to teach myself guitar as a teen, my friends, who'd had years of lessons and were working on the same music I was, practiced daily in earnest. I played around for 15 minutes, ignored it for a week, and was better than them by the next weekend, as if my subconscious were working on it. They'd get furious at me, at how unfair it was. They were right: it was. When I decided to enter the local (today they'd call it "Indie") scene with my original music, people were so ridiculously nice to me I kept looking at them suspiciously. Musicians better than I'll ever be would just unfold from the woodwork to talk with me and play with me and invite me to stuff. From trivial skills like soul-train dancing as a kid to more useful stuff like subtle language skills for hypnosis/NLP, to a long list of business skills and insert-anything-here, I've had it remarkably easy in life.

My life has been significantly difficult in other areas. Maybe the universe is compensating.

And so... I didn't learn to practice. I didn't learn much discipline. I didn't learn anything about persistence. And because anything I bothered trying to do, I did well with remarkably little effort--and I didn't do things that I wasn't good at I suspect, and didn't need to since I had plenty of other choices--I never learned to deal with failure.


When I gained a couple hundred pounds quickly, and dieting by the high-carb standard didn't do anything for me (except make me so miserable I didn't think I could survive it), I was at a loss. I was 24 and for the first time in my life I had utterly and completely failed. Not only had I become terminally uncool -- so much that the career in music I planned since I was 5, my hundreds of songs in a binder from the time I was a teen, were all for nought -- but then as if to nail that case closed, my diet efforts failed abysmally to change it.

I didn't know what to do to fix it. I did everything by the book, hard and perfectionist, and failed. Given no female in my mom's family had successfully avoided being huge, I figured that was it, I was doomed. Baffled by my failure, and having no idea how to handle it, I went another way: after deciding (barely) not to shoot myself, I just immersed myself in my work and personal interests--generally those which did not require being physically seen by another human being.


There is a thing sometimes called state-specific consciousness that refers to memory being associated with certain states of mind. For example, if in one state of mind you had experience A and learned skill B, then for some people, in a different state of mind, they might have a fairly minimal grasp of that memory and skill--but if they shift their state of mind back to where they were 'present' when those experiences happened and skills developed, the memories and skills are fully accessible to them. It's a bit of a phenomenon.

I'm a high hypnotic and I've got a good deal of this. Half of what I've done through my adult professional life I probably couldn't do today, without regressing to a mental state much like I had when I did that work (by imagining myself in that situation/etc.), and I assume that as usual, I'd pick up the memories and skills again. In some areas of my personal life -- including my obesity -- this has an odd way of surprising me.

(Aside from that: there is a TV show called The Pretender that I always felt was a more-advanced version of some innate skill humans have access to, and that's like a secondary part of the phenomenon: the ability to put oneself in a state of mind that is so highly 'receptive' to every kind of subtle information, memory and more, that one can do more than the objective time/info-invested would imply they should be able to. Some would call this psychic; others would just consider it having access to a vast database of mnemonic, subconscious information.)


I recently attempted some half-squats, and had dismal luck with them. I'm sure with something firmer to hold onto I will do ok. I can do a full squat but my knees feel terror. (Literally, and speaking of 'phenomena': the sense I have is that the fear is felt by my knees, not my head for my knees. Odd!)

I was SO ANGRY that I couldn't just DO it, that I ended up just stomping out, this was days aog, and haven't gone back to my weights room since.

Because: I really have a problem with failure.

I just need to accept that I am not a 19 year old tennis playing windsurfing judo throwing California girl fashion zombie performer anymore... I am a 42 year old mega-morbidly obese midwestern mom now. It just keeps pissing me off!

So the reasonable question is: If you're 42 years old, and you've been insanely fat for nigh on 20 years, why aren't you used to it already? Why is a full mirror or store window a ghastly, horrifying shock? Why is who and what you are now surprising in any way? What part of the last 20 years didn't prepare you for your condition of today?


The reality is that I have deliberately paid so little attention to myself for the last 20 years that it seems like there was the me that was 'aware' all that time ago, and then the me that is just waking up to being more aware of myself today... as if the 20 years in the middle, in terms of my perception of self, have been bizarrely condensed into a few weeks of moments of attention separated by long duration periods of denial.

So now that I am finally "paying attention to myself" more, it feels like, "Whoa, what the -- what?! You have GOT to be kidding me!"

I can't believe I can't do a squat. I can't believe that my eight pound dumbbell weights are plenty. I can't believe I wear a 5x (if slightly stretchy) pants size. I can't believe that horrible image in the pictures is me. I can't believe that reflection in the store window is me. I am stunned, even dumbfounded at times, as if I woke up one day in the body of someone different, and the dreams got me used to life and the history, but the conscious self is completely unadapted to my new reality.

Because I quit paying attention. When I realized (or believed) that I could not change my weight, that I could not salvage the future I planned until then, that I could not bear the horrible fact of my rather swift and profound obesity, the ghastly spectre of it overwhelmed me, and I just . . . tuned out.

And so, the realization, and the frustration, and the coming-to-terms, that I should have done at the age of 24, I am now doing at the age of 42.

And despite that I consciously understand my condition--I don't even try to run, for example--still, the dominant part of me thinks that I should be as tough and athletic as I was last time I knew me--last time I was paying attention.

That part of me thinks that it ought to be easy, like everything used to be. That I ought to be able to go in there and lift weights, or whatever else I might want to do, and do very well with it. That I should pick an intelligent eating plan like the one Regina outlined and within days, weeks, months, be the poster child for nutritional good sense as a result.


I am regularly amazed that eating low carb, AND eating healthily, AND getting exercise, are only easy until they are hard. Too often so far, on the day something gets hard, I quit doing it. Because somehow I have managed to so effortlessly be good at things throughout my life, that I haven't developed the persistent discipline you'd expect from a well-raised farm boy of 10.

So I am also learning, as if I am a small child, about staying with something that is hard. Aside from the business environment (where all those adaptive traits abound in me for some reason, probably for the same reason other skills come easy), I haven't got that trait in my personal life yet.

I'm learning about having to work at something, like my friends did. About having to be persistent, and having to deal with failure -- repeatedly -- and pick myself up, dust off my butt and get back to what I know I want to be doing.


The good news is, low-carb has given me a doorway to success. There was no hope, I thought, all those years ago. There was no point to trying, or to paying attention to myself, if it was hopeless. I used to say, "Only optimists kill themselves. Pessimists aren't surprised their life sucks." I was pessimistic enough about the outlook of my obesity to turn my attention elsewhere, to something I thought I could make a difference with, which was "anything but my body".

Maybe for men looking to lose 20 pounds, lowcarb is a quick fix. But for someone starting at over 500 pounds at one point, even the best eating plan in the world is going to be a very long term effort to lose that extra weight--and it's entirely possible that it will never fully come off. As a result, the "persistence for the long term" becomes more critical in someone like me. Anybody can do some-big-deal for a limited duration. But for the morbidly obese (and diabetic), the lowcarb eating plan is a rest-of-your-life thing.

Lowcarb isn't really a wagon to fall off. There is only one true failure point in low carb eating: when you die. Until then, you have another day, another meal, another hour, another chance to do it right, to drag up the energy to eat well enough to feel well enough to move well enough to lose well enough to change your life. You gotta start somewhere. For some of us it's a lot higher than others.

But no matter the reason someone eats lowcarb, one truism exists: on lowcarb ketogenic, the eating part is the easy part. It's the wrapping your head around yourself and where you really are and all the changes you go through, that merely attempting to lose weight (let alone succeeding!) bring on.

It doesn't come fast. It doesn't come without a monumental learning curve about nutrition and metabolism and your own unique body--and mind. It's a long hard road, and it takes persistence -- and the ability to deal with occasional failure in one respect or another -- to succeed.

It doesn't come easy. But it comes.