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, February 28, 2012

Status Report

Warning:  This post contains a moment of blatant self pity.  Forgive me, but I need to get this out in order to get past it.  You can skip this one if you need to, I completely understand.


I haven’t given a status report in awhile for good reason.

After the now-infamous grade 3 ankle sprain of November ’11, I didn’t exercise at all for nearly three months.  As a result, I am currently the exact same body weight as when I began blogging for fitness back in October ‘09.  When I stay on target with my eating plan, I maintain my weight.  When I stay on target and exercise very regularly, I slowly lose weight.  When I do neither of these things my body’s natural tendency is to slowly increase in size.  Not drastically quick, but with the inevitable steadiness of an oncoming iceberg - one that’s going to crash into your cruise ship and KILL EVERYONE.

It’s a very scary thing.  Is it difficult and disheartening to read back over posts when I was thirty pounds lighter and going strong?  To put it lightly, it makes me want to throw up.  All the clothes I had been on the verge of donating in favor of smaller sizes are back into permanent rotation.

It has now been two and a half years of researching, experimenting and trying, and the difficult truth is that I’ve gotten nowhere when I really, really thought I was going to succeed this time.  If things had gone to plan I would currently be working on living at my goal weight and wearing a size ten or twelve.  That’s not just a hard pill to swallow, it’s one to practically choke on.

My ankle is probably never going to heal completely.  I no longer wear clothing or shoes that show my ankles because they do not match.  They’re sort of the same size when I first get up in the morning – but by the afternoon / evening the right one swells like a balloon.  I can stop this by wrapping it with an ace bandage all day, but from an appearance perspective the end result is the same.  It also fricking hurts.  Every fricking day.

I am never going to be able to wear cute shoes with heels.

For this moment I feel old, permanently fat, and irreparably broken.

Before anybody kills me I am now going to remind you that I warned you of this pathetic self pity being imminent.

I have to get past this and let it all go so that I can move forward instead of wallowing stuck in this moment where I let myself think that all my efforts of the past two and a half years have been a total waste of time, as well as the faith that others have put in me.  Everybody’s got that crap thing in life they’ve just gotta live with and deal with, and here’s mine.  Its mean and its ugly, and I am shaking it at you.  Only God knows what size I would be right now if I hadn’t been fighting so hard all this time to make a change, right?  Maybe a hundred pounds heavier.  Maybe already dead.

So suck it up, girl.  Let it go, get over it, and SUCK IT UP.

Starting weight: 285
Goal weight: 180

Yesterday is over.  Today is day one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Drive the Gauntlet!

I work far away from where I live, so on an average week I spend about two hours on the PA Turnpike.  Well, unless there’s an accident – then that number can rise very quickly.

I sometimes refer to it as running the daily gauntlet or spinning the roulette wheel with my life, and what happened there yesterday is an excellent example of why the trek deserves such names.

It was a pretty normal early commute with the traffic waxing and waning between heavy and normal, but at least we were all still moving instead of parking there as can happen at times.

In the center lane I was going between sixty and seventy MPH and had come up behind the person in front of me, so I put on my turn signal to indicate a shift to the high speed lane and checked my side mirror for occupants before taking a quick look over my left shoulder at the blind spot.  There was someone back there, but they were a good distance behind me – so I moved left into the lane.

Immediately the person behind who I belatedly realized was approaching at breakneck pace (if I was going nearly seventy they had to be moving at about ninety MPH) started wildly flashing their high beams at me.  When another driver does this I tend to assume they’re trying to warn me of something, like maybe my car being on fire – so now I’m glancing around in concern and have effectively been turned into a distracted driver at almost seventy MPH.

All I noticed though was that the high beam flasher had positioned themselves about half a foot from my rear bumper, and it finally dawned on me that all the flashing was just impotent rage at my having the audacity to use their driving lane to, you know, pass people – which the last time I checked was its purpose.  Since we were both now passing the person in the middle lane I had been intending to, the flasher was stuck behind me at a maddeningly slow 70MPH for a full horrifying twenty seconds or so.  The stress of this apparently broke their already tenuous hold on sanity.

As we passed the individual in the center lane I put on my turn signal again to indicate I was now going to move back over to the right, but as soon as I did so – the frothing lunatic on my bumper executed one of those passing maneuvers where they practically graze your back bumper, then the right side of your car, then your front bumper as they cut back in front of you about a hairsbreadth from making contact.  As he was doing this I saw him wildly giving me the finger with both hands.  Unless he had very unique anatomy you can figure out how many he was actually holding the wheel with at that time.

Ironically the traffic around us immediately slowed down after this, so for the next four or five miles I was stuck directly behind this guy as we crawled along.  I hope the twenty feet in front of me he managed to earn by risking both our lives helped him to endure the crushing slowness.

As things eventually freed up, off he zoomed again at illegal speeds, weaving in and out and between lanes like he was playing a video game rather than endangering the lives of real people, including his own – none of whom he seemed to have even the slightest respect or concern for.

That area of the turnpike is heavily monitored by police officers for speeding and I kept a hopeful eye toward the right side of the road for the rest of my journey, wanting to see him pulled over and getting heavily fined, or better yet arrested.

Alas, for that day he lucked out – both in avoiding a ticket and avoiding taking any lives.

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sexism in Cinema: Maiden, Mother & Crone

I truly have no idea what to do with Michael Bay.  The man makes the kind of movies that I love: movies with big explosions, awesome guns, heroic marines, imminent disaster from incoming asteroids and giant robots attacking cities.

When he decided to tackle the Transformers franchise I was kind of thrilled.  I’ve talked on this blog before about my childhood love for the cartoon, my ownership of the toys, and then my subsequent deep disappointment with the one dimensional, adolescent treatment of female characters in the films.

When the third movie in the series was released, I skipped it.  Ted and Kyle went without me and upon returning home declared the film “awesome” and told me that I would like it a lot.  Also, Michael played dirty by casting not only one of my favorite actors, Alan Tudyk, in the movie, but also bringing in Leonard Nimoy to voice one of the robot characters.

So, this past week I caved and ordered the movie in from Netflix, figuring I’d already made as much of a point as I could with my lack of appearance at the actual box office run.

As advertized, the movie was awesome.  The previous two films had problems with the complicated looking robots in fight sequences  - it was frequent that the viewer would be left squinting at the screen and trying to figure out what was going on since it just looked like a quickly moving jumble of metallic… somethingorother.  In the third film, they slowed things down a bit so that one could appreciate the action a bit more.  The plot was interesting, the effects were spectacular, and Alan Tudyk’s role, though small, was kind of perfect for him.  They neatly blended in some historical footage from NASA as well as past and current American presidents and wove an interesting, if entirely fictional back story in and around the first moon landing.  Also, Buzz Aldrin appears in the movie, as himself – which for a space junkie and NASA enthusiast like me earns you massive coolness points instantaneously.

Thumbs up all around.

Now for the unfortunate parts.  As I watched I realized that in this one, Michael decided to deal with women by neatly compartmentalizing them into their three ancient, traditional roles: Maiden, Mother and Crone.

The Maiden of course is the main character’s insanely beautiful, perfectly supportive girlfriend played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.  Indeed they skipped the bother of professional actresses altogether in casting her and went straight for a runway model instead.  She came off a bit sweeter and less scary-girl than her predecessor, Megan Fox, kind of like Eve to the previous actresses Lilith, but no less stunning in her absolute perfection of appearance.  Mostly in the movie she’s either attractive set dressing in a skin tight mini dress, being encouraging about her boyfriend’s important endeavors or getting stolen back and forth by male characters like the flag in a game of flag football.  She has a pivotal moment toward the end where she uses her ever-so-feminine wiles to convince an evil robot to go attack his evil cohort.  Because you know that’s what pretty girls do – they manipulate guys.  Even big metal guys with zero male anatomy are not immune.

The Mother is the main character’s mom played by Julie White:  She is sweet, slim, pretty, ditzy, nagging and utterly asexual as a mother in her forties apparently should be.  I found it interesting that she was so skinny and fit while the man cast as her husband was sporting some serious middle aged spread in the third film.  Overweight women are something that doesn’t seem to exist in the Bay Universe, they’re entirely mythological… kind of like Unicorns.

And the Crone was the United States Director of National Intelligence, played by Frances McDormand, who most of all really deserved better treatment than this.  She’s an actress of substantial quality who has won a Tony as well as being nominated for the Oscars, Golden Globes and Emmys.  In this film she portrays a mean, stubborn harridan who nearly destroys all of planet Earth out of stiff necked stupidity.  Toward the end when the day must be saved by HOO-RAH army guys and the good giant robots, she basically just stands there in her headquarters impotently watching them fix her mistakes.  She’s like a film character poster child for why women shouldn’t be allowed to have positions of power in government.  Real nice.

And that’s it.  The only three female characters in the whole film, boiled straight down to their component stereotypes with no room left whatsoever for substance.  I realize that these are not movies that are set up for substance, they’re set up for massive explosions and cool robots, but the main character played by Shia LaBeouf is such a refreshingly normal, slightly dorky boy next door that for me he stands in jarring contrast to these two dimensional, paper doll women who inhabit his world.

At one point his mother is nagging him not to let his current supermodel girlfriend get away like he did his last supermodel girlfriend, because he was unlikely to find a third one.  To this I had to chuckle since near as I can tell, in this universe that’s apparently what all the women his age look like.  So really, if he loses this one – how hard will it be to find another?  Not very.

Curious now about the man himself, I did some googling on Michael Bay, wondering if he had a wife and maybe daughters of his own.  I mean is this what he would want his daughter to believe about herself?  Would he want her to think that this is all he sees in women?  It turns out he’s single, with a lot of dogs.  Take that as you will.

My husband sat down with me and watched the movie again since he’d enjoyed it the first time.  As the opening credits rolled he cautioned me not to get too irritated by the lead female.  I asked him what he’d thought of her and his response was, “she wasn’t too annoying.”

Then I asked if there were any long, loving camera shots of her backside in the movie like there had been of her predecessor in the previous two films, and he replied that he couldn’t remember.

Ten minutes into the movie we see our heroine for the first time: shot from behind in a long tracking angle while walking up a staircase clad only in a men’s dress shirt and panties with her mile long legs and perfect little backside hanging out in view for all to appreciate.

Ted and I could only laugh.  Truly, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Note: If you’re yearning for a complex, engaging and believable female super-heroine like I am, don’t look to Hollywood.  I recommend the book Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey for some really amazing and unique work in this arena.  She creates female characters fully capable of carrying the story all by themselves.

What do you guys recommend?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Resolution Fail

Early this year I posted about my New Year’s Resolution, which was to never abuse or insult myself again.

This morning I failed.

There’s a large, chain store called Second Avenue that sells used clothing.  I like secondhand stuff, but I don’t shop there because when they first opened I went in only to discover that they organize everything by color, not size.  Life being far too short and precious to sort through two hundred blue shirts looking for one that fits, I decided they were dumb and never went back.

Recently, someone told me that they wised up and reorganized the store according to sizing, so this morning Ted and I went in and checked it out.

It’s true, the store is now sorted by small, medium, large and extra-large.  Which means that they have nothing above a size 16.  Since I wear a 24, I quickly gave up and left.  Still trying to prove me wrong, Ted eventually stopped picking through the racks and followed me.

Outside the store I then said something to him along the lines of, “I don’t know why I went in there in the first place – I should know by now that whales like me aren’t welcome anywhere that clothing is sold.  I shouldn’t even be allowed to afflict others with the sight of me in public.”

This comment was caused by a cumulative effect, not just by Second Avenue.

A couple of weeks ago, a few of my co-workers pointed out to me that the pants I wear to work, although clean, neat and black, are made from denim – so I shouldn’t be wearing them at the office.  Since I own three pairs of such pants, this cut in half the number of trousers available to me to wear at work.

So for the past two weeks I have unsuccessfully been looking for new pants.  Second Avenue was either my third or fourth failed attempt to find anything.  Although those stretch pant type things that always come in my size are apparently allowed (and why they’re okay and not denim I have NO idea, I don’t make the rules), I just don’t like them.  My brain interprets them as the kind of thing that, as a fat person, I should be wearing – so of course I rebel and don’t want to.

So all of this came to a head in the aforementioned self abusive comment I made, to the last person who should ever be subjected to such things – my best friend, my biggest fan, my husband.

He, very rightly, flipped out.  He was so torn up by hearing me demean myself he didn’t know whether to yell or cry.  Since he’s a huge part of the reason I made this resolution in the first place you all really can’t imagine how sorry I am right now.

As always, tomorrow I have to get up, pick myself up, and try again.  Not just nutritionally, but emotionally as well.

And Ted?  I’m really sorry.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Monthly vs. Weekly

Warning:  I’m one of those women who has opted not to feel shame and embarrassment about natural functions that mean our bodies are working in a healthy and correct manner.  So if you are one of the folks who find a discussion of “female issues” to be distasteful, consider yourself as having been appropriately forewarned.  I realize that everyone’s comfort level is not the same.

Last night I informed my husband that I was a sad little water balloon with lower back pain.

Once he’d managed to stop laughing he was very sympathetic.

Prior to being put on the pill, things were getting very difficult for me during my period.  I was having intense pain that sometimes sent me home from work and into bed in tears.  During those times, my cat Wish would always curl up against my back and purr loudly, trying to help.

After they put me on the pill the pain subsided and I was able to function like a normal person for the whole month rather than just for most of it.  Now, over ten years later, I’m getting bad symptoms again.  Not the horrible cramping (thank God), but water retention, emotional sadness and pain in my lower back where my tail would have been, had I been born with one.

I also can’t loose weight the week  before, or – I’ve found out – the week during.  Which means that for two weeks out of every four, the best I can hope for is maintenance.  The pill that keeps me functional might be partially responsible for this effect, and while it’s frustrating I’m not willing to give it up yet for the sake of steady weight loss.

It does mean though that stepping on the scale weekly to check my progress is a bad idea.

Right now I’m doing cardio aerobics three to five times a week, and weight training twice a week.  They’re not long workout sessions but they are daily (except for Sundays, I get a day of rest).  I’m also eating intuitively and practicing my simple steps.  I have a deal with my stomach: if you’re legitimately empty, then you get fuel.  In exchange, when you’re not empty there’s nothing incoming, not even if what you’re looking at is really really tasty and you really reeeeeealy want it.  It’s all part of the process of learning to distinguish mental hunger from legitimate body hunger.

All of this is, in fact, hard work.  And at the end of a week of hard work I want a reward.  I’m not rewarding myself with food, so I want to step on the scale and see a difference.  When I step on and, at best, I’ve simply stayed the same, I feel extremely discouraged and figure that since none of my work mattered I might as well go eat cookies until I explode.

I can’t afford for this to keep happening so I’m just going to have to avoid the scale.  I’m switching to monthly weigh-ins from weekly.  This way I won’t be able to tell that only half my month was proactive, I’ll just know that at the end of it I’ve gotten somewhere, and it doesn’t matter when during the time it happened.

Which means I need to come up with something else positive to give myself as weekly rewards.  Anybody have any good suggestions?