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.


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


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.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I've got a confession to make

Weight: 247.7

Finally a weigh in below my Tuesday number. It only took till Friday. I was glad to finally hit a new low, and gladder still to have crossed the 30 pound mark.

Okay, so I've got a bit of a confession to make: I haven't been going to the gym recently. Not just like, this week, but more like, "since the end of August."

One of the things I learned growing up was to always be extra nice to guards, doormen, receptionists, and secretaries. Big smile, say hello, ask how they're doing, and be genuinely interested in the response. Just how I've always been taught to act, and how I've always acted. One of the results of this, as I've grown up, is that I tend to develop a decently good relationship with whoever is working the front desk where ever I go.

My gym was no different. About two weeks in, the two guys at the front desk were clearly rooting for me. Shortly thereafter, they started pestering me about doing a spinning class. (It's worth noting that there's no additional charge for classes, so they weren't trying to upsale me or get me to spend more money.) "You'll love it!" one said. "You can go as fast or slow as you want!" said the other. I demurred, saying maybe another time. One night, when I was leaving, one of the two was alone at the desk. He told me I should really consider giving one of the classes a try, just once. In a moment of shocking honesty, I told him that I was scared, didn't think I was ready, and wouldn't even know how to use the bikes. He reiterated the "as slow or fast as you want" thing, and offered to show me how to use the bikes. I didn't really know how to give a flat out "no thank you," so said something along the lines of "maybe another time, I've really got to rush home."

A few days later, he said, "c'mon, the room's empty right now, and it's 20 minutes until the next spinning class. Let me show you how to use the bikes!" I agreed, and he showed me. At this point, I felt like I really had to do the class, and that I was being silly and overly scared. I decided to give it a try.


I failed.

Literally. 15 minutes into the class I just couldn't keep going, and got off my bike and left the room. I was despondent. I don't try things and then fail. I just don't. I'm the sort of person who will throw myself wholeheartedly into a task after I set it. I could literally count the number of times I've set out to do a specific task and just blatantly failed at it. Each (rare) instance has effected me greatly.

I stumbled over to the elliptical machine and weakly put in 30 minutes on it, too embarrassed to leave past the front desk before the scheduled end of the class. When, at the appropriate "the class should be over now" moment I finally did leave, the front desk guys both excitedly asked me how it was. "Hard," I replied noncommittally.

"But the important thing is that you did it, Hadley. All those classes are is going from point a to point b. You did that. And every other time you go it's just going to get easier."

It was all I could do not to cry on the way home.

That was in late August. I haven't been to the gym since. Most days, I go for walks to get some exercise, but I haven't done high intensity stuff since that day.

I know what I need to do. I need to suck it up and get back to the gym. I'm scared, yes, but I'll get over it. The only way to do so is to face my fears and start going again. I can do this: I just need to, you know, actually do it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Credit scores, reports, and the things we get from our parents

Weight: 248.7

So, I have a kindle. I love it. One of the things I love most about it is that you can download the first chapter for free of any book you're interested in. So, if I'm say, looking for a humor book, I can download a few chapters until I run into one that really cracks me up. Recently, I was looking for a personal finance book. I'm not in debt, but many personal finance begin with the importance of getting out of debt. One of the things that came up in several of the books was "Getting out of debt is a lot like losing weight."

Today's post is going to be a lot more about money than it will be about weight loss, but there's a lot of overlap between the two. As we travel this journey of self betterment, building healthy bodies, I think it's worth spending a bit of time to get our financial houses in order as well.

I've always been interested in finance. Through most of college I thought I would go into investment banking. Since before I can remember, I had a "junior" bank account and my parents encouraged me to save some of my allowance and birthday money, and later baby sitting earnings and writing prize winnings. (I'm not much of a writer these days, but in High School I won some substantive prize money through Scholastic writing competitions, including one for the best nonfiction portfolio in New York City.) In my senior year of high school, my father went with me to Citibank to help me open real, regular savings and checking accounts complete with a debit card. Growing up, I was instilled with things that I didn't recognize as good habits, but just accepted as truth: you don't spend more than you have, you pay your bills off in full each month, and you always pay on time.

(This is where one could note that there are all sorts of food lessons I didn't learn from my parents, like don't eat when you're not hungry, get in fruits and vegetables, avoid processed junk, etc, but let's not be negative.)

As someone with that interest in personal finance, I sort of knew that I was mostly on the right track. I'd been paying bills on time and in full, I've started saving for retirement through a Roth IRA, and I make sure to spend less than I earn. But for a good long while, I've known that there was something else I should have done that I just hadn't yet.

For a really long time, I was scared of finding out my credit report and score. In college, I had a small medical bill that my parents insurance was supposed to pay. I sent it to my mom, who swore she sent it to her insurance, and then no one ever followed up on it. This was in maybe February or March. Spring passed and I went home for the summer. That fall, I came back to find a whole host of letters about the apparently unpaid medical bill. I was furious at my mother (she said she'd taken care of it, although in hindsight, at 19 years old I should have been responsible enough to follow up on it myself) . I paid the bill immediately, and called my mother and cried and screamed and told her she'd ruined my credit and that I'd never be able to get a mortgage or a car loan and that potential employers would see it and that it would be her fault if I didn't get a job and just all these horribly nasty things. My mother and I don't fight often, and I wasn't the type of melodramatic kid who said stuff like that on a regular basis. I was, honestly, furious, and petrified that I'd have this black mark hanging over me for 10 years all because my stupid mother hadn't made sure the insurance paid a stupid bill. I literally wouldn't return her calls for weeks. It's among the most self indulgent outbursts I've ever had (really, a 19 year old can look into these things for herself) , but it also still ranks up there as among my most terrifying experiences to this day.

So, since that happened, 4ish years ago, I'd been afraid to check my credit report.

Well guess what I just did? I checked my credit report. Each year, you're entitled by federal law to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus. The only place you should go to get this score is the official government site: Do not go anywhere else:,, all the other ones you see advertising on TV are all scams. Don't go to them, they're not free, and they're not legit, in spite of their catchy jingles.

The missed medical bill wasn't on there. But what was, was fabulous. In about 6th grade, my parents gave me a credit card to use when I went shopping with my friends. In the spring of 9th grade, my dad decided to have me use a different one that would give him rewards, but at the time I thought nothing of it. But there both cards were: each with a decade of beautiful on time payments. My own credit cards (I have two, one I got in college and a more recent one that gives rewards) were there too, each with their on time payments. The $1000 credit line attached to my checking account (which I've never actually used) was there too, with on time payments dating back to when I was a senior in high school. It was beautiful. There was an error that I'm going to mail them about to get corrected (the birthdate's off by a few decades) but other than that everything was all correct and filled with green boxes for years of accounts in good standing.

Then I went to check my actual credit score. This is the number between 300 and 850 that most people think about when they think about credit scores. Until recently, it was impossible to get your credit score for free. However, an ad-supported site called Credit Karma (sort of like now lets you see your TransUnion credit score. I'm pretty cautious about providing personal information on the web, and will research sites a bunch before I'll input information. I've got enough sources to consider it safe.

And I did check it. The result: 766. High enough that I could actually qualify for the best mortgage rates at 23.

So right now, I'm just feeling thankful to my parents. For all the good habits they taught me growing up, and for the decade long record of on-time bill payments they gave me. I called them to thank them, and though I didn't apologize to my Mom (I possibly should have) , I did tell her that the medical bill did not show up.

Today, my financial house is much cleaner than it used to be. I'm glad I faced my fears and looked at the report. Knowing that I do have my finances under control makes me feel a lot closer to having my waist under control. Mostly, I feel like I'm getting closer each day to being the person I really want to be.

How closely do you think money and weight loss are related? Do you feel better than one than at the other? And the question I'm most curious about: do you check in on your credit report and/or score, and why or why not?

I also just want to quickly reiterate: please don't don't don't use a scam site. The only place to get the three annual reports you're entitled to by the government is The only reputable site for getting your credit score for free that I know of is Be extremely careful anywhere else, and avoid the credit sites that advertise on TV like the devil.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ah, interns

Weight: 249.1

The scale's up, but scales do that sometimes when you weigh in every day.

So, I work in DC as low-level economist. I'm 23, and only a little more than a year out of college. Now, there are plenty of lame things about my job (low pay, long hours) and about DC in general (it's built on a swamp), but one of the cooler things is that you get interns.

Now, I suppose, technically, I don't get interns. My boss gets interns. But here's a secret about DC: 90% of things that don't involve cameras or schmoozing gets delegated. This semester, my boss has two interns, both of whom have masters degrees and graduated from college in the 1990s. In practice, however, this means I'm managing two people who are 10 years older than me, including occasionally asking them to make photocopies.

However each semester, before my boss starts ignoring the interns (aside from occasional "go ask Hadley" instructions), we take them out to lunch. Technically, I suppose, he takes us all out to lunch, but the point is it's always a good big fun long expensive but free to me lunch. Today was our lunch.

Both of our interns are hoping to transfer into policy from other careers. One of them, before this, was doing real estate in NYC. I'm probably, at one point, going to talk about the NYC thing. (I grew up there, all sorts of associated hang ups.)

But anyway, so we went out to lunch, and she said as the waitress was handing out menus "oh no thanks I'm not going to be able to eat anything off it." I replied back, sort of not sure what was up, "They have all sorts of vegan and vegetarian and whatever else stuff, and I'm sure they could work around any allergies" or something along those lines, just trying to make her feel like included and allowed. "I'm on Jenny Craig," she said back.

I'm going to just go out and for the record say she's not fat. Not at all. Maybe a size 8 or 10, if I had to guess. Not a stick, but well within normal.

When I was emailing the interns yesterday, I mentioned that it was a twice a semester (once at the beginning, once at the end) tradition, and that they should prepare any questions they had for our boss, since this is one of the few times they'll have him as a captive audience. I don't say this to be snide or to brag, but our boss is a big shot. This is a special thing. And every ounce of me was so blown away by the fact that she would come to this lunch and not eat, not even order a dressing-less salad to pick at.

Appalled is too strong a word, but it's the one that comes to mind. I was put off, maybe? I don't know. Then I felt bad and like I was being judgmental: who says you have to eat at social events anyway, and shouldn't I be supportive of anyone who's dieting since, after all, I'm going through the same thing? Why was I so thrown off by this?

Now I just don't know what to think.

Is it bad that I'm not as dedicated to my diet as she is? That I ate the restaurant's fatty food, and not even a salad but a Bacon Tomato and Cheddar sandwich? Is the reason she's thin and I'm not (yet) because I'm not willing to loudly proclaim "I'm on a diet so I'm not going to eat here"?

Or maybe it's not that I've not gone far enough, but rather that she's gone past the mark? Not eating at an important lunch like this is, quite frankly, a huge mistake. For the rest of the program, my boss is probably going to call her "whatshername, the intern who wouldn't eat lunch." (Our summer intern, who spent three years as a consultant and was one year into a PhD program at the London School of Economics is still known as "whatshername, the pescetarian" when on our initial lunch out she voted against a steakhouse and explained that she was a vegetarian except for fish.) We can't give up our lives, our work, for diets. It just won't work, and even if it does, are those sacrifices worth making?

I just don't know.

Recording post for GAG Week 2

If you're reading this post looking for regular posting, keep moving. I'll be using this post to keep track of GAG's week two challenge, which is as follows:

For every 8 oz of water you drink, you will give yourself 10 points.
For every 15 minutes of activity (NO house cleaning and "normal" activites should be counted here) outside of your normal routine give yourself 10 points.
(For clarification purpose: do not count housecleaning or regular daily activities. DO count all forms of exercise. )
For every day that you track your foods whether it be on your blog via in text or photos, give yourself 20 points.
For every evening you sleep for a minimum of 8 hours, give yourself 20 points!


Water: 3 24oz bottles of water, or 9*8oz = 90 points
Exercise: none :( = 0 points
Breakfast: Cottage cheese, Banana. A little less than 200 calories.
Lunch: Catered work lunch of a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, bacon and mayo. Yeah, I know, badness. I'm guessing 600 calories.
Snack: 1/2 apple = 35 calories
Dinner: Lean Cuisine fettuccine alfredo over a pint of cut up cherry tomatoes. 15 small stalks of asparagus with one tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. ~425 calories
Desert: Healthy choice ice cream bar: 100 calories

Total: 1370

Sleep: 8 hours! so 20 points for that.

Points for Tuesday: 130

Food tracking for Wednesday:
Breakfast: Banana, cottage cheese = 200 calories
Lunch: Another lunch meeting, this one at a restaurant. I had a bacon cheddar and tomato sandwich, and even some (totally unnecessary but delicious) sweet potato fries. For food I don't control I like to guess up, and I'm going to go with 900 calories.
No dinner or Snack

Total: 1100

8 hours of sleep (20 points)
No exercise (0 points)
5 glasses of water (50 points)

Points for Wednesday: 90 points


Breakfast: String cheese, Dannon small light and fit yogurt, 140 calories
Lunch: Banana, roast beef sandwich, 300 calories
Snack: Chewy granola bar, 90 calories
Dinner: 1.5 pieces of Purdue perfect portions chicken, 12 stalks of asparagus, 2 cups of broccoli, 1 T of butter used to dress both the asparagus and the broccoli, 550 calories
Total: 1080

8 hours of sleep - sort of. I'm going to give myself credit for going into bed with the lights off and trying to sleep 9 hours before I needed to wake up. It took me hours to fall asleep, but I think it's reasonable to count intention here: 20 points

Water: 10 glasses = 100 points

I still didn't exercise!

Points for Thursday: 140 points


Breakfast: Banana, 100 calories
Lunch: Grande skim latte from Starbucks, 130 calories
Dinner: disastrous. Mac and cheese, baguette, actual cheese, two glasses of wine, terrible. I'm guesstimating 1800 calories.

Total: 2130

6 16 oz glasses for 120 points
45 minute walk for 30 points
8 hours of sleep for 20 points

Points for Friday: 190


No breakfast
Lunch: Smart Ones baked zitti, green beans with olive oil and garlic, 500 calories
Dinner: Lean Cuisine fettucini alfredo over a pint of cherry tomatoes, 400 calories
Desert: Milk, 100 calorie hostess cupcakes, 250 calories

Total: 1150

8 hours of sleep 20 points
45 minutes at the GYM! 30 points
2 24 oz bottles, 1 16 oz glass: 80 points

Points for Saturday: 170


Breakfast: Banana, cottage cheese, 200 calories
Lunch: 7 ribs. I'm having trouble finding exactly comparable calorie values, but it was less than a half rack. I'm going with 600, but I have no idea if that's right
Snack: 100 calorie hostess cupcake thing, 100 calories
Dinner: 3 cups of grapes, 180 calories (who knew grapes had that many calories? Or maybe it's just that 3 cups is a ton of grapes)

Total: 1080 calories

Exercise: 90 minute walk, 60 points
Water: 3 24 oz bottles, 90 points
8 hours sleep: 20 points

Points for Sunday: 190

Total for the week: 910

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In

Weight: 248.2
BMI: 42.6o

This is a really good weigh in. Last week's Tuesday weigh in was 251.6, so today represents a loss of 3.4 pounds week to week. A nice number. Today's weigh in also means I've now lost over 5 points of BMI. The 5 point mark is in some ways a particularly big deal: losing 5 points of BMI is enough to go from "Obese" to "Normal." Of course, I'm still very, very, very far from either regular obese or normal, but it's nice to dream.

The weekend with my brother was fun and interesting. Throughout my scale was way up (to the point where I was worried I might not lose this week) but I think that was a function of the departure from my normal schedule. On the basis of this morning's weigh in, it seems as if I was losing weight throughout, even if the scale didn't show it.

Honestly, and I know this is going to sound weird, but this weekend made a life of normal weight eating feel, well, normal. Fine, acceptable, fun even. My brother is the only normal weight person in my immediate family, and this weekend, although it was at my house, was really on his schedule. On Saturday we walked to a small local place for lunch: I ate a delicious BBQ beef brisket sandwich. It was rich and filling, but small. I didn't eat any sides or extras. My brother ate a sandwich and like me, no sides or chips or anything like that. Then we walked to a museum (the International Spy Museum, if anyone's curious). We walked around the museum. We walked to a movie. We didn't eat popcorn or anything there, or snack at any other point during the day. We walked home afterward. Then walked to a restaurant for dinner.

I could keep going, but here's the gist of it: we ate out, and ate well, but not too much. We walked everywhere. We didn't snack. It was normal. It was sustainable. It was a great weekend, and a weekend that felt like "hey, I could live my life like this."

In different but related news, the wavering continues as to whether I'll end up pushing my deadline back from 10/15 to 10/25. The current sustained loss needed (2.876) is higher than my initial sustained loss needed (2.833). It's still better than what it was looking like a day in (2.920). I think for now I'll keep it as is, since if we look at the whole week I did indeed beat the needed pace. However, I'm still not certain. As of now, a day where I lose .4 pounds is a bad day in terms of the goal, even though I know that is and should be a good day. I have to lose .5 pounds for a day to be a winner, and that, quite frankly, is more than I can manage. Still, just a few good days should push it below the 2.800 mark, which would return .4 days to wins, which they are. The sustained losses needed for both my long term goal and my long term stretch goal are at all time lows: they're now at 1.507 at 2.125, respectively.

Oh! My brother did mention that they're going to have me and his fiancee's sister walk down the aisle on the wedding day, so that's a bit of added pressure/inspiration to keep this thing going. He didn't explicitly say "bridesmaid" so I don't know if I'll technically be one of those, but I will be in the procession. Scary!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weigh ins, challenges, and what's worth reading

Weight: 250.1
BMI: 42.92

There are lots of great things about being weighing in daily. There's some evidence that weighing in every day (as opposed to less frequently) might be beneficial for losing and maintaining weight. I find it motivating and helpful in staving off binges: there's no time for recovery, no chance to hide my mistakes. But, there are a few parts of daily weigh ins that suck. Like, when you do everything perfectly, like, say, eat 1200 calories and go on a two hour walk, and instead of rewarding you, the scale just says "meh."

Today I was hoping to see the 240s. I worked really quite hard yesterday to make sure I'd get a glimpse of them. But, sometimes, that's just not your luck. So, I'm up .1 pounds.

I'm also starting to worry if I'm maybe being too ambitious with my mini goal. Today's small gain (and the passage of time with the lack of a loss) combine for a scary 2.92 sustained loss for the rest of the goal, which is pretty darn close to the wrong side of reasonable. It's not all lost, though. On July 31st, after all, I was looking at a needed loss of 2.95 to make my last goal, and I made it with time to spare.

I think at this point I'm going to stick with it. It might be a bit too hard, a bit more than I can really do, but I'd rather be pushing myself than feeling like I can slack. If I don't make it, I don't make it, but I'm going to try.

One thing that will be absolutely key is not messing up this weekend. Describing how we're going to handle the holiday is part of this week's GAG challenge. (The second part of the challenge is a recipe, which I will pitifully attempt later in the post.)

My challenge this weekend is going to be sticking on plan with my brother around. He's coming down from Philadelphia on Saturday around noon. Since he's not coming till relatively late in the day, I plan on waking up early and getting in a good long workout. Lunch is probably going to be Five Guys. There, I'll get a little bacon burger with lettuce and tomato. Not the best, but better than it could be. We'll end up getting an order of fries, but I plan to eat not many of them. I'll try to discreetly count them out beforehand. That night we're going out to dinner at Matchbox. I'm planning on the cast iron roasted chicken. I'll eat the carrots first, then the peas, then some of the chicken. I'll avoid all the potatoes.

Sunday morning we'll walk up to the Dupont Circle Farmers market and I'll get some fruit for breakfast. Sunday afternoon and night he's going to be at a friend's bachelor party, so I'll go for a long walk and possibly do a gym workout. We might have to do some sort of breakfast on Monday, but it'll be okay. Both Sunday and Monday will be one meal things, so I can easily make up calories the rest of the day.

As far as a recipe, well, I don't have much experience cooking healthy things for large crowds. So here's a non cooking but still bringing something survival guide:

2 pints of strawberries
1 pint of blueberries
4 packets of splenda

Wash both fruits. Quarter the strawberries. Mix it all together with the splenda, which will help the cut up fruit keep in the afternoon and make it desert-level sweet. Bring a can of fat-free Redi Whip. It's 5 calories for two tablespoons, and the perfect touch.

And, there's my mini-challenge. I'm not sure I enjoy the writing silly response challenges as much as I like the rest of the competition, and may end up opting out of them before too long. The camaraderie (go, team Prancer go!), the competition? I'm there. The drudge homework assignments? Eh, perhaps not so much. (Don't take this as a knock against organizer Mrs. Sheila in any way shape or form. She's fabulously awesome and I'm so grateful she set up the challenge.)

I mean, why do we blog what we blog? If you look at a given post, each sentence and each paragraph has a point, a reason why we wrote it in the first place. Maybe it's to hold ourselves accountable, or to help ourselves figure out something and to help others do the same. Maybe it's to share good news, to (hopefully) make someone laugh, or just to link to something we think is really frigging awesome.

All of you people who stop by and read this blog, I adore you guys. I read your blogs, if I know about them, and comment if I can. There are others who read regularly but leave no footprints beyond showing up on Google Analytics. Every single one of you I know seems awesome from everything I can tell, and I'd be willing to bet on the coolness of those I don't. Because I have these awesome readers (not many, but awesome nonetheless), when I post stuff, it ought to be things that are worth reading. The simple act of posting something says, Trust me guys, I think this is worth your time. And, seriously, "Cut up some fruit and toss some artificial sweetener in there so it won't spoil"? That's not worth reading.

What if I had a better recipe? Would that be worth reading? Well, it might be, but I have no experience whatsoever with this. At 23, I'm just on the cusp of adulthood, and I've only lived as a post-college grown up for a year. I have not once in my entire life tried to cook something healthy for a large group of people. Sure, I could post a recipe I find online and hope it will be good, but I can't vouch for it, I can't say, trust me because I just won't know.

I posted what I was going to do with my brother and the "recipe" not because they were illuminating, helpful, or fun, but because I'm a dirty, dirty point whore. I love accolades and credit of all kinds. When I used to play video games with my brother as a kid, I could spend ages jumping up and down trying to get on a box to get on another box to get a single coin. "Hadley, it's not worth it," he'd tell me, but by gosh if there was a coin there I wanted it. Because that's who I am. I don't do things half way.

So, I'm going to have to figure out what I want to do as far as the challenges. I'm sure, down the road, there will be ones that I have an interesting take on that will work as normal posts. But for the rest? I just don't know. Maybe I'll accept that doing all the mini challenges isn't for me and just pick and choose a few. Maybe I'll cordon them off with a "WARNING: Lame post of Lameness" title so you unsuspecting readers don't accidentally wander in. Another theoretical option would be to actually research all the challenges enough that I could do a good job on them, but since the effort required would be far inordinate to my amount of care, that's just not going to happen.


The contemplation shall continue. Do you guys think you have an implicit contract with your readers to provide, well, posts that are worth reading? How would you approach the whole mini-challenge thing: try to do them all, or ignore all but the ones I find of interest? Do you have any experience with challenges and mini challenges in the past? And last but not least, how totally lame was that "recipe"?

Anyway, I hope you all have a fantabulous Labor Day Weekend. Enjoy your day off (if you get one) and take some time to treasure your family and friends. In all my "how I'll deal with food issues this weekend" shpiel, I left off how incredibly excited and happy I am that I'll get to see my brother. At the end of the day, there really is nothing more important than the ones we love.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I hit my first goal!

Okay, I know I might have kind of given it away in the title, but check out this weigh in:

Weight: 250.0
BMI: 42.91

Ahhh! YAY! Okay. I should not just write random screamy things as they do nothing to illuminate the post, but by god I just cannot stop smiling.

I started this journey on July 7th. Using that as day 1, today is day 59. When I started, I declared a mini goal of getting to 250 pounds by September 15th. This is the equivalent of 28 pounds and just an eensy bit over 10% of my starting weight. Hitting it required dropping an average of 2.8 pounds/week. Today, September 3rd, 12 days early, I finished my first mini goal.

What now? Well, it's time for a new mini goal!

So, I've got two long term goals, which I call my long term goal and my long term stretch goal. My long term goal is to not be obese at my brother's wedding, which would mean getting my weight down to 175 by August 14th, 2010. My long term stretch goal is to not be overweight at my brother's wedding, which means hitting 145 by that same 8/14/2010. When I started, that meant losing a little under 1.8 pounds/week for my normal goal, and losing a little over 2.3 pounds/week for my stretch goal. Because I've been going above pace, the sustained loss needed to hit those milestones is now a bit over 1.5 pounds/week and a bit over 2.1 pounds/week respectively.

Once I set my first mini goal, I knew the weight I was going to attach to my second mini goal: 233 pounds. At 233 pounds, for the first time in too long, I will no longer be morbidly obese. Morbid is such a wretched word, such a wretched concept, one label I just can't wait to be rid of. My next goal is to not be morbid.

But I need a deadline. Some people don't like deadlines (weight loss isn't a race, after all), but for me they're helpful. It gives me a discreet point to work towards, and an expectation of pace. By attaching a deadline to my goal, I'm more likely to work harder and lose the weight faster.

So, 17 pounds. Back when I thought I'd be hitting 250 on the 15th, I sort of assumed that I'd make Halloween the deadline. Plugging that into calculators this morning (thank you fitday!) that meant a pace of 2.05 pounds/week. That's slower than my stretch goal, and thus way too slow for a mini goal. Mini goals are meant to push me.

The next meaningful date I could think of was Saint Crispin's Day, which is October 25th. An October 25th deadline would mean a loss of 2.29 pounds/week. This is above the pace needed for my stretch goal. The main benefit is that doing things around Saint Crispin's day is just totally badass. I could be all "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers we" and whatnot.

But, I asked myself, is 2.29 enough of a stretch while you're still this high? I weigh quite a bit right now. This, in many ways, sucks. But having so much to lose gives me one substantive benefit: moving myself around burns a heck of a lot more calories than it would for a person of reasonable size. Because I still weigh so much, dropping a given pound is comparatively easier than it will be down the road.

So I tried pushing it up a bit more to the 15th, the ides of October. (Did you know the ides only take place on the 15th during October, March, May and July? In all other months they're on the 13th. In other news, I am a gigantic nerd.) Fitday says this means losing 2.83 pounds/week. This is a slight bit more than my last mini goal (which started at 2.80 pounds/week) but is slower than the actual pace I've had thus far of 3.32 pounds/week.

My new goal is to lose 17 pounds by October 15th.

It's going to be tough. That's a high number. I'll need to push workouts and keep mistakes few and far between. But it's also eminently doable. If I want to, there's not a doubt in my mind that I can make it.

The comments you guys left yesterday were just incredibly insightful. Several of you brought up that "easy" isn't quite the right word, and thinking about it more I realized that's true. The pain of recovery and long term restrictions are not to be underestimated. I started drafting a bit more of a response to all the good points you guys brought up last night, but that got preempted by my WOOHOO 10% post. So look for that in the near future.

In the mean time, I'm still smiling. I've lost 10% of my bodyweight. I've improved how I look, lowered my risk of disease, and quite a few other things. I'm happy I stuck through, and I'm proud of myself for doing so. I hope the rest of you guys get to have just as fabulous a day as I'm having.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On weight loss surgery

Weight: 250.6
BMI: 43.01

-1 pound day to day, -27.4 all in all. I'm getting really close to the 10% mark.

Anyway, I read a lot of blogs. I love blogs. I comment on many of the blogs I read (I love both giving and receiving comments). There are a few I read pretty much daily but rarely comment on. One of those is The Blubber Blog. Lynn, its author, just had weight loss surgery. Like just had it, as in a few days ago.

Lynn's a great writer, and I like her blog, but I have problems commenting on it because, well . . . I'm looking for a good way to say this. I think it's primarily that weight loss surgery makes me uneasy. It's not that I think it's wrong per se. I mean, we're all fighting the same obesity demon. Who am I to say that one way is less valid or less right than any other? Losing weight the old fashioned way is hard and I shouldn't cast stones at someone for choosing not to walk that road. Plus getting cut up isn't exactly easy. I mean, yes it is in that you're knocked out and lie there while surgeons do the actual cutting, but it obviously takes a whole bunch of courage to go under the knife.

Logically, all that, and yet. Maybe the best way I can put it is that while I don't think weight loss surgery is cheating, I feel like it is. I can justify in my head a billion ways in which it's not a wrong thing to do, but some part of me just can't get on board.

This road is hard. A few months from now, hell, maybe a few days from now, I might go off course. She'll have have a whole heck of a lot harder time doing so: weight loss surgery is pretty damn close to a permanent commitment device. It's easy for me to fall off the horse, she pretty much can't.

As I just wrote that last paragraph, I thought about a Freakonomics column from a few years ago that discusses weight loss and commitment devices, including bariatric surgery. (Also, while I'm discussing weight loss commitment devices, I can't not link to this op-ed about using money as a commitment device for weight loss.) I'm going to go ahead and block quote part of the Freakonomics column:

There are at least two ways to think about the rise in bariatric surgery. On the one hand, isn’t it terrific that technology has once again solved a perplexing human problem? Now people can eat all they want for years and years and then, at the hands of a talented surgeon, suddenly bid farewell to all their fat. There are risks and expenses of course, but still, isn’t this what progress is all about?

On the other hand, why is such a drastic measure called for? It’s one thing to spend billions of dollars on a disease for which the cause and cure are a mystery. But that’s not the case here. Even those who argue that obesity has a strong genetic component must acknowledge, as Bessler does, that “the amount of obesity has skyrocketed in the past 30 years, but our genetic makeup certainly hasn’t changed in that time.”

So the cause is, essentially, that people eat too much; and the cure is, essentially, to eat less. But bariatric surgery seems to fit in nicely with the tenor of our times. Consider, for instance, the game shows we watch. The old model was “Jeopardy!,” which required a player to beat her opponents to the buzzer and then pluck just the right sliver of trivial knowledge from her vast cerebral storage network. The current model is “Deal or No Deal,” which requires no talent whatsoever beyond the ability to randomly pick a number on a briefcase.

I think that passage from Dubner and Levitt maybe captures the ambivalence of my feelings. To someone who loses via surgery, I'm happy you won, just like it's great when people do well on Deal or No Deal. It's fabulous to get something (be it money or a new body) that will let you live your life as you'd like to. It's nice when good things happen to people, and I'm happy for them.

But to all the people doing it the hard way, I'm not just happy for you like you're happy for someone when something nice happens. I'm proud of you. I admire you. I respect you. You (and I) walk a long hard road doing it the old fashioned way. You're not likely to win as much money on Jeopardy as you would in an episode of Deal or No Deal, but my hat's off to you because every dollar and every pound was so hard fought.

There's nothing wrong with taking the easy way out, but there's something very right about doing it with nothing but your own willpower to keep you going.

How do you guys feel about weight loss surgery? Am I just entirely off base, or do you agree with me that there's something that feels off about the idea that losing weight via surgery is just as admirable as losing it on your own? Would you ever have surgery, and why or why not?

Thank you for all your wonderful comments on the photos yesterday. All the compliments definitely put a spring in my step. (And for those of you who asked, I did in fact get a new phone, upgrading from an original iPhone to a new iPhone 3G S.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Weigh In (with Bonus Pictures!)

Well, today is my official Tuesday "side of the blog" weigh in. It's also the first day of the GAG challenge and their official weigh in day. (It's pretty damn convenient that they sync up.) And the results are:

Weight: 251.6
BMI: 43.18

I'm required by GAG rules to post a scale picture. I took one (I swear!) but forgot to email it to myself this morning so I could post from work. So, I can't post it now, but I will be posting it as an addendum later in the day.

I did, however, remember to email myself both my before photos, taken on July14th when I weighed 270.5 (I don't have any at 278), and ones I took this morning at 251.6. I'm hoping you guys will be able to tell which ones are before and which ones are after on your own! Well, here goes:

I (stupidly) turned a bit in the profile photo, so the difference is barely noticeable in that one, but I think you can really see the difference around my tummy in the first one. A substantive difference from "beach ball" to "slightly deflated beach ball" if you ask me! My butt/fat right above where a butt ought to be also looks way better in the profile picture, now that I'm really looking at it.

And those are my progress pictures. Now I really should try to crank the rest of this post out before I change my mind and have a "what was I thinking posting photos?!?!" moment. So, I'll just say one more short thing:

Today is Tuesday, September 1st. I'm creating a super short term challenge for myself to get to 250.2 (exactly 10% of my starting weight) or below by this coming Saturday when my brother visits. It's only 1.4 pounds and incredible doable. If I step up the workouts and eat cleanly, I should hit it. Let's start the challenge off right, turn up the pressure, and be done with that first 10% before I see my brother.

Edited to add the promised scale pic: