You Can’t Spell Beast Without E-A-T

12 Mar

During my brief stint as a Religion teacher at Paterson Catholic Regional High School, when I got angry and/or crazy my kids would say “You beastin’ Ms. G.” Well, I was beastin’ this weekend.

I’ve been going through a lot the past few months: I’m out of work and looking for a job, trying to lose weight, and dealing with some difficult and often perplexing relationships. I’ve been trying to sort things out – figure out which issues are related (likely all of them) and which are controllable. I’ve started to connect the dots between my new birth control prescription (changed to be more affordable) and my lethargy, massive case of dry eye, and possibly how hard it has been to lose weight. I’ve also realized that not having the simple activity of going to work, walking around the office, and generally expending energy 8 hours has made an impact on my weight…oh, that and getting older.

At any rate, this weekend The Beast made an appearance and wreaked havoc. It’s “That Time of The Month”, or Shark Week as I like to call it, and my hormones are running wild. Starting Friday all I wanted to do was eat. This had nothing to do with hunger, nor was there a specific craving I was attempting to satisfy – I just couldn’t stop eating.

The truth is that over the past several weeks I’ve been relatively uninterested in food. That’s not to say I wasn’t hungry or that I didn’t eat, it’s just that nothing was sounding particularly appealing. I’m a big fan of Geneen Roth’s suggestion that you should ask yourself what you WANT to eat, give yourself time to consider, and then eat that – even if it means a run to the store – as a way to prevent yourself from grazing and tasting and nibbling to find the satisfaction you’re looking for. It was working really well for me until the day that I asked myself what I wanted to eat and there was no answer. I pressed myself asking “If you could eat ANYTHING at all, regardless of fat, calories, or Weight Watchers points, what would you want?” There was still no answer.

For weeks now, I’ve been unsatisfied because I can’t think of anything I want. When I’ve defaulted to my usual treats and cravings – like pizza – nothing has tasted as good as I hoped it would. So here I was, alone all weekend , all issues present and accounted for, waiting to hear about a job I interviewed for on Tuesday and knowing that I wouldn’t until at least Monday, and full of rampaging hormones. I tore through my kitchen like a Tasmanian Devil. I ate everything but the Cascade dishwasher tablets. Thank goodness I hadn’t been grocery shopping recently.

While I was on this tear I knew I wasn’t hungry but I couldn’t stop – I was bingeing but it wasn’t making me feel any better and I was berating myself the entire time.

It finally stopped when I got an unexpected call from a friend from New York who happened to be in the area and wanted to meet for coffee. I have a lot of AMAZING and supportive friends, but she was just the person I needed at that moment. Not only has this friend lost a tremendous amount of weight over the past year, but she understands what it’s like to be CONSTANTLY working at it. She is calm and understanding and chock-full of actual useful suggestions. She let me dump all my issues and worries onto the Starbucks table between us and helped me sort through them. I needed someone to hear me out, get where I was coming from, and not dismiss any of my feelings or challenges and magically she appeared.

I’m still tired and stressed. I’m still awash in hormones. I’m still not particularly interested in food. None of it is GONE, but I’m calmer and more in control.  The lesson I learned from this is that my binges are trying to tell me there’s something I need that I’m not getting and it rarely has to do with food. What I learned this weekend is that my friends are like a baseball team and each player has specific strengths and purposes. I’d never ask Derek Jeter to pitch, so why was I asking friends who don’t have the skills or experience with my issues to handle them and give me an MVP performance? I need the right man for the job.

For now The Beast is being held at bay but I know I’ll see it again; at least now I know what it takes to put it back in the cage.

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Making the Right Choice For You

24 Feb

You've got it baby!Losing weight can be a very lonely process. Some of us do it in secrecy, protecting ourselves against embarrassment if we fail, while some of us join a program, like Weight Watchers, where we can be a part of a community with the same goals and struggles. Regardless of how we pursue loss, we still have to continue to exist in the life we’ve built over many years. We’re still members of a family (or two, or three), still have friends, co-workers, and social obligations. The challenge, inevitably, is maintaining focus and resolve while engaging in daily life as well as the battle of the bulge.

I have friends whose tastes run to burgers, fries, and shakes. As much as simply the thought of those foods, especially in combination, makes me drool like Odie at an Alpo convention, seeing it across the table from me is far worse. I envision lunging across the table and inhaling it, leaving behind a crime scene that even CSI would find horrifying. I think that’s a pretty typical difficult situation, but what makes it more challenging is being “out” with the same friend.

Once you’re out of the closet where your weight loss effort is concerned, you often feel like you’re denying your friends or family the things that they want because you want to make healthy choices…this is the beginning of the story of every backslide I’ve had in the past five years. The first time my friend suggests going to one of our favorite haunts, heavy on ice cream, burgers, and fries, but then adds “Oh, but you’re on a diet.” I’m a little embarrassed and uncomfortable. I feel bad.  I think “One meal won’t kill me.” I cave. Then the next meal gets easier, and the next easier still.

We want to say yes. We want to see our friends and family. We want to please people – make it easy for them. We want to sit down for a meal without worrying about the fat, carb, and calorie content of our meals. We feel bad and eat emotionally.  In the end, isn’t that what has gotten to us to this very moment? Didn’t not wanting to inconvenience other people or think about what we’re putting in our bodies get us here?

In the end, it’s a choice; a choice that requires us to put value on ourselves. Isn’t it time that our health, happiness, and self-esteem matter as much, if not more, than our friends getting to eat a burger and fries? I’ve talked about backsliding before, and while weight loss is about choice, backsliding is about not making a choice in your own favor. It’s about grabbing the immediate gratification and letting go of the long-term payoff.

What I’m finding, day by day, is that I can give myself some short-term gratification AND make the right choices daily. What works for me is having one “easy day” – in my case Saturday. I weigh in at Weight Watchers at 9am, go to the meeting and then ask myself “What do I want? What have I been craving?” If it’s pizza, I have pizza for dinner, if it’s a cookie, I get myself a cookie at my favorite bakery. I still count the points, but I don’t worry about it as much as I would every other day. Knowing that there’s a day in my week when I can indulge (though not in excess) makes it easier to make good choices every other day. What’s more, it takes away the taboo on certain foods – there’s nothing I CAN’T have.

The most important thing is that I’m making a choice here – not abdicating responsibility.  In the end, when I sit down with my friend The Hamburglar it’s not as hard to make a healthy choice, because I know, come Saturday, that if I still really want a hamburger or  fries I’ll eat them.  What works for you in these situations?

Have a great, healthy weekend!

Let’s Do The Time Warp Workout Playlist

20 Feb

Despite a sinus infection and an annoyingly irritated eye, both of which have kept me out of the gym, it’s been a pretty good week at Chez Forsaken. I weighed in at Weight Watchers 2.2 lbs lighter and, as of this morning, my now compulsory Saturday treat from Hobcaw Cafe (a lovely, generous slice of red velvet cake) has not altered that in the slightest. Now that I’m feeling better I’m gearing up for a triumphant return to the gym and charging the ol’ iPod – The God Pod – which led me to think about the music that gets me moving.

I’m constantly cruising workout playlists online and in magazines to find some tunes that get my motor running and help me power through the tougher parts of my routine, but I must admit that my musical proclivities don’t usually match the suggested songs. Hi, my name is Lisa, and I’m in a musical time warp.

For as long as I can remember my tastes have run toward music produced prior to my birth and have really ceased to expand beyond the radio fodder of my college days circa late 1990s. Having worked at a software company with a lot of people 10 or more years younger than me, I’ve tried, as of late, to incorporate some new music into my library. As a result, my workout playlist looks like a massive American music retrospective. So, for those of you who don’t mind admitting early old fogey-dom and a desperate looking attempt to stay current, here are some favorites from my God Pod.

  • I Want You Back – Jackson 5
  • Animal – Neon Trees
  • Say Hey (I Love You) – Micheal Franti
  • Shambala – Three Dog Night
  • Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
  • Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and The Waves
  • Runaround – Blues Traveler
  • Valerie – Amy Winehouse
  • Hard to Handle – Black Crowes
  • Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum
  • American Girl – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
  • Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
  • Little Red Corvette – Prince
  • St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) – Jon Parr
  • Single Ladies – Beyonce

Does your playlist look a little schizo too? What are your workout faves?

This Just In – I Actually HAVE Been on a Diet My Entire Life

16 Feb

Well, it’s a rainy Thursday night and I’d ordinarily be at my knitting group but there were no parking spots and I still feel like crap. After sleeping in quite epically and taking part in a conference call that involved four people (myself included) talking over each other for an hour, I decided to head down to my parents’ house because they’re on vacation and their washer and dryer don’t require quarters.

While my clothes were spinning I paid a visit to a drawer in my mom’s desk that contains my full dossier from birth through college. I love looking at all the teacher comments, newspaper articles, playbills, etc. that make up my life during that 21 year period. As I thumbed through this retrospective, I found several things that I don’t remember seeing before but must have been there my whole life. First, I found a series of notes on prescription pads, starting with my first pediatrician in New York City when my age was still measured in months.

I had found the Holy Grail of fat kids…my first diet. Apparently, at 18 months I had gained 6 lbs. in 6 months and needed to trim down. While my actual weight wasn’t listed, my mother was advised to watch my intake and cut me back to skim milk. Similar, and more detailed notes from my New Jersey pediatrician indicated my current weight and height for the next several years with suggestions of increased activity, skim milk, and a 1000 calorie a day diet (around 7 years of age).

I’ve always joked that I’m forever on a diet, but I never realized I was being quite so literal! I’m not sure if this gives me any sort of clarity.  I know I’ve always liked to eat. I know my grandparents (on the Jewish side) showed love by feeding me. I know my Dad has always been on me about my weight. I know I need to lose weight now. Whether I attribute this lifelong battle to biology, environment, or lack of self control, it is a lifelong battle. The one thing I can say for sure in the face of this is that a lifetime battle requires a lifestyle change – not a diet. This just reaffirms that Weight Watchers is the right choice for me.

The other thing I found in this treasure trove that made me stop and think was a stockpile of teacher comments and grades from high school. The one that gave me the most pause was my “Fitness” report. It reads as follows:

12 minute run: 1.15 miles – Poor
Sit-Reach – 20 – Fair
Body Composition – 29% body fat – Poor
Sit-ups – 49 – Good
Push-ups – 35 – Excellent
Written Test – 15 out of 15
B-

First, I WISH I could run 1.15 miles in 12 minutes now. I know plenty of people who are ok with a 15 minute mile. I also cannot do push-ups to save my life so it’s nice to know that I could at one point. I did a little research on normal body fat ranges and a healthy range for women under 40 is 21-33%. The American Council on Exercise puts the range for a teenage female ATHLETE at 14-20%, and the AVERAGE teenage female at 20-25%. At 17 we’re really edging out of teenage and into woman so I think it’s fairly fluid. I’m not saying that I wasn’t a little overweight at 17, but I certainly wasn’t obese. Not only did I rate a “Poor” (according to what standard I’m not sure), but based upon my stats, I got a nice B- added to my GPA.

High School is tough…especially if you don’t exemplify the ideal. I was tortured by certain peers for being fat and, frankly, I’m not that coordinated so sports and gym class were never my forte (though I do boast a Varsity letter in softball). Let me just say right here that I would be SHOCKED if the woman wielding the caliper during this body fat measuring session was in the 21-33% range herself. So as an already insecure and persecuted 17 year old, rather than being graded on my test score, participation, and even improvement, I was academically penalized for being out of shape.

No, my Fitness grade didn’t keep me out of Vassar. I got in Early Decision and I never took a Gym class again. My problem here is with the message where there was a real opportunity to do some good. Those stats are useful as an assessment tool – they should have been the basis for creating a workout plan and goals for the trimester. I would have rather seen those measurements taken at the beginning and then had the curriculum be based upon tools to live a healthy lifestyle. All this taught me was that my numbers were all wrong (with the exception of my ability to do push-ups, sit-ups and to pass a written test). Yes, she could have given me a D and it would have been far worse, but in terms of 29% body fat and the big ol’ POOR next to it – I was being told I was a fatty..not that I was a little above the ideal range and could drop down with some exercise and a healthy eating plan. There were no comments on this comment form, just the stats and a grade.

I think it’s a good lesson to Phys Ed teachers, but also to us who are trying to lose weight and get healthy – the numbers are not the whole story and we can’t let them deter us. I focused on the poor, I didn’t see it as a benchmark, I saw it as a failure…as something wrong with me. We have to stop being angry at ourselves about the number on the scale or the BMI and congratulate ourselves on what we’re doing about it. We’re choosing a healthy lifestyle, we’re caring for ourselves, and we’re succeeding…even if it’s a slow process.

What victories are you celebrating this week?

Scaling Back

14 Feb

Welcome to Valentine’s Day at my house. I’m fetchingly dressed in pink sweatpants, a knitting bunny tee, and my lumberjack shirt – an incredibly oversized fleece button down stolen from a boyfriend circa 2001. I’m surrounded by flowers…when I say flowers I mean crumpled tissues. No, I’m not weeping like a jilted woman in a romcom because I’ve not received a bouquet – I have The Plague.

Ok, so I don’t have The Black Death – it’s more likely a cold or sinus infection – but I enjoy the drama…like calling impending snowstorms “Snowpocalypse.” I find myself wondering why it always is that when I’ve just hit my stride at the gym that my body throws a wrench in the machinery. It could be that it’s asking for more rest or it could just be crap luck but it’s so frustrating. I keep trying to tell myself that it’s just a head cold and that I could go to the gym for just a bit, but that familiar feeling in my eyes lets me know that I’m going to fall into a short-term coma as soon as I find a mildly comfortable position and that I probably have a wee fever. I don’t own a thermometer because when I do I take my temperature too frequently. Which gets me thinking about my scale.

I should probably send my scale the way of the thermometer because I can’t stop myself from jumping on it at least once a day. It has become an oracle that determines my moods and, often, makes it harder to stay on track with my eating. I need to stay far away from the feeling that this is not working and that I’m doomed to be my own plus one. The scale is like the worst “Mean Girl” I’ve ever met…just when I’m feeling good it takes me down a couple pegs…and makes out with my boyfriend…ok, maybe not that.

So, here are today’s goals: Drink a lot of liquids, stuff my gullet with Mucinex, get some rest, hide my scale, and be mentally and physically healthy enough to go to yoga tomorrow night.

Do you have any special goals for the day or the week? Comment away!

 

Bloated, Bothered, and Bewildered

11 Feb

Well, after a week of exercising and eating my points and no more, I weighed in this morning. While Fantasy Lisa would have lost 5 pounds and received a little star sticker that excites all us Weight Watchers as much as a kindergartener, Real Lisa gained a pound.  A pound is a funny thing – it’s nothing when you consider normal hormonal fluctuations, the difference in your weight after you drink a couple glasses of water, or the added weight of a sweatshirt, but it’s celebration-worthy in the Weight Watchers meeting room when you take it off. 1/2 – 2 lbs a week is considered normal, healthy weight loss. It’s not so much the ONE pound that bothers me, it’s the others that should have melted off after all the work and water and carefully measured food.

Wrapped up in all this worry and disappointment, like the cream in a cannoli, is the beauty of Weight Watchers meetings. As I walked away from the scale, looking like I just lost my puppy, my WW leader, Davida, zeroed in on me and said, “How are you doing this week?” I looked at her dolefully and said “Meh.” I explained that I had started an exercise routine that included yoga and cardio on the elliptical trainer, had eaten my Points, not used my Activity or Weekly Points, and had been drinking all my water but still managed to be up a pound. She looked me right in the eyes and said “Good.” She told me that this is to be expected, that my body needs to adjust. She told me to keep on program, keep racking up the Activity Points but not eating them, keep drinking my water and that next week I’ll see the difference.

I’m not going to BS you and say that I’m not bummed out anymore, but I DO feel better. It’s great to have someone who has been there tell you it’s ok – that your body is doing what bodies do, that you’re doing the right thing and it will pay off. When I got home, my friend Emily reminded me that this will happen when you’re turning fat into muscle…and I believe everything Emily says…dude, it’s science…she’s got a PhD….plus, she takes honest-to-God boxing and could kick my ass.

Today is a rest day and I went to my beloved Hobcaw Cafe to get a coffee treat. I have water in my glass and a healthy dinner defrosting (beef stew with lots of veg – yum!). I’ll probably nap in front of the TV. I’m just going to be kind to myself and get some rest and stay on track. Today I may be bloated, bothered, and bewildered, but next week will be better.

Back in the Saddle Yet Again

10 Feb

It’s been a long time since I wrote, mostly due to an epic backslide. I went gung ho in preparation for my brother’s wedding in August with lackluster results, confirmed by picture in which I looked like I was competing in a beauty pageant with the Queen Mary. It was discouraging to say the least. Consequently I proceeded to add an extra twenty pounds, stop exercising, and to feel really, really sorry for myself. It was a very productive couple months.

In November I signed up for Weight Watchers. I really believe in the program – no weird eating or purchased meals – and took off almost 10 pounds but then the holidays proved too much for me. I got busy with parties and friends and stopped going to meetings…then I put the weight back on plus a smidgen more. I kept telling myself that I’d return as soon as I took the weight back off. Pure and simple – I was embarrassed. At the end of January it began to bother me. I knew I should go. I knew I wasn’t happy with myself.

Finally it occurred to me that people don’t go to Weight Watchers because they’re in control of their eating – the staff and other members understand backslides and gains – and that I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I recognized that I needed to get back on the horse and start over because the only person I was disappointing was myself. I mentioned this to a friend in my knitting group and it just so happened she was going through the same thing. So, 2 weeks ago we made a commitment to each other to go to meetings together. The fact that I now have someone I have to call and say “I’m not going today” will help keep me on track as I’m more likely to let myself down than someone else.

Last week’s weigh in, after a full week of being back on program, showed a 3.8 pound loss. It was a nice welcome back present and I’m hoping to post another solid loss tomorrow. Since returning to Weight Watchers I’ve embarked on an exercise program with another friend which involves an hour and 15 minute yoga class at Verona Yoga once a week and regular elliptical workouts at the gym. I have to say I’m feeling really good. I have more energy, feel lighter, and sleep better.

I’ve always wanted to try yoga but was nervous about being the big girl in the room and, quite simply, was afraid I just couldn’t do it. My friend and I found that Verona Yoga not only offers a new student 3 class special so we could try it without making a big commitment, but also has an Absolute Beginner class so we felt that there was no expectation about our ability and no pressure. It turns out we both love yoga! Our instructor, Laura, is amazing – not only shows us modifications and use of props but encourages us to use them and not push our bodies too hard. There’s absolutely no judgement.  The people in our class are so very nice and I don’t feel self-conscious in the slightest.

It’s really interesting to me how aware of your body you become – even after just a few classes – in a non-judgmental way. I’m aware of what muscles are tight and which are more limber. I feel my muscles loosening throughout my practice and feel good about my progress. Better yet, a lifetime “bad relaxer”, this body awareness is really helping me unwind. So, yoga is a big success and we’ve decided to continue taking classes and really look forward to them.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ve got some things to do around the apartment and have a gym workout scheduled for this afternoon. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for my weigh in tomorrow and have a great day!

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