A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Food and Sleep

Two very basic necessities which are inexorably linked.

I’ve had insomnia for as long as I can remember. As a child, my mother would creep upstairs with laundry baskets at midnight trying not to wake anyone only to find me reading in bed, or before I could read just looking at the pictures.

I attribute my sleeplessness most often to a busy head; I have too many thoughts to fall asleep. When it’s time for rest, my imagination would far rather play – usually with happy things but as I grew older and matured that imaginative trait would turn into cruel worry more often than not.

Sometimes, I simply don’t want to sleep; because life is too short and I have too much else I’d rather be doing.

Sometimes the very concept of sleep kind of freaks me out. I mean – think about it, when you’re focusing on falling asleep you can’t. So when does that strange twilight moment happen when your brain distracts itself enough to not be paying attention to… well… anything? And then you loose consciousness. I mean if you really really think about it, sleep is a very strange thing.

Thinking about that will keep you up at night.

There’s also the fact that I don’t ever sleep peacefully; I have nightmares. When I’m not having nightmares I have very vivid dreams. Sometimes they’re a lot of fun, but sometimes they’re confusing or I wake up wondering; is someone trying to tell me something? Sometimes I dream things that happen later. Could be pure coincidence or just the natural trait of thinking about and thus dreaming about things that my conscious mind knows are probably going to occur – it all depends on what you really believe about sleep.

But my metaphysical dream journeying aside, I have at varying points in my life had no less than four separate conditions that doctors classify as ‘sleep disorders’. Insomnia is the chief one, but in addition to that I have woken up in places other than where I fell asleep (very disconcerting), had mind scrambling nightmares and also suffered something called ‘sleep paralysis’; where the conscious brain wakes but can’t make the connection to the body, causing me to suffer a paralyzed state until I could shake it off. That one is easily the least pleasant. Back in medieval times they used to refer to it as ‘having a hag on your chest’; they believed it to be a supernatural attack of some sorts by a nasty critter.

And speaking of nasty critters I often wake up with what appear to be fingernail scratches all over me. The logical conclusion would be that I’m scratching myself in my sleep, except they frequently appear on my back where I cannot possibly reach. Again, looking forward to waking up with claw marks all over me is yet another in a long list of things that make me less than thrilled with the prospect of closing my eyes at night.

I also sometimes dream ‘lucid’ meaning that I’m aware of being asleep and control the dream state. That one is actually pretty fun, so I don’t classify it among my disorders.

So how does this connect to diet? According to most of the learned researchers I’ve been able to read, an average person trying to be healthy needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night. A person trying to loose weight needs that even MORE. Apparently there’s some kind of stress hormone that builds up when you don’t rest that causes your body to hold onto fat more tightly. And then there’s just the obvious; the more you’re asleep the less time you have to wander the house Midnight snacking.

I average five hours of sleep per night. When in vehicles I fall asleep almost instantly because I’m so exhausted all the time that the moment I’m still and undistracted I’m out like a light. Plus I guess I like the soothing sound of a car, or something like that.

Somehow I need to make peace with my personal sleep-demons… because this constant deficit of tiredness is making my long road seem that much more like a slow, upward incline.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weighing In - 266 lbs.

I'm down three pounds this week. Thank heck!

If I'd had a second hard work / no results week in a row I would have gotten really really hard to live with.

I have a dinner off tonight, so I'm eating really sparingly all day in preparation. I'm really hoping there's shrimp on the menu...

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pretty Things

One of the things that inspires me is people I find really, really attractive. They can be male or female, and they’re usually so totally off base from both my appearance and personality that they may as well be aliens from another planet. It’s not necessarily about me being attracted to them in a romantic way (though sometimes I definitely am), it’s about being attracted to something in them that I want to be closer to in myself.

They inspire me…

When I see certain people I don’t feel jealousy I but see something in them, some quality that I want to emulate. I see a tiny fraction of the person I want to be inside myself – the person that is currently too blanketed by fat layers to be visible to the outside world.

I see them and I think; yes – that’s it, that’s how I will be. Whether it’s a gracefulness or a self confidence or sexiness or simply fabulous eye makeup.

Sometimes when I’m feeling discouraged and I want to go binge; I instead go into the folder of pretty things on my computer and I look at them.

And I think – I’m getting closer to you, to the you that is going to be a part of me. Every single day I’m getting a little bit closer. Tiny steps closer on a very long road.

Here are some of my ‘pretty things’ – I hope they inspire you too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Making Pickles - Part 2

Okay last night I tasted the half sour pickles that have been fermenting on my countertop for the past three days and I have a few things to note:

1) My salt solution is way too strong, no wonder it was burning my skin whenever I splashed it on myself. If you attempt making pickles; ½ cup of salt to 6 cups of water is TOO MUCH! Next time I’m going to try ¼ cup or so and see how that works out. Since I’m also pickling some banana peppers I immediately watered down their solution when I realized this, hopefully I didn’t ruin them.

2) You really do need the pickling spices. My end result didn’t taste bad but something was absolutely missing, and I’m pretty sure that was it.

Here’s the positives; the flavor really wasn’t bad. I dumped out most of the brine and am cooling them in the fridge in a mostly water solution now which will hopefully desalinate them enough to be eaten comfortably. Ted of course is willing to eat them anyway (he says they’re very good with cheese) but I’m somewhat concerned about pickling HIM if I let him eat something that salty.

Also the color, texture and consistency were all spot on; just like the half sour pickles I’ve had at good Jewish delis. So I’m very close to the secret of half sour pickles; I can feel it lurking just out of my grasp…

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Making Pickles

At the farmer's market this morning I found these cool multi-hued peppers - I'm including a picture simply because they're pretty.

My find for the week though was actually these cute little Kirby cucumbers that I noticed are the exact same size and shape as the delicious, crisp, garlic soaked half-sour pickles I like to buy at the Amish market near work. So I grabbed a pint intent on making them myself at home.

Cucumber shown here with my hand for size reference:

Looking up a recipe online I found there really wasn't much to making half sours, considering how much they go for when purchased on a store. The instructions said to dissolve 1/4 of a cup of kosher salt per 3 cups of water. I did 6 cups of water, thus 1/2 cup of kosher salt. The salt, thanks to Alton Brown, is something I always have on hand.

I made sure all the salt was well dissolved in the water before proceeding by stirring the crap out of it - then took a quick taste to make sure it was salty enough. Boy howdy, it reminded me of the salt water my mom used to make me gargle when I was a kid to ease sore throats - just not disgustingly warm.

The recipe called for six garlic cloves, which I sliced to make sure all the oils could get out into the brine. It also called for pickling spices which I don't have in my kitchen - so, I just didn't worry about it. I tend to be an off the cuff cook, diversion from recipes does not scare me.

I packed my Kirby's into a glass jar that used to hold (surprise surprise) pickles. I frequently argue with Ted about his need to keep every glass jar or foam mushroom container that makes it's way through our kitchen, so before he'd give this one back to me he made me say "Ted I'm so glad you kept this glass jar so I can use it now."

Anyway I packed in the cucumbers and loaded the sliced garlic into the jar - then poured the brine I'd made over top until the jar was full.

The problem is that the little buggers float - so I filled another small plastic container with plain water, capped it and used it to weigh them down. The smallness of the container still leaves room around the mouth of the pickle jar for my tiny green monsters to breathe.

Now? I wait. About three to four days. The instructions said to just leave them out on the counter uncovered so they can ferment. I admit this made me slightly nervous but I know what a good preservative salt is, so as long as they stay submerged I think they should be fine.

Come Tuesday after a chill in the fridge, I should have my own home made half sour pickles!

Weighing In - 269 lbs.

Saturday morning weigh in put me a pound UP from last week.

I had two days (Wednesday and Thursday) where I went slightly over on calories, ending both days at around 2,100 to 2,200 - but I'm still a little puzzled about the gain as on every other day this week I was several hundred calories under where I needed to be each day.

I'm trying not to get upset, but - well, everyone knows what a disappointing week feels like. Bad enough that I didn't loose, I actually gained.

It's pretty depressing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Bad Day

I’m hardly the only person I know fighting what feels like a never ending battle against their own body. In my office alone there are probably between seven and ten past and current Weight Watchers members.

So when I hear one of the naturally slim slamming one of us as weak willed, laughing at us for saying we want to eat healthy when we never seem to get anywhere, it’s really difficult not to rage or cry.

They do this right in front of me while I blink in shock – wondering if they really think I don’t know that they’re talking about me in addition to whoever is in their targeting sights at present. That those fat slobs over there also refers to this fat slob right here.

Mid September will be a year since I started this blog and this quest and I am currently at almost the exact same place as where I started.

Does that make me want to scream, kick, cry, hate myself? Yes, of course it does. Some days, many days, I do all of those things. I could have nearly been done by now. Except I failed, like always.

Sometimes I feel this incredible self righteous anger – how dare they judge me? Some days I think they’re right, I’m simply too weak and too much of a glutton to ever succeed. I’m as beneath them as they believe me to be.

Then there’s the fear; what if the day comes like so many days before when my will simply fails me and I don’t care anymore. When I can’t get up anymore and plan, parcel, evaluate, weigh and measure every morsel of food I consume that day. When I can’t any longer deal with the nearly constant hunger.

This will never be over, I won’t reach my goal weight and go: WHEW! Thank heck that’s done! This is going to be with me every meal, every day, for the rest of my life.

What if… what if… what if…

Monday, August 16, 2010

Defining Your Limits

I’ve spoken on the topic of needing to be selfish when in a weight loss process in the past but I think it’s something that bears review.

For a food addict, walking into a crazy-crap-on-the-walls, exercise in excess, 12 to 15 oz. greasy, cheesy, bacony hamburger joint is roughly the equivalent of a recovering alcoholic heading into a bar just so they can sniff the vodka.

Don’t do it.

If your well meaning friends invite you because they love you and want your company, don’t do it. Politely refuse.

If they tell you that you’ll be fine because you can just “have a salad” I give you permission to hurl heavy objects.

I guarantee you, sitting in the burger joint sifting through salad leaves while everyone around you chows down on 1,000 calorie plus fat-burgers and grease soaked fries will leave you cranky, unsatisfied, and downright unfriendly. Just don’t go there. You will not be good company at that point anyhow.

As a side note, the salads in those kinds of places are no help to a weight loser either; generally they’re soaked in things like cheese, sugared nuts and dressing thickened with as much fat as possible. Sometimes they’re as bad as the burgers or WORSE. So you’ll feel deprived and have eaten way too many calories to boot.

This is just one of those situations where you have to do the selfish thing. You say no, you plan activities that do not revolve around food you shouldn’t eat, much less have to smell for several hours.

I no longer set foot in fast food restaurants for just this reason. Sure they sell salads and sad, dry baked potatoes these days – but who wants that? I go in and smell the double fried fat burger dripping with bacon, greased mushroom and cheese and that is exactly what I want. The fact that these things make me feel quite sick later on is moot at that point. I’m no saint; I love vegetables, I love fruit, and I also love the fattiest, most sugar laden foods out there. I love food period.

So why would I even put myself in a situation where I have to want and suffer?

No thank you.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weighing In - 268 lbs.

Three pounds down this week, not too shabby. I'm slowly but steadily crawling back out of the hole I dug myself into.

Today I tried cooking quinoa, which I've eaten before but never cooked from it's dry state. Note to self; it gets really gummy really quickly if you overcook it even a tiny bit.

Overall I liked the end result; I made a salad out of it with scallion, cilantro, cucumber, craisins and pecans (recipe at bottom). The dressing, however, needs to be doubled. Quinoa is like potato salad - it sucks up the dressing almost immediately so it can be really dry, in addition to gummy.

Okay this is sounding worse than I intend. It really was okay, and it's a grain with an amazing amount of protein in it which is good - because I don't think I'm getting enough protein in my diet. I need to ensure somehow that I don't loose too much muscle along fat, and yes I realize rejoining the gym would be helpful to that end.

Quinoa, Cranberry & Pecan Salad

Serves 10 / This hearty salad has a zesty combination of textures and contrasting flavors. Plus, it's loaded with fiber and nutrients. Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 bunch green onions, finely sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries, diced
1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
3/4 cup cucumber, finely diced
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Bring water to a boil. Add quinoa; stir, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until quinoa is soft and water is absorbed — about 25-30 minutes.
2. Add green onions, dried cranberries, cilantro and celery to a large salad bowl. Toast the pecans in a small skillet and add to the salad bowl (optional). Add the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sesame oil, salt and peppers to the bowl. Stir to mix.
3. Stir in the quinoa when it has cooked and cooled slightly. Set aside for an hour if possible to allow flavors to marry; serve at room temperature.

Calories: 197

Fat: 9 grams

Fat Calories: 42

Cholesterol: 0

Carbs: 25

Protein: 4

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Don't go Broke" Diet

Recently on a lark I googled “I lost 130 lbs.” because that’s the amount of weight I want / need to loose. I guess I was looking for a little support companionship from people in the same situation as me, who had actually found success.

I blundered upon what is called the “Don’t go Broke” diet – a natural weight loss plan developed by a broke medical student who didn’t have enough money for either a supervised weight loss plan or any kind of weight loss surgery. Since creating it he has lost and kept off 140 lbs.

I have no idea how medically accurate his advice is, but when I read it – it made a heck of a lot of sense. So, here it is for anyone else who’d like to give it a look see.

Key #1 - Diet

Calories - Estimate your recommended daily caloric intake by:

1. Taking your height in inches
2. Subtracting 60
3. Multiplying by 50
4. Adding 1,300

(For me this means I should eat 1,650 calories per day. Seems like a pretty fair estimate; on the daily plate I usually fall between 1,300 and 1,800.)

* Never eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day. This prevents your metabolism from slowing down.
* Spread your daily calories over 4 - 6 meals. This will boost your metabolism.
* Never go more than 12 hours without eating, this includes time spent sleeping. This prevents your metabolism from slowing down.

Carbohydrates - Follow these strategies to stabilize your blood sugar. Avoid white carbs. These include white bread, white rice, white potatoes, white flour, white sugar, and white pasta. Avoid other bad carbs such as high fructose corn syrup, other syrups, and other sugars. Eat your beans, other legumes, fruits, and whole-grains before noon. Eat your vegetables after noon

Proteins - Eating protein boosts your metabolism and is essential for building muscle.

Estimate your daily recommended protein intake in grams by:

1. Taking your estimated daily caloric intake
2. Dividing by 20

(For me this means I should be having 82 grams of protein per day. Yike, I don’t get nearly that much because I so rarely eat meat. On an average day I consume usually between 40 and 60 grams.)

Fats - You need fats, but all fats were not created equal. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats.

Key #2 - Exercise

* Strength train for 30 - 45 minutes, 2-3 times a week. Focus on exercises for your glutes (butt), quads (front thigh), hamstrings (rear thigh), lats (back), pecs (chest), and delts (shoulders). These are your largest muscles in size and your biggest calorie burners.
* Do an aerobic exercise, which involves the legs, for 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week.
* Get a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps a day

Key #3 - Water

Drink enough water to make your urine clear or close to clear. This helps to maintain your health and prevent your metabolism from slowing down.

Key #4 - Sleep

Sleep at least 7 hours every night. This helps to maintain your proper hormonal balance, stabilize your blood sugar, and decrease hunger.

Key #5 - Stress

Don't sweat the small stuff and eliminate as much stress as you can. This helps to maintain your proper hormonal balance, stabilize your blood sugar, and decrease hunger.

Key #6 - Laugh

Laugh as much as humanly possible. Watch comedies, read funny books, and laugh at yourself. This helps to decrease stress.

Key #7 - Patience

Be patient. Losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint. Large temporary lifestyle changes lead to fast temporary weight loss. Small permanent lifestyle changes lead to slow permanent weight loss.

Each of these keys is essential to losing and keeping off the pounds. If you address the first 6 keys and practice patience, the pounds will fall off and stay off.

Bonus Key

This is a good weight loss foundation. However for a comprehensive weight loss program, check out my Don't Go Broke Diet. The Don't Go Broke Diet is a well-researched weight loss plan designed to help you lose weight permanently and inexpensively.

Read more:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Confronting Family Dinner

I’m not alone in my love of food and companionship with which to consume it, I come by that honestly from my family; who like eating and talking together so much we could qualify as Greek or Italian.

Being related to so many people who genuinely like one another’s company AND are good cooks to boot is a mixed blessing and curse. One of the ways we show love to one another is to feed – I do this to Ted all the time. You’re not feeling well? I’ll make you some nachos, or a fried egg, or a sandwich. Food is our balm, our crutch and our comfort.

We don’t however have to be feeling bad to overeat – we do it all the time just because we like it.

Saturday night I got together with them for a cookout (we don’t really need an occasion to do this, we just enjoy it). We were having grilled chicken, burger and sausage sandwiches, sautéed peppers and onions, corn on the cob, watermelon, macaroni and cheese and one lobster brought home by my sister from Maine on her recent vacation. With drawn butter, of course. Oh and don’t forget the pineapple upside down cake and ice cream for desert.

This is not an easy scenario to face. When you don’t eat hearty, someone tends to assume you’re either ill or unhappy in some way – and it’s not that they’re not supportive of weight loss efforts, we all just suffer from a perpetual sort of ‘tomorrow’ syndrome.

Today we’re together and enjoying one another lets just eat and be happy, tomorrow we will loose weight.

Unfortunately for me, tomorrow never seems to get here – or hasn’t so far in 35 years.

So I selected a small chicken breast sans roll and put pepper and onion on top, a heaping pile of salad with light dressing, corn on the cob and watermelon for dessert. When my poor brother tried to serve me a slice of cake later on in the evening he got both me and Ted yelling at him “no… no! NO!!!”

Other than my dad giving me a little nod of support and acknowledgement I don’t think anyone really noticed my cutbacks. I mean honestly, I ate a lot of food I was just selective about what I chose. It went fine – no one asked me if I was sick or hurt and I managed not to be too cranky about missing pineapple cake.

Now all I have to do is sustain this eating style for the next sixty or seventy years…

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scaling Down

I did it today. I finally broke down and bought myself a scale. I need to be able to keep track of what’s going on with my weight, maybe if I’d been doing that all along I wouldn’t have rebounded back to my starting weight so easily. Also, I realized I can’t rely on my mom’s scale because hers only tracks effectively up to 250 lbs. That would explain why it measures me as rather jarringly weighing ten or twelve pounds heavier or lighter in a twenty-four hour period.

So I did a little research online, chose my weapon, went to Bed Bath & Beyond this morning and picked it up – pretty simple and painless as my shopping experiences go. I chose the “Homedics Body Mass Index HealthStation” which retails at BB&B for forty bucks. With a 10% coupon I brought it home for about thirty-three… sweet!

It measures your weight, then calculates your body mass index based on height, age and gender and figures out what your calorie intake probably is (or was) to achieve the weight that you currently are. It also weighs effectively up to 400 lbs. Not that I need it to thankyouverymuch.

The box is decorated with an obnoxiously smiley, healthy looking guy and proudly displays his perfect BMI of 23.2 so right away, I wanted to kill him.

Set up was pretty easy; it’s got slots for four users and very few buttons so it doesn’t take much to select User 1, punch in my height, weight and age and then step on for the weighing. Since it needs a flat, hard surface to work correctly I hid it away on the hardwood floor in my back bedroom like a dirty little secret. Nice thing is it’s a perfect spot in my house to get naked before I have to confront the thing.

As of today, I’m 271 lbs. with a BMI of 42.6 – pretty depressing. But at least the scale didn’t start whooping an alarm at me and screaming “Morbidly Obese!” “Morbidly Obese!” Actually it didn’t classify me as “Morbid” at all, just “Overweight” – so I guess it could be worse. And yes, those are my feet.

I set up Ted as user two and showed him how to use it, since he’d like to loose a few pounds as well.

Overall I’m pretty happy with my purchase. Ted classified it as another tool in my tool kit or weapon in my arsenal – then he offered me one of the Pretzel Bites he’d picked up around the corner at the Pretzel Factory.


We’re both still learning.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Gifts of Food

Okay, I admit – this is a weird reaction.

Someone gave me a chocolate bar as a gift today, and it frightened me. I stared at it in the palm of my hand and thought “what am I going to do? If I eat it, the floodgates will open and I won’t be able to stop eating EVERYTHING.”

Is this the equivalent of giving an alcoholic a full shot glass as a present?

Am I over-reacting?

I don’t know. But I came home, handed it to my husband, and asked him to please do something with it. I didn’t care what as long as I didn’t have to worry about it winding up as part of my backside.

I don’t know if I really need to be this militaristic but I feel as though my journey right now balances on a knife edge, I’ve had successes and setbacks, and I just want this so much.

My husband said to me that all he wants is for me to be happy, so if I won’t be truly happy unless I take off this weight, then he’ll do what he has to do to help me.

So… he took the chocolate bar and made it disappear. He also mentioned that he felt he might need to impress more strongly on the people around me how serious we are about what I’m trying to do, and how difficult and delicate a thing it really is.

For a non-food addicted person, I would imagine it’s somewhat hard to understand – but I think the concept of handing a precariously balanced alcoholic a shot glass filled with rum is probably the best way to try to describe it to people.

So to anyone out there who may be listening… I love you all, but please don’t give me food as gifts unless it’s obviously safe food – like a gorgeous piece of fruit or vegetation you want to share. Anything you’d normally consider to be a “bad” treat is going to cause me difficulty.

This is wholly my problem and my own fault that it’s my problem – but it is what it is, at least for right now.

The truth is, I made chocolates at Christmas and binging on them threw me off my road for about five months – enough time to set me back every pound of progress I had made.

That is the nature of my problem, and that’s the fight I am fighting.

It’s my battle and I can do this – but if it’s at all possible I ask of everyone, please – don’t tempt me off the road.