Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In

Weight: 235.5
BMI: 40.42

I'm 2.5 pounds away from not being morbidly obese. Two and a half pounds. Wow. It makes me shiver just thinking about it.

When I started this blog, I said in my very first post that the goal I was using to drive myself was the idea of not being morbidly obese:

My name is Hadley. I'm morbidly obese. On July 7th, when I started my weight loss journey, I weighed 278 lbs. I'm down a bit now--I hit a new low of 270.7 yesterday--but not by much. I have a lot of weight to lose. I need to hit 145 to no longer be overweight. 145 lbs is, essentially, a world, 58 leagues, four languages and two centuries away, so I won't be focusing on that number much. Sure, yeah, it would be nice and maybe I'll get there eventually. For now though, it's such an alien concept I can't even really focus on it.

So I don't. I focus on not being morbid.

Morbidly obese is one of those icky, icky terms. It's one of those shock terms. Scary words. A scary concept. And yet, also day-to-day reality for me and millions of others.

Right now, my goal is just to not be morbid.

For that, I need to get to 233 pounds. That's a trim 45 pounds away from my starting weight and 37.7 pounds from my current low. It's pretty far away, there's no doubt about it. If you do the standard 1-2 pounds a week with the occasional slip up, you could spend anywhere between half a year and a year on it. But, 233 pounds is something I can imagine. It's a place I can see myself getting. And it's a place I'm going to go.

I am two and a half pounds away from not being morbid. Wow.

This Saturday I found myself staring at my stomach. For the first time, really, it felt smaller than it used to be. I felt smaller than I used to be. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've known for a while that I've been getting smaller. My old clothes are way too big for me. When I do comparison pictures, the difference is clearly visible. The bathtub feels a bit roomier than it used to. But this Saturday was the first time I ever looked at a part of my body and just thought, point blank, "wow, that's smaller."

I'm a bit over four months in at this point so I know the luster should have worn off, but it just hasn't yet. These days I wake up and I'm just blown away by how much I've accomplished. I've entered some sort of twilight zone where there's not a doubt in my mind that this is forever, this is for real, that I will succeed.

Anyway, two mini goals for the week:

1. I'm going to push myself really hard to get to not morbid by next Tuesday. It'll be tough. I haven't put up a 2.5 pound week since early September, and I only did one pound this week. But, I think I can do it, and at the very least I'm going to try.

2. I'm going to get back into the habit of posting every weekday. Yes, work is still pretty crazy and Arabic is hard, but taking time to blog and comment on other blogs makes everything else much easier. So, see you all around the blogosphere!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In

Well, I bring some bad news, some good news, and some better news.

The bad news: I'm horribly stressed at work. I'm going in at 7am and leaving at 8pm, except for the two days a week where I have Arabic, where I need to leave at 5:30pm, be in class until 9pm, and then work until I feel like I'm going to pass out.

The good news: This too shall pass. Things should calm down substantially after next Tuesday, and I'm looking forward to resuming daily posting.

The better news:

Weight: 236.5
BMI: 40.59

That's 2.3 pounds in one week. NICE. It also puts me past the 40 pound mark, which is, well, NICE. Oh, and did I mention it means I've lost over 7 points of BMI and 14.93% of my bodyweight? Yeah, that's pretty snazzy. And I'm a mere 3.5 pounds away from no longer being morbidly obese.

So, I'm struggling at work, and I miss blogging, and I miss all my blog buddies, but at least I get to report back to you guys that in spite of the stress I'm still a weight losing machine.

I hope the rest of you are having fewer life issues, but just as much weight loss success. Take care and I promise I'll start with real posts again soon!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In

Weight: 238.8
BMI: 40.99

Well, I'm muddling through.

Last week I weighed in at 239.8, which means I lost exactly one pound this past week. I've been having a pretty rough time at work, to say the least. I've had a very mixed time with the diet, but I'm still managing to pull out more good days than bad ones.

Anyway, this is me checking in to say I'm alive, reasonably well, vaguely sticking with the plan, and will start regularly posting again as soon as I can. Here's to hoping things are better for the rest of you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In

Weight: 239.8
BMI: 41.16

First of all, YAY. Okay, I know it's actually not that great. It's a 1.2 pound loss week to week. That's far from fabulous. But, at the same time, YAY.

I'd been having a really rough time of late. I just wasn't all that motivated, and as a result, I wasn't putting the effort in to make me get big losses. And as I kept seeing the small losses, I kept getting more and more discouraged.

I spent 42 days in the 240s. That's a lot. In comparison, I spent only 30 days in the 250s and 25 days in the 260s. It means I was losing an average of only 1.67 pounds/week, which is okay, but not where I want the number to be.

It feels so, so nice to be in a new decade on the scale. In this decade, I will finally drop my morbid label. Right now, I feel motivated and inspired. I had a great day yesterday, burning 3000 calories, eating only 1200, and doing an Arabic class to boot. Today, I'll do the same. (Sans, you know, three hours of arabic.)

I've made great progress, and I can make more. Just watch, the 230s are going to fly by. I can feel it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Scariness Ahead

One thing I occasionally do out of habit, even though I've been comfortably ensconced in my job for about 10 months, is check the employment opportunities at other places where I'd think of working later in my career. Since people typically stay at the job I have for only a year or a year and a half (sometimes 2 years, but that's rare), I had been planning on ramping up a job search come December.

On Friday, however, I saw something moderately close to a perfect job. It's a policy analyst position, in my field, and they're looking for someone with pretty much exactly my experience and education. (Although they do say a BA or MA in economics, and I only have a BA. So, I don't mean to suggest that I'm a slam dunk for it, but I do fit the requirements. This think tank is also one of the rare few that will hire policy analysts without Masters degrees, although there's sort of an understanding that you'll pick one up eventually.) I'd get to publish my own research, and self-direct my own projects. It's also not short term, and I wouldn't feel pressured to look for another job two years down the line. It would be perfect. It's the sort of job I've dreamed about, and it's the sort that doesn't come up all that often. After hemming and hawing a bit on whether it would be rude to apply when I've only been here less than a year--general consensus was that it would probably be close enough to the year by the time they actually finished the hiring process that I could go ahead--it seems like what I ought to do is apply for the job. And I will, probably tonight or tomorrow, assuming I can get over myself long enough to do it.

The issue is, basically, I'm petrified. I wasn't expecting to be looking at jobs when I was still this heavy. And yes, I'm less ridiculously fat than I was when I interviewed for my current job in December of 2008. But I'm still, well, ridiculously fat. I'm morbidly obese. I'm just not even close to where I wanted to be when I started doing interviews.

Being fat makes me less likely to get hired and more likely to get paid less even if I do get the job. That sucks. But honestly, there are so many ways in which I'm just not ready for this job yet. I don't want to be extremely fat in front a whole new group of colleagues, and colleagues I'll be around a while at that. If I were to get the job they'd likely take a picture of me to post on their website, and I'm so not ready for a photo of what I look like now to be the first thing someone who does a google search for me finds. There are so, so, so many ways I'm not ready for this.

But I think I should try to get over myself and apply anyway. It's likely I won't get the job, but if I do it would be great for my career. Sure, there will be fears and challenges and it will suck to start my next job fat, but it's worth it. I just need to face my fears and do it. There's no harm in trying.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

There was pasta . . .

Weight: 244

Ouch.

In yesterday's post, I remarked upon my completion of 100 successful days of weight loss. Last night, however, I found myself veering off course.

Mondays and Wednesdays are hectic days for me. I have Arabic classes immediately after work. Arabic gets out at 9pm, and if I'm good I head to the gym after, meaning I get home around 10:30. Because of this, I bring a second sandwich into work on those days, which I have at the end of the work day right before I leave.

So, on an ideal day, I come home after Arabic and the gym, take a shower, and fall right to sleep. Last night was not ideal.

At work on Wednesday, I was more hungry than usual. I ate all my food relatively early, which I sometimes do and which isn't a problem if I can go right home for dinner. Only, this was a Wednesday, and I couldn't go right home for dinner. So instead I starved through Arabic, starved through my workout, and by the time I went home, I wanted cheese.

And cheese I ate.

A whole 800 calorie ball of fresh mozzarella, mixed in with half a box of pasta (another 800 calories), a box of cherry tomatoes and a good bit of marinara sauce. At the end, I felt sick to my stomach and wildly out of control.

So, yesterday I had a bad day. It showed up, quite visibly, on the scale this morning. I didn't really gain 3 pounds overnight, and I know that's mostly salt and bloat, but ouch.

Today's a new day, and today I'll do better. Enough messing around: I need to be back on track.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The First 100 Days

Today marks the 100th day of my journey. I've been doing this for 100 days. 24000ish hours. 14 weeks and a smidge. Three months and change.

And, I've been doing pretty well. I've lost exactly 37 pounds. That's 13.31% of my starting body weight, and 6.35 points of BMI. It means I've lost an average of 2.59 pounds week, or .37 pounds a day. In my most impressive week, I lost 7.5 pounds. In my least impressive, I lost only .2. I am yet to post a weekly gain.

Losing 37 pounds is equivalent to 129500 calories. That means each day, I've burned an average of 1295 calories more than I took in. When I began, I was a tight size 22, although I did have one suit that was a size 24. Today, I'm a size 18, and the suit jacket I wear to work every day is a size 16.

All that in 100 days.

I've come far, but I have a long way to go. 8 more pounds till I'm not morbidly obese, and 96 more pounds till I'm not overweight at all.

I've learned I'm stronger than I thought, and can walk farther than I might have imagined possible. I've found that there are few things as powerful as simply keeping going.

Each day I don't binge and each day I burn a bit more than I take in is a victory. Each step I walk, each minute I spend on the elliptical and each weight I lift is progress. I am constantly moving closer to my goal and farther from where I was.

The journey is long. It's difficult. I've been challenged. I've been overwhelmed. At times I've fallen. But thus far I've always gotten back up, dusted myself off, and kept going.

This is a numbers game. It's a game of emotion, too, of figuring out who you are, why you're doing this, and how you got this way. But more than that, I think, it's the numbers. Just day in, day out, slowly building up the deficits. There's nothing you can't do if you just keep going.

I've had a great 100 days. Here's to many, many more.


Also, Jenn of Watch My Butt Shrink gave me a Great Shrinking Butt award! Thanks Jenn!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In (and handing out a few awards)

Weight: 241.0

That's a loss of .9 pounds week to week. Not great, but all things considered, I'll take it.

Sue from Did I Just Eat That Out Loud gave me the following:

Rules are: say six things about yourself that your readers wouldn't already know, and then pass it along. While I poured my heart out over the Honest Scrap award, today I'm going to do smaller things:

1. I use proper grammar and spelling in text messages. I did this even back in the day when phones didn't have keyboards and typing a single letter could take a few clicks. I also use language that has no business being in text messages. A few phrases I've recently texted, just to give you a feel for it: "pretending to rummage," "political disagreements aside," "very adept at spreadsheets."

2. I'm terrible at the difference between effect and affect. Every time I think I've finally got it down, I end up messing up.

3. I hate shaving my legs, and still end up accidentally cutting myself all the time. Having smaller legs, and thus less to shave, is one of the things I'm most looking forward to.

4. I'm not entirely on board with quantum physics. The idea that an electron moves from one place to another without moving in between doesn't really make sense, and the general concept of "these are the rules of physics until things get really small" seems a bit like nonsense to me. Now, I don't actually have any proof, but if this ended up being one part of science that later gets proved wrong, I wouldn't be surprised.

5. In that same vein, I'm pretty sure the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is a cop out. Oh, I said it.

6. This Zoe Williams article on irony from 2003 is still one of my favorite pieces of writing ever. The article has a few typos in it, which bugs me to no end. When I send it to friends, I'll sometimes copy/paste it into the email and fix them.

I'm not going to give it back to Did I Just Eat That Out Loud, even though I'm sorely tempted to because I love her blog that much. Instead, I'm going to pass the award on to a few of my favorite folks who haven't gotten this particular award yet:

Monica at Confessions of a + Sized Girl - I love Monica's blog an inordinate amount. Like, I love it so much people would be like "your amount of love for Confessions is not within reasonable limits."

Jo at 282.5 - I may actually have been able to award this to her first! Seriously, though, I love Jo, and I love her blog, and there's no way I could not award this to her.

S. at Ethereal Endeavor - S. seems amazingly smart. She strikes me as someone who I would hit it off with in real life, and the sort of person who I could lose arguments to on a regular basis. Trust me when I say that's high praise.

Lynn at Actual Scale - Lynn is fabulous. She's given me so much information, so much good advice, so much help, and I just can't say enough how much I appreciate it. Her words of wisdom occasionally fill in as the big sister I never had and sorely need. Seriously, thank you Lynn.

Katie J from Katie J Is on Her Way - Some day, Katie's going to have to be like "Hadley stop copying me" and that will be a sad day indeed. She inspires me so much, and more than she probably knows. She inspired me to get out a bugg, clean out my closet, and do all sorts of great things.

Erin at The XXL Files - Erin is amazing, and her blog is too. Not that many people read it yet, and many more should. It's great, seriously, it's one of those blogs you discover and go "how the hell was I not reading this yet?" Her blog is smart, funny, and touching. You should read it.

This is tough, because honestly, this list could go on and on. There are so many people I'd like to give this to: HD, 266, Jenn, Learning To Be Less, F. McButter, the Kittehs, Jodikris, Jack, I could go on and on. But I'm only supposed to do 6, so 6 I shall do.

Also, the Kittehs hit me with a fabulous new (and super pretty) rule free blog award:


Thank you Orange Kitteh! Thank you Black Kitteh! You two are the bee's knees.

Monday, October 12, 2009

You Don't Eat Anymore, Anyway

What a weekend.

Sigh.

I decided before the weekend that, while I was going to keep control of my eating and obviously not binge, I was going to partake fully in the weekend. Not only was I not willing to announce "I'm on a diet," but I also didn't really want to spoil the mood. Food is important to my family. If I sat there, abstemiously picking at a salad, my parents would be some combination of offended and annoyed. So, I decided that family peace was worth a few extra calories, and hey, I'd get to eat some delicious food in the bargain.

Thursday night, I only saw my parents briefly. As reported, my Dad complimented me on how good I was looking, and my mom said nothing. On Friday, I came home for lunch, and we ate Greek food that my parents had bought at this great place called Greek Deli that I had told them about. We were eating family style, and I had a little bit of a whole bunch of things, and then some. I ate, really, a good plate of food. More than I'd normally eat these days, but certainly still less than I would have in June. It was a lot. If I had to guess, it was maybe 800 or 900 calories, but if you told me it was 1200 I would've believed you. Friday night, we took out dinner from a Southern soul food place called Oohhs and Aahhs. We again ate family style, splitting two entrees and supplementing it with a bit of leftovers from our Greek food earlier. I had about a cup (okay, maybe 1 1/2 cups) of very rich macaroni and cheese, a small bit of meat from the short ribs, and 5 seasoned shrimp. Not exactly starving myself.

As we sat watching the Yankee game (yes, this is why we did takeout), my mom commented that I looked so grown up in the jeans I was wearing. They're just a schlubby pair of size 20 gap jeans, but that wasn't really what she was saying. Essentially, when I started gaining weight for real I stopped wearing real pants. I just started wearing yoga pants and sweat pants and anything XL with a drawstring that let me avoid the fact that I should be shopping in plus size stores. I was a college kid, however, so this worked pretty okay. I picked up a pair of grey size 22 REI hiking pants at one point that I'd ordered online, but really, those were the only pants in my rotation that had the whole zipper/button thing going on. Slightly before I graduated, I did some plus size department store shopping to get an interview suit, and when I got hired for my job I bought several suits since I needed to wear one every day, but before recently I hadn't worn jeans since probably my senior year in high school. So when she said "You look so grown up in those jeans, Hadley," it felt like she meant more than she said.

Saturday we went out to brunch. I got a sandwich that came with fries, and ate half the sandwich and maybe 1/3 of the fries. My parents picked another third. Throughout the day, my mom started making comments. "Well Hadley's the one who would be hungry, she didn't eat much." Things like that. At what my parents called a late lunch but what was, in my opinion, late enough that it was dinner, I had a salami sandwich on some fresh bread we'd just bought. After the movie, my parents wanted dinner, so we went to an afghan restaurant that's an old family favorite for dinner two. (I ate maybe 1/4 cup of rice, a few tablespoons of Dal, 1/3 of a piece of a naan-like afghan bread, and 3 pieces of chicken from a kebab that had maybe 7 pieces.) That night, as my mom and I were standing around after unpacking the bounty from the day and waiting for my dad to park the car, my mom said to me "Your pants are too big." It wasn't a complimentary tone. It felt harsh.

Essentially, here's where the weekend was at this point: I'd woken up and slaved an hour in the gym each morning so I could eat pretty darn close to normally. Granted, I wasn't eating quite as much as I used to, but there was no way I was much under 2000 calories a day. I burned over 3k, so I'm guessing I did all right-ish in terms of calorie deficits, but my god, I was trying.

Sunday morning, I again woke up and went to the gym (my parents were staying at a hotel and thus unaware that I'd been hitting the gym each morning). For brunch, we went to Brasserie Beck, which is a French/Belgian place and possibly my favorite restaurant in DC. The bread basket came out, and I had a piece because, well, the bread there is oh-so-delicious and I think it's okay to have a small piece of bread when the bread's that damn good. "Have another piece of bread, Hadley," my mom said. I did. She then started going on and on about how she wanted to order the petite croissants in addition to her meal but felt too embarrassed. I said some sort of "order them if you want them." She did order them, but she seriously kept talking about how she felt embarrassed to be eating them, and insisted my father and I each have one. (Four came on the platter.) When Brunch came, I ate about 1/3 of my croque monsieur and 1/3 of my fries. About another 1/3 of the sandwich went to my parents tastings, and 1/3 of the fries to my mother. I had enough food that I had to get it wrapped up--my Dad will never let you not wrap up extra food at restaurants, it's one of his things--but my parents had both cleaned their plates.

That afternoon, we did a grocery shopping trip. One of the traditions whenever my parents visit me, is that we go on a big grocery shopping trip and they pick up the bill at the end. We'd discussed the possibility of me making dinner for the family that night, since everyone wanted to stay in again to watch the Yankee game. Normally, I love getting to go grocery shopping with my parents, and stock up on all the $12 cheeses that I rarely buy on my own, as well as staples so I just don't have to buy them down the line. This, however, was different. If I bought too little, my mother would implore me to buy more, but I also didn't want to buy food I wouldn't eat, since that would just be wasteful.

Anyway, as we were wandering around the grocery store, I asked my mom if she wanted to pick out the desert for the night. She turned to me, with this tone, this horrible, horrible tone she uses sometimes and said "what's the point?"

"Well if I'm going to be making dinner at home--"

She cut my off: "You don't eat anymore, anyway, we don't need desert."

Ouch. Ouch. Just ouch ouch ouch. The way she said it, the look in her eyes. It was horrible. I wanted to cry. We split up so she could sit down in the grocery store's cafe while I shopped, and I just wanted to break down in one of the aisles and start crying my eyes out.

I don't get it. I don't get why she's doing this. I don't get why she's being so unsupportive, why it feels like she's trying to hurt me. I was honestly eating a perfectly reasonable amount of food for a non dieting person, and I probably hit close to (or possibly even broke) the 2000 calorie mark every single day. And I'm not even asking for support. I didn't bring it up once. I didn't make any comments. I didn't ask to go to healthy restaurants. I didn't even order particularly healthy dishes. All I'd like is for my mother to not be so incredibly hostile and seemingly angry at me for losing a bit of weight.

I feel defeated. I feel emotionally drained. Not visiting my parents while I was getting my feet on this diet was absolutely the right call. I'd been planning on going home for the whole week of Thanksgiving so I could be home for my birthday as well, but now I'm less certain. I love my parents. I genuinely do. But I just can't deal with my mom being randomly mean to me because I've made the choice to take more responsibility for my health and body.

In other news, Sue (aka Mommy2Joe, who runs the excellent and extremely funny blog Did I Just Eat That Out Loud?) gave me the following:


Thank you Sue! Since I think not *too* many people have it just yet, I do want to make up a list of recipients, but I need to finish up this post before that can happen. So, thanks Sue, and I'll try to hand this one out tomorrow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Amnesia Spell

I saw my parents last night, as well as today at lunch. The first words out of my Dad's mouth were "you look great, Hadley" and my mom, as expected, remained silent. I smiled, said thank you, and we moved to talking about other things. I missed them so much, and I really am incredibly glad to see them again.

Yesterday in the comments, S. (who by the way runs an awesome blog called Ethereal Endeavor that I'd highly encourage you to check out) said "I wish I could just have the results and then cast some sort of amnesia spell over everyone so they could just forget that I was ever fat." That sentiment, right there, captures exactly what I wanted to say.

For me (and I'd bet for her) it's not that were not willing and able to put the work in, we both are, and we both currently do. I'm okay with the occasional hunger, the workouts, and the slow and steady building of deficits over time. And I get that I spent quite a few years digging myself into this hole, and that it'll take me a reasonable while to get out. I'm okay with that: I accept that I can't get results now, no matter how much I want them. My issue is that even when I get there, the memory will remain.

Lynn (aka Actual Scale, whose eponymous and epicly good blog is here) and a few others rightfully commented that my "if she's on a diet she cares too much about her looks" sentiment evoked vanity, and I realize now that that wasn't the tone I meant to strike. Because if a fat person like me goes on a diet, they're more likely to think "about time" rather than "she must be vain."

Being on a diet doesn't say "I care excessively about my looks." It just doesn't, at least not for people who, like me, could indeed stand to lose a few pounds. But it does say something else, something intensely personal, and something that I'm not necessarily 100% comfortable shouting from the rooftops at any given moment.

What "I'm on a diet" says, essentially, is "I was wrong." It says somehow, along the way, I messed up. Maybe I thought I enjoyed food more than the idea of being thin, maybe I was stressed and let impulse get the better of me, maybe I was just plain lazy, but what I did, was wrong. Being fat was a wrong choice. I messed up. And right now, I'm fixing my error.

That's the knife. That's what I'm afraid to say, afraid for people to notice. But the thing is, it gets much worse.

Saying "I did something bad, but now I'm redeeming myself" isn't really that terrible. Sure, not something you'd necessarily want to inadvertently share with colleagues and casual acquaintances, but it's not the worst thing in the world. You're taking the right path now, you're on the road to redemption now. Sure, you fucked up, but people do, and that's okay, you're slowly picking yourself up.

But what happens if you fail? I don't think I will, but I'm also smart and honest enough to know that it's within the realm of possibility. One commonly heard statistic is that 95% of diets fail. Other times you hear 90%. Either way, those aren't good numbers. Want to be depressed for a bit? Scroll down to the bottom of my blog list and click "show all". What do you think happened to those people who haven't updated in a while? Chances are, they're not chugging along but not posting. And I've only been writing for a bit over three months! If you look at a blog that's been around a bit longer like Learning to Be Less (another great blog that I'd recommend for your reading list), practically the bottom half of her blog list hasn't checked in in over a week. And those are probably just the non-updated ones she couldn't bear to cut. Sometimes you'll stumble on a blog that hasn't been updated in a while, and find that neither have all the blogs in the blogroll. These things happen. Diets die. Blogs fade. Things fail.

So what you're saying, if you fail, to all those people who sort of know you, who you see from time to time and smile at and say hello is "There is something deeply wrong with me. I know it. I tried to change. But I failed. I failed, and I am failing every day." And that, that is what scares me.

Part of it also is, that I don't know if I'm really at the point where I'm ready to say something was deeply wrong, or even wrong at all, when I was choosing to get (and stay) fat. I don't want to say there's something wrong with someone who is fat and chooses to stay that way. If you want to make and eat delicious foods, and eat more of them then society says you should, I'm okay with that being your choice. Right now, I am choosing to not stay fat because there are currently things I find more compelling, with a big giant flashing CAREER being the one that tips the scales in favor of thinness. There are good, logical reasons why I'm changing my body, but I certainly do realize it's a trade-off. And if someone's preferences are slightly different than mine, and if for them the extra time from not working out and the extra cheesecake for deliciousness is worth a bit more, that's okay. I don't think there's something all that wrong with someone who chooses to stay fat.

But, the girl with the cubicle by the elevator, or the guy who works the front desk, they don't know that. And the sort of friends, the cousins, the social acquaintances, all the people who will pick up on my not-so-rapidly shrinking butt, they're not going to see that. All they're going to see is "guess she finally realized how fat she was, it's a good thing she's changing it." And if, just if, my butt ends up growing bigger again, they're going to see "well, I guess she lost control again."

And that's why I, too, really, really, really wish I had an amnesia spell.

What, for you, tipped the scale that made you want to lose weight now? Do you think you've implicitly judged your past actions (and past fatness) by losing weight? What do you think losing weight says about you? And if you were to fail, what do you think that would say?

Some business:

Per request, I've added a contact email up by about me. While comments will probably get my attention more quickly, I do check that email addy every day or two. If you ever have something private and need a relatively quick reply, an email and a "I sent you an email" comment will probably get you the rapidest response.

Lynn of Actual Scale, not too many days ago, gave me an Over the Top award. Thanks Lynn! I added it to my sidebar. I also finally got around to adding my Honest Scrap award. Quite a few of you bestowed that honor upon me (for which I'm quite thankful), and I apologize for the laziness in putting it up. I'll do my best to collect the names of all the people who gave it to me and add them to the sidebar.

And, last but not least, there were a higher than usual number of new folks who commented yesterday, so welcome! If I haven't already, I'll be stopping by your blog--if you have one--shortly.

Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Parental Visit, Laced with Fear

I just wanted to thank you all for the wonderful get well soon wishes. I'm feeling much better, albeit still a bit blah.

So, my parents are coming into town tonight. They'll be here all weekend. It will be the first time I've seen them since mid-July, when I was hovering just under the 270 mark. And, I'm pretty damn nervous about it. Mostly, I have a lot of questions about what's going to happen.

First off, will they notice? If I'm honest with myself, my guess is there's a good chance they'll notice. I've lost 13% of my weight over all, and 10% since the time I last saw them. That 10% mark is supposed to be a visible one, and I'd say there's a better than even chance they'll pick up on it. After all, when I last saw them I was wearing a size 22. These days I'm wearing 18s and 16s. When I compare my size 22 jacket and size 16 jacket, the difference is pretty, well, sizable.

And, of course, if they do notice, will they say something? Well, there I'm just not sure. That's not entirely true. If he notices, my Dad will almost certainly say some sort of "You look so nice, Hadley." I don't think I'd get something as blunt as "Have you lost weight?" for which I'm quite grateful. My mom's less likely to comment, if she notices, but it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

Okay, so here's the thing: I love my parents. I'm very close to them. I haven't seen them since July, and generally I see them every month or six weeks. The not seeing them was entirely at my behest: I could've gone up to NYC at any point, or encouraged them to come down earlier. There's a reason I haven't seen them more recently, and it's because I didn't want to.

Again, let me emphasize, I love my parents. I've missed them a lot. I've felt quite a few times on this journey like I needed to just go home and see them for a weekend. But now, that I'm about to see them, I'm filled with dread.

I don't want them to know. I don't, don't, don't want them to know. I don't want them to notice. I don't want them to ask. I'm petrified. I am 36 pounds and 94 days into this journey, and I haven't told a single soul. I'm so, so, so terribly scared.

I hate the idea of people knowing I'm on a diet. HATE it.

Back in the day, I used to be incredibly into fashion. I used to be into shopping, being popular, being mean. All the superficial, the New York City, the money, the silly. That used to be my life. When I was 16, my picture was in TeenVogue. I cared so, so, so much about looks.

And then I stopped. I became serious, intellectual. I purposefully went to a college with the unofficial motto "where fun goes to die". Because I was an oh-so-serious person interested in saving the world and changing things and math and economics and serious things. I chose the college I chose specifically as a repudiation of all things New York. I hated what I was at 15, and I wanted to run away from that. (For the record, yes, with a bit more maturity I realize that there's room for some of the fun and that things don't have to be quite so serious. If you can't tell, I'm not quite as into being a super serious person as I was at 18.) And honestly, being fat was part of that. It was part of saying "I don't care about your superficial world. I don't want to be a part of it anymore."

And the thing is, I still don't, really. If you told me that I could lose weight with no one noticing, but still get the benefits of health and freedom of motion/fitting places, I'd do it. The thought of people commenting to each other on "Oh does it look like Hadley's lost some weight" drives me absolutely insane. Sometimes I'll say, oh it would be a nice bonus to be hot, but honestly, relative to everything else, I could care less. And half the days I don't even want it. I'm not doing this to be pretty. I'm not doing this to be beautiful. I'm not doing this to be noticed. I just want to be able to live and have the career I want with size not being an issue. I don't really care if I'm ugly as sin so long as it doesn't hold me back from the things I actually want to do.

I'm scared my family is going to notice. I don't want them to. I don't want anyone to. I am just so, so, so scared.

I have to accept that if I keep going along people are going to notice. They're probably going to comment, too. And I'm going to hate people looking at my body. And I'm going to hate people thinking that I must be on a diet because I care too much about how I look. But I need to keep reminding myself it's worth it.

And it is. Being fat puts me at a disadvantage applying to jobs. Being fat could cause me to fail the Foreign Service medical exam, and if I fail that my dream career is dead. There are also things I love (skiing! swimming! etc) that I either can't do or feel like I can't do because of my weight. My health and my career are worth it. Changing my life for the better is worth the fact that people are going to notice my body changes.

Right?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In

Well, I'm sick as a dog and swamped at work, but I'd hate to miss a weigh in:

Weight: 241.9
BMI: 41.52

I'm down 1.6 pounds week to week.

I feel yucky, but I'm on the right track. I didn't put my all in this week, and it showed. On Friday, I ate almost 1500 calories, and on Saturday I was just under 1800. The other days I hewed closely to my 1200-1300 range, although I confess that yesterday I only hit the 1100 mark.

Tomorrow, I'm going to get back in the gym. I'm going to eat well. And for the love of god, I hope I'm feeling better.

Here's to hoping things are better for the rest of you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why are we obese?

So I do policy work in DC. Although most of my day is Stata and spreadsheets, staying up on the latest thinking is part of the job. Right now, there's a lot of very interesting thinking about obesity. I read so, so much of it, and I think about it a lot. I want to start working through a few of my thoughts about it. Essentially, my goal is to dig through some of the leading thinking about obesity, discuss whether it feels true to me, and hopefully hear back from you guys about whether these seem true in your life.

James Fallows of The Atlantic has recently had a really interesting series on obesity. (I can't find a unifying tag on his blog, but most of it is on the front page here.) I may talk about a few other of the letters at some point, but I wanted to start off with this one:

It is one thing for a successful, financially comfortable, socially accepted and respected person who has multiple things happening every day that are pleasurable (golf, driving a nice car, nice home, stylish clothing, success at work, interesting social events, kids doing well, planning vacations, etc) to take just one pleasurable aspect of life (overeating) and sacrifice some of that pleasure for the good result of losing weight.

Now, for people struggling financially and socially, trying to just get through the day and keep their lives together to varying degrees...their meals are often the only consistently happy and pleasurable events they can count on each day.

Obviously, a generalization. But, if one gets up and faces a day with a tedious and unfulfilling job, not much money to spend on anything but necessities, and no "fun" things ahead, how much more difficult it is for that person to also think ahead to a day of denying themselves the pleasure of their mealtimes....

(All the ellipses are original.) Another Atlantic blogger, Ta-Nehisi Coates, expounded on the idea, and his experience with it. I'm not going to block quote the post, but it's an interesting read. Coates picked up the attention of the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, who brought the situation away from the personal to the academically grounded:

This reminds me of Charles Karelis's "The Persistence of Poverty." The basic argument is that the wealthy misunderstand the mental state of the poor, which leads them to make conceptual errors when creating policies to address poverty, or, in this case, obesity. Think of a bee sting, he advises. If you have a single bee sting, you'll go buy some salve to take away the pain. Now imagine three bee stings, a sprained ankle, a burn, a cut, a crick in your neck, a sore throat, and arthritis. Does the bee sting matter anymore?

Karelis argues that this is more the situation of someone in poverty. Obesity is bad, but it may be just one of many bad things. Overdue bills. A horrible part-time job. Endless commuting time on the bus. A mother with diabetes. A child running with the wrong crowd. A leaking roof. In that scenario, slowly reversing your weight gain might be a good idea, but it hardly makes a dent in the overall crumminess of the conditions. It won't replace pain with pleasure. So you do things that are surer to replace pain with pleasure, like have a delicious, filling, satisfying, salty, fatty meal. That may make your overall situation more unpleasant, but then, making that situation pleasant didn't seem like an option in the first place.

And this, to me, screamed true, true true. Not just about poverty (which I've been fortunate enough not to experience) but with the other stresses in life. When I was in college, terribly stressed, depressed and constantly freaking out about what I was going to do for a career, losing weight just didn't make sense. I had all those other terrible things, and it just made so much more sense to do the things that made me happy now, that helped get me through the day. Even when I started my job in DC and was just getting set up here, I don't think I could've done it. There was too much else to stress about. Now, though, my little world is relatively under control, and I have the mental energy and willpower to devote to fixing my weight. I can work on curing this.

How do you guys feel about this theory? Do you think the success you're having now or failures you've had in the past are related to all the other things going on in your life? Or do you think this theory is a bit namby pamby, and feel like weight loss success or failure is independent of other things?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Boredom and the Excitement

As I sat this morning thinking of post topics, I found myself circling back to something Mommy2Joe brought up a few days ago. Namely, that losing weight is incredibly, incredibly boring. She aptly described it as a "huge, slow, pain in the ass." And, honestly, she's right. Losing weight is one of the most boring things I've ever done. I've conquered the basics, the eating less and the moving more. I'm consistently dropping pounds. I've got it down. But, when you consider how fat I am, how far I've got to go, we're looking at almost a year just to get down to a normal weight range. And that's if I keep dropping 2 pounds a week. I've just got week in, week out of denying myself treats, pushing myself to the gym, and just slowly, slowly, slowly building up calorie deficits. My Tuesday weigh in was 243.5. That means I have 98.5 pounds to go till a normal weight. That means I need to build up a 344,750 calories deficit. Like, holy shit. That's a LOT. This is going to take a long time. A long, very boring, very same, very challenging time.

Sigh.

The flip side to this, of course, is that losing weight can be so amazingly awesome at times. Going to the scale in the morning and seeing the drops? Seriously, there are few feelings as good as a well deserved bigger than expected loss. The concept, itself, is epic. We're battling metaphorical demons and literally saving our own lives.

And everywhere you go, there are milestones, gigantic monuments to your accomplishments. Each pound, each point of BMI, each percent of body weight. The smaller pants, the smaller shirts, the smaller everything. The not getting winded walking up stairs, and walking and running and moving faster than you ever have before. Honestly, at this point if you told my rather critical mind that I'd be able to fly by the end of this journey, part of me would half believe you. I'm doing things I'd never thought I'd be able to do so much sooner than I thought I'd be able to do them. Where else do you get to accomplish so much?

Losing weight is a fabulous, exhilarating, exciting and awe inspiring journey. It's also one of the most boring things I've ever done.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Turns Out My Office Is a Lucky Place

There are exactly four fat people in my office. There's one guy who's at the very top of the food chain who's quite heavy. One of the administrative assistants a floor down from me is fat. And there's one other fat guy who does some sort of facilities/mail room stuff, although I'm not sure exactly what he does. And then there's me.

The point I'm trying to make is that being fat here is relatively rare. I stand out, I'm an exception. Career pressure is certainly part of my motivation to work on losing the weight now. One of the things I'm finding out, though, is that there are even more previously fat people around here than there are fat people.

When I got my job in January, I found out within the first few weeks that one guy had recently lost 80 pounds. He was still losing at that point, but he was within a pretty normal range by the time I met him. I'm pretty sure at this point he's entered maintenance.

In the spring, I found out via photo that another, more senior guy, also had a heavy history. At a lunch over the summer, it came up that another low level policy person (his job is comparable to mine, but he's been here about two years) had lost 50 pounds after coming to work here but before I met him. He said he'd done it just by cutting out soda and walking more.

And then yesterday I found out that the only other girl on my floor (girls are a distinct minority at my office, but my floor in particular is almost girl-free) had also dropped quite a bit of weight, again after arriving here but before I'd met her.

My office, it seems, is therefore quite a lucky place when it comes to battling the bulge. There are as many former fat folks as there are current fat folks, which is quite a bit better than the standard odds out there in the world. Maybe it's that being fat is rare, and people don't like feeling like the exception. Maybe it's just that these are smart, dedicated people who realize when they get to DC that their weight will hold their careers back. Or maybe, just maybe, it's a very lucky place to lose your excess pounds.

Either way, I feel a lot less lonely knowing that I'm surrounded by people who have been where I am, even if it's not something I'd feel comfortable talking with them about. And I feel a bit more confident knowing I'm surrounded by people who have succeeded in doing what I now attempt. I can and will do this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In

Weight: 243.5
BMI: 41.79

Last Tuesday I weighed in at 245.9, so today represents a perfectly solid 2.4 pound loss. I'm up .1 pounds day to day, but I'm not going to focus on that. Instead, let's look at the good:

1. Losing 2.4 pounds/week is more than enough for either my stretch goal or my long term goal.
2. My BMI's now 41.79. This is the first weekly weigh in I've had where my BMI is under 42.
3. I've now lost 12.41% of my starting weight. This is the first weekly weigh in I've had where I've lost over 12% of my starting body weight.
4. I've now lost a total of 34.5 pounds and have 98.5 pounds left to lose before I'm of normal weight.
5. Only 10.5 pounds to go till I'm not morbid! Next week, that number will probably be in the single digits.

These are good things. I also want to use this post to check in on my Hot 100 goals:

1. Have two "Biggest Loser" (6000+ calorie burn on my Bodybugg) days a month. I didn't make it for September, but I tried valiantly. I'm pleased with my attempt. Next attempt is October 4th (this Sunday), but I'm probably going to only shoot for 5000.

2. Work out an average of 5 days/week. Easily accomplished. If you count lunch time walks, I've worked out ever day since Sunday the 20th. (Technically the challenge started on the 23rd.) If my almost-daily lunch walks--each of which burns over 400 calories according to my bugg--don't count, then I didn't work out on Thursday.

3. Go to the Gym at least 15 times each month. If you start back on Sunday the 20th, I went every day but Thursday and Friday. Since this is a monthly goal and the challenge didn't technically start until the 23rd, it's hard to judge, but at the very least I fulfilled the spirit of this goal by going to the gym often and working out hard while I was there.

4. Keep average calories below 1400, and don't exceed 2000 in a single day. Easy peasy. I upped my calories to a minimum of 1200 not too long ago, and have been meeting that. I haven't gone above 1400 for probably a few weeks, and certainly not since the challenge has begun.

Well, that's that. I'm pleased with the weigh in, and pleased with my week. The bugg has been an excellent motivator, and I'm incredibly glad I've got it. Here's to making this coming week even better!

Edited to add: Monica asked me in the comments if the front desk guys were still bugging me about spinning classes, and the answer is an unfortunate yes. (Newer readers: the full story is available here.) Last night I arrived right before a spinning class was about to start, and he asked me if I was going to it. I said I didn't think so, and he was all "oh come on you should go!" I said I was in the mood for the elliptical instead and hurried on by. Passing the front desk gauntlet is easily the worst part of going to the gym for me on weekdays. At least the more aggressive class pusher is only there Monday through Thursdays, right?

Essentially, I still hate it, it still makes me want to get in the habit of working out in the morning so I don't have to deal with getting pestered, but for now I'm just brushing it off.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My First (attempted) Biggest Loser Day

I spoke last week about how I was going to try to do a 6000 calorie burn Biggest Loser Day, as a way of challenging myself as well as trying to burn some extra calories. In the end, I didn't make it to the 6000 calorie burn mark. But, I think it's possible to get there (or get close, anyway) and I'm looking forward to trying next week.

Here's my burn for the attempted Biggest Loser Day.

As you can see, the day started out pretty well. I walked to the gym, did an hour on the elliptical, then lifted, then 20 minutes on the elliptical, and walked home. At home I ate lunch, and then went for a walk to Eastern Market. You can see the activity for that listed from 1pm to a little after three. Notice, however, how choppy it is. My feet were sore, and I was exhausted. Midway through, it started pouring. When I came home at 3:30 or so, my plan to take a 30 minute nap actually turned into me passing out until nearly 8pm, at which point I said "eh, this isn't happening."

The biggest problem, in my opinion, was that I hadn't fully recovered from the night before, when I decided to go out on an 8 mile walk on a lark:

See that giant chunk of activity from 7 to 10:30? That, in my opinion, was my main mistake. It left me blistered and exhausted, and the end result was that I wasn't able to give my all the next day.

I also think I found myself overly intimidated by the 6000 number, and perhaps would do well to just aim for 5000 on my next attempt (which will be this Sunday, since Saturday morning I have the Foreign Service Written Exam).

I can do this. It's a challenge, no doubt about it, but it definitely is doable. If I hadn't fallen asleep, while I don't know if I would've made 6k, I definitely could've gotten up to 5000.

In other news: Jo at 282.5 has now officially lost 50 pounds! If you haven't already, be sure to go over and congratulate her.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It depends on what your definition of is is

Well, actually, it depends on what your definition of morbidly obese is.

The most common definition, and probably the fairest, is a BMI greater than 40. However, there is another, alternate definition "100+ pounds overweight." Yesterday, no matter which way you cut it, I was firmly in the morbid category. Today, not so much.

Weight: 244.8

Normal weight for someone my height tops out at 145. This means I am no longer 100+ pounds overweight! As of this morning, I am a mere 99.8 pounds over a normal weight. Ah, the things we can rejoice in when we're as far gone as I.

Seriously, even though I think the 40+ BMI definition of morbid is more valid, today marks a substantive milestone for me. My weight loss goal is no longer in the triple digits. And 11.8 pounds from now, I won't be morbid by any definition. Good stuff.

In other news, last night I decided that I was going to stop messing around and make sure I get to 1200 calories every day, even if I feel like I don't really need the last 250 or so.

Now, conventional wisdom in the dieting world is pretty definitive on the "You must eat 1200 calories a day or BADNESS." The badness they most typically threaten people with is that if you eat fewer than 1200 calories a day, your body won't lose as much weight as if you eat just at or slightly above this mark. There's also some shebang about how it's bad for your body and how you need nutrients and whatnot. (The last point is one I mostly agree with, although I'm not entirely convinced of it's importance. Losing weight is self starvation, an inherently unhealthy process. The result is healthy, the value of shedding excess pounds makes it healthy on balance, but the self starvation part still pretty trying on your body. I'm not, for example, 100% convinced that the value of getting things done more quickly--thus spending fewer days starving yourself--isn't worth more than the value of getting perfect nutrients along the way.)

But okay, my real objection is with the idea that if you go below the 1200 calorie low bound, your body will go into "starvation mode" and that you'll lose less weight than if you were above it. It strikes me as absolute nonsense that one would lose less weight at 1150 than 1250 a day, or less weight at 900 than 1200.

The first thing that bugged me about it was that it clearly broke basic rules of physics. Diet industry, meet Conservation of Energy. You see, my buddy conservation is a rule. A real science-y rule, not one of your made up diet ones. That said, I do understand that bodies are complex organisms, and that going below a certain point could trigger your body to do other things that conserve energy, but it's not going to be enough to make up the difference. I'd absolutely 100% buy that because of your body's response there are decreasing marginal returns as you cut more calories (for example, that going from 1800 to 1700 would be worth more than cutting from 800 to 700, even that the cut from 800 to 700 only produces as much bonus weight loss as going from, say, 1800 to 1760), but decreasing marginal returns does not mean the effectiveness stops all together.

Besides, there's absolutely no way that all those people who are out there in the world starving are really just doing so because they're hitting 1300 calories a day, and if they only ate 1100 they'd be unable to lose weight. Ridiculous.

And then there's the fact that when you get into more medical settings, they do use sub 1200 calorie diets with great success. The 1200 calorie rule isn't just nonsensical in theory, it's flat out wrong in practice. Gastric bypass patients, for example, will be on a 600 calorie diet for a few weeks post op. Physician supervised very low calorie diets do exist for rapid weight loss.

So, all that, but: I'm committing to myself to hit the 1200 calorie mark every day for the next two weeks. This is tough for me. I enjoy heterodoxy for its own sake and I hate doing things that I can't independently make sense of. But after seeing my bugg burn values for the past few days (3527 Wednesday and 3172 yesterday), it occurred to me that relative to burn, the extra 220 or so calories I save on sub 1200 days just aren't worth it. I'm better off spending my mental energy pushing myself to get off the couch again to go for a walk than questioning whether or not I really need miracle whip on my daily sandwich (30 calorie difference), and is picking turkey over ham or roast beef (15ish calorie difference) really worth the decreased enjoyment.

Don't get me wrong, I still think diet is more important than exercise in terms of weight loss. And the difference eating 2000 and 1200 calories a day is huge, but right now, for me, it makes sense to stay in the 1200-plus club. For these next two weeks, I'm going to hit 1200 even if it means stuffing down an extra cottage cheese before bed. After that, I'll see where things are, and decide where I want to go from there.

I'm still a little in shock from how much I poured out in yesterday post, so apologies for the overshare. I've now officially told you guys a whole heck of a lot more about me than I ever intended, and even shared a few secrets I don't tell people in real life. But that's blogging, right?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ten Things

Per the Honest Scrap award, ten things:

1. I am absolutely petrified of the dentist, and have an appointment today. This is the first time I've ever gone to the dentist on my own volition: every previous time I'd just been forced by my mother. I'm petrified that he's going to give me horrible news, and have been brushing and flossing like a mad woman since I made the appointment a few weeks ago. I'm pretty sure something's wrong with at least one of my teeth.

2. I am 99.99% certain I have PCOS. When I was a junior in college, my mom sent me an email saying "now that your 21 I think you should know you might have this because I had this." I have a lot of the symptoms (stray hairs I need to pluck, wildly irregular cycle, obesity, occasional acne, and the fact that whenever I google weird things about my body to figure out if it's normal a PCOS forum always shows up). The most common ways to treat PCOS are diet and exercise and the pill. An enormous part of this whole weight loss thing is to get rid of my PCOS symptoms. I'd like to get on the pill, too, but for that I'd need to see a doctor, and well . . .

3. My deepest fear is that I'll get diagnosed with diabetes before I'm able to join the Foreign Service. Once I have it, that's it, there's no way I'd be let in because they need to clear you for worldwide availability. If I got diabetes my life's ambition would be dead in the water, and I wouldn't have the slightest idea what I wanted to do with my life. One of the craziest things about diabetes is that just through diet and exercise, people can improve their health enough that they don't need any medications and can get results in the normal range on the "do you have diabetes" tests. But even though they test as normal and really no longer have diabetes, they count as having diabetes. Which, to me, says "do everything you can to avoid being diagnosed." Right now, if I had diabetes, and I keep losing weight and self cure, as far as the world is concerned, I'm not a diabetic. If I go in and see a doctor, get diagnosed, and then cure myself through diet and exercise, I'll still be a diabetic and can't join the Foreign Service.

4. I don't really think I have diabetes just yet, though. I'm still quite young, and my father didn't get it until his 50s. When I take online tests they say it's possible I have prediabetes and that I'm at risk and should get tested. Still, getting the pill to help with PCOS is not worth the risk of ruining my dream.

5. The only places I've ever lived for any length of time are New York City, Chicago, DC and Paris. I hate crowds, and part of me hates cities. Sometimes I think I should pick up and move out to Montana.

6. I grew up in Manhattan and went to one of the top private schools in the country. Yes, sort of like Gossip Girl, only less salacious. No, not really like NYC Prep, those kids all went to crap schools like Birch Wathen Lolnex. Whenever I meet people from NYC who grew up in the private school circuit, my first impulse is still to judge them on where they went to school. I try not to, though.

7. I once earnestly tried to explain to my college friends that I wasn't rich by using the argument that my parents had sold our second country house to help pay college tuition for my brother and I. As someone who's now seen a bit more of the real world, I now at least partially recognize how ridiculously sheltered I was.

8. I'm still ridiculously sheltered, though. I have an entry level DC salary (read: low) and live in a one bedroom apartment in the heart of downtown DC in a nice doorman building. My parents pay the vast majority of my rent and for all of my clothes and shoes, as well as a few other expenses. If it were up to me I'd live some place cheaper since I don't think the place is worth the rent, but my mom's a bit psychotic about safety, and since my parents were the ones picking up most of the bills I couldn't really argue too hard against it. In spite of that, I'm pretty frugal about most things and place a high value on saving money.

9. My friends from New York are all brats like me. My friends from college are mostly upper middle class kids, many of them the children of professors. I only have one friend who's from a wildly different background and who didn't grow up with the expectation that "of course everyone goes to college." I somehow met him through a friend of a friend of a friend at some event in college, and we ended up somehow hitting it off. He told me he went to UIC, but it turns out he'd dropped out about six months before I met him. When he told me the truth a few months later, I didn't blame him for lying to me.

10. The best $900 I've ever spent was to pay his community college tuition. I finally convinced him to go back to school this semester, but then a series of events (some partially his fault, some not at all) depleted his savings. Convincing him to accept the money was among the hardest things I've ever done, but also the best. I still worry, sometimes, that the money will somehow end up coloring our friendship, but thus far that hasn't been the case. I teared up the first time he emailed me from his new college email address. I am so, so, incredibly proud of him for going back.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Scraps, Buggs, and the last 100 days of 2009

First of all, thanks to 266, Jo, and Katie (via comment, there's no list in her post) for giving me the Honest Scrap award.

Thanks guys! The award comes with rules (don't they all?) which I may or may not follow at some later date. Part of it involves listing 10 blogs. I listed 15 that I love not too long back, and I have new favorites that belong on any list I'd make. Essentially, this would mean cutting the old 15 to 7 or 8 to make room for some new folks, and that would just be too difficult an endeavor. Maybe I'll figure out a way to do it at some point, but for now I'm not going to. A genuine thank you, though, to Katie, 266, and Jo. I appreciate the recognition.

This morning I've had quite a bit of blogger's block. I thought about writing the 10 things about myself for the honest scrap, but I couldn't come up with 2, let alone 10. I thought about writing about two fat tax articles in Slate, but the post never quite got off the ground.

I got my new bodybugg last night, which was pretty exciting. I'm going to even go crazy and post a Katie J style screenie:

It's pretty cool, how you can actually track the day through it. I went home during my lunch hour to plug it in, but I didn't get to put it on until after work. Technically, work ends at like 5:30, but the bodybugg screenie reveals the truth: I totally went home a little early because I was giddy about getting to use it. I strapped it on, then walked to the gym, getting there around 5:30. I put in a little over 20 minutes on the elliptical machine, then did the 6-7 Yoga Fundamentals class. This was my very first yoga class there (and the first class at the gym that I successfully completed). I'm actually quite sore from it, but looking at the bugg it had a pretty disappointing burn. Walking home, and then freaking out because I lost the digital display at the gym, which I did from 7-8, was way more of a burn. For the record, yes, I really did lose the digital display within 12 hours of getting it, and no, it hasn't turned up anywhere yet. I ordered another this morning after confirming with my gym that it hadn't turned up in the lost and found. Boo for losing $100 to idiocy.

Making dinner from 8 to 8:30, and then Biggest Loser from 8:30 to 10, were terrible in terms of calorie burn. This just in: sitting in front of the TV's not much exercise. I did love in Biggest Loser how they were talking about burning 6000 calories a day and using their buggs to track it. It really gave me a concept of what actually is required to get Biggest Loser type losses, and why it's not possible in the real world when you need to devote 8-10 hours a day to work. However, it also really brought to the forefront the idea that even though I can't have Biggest Loser weeks, it's eminently possible to have a Biggest Loser day every now and then. Since I don't have to care for a family, I'm able to block off a weekend day every now and then. Yes, I'm not going to be able to burn 6000 calories a day every day, but I damn well can burn 6000 calories a day twice a month.

I cleaned my apartment from around 10:30 to midnight which, needless to say, turned out to be a much better work out than watching TV.

Seeing the chart, thus far, has been an amazing motivator. I promise a full review of the bugg once I've had it for more than 24 hours, but for now I love it and would highly recommend it to anyone. If you're on the fence, get one. Just try not to lose the digital display the very first day.

Anyway, during my blogger's block, I was taking a peak at a few other blogs, and found that Diane over at Fit to the Finish had linked to a Hot 100 challenge being hosted by South Beach Steve. As of today, there are 100 days left in the year. The point of the challenge is to make a few goals that are attainable, measurable, and that you have complete control over, and to check in and measure your progress on the goals at least once every 10 days. So, you can't do "Eat 200 calories a day" since that's not attainable, you can't do "Don't eat too much" because that's not measurable, and you can't do "lose 10 pounds" because you don't have complete control over it. I think this challenge is probably a really good idea for me, because my goals tend to fall into the category of ones I don't have complete control over, so it would be nice to add a few non-weight goals into my repertoire. Anyway, here's what my goals are going to be:

1. Have two "Biggest Loser" (6000+ calorie burn on my Bodybugg) days a month. For September, I'm only going to require one since there's not much of the month left. I discussed the motivation/concept of biggest loser days above, and I think it's going to be a damn awesome experiment.

2. Work out an average of 5 days/week. This is important, and this is attainable. Work outs are my weak spot, and I'd like to push myself into changing that habit. Note the use of the word average, though: some weeks work or life will mean that I can't get to the gym 5 days a week, and that's okay so long as I make it up.

3. Go to the Gym at least 15 times each month. When I avoid the gym, not only do I burn fewer calories, I waste money. I pay for a very expensive gym membership, and hot damn I'm going to use it. My membership is $69 a month, this would mean I'm paying $4.60 a workout, which to me is an acceptable amount. If I go 20 times a month, each workout becomes $3.45 a pop.

4. Keep average calories below 1400, and don't exceed 2000 in a single day. I'm making this limit relatively high, in fact, more than I eat most days right now. I generally shoot for around 1200, and go under more days than I go over. But, if I'm stepping up workouts, I'm probably going to end up increasing calories a bit, and there's no shame in that. The 2000 top is to stave off binges, and, for when I do binge, to encourage me to stop before things get really bad. It also let's me comfortably enjoy holidays and special events, while still pushing me to maintain a good average.

Those are my goals for the rest of 2009. 100 days. Doable.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In

Weight: 245.9
BMI: 42.20

Well, it could be worse. Losing 2.1 pounds in a week isn't all that bad. I know that. I should be happy. And yet . . .

I won't lie, I'm pissed. I lost .2 pounds last week, and all I could pull this week was a 2.1? A plain 2.1 isn't enough for my stretch goal. I need to clock weekly losses of 2.2+.

Honestly, if it was any old week, I wouldn't be discouraged by a 2.1 pound loss. It's just that I had such a bad week last week, so this week should've been a good week, and it just wasn't. Grrr.

And I know I shouldn't be discouraged or upset. 2.1 pounds is big. But I just feel like it's not big enough.


Edited to add: I've calmed down a bit and realize that 2.1 pounds is a good week and that I should be happy with it. I won't lie, part of me is still a little GRRR, but that's life. I did well this week, and I'll do better next week. I can do this.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hadley and the new suit jacket (with pictures)

So, I've got an enormous meeting today. If you'd noticed me slacking in commenting, it's because I've been ridiculously busy at work. A lot of that work is going to come to fruition in a meeting this afternoon.

At my office, every one wears a suit every day but Friday. However, us low-level policy folks are typically allowed to keep our suit jackets in our offices. Sure, I need to wear it to occasional meetings and events, and I'll put my jacket on if I know I'm going to be wandering where the highest-ups are. In all, though, I don't wear it much. Thus, even though I'm now wearing size 18 suit pants, I hadn't bought anything smaller than my original 22 jacket. It just hadn't seemed worth it. Last week, though, the tent like nature of my 22 jacket was starting to get to me:



So, with my big Monday meeting, I decided that this weekend, enough was enough. I went to Macy's, determined to pick up a size 18 jacket of my favorite suit. (Madison suit by Calvin Klein, that's the one where I have the 20 and 18 pants.) But, they had no 18s. No 20s, either. Only 22s and 16s. After a "Grr" I tried on the size 16. IT FIT. I am not shitting you. Granted it's all stretchy and plus sized and a little too tight, but check it out:



And while I was there, I decided to pick up the size 16 pants, just for giggles and to shrink into. In all but the side view of the size 16 jacket (which I just retook because the first one was terrible) I'm actually wearing the 16 pants. They're still too tight for me to wear to work, but they're buttonable. (Mind you, I just declared the 18s work appropriate on Thursday, so it'll be a while.)

And, you know, while I'm posting pictures, I thought it would be worth showing you the shirt I'm wearing underneath the suits:


(For the record, the weird lumps are mostly from the too small pants.) Anyway, guess what size the shirt is? You know, just if you had to throw one out there. Oh, all right, I'll show you:

Yes, that is a size Large. No X's. Just a large. I shit you not.

I've still got a long way to go before I can wear regular sizes in most clothes, but it's pretty awesome to have one size large shirt that actually fits and fits me well. I have the same shirt in XL in two colors, and while I wear them, they both feel a bit on the big size.

Anyway, I'm really happy about the suit jacket. I love the way it looks, and I'm damn excited to wear it. It's definitely still tight, and I doubt I'll keep it buttoned during the day. (I also took a photo of it unbuttoned, then tried the button and it was all badass and "Hey I maybe sort of have a waist instead of just fat into fat into one big blobby circle of fat.")

That 22 jacket used to be tight on me. It used to be fabulous. It used to be my favorite suit jacket. Today, I'm wearing the size 16 version, and you know what? It's so much better.

I know I have a long way to go. Another 100ish pounds to lose is no small battle. But right now, in this very moment, I feel like I've already accomplished a lot.

I hope everyone has a great Monday, and wish me luck at my meeting!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Placebos, Nocebos, and why you've got to believe

Most everyone has heard of the placebo effect. Essentially, if a doctor gives you a sugar pill and says it's going to make you feel better, you'll end up feeling a bit better, even though the pill did nothing at all. When you think your body is going to get better, you're likely to get better. In recent years, the placebo effect has actually been getting stronger, to the extent that even a few old standby drugs, like Prozac, will sometimes fail to prove their effects are statistically significant. (A really cool article on how the placebo effect is getting stronger is here.)

The placebo effect has a lesser known, decidedly evil cousin: the nocebo effect. The nocebo effect is just what it sounds like. When you're told something won't work, it won't work. If you're told you're going to die, and you believe it, you might even die. Scary stuff.

Those of you who read my blog know that I'm pretty damn into science, math, and reason. So I say this not in a bullshit pseudoscience The Secret sort of way.

You've got to believe.

You have to do this, too, all the working out and the hunger and the drinking water and building up calorie deficits day after day. But you have to believe you're doing it too. Believe what you're doing will work, and it seems that, on the margins, it's more likely to.

For reasons science hasn't yet figured out, people who genuinely believe they're going to get better are more likely to do so, and people who believe they won't get better sometimes end up doing just that. So go ahead, drink the koolaid, and tell yourself you are going to lose the weight. It's not going to be quite as effective as a guy in a white coat telling you his sugar pill will cure what ails you, but it very well might end up helping out.

You can do this. I can do this, too. And you know what? I think we both will.

And in other news, yesterday I started wearing my size 18 pants as my standard work pair. The size 20s we're just too big. I'm wearing them again today and they feel great. As someone who spends most of my time these days in oversized clothes, getting to wear a pair that really fits is a nice treat.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Daily weigh ins vs. weekly weigh ins

"Should I weigh in every day or just once a week?" It's a common question. And I'm going to give an answer that is very true, but one I think people don't hear enough:

Scientifically speaking, you should probably weigh yourself every day.

Now, this is a post I've been mulling over this for a while. Erin (who, by the way, has a great blog that I'd encourage you to check out) commented on a post of mine not too long back that "the almighty 'they' discourage weighing in daily." And in terms of the diet world, she's right. Weight Watchers, Spark People, and most other diet plans and diet books say you should only weigh once a week. The typical justifications are that the scale can change greatly from day to day, meaning it's not all that accurate, and that there are emotional downsides with seeing false losses and gains throughout the week. Essentially, conventional wisdom in the diet world says that weighing yourself every day can discourage you and stress you out. But conventional wisdom isn't always right.

Weighting yourself every day is actually a good idea according to science. A 2005 study showed that "Dieters who weighed themselves regularly shed more pounds over a 24-month period than people who didn't regularly weigh themselves. Those who weighed themselves daily lost the most." Another University of Minnesota study "found that those who weighed themselves daily lost an average of 12 pounds over 2 years; weekly scale watchers lost only 6. The once-a-day group also was less likely to regain weight loss." And there are more studies out there with much the same message.

So weighing daily makes you likely to lose more weight and keep it off once it's gone. But what about the emotional damage of daily weigh ins? At least one study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology says that's a myth. Here's what they found:

Several recent studies suggest that daily weighing is important for long-term weight control, but concerns have been raised about possible adverse psychological effects.
...
We found no evidence that increases in frequency of weighing or daily weighing per se had any adverse effects in this study population. Rather, increases in self-weighing were associated with increases in dietary restraint (p less than 0.001), decreases in disinhibition (p less than 0.003), and decreases in depressive symptoms (p less than 0.002). Moreover, those who weighed daily at 18 months were less likely to report having = 4 binge episodes per month (p = 0.03). Daily weighing appears to be an important aspect of weight loss maintenance and was not associated with adverse psychological effect.
So there's scientific evidence that weighing daily isn't emotionally damaging. It even seems to decrease depression and binging! And why are we supposed to weigh in weekly, again?

The answer to the question "should I weigh myself every day or once a week?" seems to be every day. Scientifically speaking, if you want to play the probabilities, you should step on your scale every day.

That said, just because something is likely to be right for you doesn't mean something is right for you. If you're not comfortable with daily weigh ins, then you shouldn't weigh in daily. It might be that you get extremely depressed by stepping on the scale, or that you truly can't stand seeing the fluctuations. Maybe for you this journey is more the emotional or even spiritual aspects, and that while you do want to track your weight, you don't care much about the numbers. You need to do what works for you.

My advice:

Seriously consider weighing in every day. It may not work for you, but there's some good evidence that it more likely to work than you might think. But, at the end of the day, trust yourself. If you don't want to do daily weigh ins, don't do daily weigh ins. Stick with weekly, monthly, or whatever else makes you happy. The right answer for you might not be the right answer for everyone else. And with that in mind, next time you hear someone mindlessly parrot the diet industry's standard "you shouldn't weigh yourself more than once a week," let them know that science, at least, says otherwise.

Oh, and to answer the requests from yesterday, I will review the Body Bugg once I get mine. It shipped last night, and should be arriving on the 22nd.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why yes, I am going to talk about Biggest Loser today

I'd never watched the Biggest Loser before. Sure, there were all those non-reason reasons for why I don't watch most shows: I don't watch much tv in general, and watch very little reality TV in particular. More than that, though, I definitely had an aversion to the fact that it was a fat TV show. Sure, I've been fat since the end of high school, but it wasn't really something I liked to think about. I wasn't the sort of person who went on endless diets (this is exactly my third). I cared more about other things. I mean, I knew I was fat, but if you gave me a list of things to self identify with, I'd be far more likely to choose things like economist, traveler, film buff, adventurer, analyst, New Yorker, etc. than fat. It's not that I wasn't fat, it was just that, well, I was other things too, and those were the things I cared about more.

Since this journey began, I've been thinking of myself as fat. Not as the first thing I am, but up there on the list. A big part of my life right now is that I am morbidly obese, and that I'm working hard to change that. In terms of how I spend my time, energy, money and thoughts, it's clear that "being fat" and some day, hopefully, being not quite so fat, are really, really important to me.

I've even started watching fat shows, really, for no other basis than they're about fat people. Drop Dead Diva is an atrocious and ridiculous show, yet one I tivo every Sunday and reliably watch. (I'm not a lawyer, and still their concept of the law makes me want to scream at the writers and be like "is it really that hard to do some basic research, you idiots?") I watch More to Love. The show makes me want to take the people aside and say "no, sweetie, Luke did not plan that date for you, the producers did, and while we're talking, could you please try to be less dumb?"

So, with my new found interest in fat media, I of course set my Tivo last night for Biggest Loser. Since I hate commercials almost as much as I hate coach seats on airplanes and pickles, I didn't start watching until 8:30. By 8:32 I was sobbing.

The show is great. It's fabulous. It's wrenching. I cried more than I'd like to admit, and got inspired by several of the sappy thing that are supposed to inspire you. I was doing leg lifts and sit ups on the couch as I watched, breaking occasionally when the tears overwhelmed me. It blew me away.

Right now, my BMI is 42.56. That means I'm fatter than Abby, Amanda, Dina and Liz were at the start. On July 7th, when I started this journey, my BMI was 47.71. At that point, I was fatter than everyone but Antoine, Danny, Julio, Rudy, Sean, and Shay. As someone who's bigger than 4 of the Biggest Loser contestants, there's no doubt I'm in terrible shape. But only 72 short days ago, I would've been bigger than 10 of them. I'm making progress.

I bought myself a bodybugg last night. At $250, I probably shouldn't have gone for it as an impulse purchase, but as I was thinking about it last night it became something I really wanted. I think it's going to be incredibly motivating to see how small things can make a difference. They're running a promotion where the digital display (normally $100) is included free, so if anyone else has been on the line, this might be the moment.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In

Weight: 248.0

Well . . .

I only lost .2 pounds this past week. This is a major disappointment. I'm glad I did still manage to lose, but I'm more distressed by just how bad the number is, and how off track I've been.

I didn't go to the gym yesterday.

Sigh.

I'm saddened and I'm stressed. I feel like I'm losing my fire. I'm just not doing as good a job as I used to. I'm not as dedicated. I'm just lost.

I think I'm going to hold back from posting daily weigh ins for a bit, and see what happens. I'm still going to weigh myself daily, since it's an important motivator, but I've been stressing over posting them. It makes me feel like I have to start every post talking about my weigh in.

Okay, here's where things get interesting. There are two different ways I could start this next paragraph, and I'm not honestly sure which one is correct.

Option one: Weigh ins are important, but weigh ins aren't everything. Yes, the scale matters, but the scale lies too. What's going on in your head and your day to day habits are important, independently of the scale.

Option two: Weigh ins are important. Weigh ins are, in fact, everything. In the end, the ultimate arbiter of success is moving the numbers down. There's certainly a good range of healthy weights, and sure BMI's not perfect and there are bodybuilders who count as obese, but for god's sake, I'm not a bodybuilder and 278 at 5'4 is just not healthy. I'm morbidly obese. The head game, the habits, those are all nice, and they can help along the way, but they're honestly irrelevant when compared to morbid obesity. It's a trump card, it's all that matters, nothing else even counts.

I'm not sure which I believe. I know I believe in the primacy of the scale. At the end of the day, the success of any weight loss endeavor hangs on whether or not you actually drop pounds.

But still, I'm going to stop starting every post with a weigh in. I will post Tuesday weigh ins to remain accountable. (I'll still be weighing daily, keeping charts and graphing my progress, and I may occasionally share extra good news on non-Tuesdays.) I think discussing the head game, the habits, and the philosophy is more interesting. I'd rather be able to post about those without worrying about commenting on each morning's number.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A few more thoughts on that intern lunch

250.5

I almost didn't post my weight. Draft one of this post began with "I'm not going to post my weight today." I woke up late for work today, so I didn't really have time to go to the bathroom. It was one of those "stumble to scale, stumble to brush teeth, toss on clothes and get out the door" day. I, in fact, almost didn't weigh myself I was so late.

I'm extremely worried I won't have a loss this week. I'd need to drop 2.4 pounds day to day to even have a .1 pound loss week to week, which are not the best odds ever. I do have swings that big, though, and my weight this morning is artificially high, but it's still not looking great.

I did go to the gym on Saturday, and I'm glad I did so. Thank you all for encouraging me. I even tried running on the treadmill. It felt like I needed a bra for my butt. So, I think I perhaps am going to stick to the elliptical until I lose a bit more weight. I'm going to try to go to the gym today after work. If I don't mention tomorrow that I went, you all are encouraged to hassle me in the comments.

Last week, my post on the intern who wouldn't eat lunch generated two thoughtful response posts, one from Mrs. Sheila and another from Mommy2Joe. (Also, great comments on the post itself, I'd encourage you to read them if you haven't yet.) They both made good points about how we should try not to judge people for their food choices: for most intents and purposes I agree with that. (I think it's fine to discuss things here, in blog land, but it certainly would've been wrong if I'd come back from lunch and started gossiping with co-workers about the incident.)

Both of them also argue that we shouldn't subordinate our own eating plans to social/work situations: "But you know what? I’m trying to lose some weight right now. And it’s not easy, and I have to pretty much think about it every single minute of the day. . . . Maybe you care, maybe you don’t. But, it’s MY priority," wrote Mommy2Joe. "I have come to the conclusion I know what works for my body, and I won't 'take one for the team' to avoid being judged. You want to think I am so self centered that I only care about myself, then so be it. I can't eat your stinkin potatoes, and no matter how much you whine I won't even smell them!" said Mrs. Sheila.

Both of them, and many of the commenters, brought the issue into focus in a way I hadn't really thought about: what she was essentially saying with her actions was "sticking exactly with my planned diet is more important than minding my manners for lunch with my boss." Which to me says either she didn't understand that there were smart choices she could've made (picking at a green salad with no dressing is not many calories) or did realize those choices existed but valued dogmatism over being pragmatic.

One of the things Mommy2Joe brought up was that we would have been more accepting "If she was a vegan, or if she had severe food allergies, or if she just had dental work done." She's right, but I don't see any contradiction between the fact that those are acceptable excuses for doing something normally perceived as rude. "Not abandoning my moral principles that eating animals is wrong is more important than minding my manners for lunch with my boss." I don't share those principles, but I certainly understand the point. "Eating something I'm allergic to and needing an ambulance to be called is even more disruptive than not eating." That makes sense. "Not being in massive amounts of pain and needing to spend hundreds on new dental work is worth more than participating fully in the lunch."

She wasn't saying those things. She was saying "not picking at a salad and consuming maybe 15 calories is worth more to me than being respectful of my very important boss, who I'll eat lunch with precisely twice."

In the end, I think she made a bad choice, and conveyed a message that you don't want to convey. I don't know what got her to that point: as several of you pointed out, maybe she's lost massive amounts of weight to get where she is, maybe she had a big weigh in the next day. But, still, I don't see any of that as reason enough to not just order a salad to pick at.

It's a shame that we do have a culture of food, where it is rude in a business situation to not eat. And while individually, I'm going to strive to be someone who doesn't contribute to that, for now it is our reality, whether we like it or not. So, considering the circumstances, she made the wrong call, but I sure do wish the circumstances were different. In the mean time, I guess, we can all do our best not to judge, and not to contribute to the culture of food.