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

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fear of Entropy

Good nutrition is wonderful, it makes my body feel good and like it’s running properly.  However, good nutrition alone is not sufficient for me to shed pounds.  If I don’t move a lot then nothing comes off, plain and simple.

And I don’t mean move a little – exercise twice a week doesn’t do squat for me, I’ve got to work out five to seven times a week to see change.

That’s just the way it is.  Most likely it’s the end result of my body being borked from a lifetime of repeated calorie restriction dieting.  Putting your metabolism into what it perceives as starvation state over and over and over and over again is going to have consequences.  C’est la vie.

So when I get sick, that puts a serious crimp in things.

For as long as I can remember I’ve gotten coughs.  I clearly remember coughing for weeks in grade school and having other kids harass and bully me for it.  They seemed convinced that I was coughing to get attention when honestly at the time I would have given anything just to be invisible.

It’s embarrassing.  It annoys the people around you, they can’t help it.  It’s grating to hear someone cough endlessly and nobody wants to.  The cougher also feels like they’re spreading germs.  You don’t want to cough into your hand because then whatever you touch gets germified, and coughing into the crook of your shoulder or elbow doesn’t seem as efficient.  It also makes your nose run in response.

On Thursday I was doing some filing at work which required bending over repeatedly.  Since every time I did this it made fluid run out of my nose I eventually gave up and crammed tissues up there to serve as stoppers.  Like I said: embarrassing.

Doctors would always diagnose this problem as bronchitis and treat me with antibiotics and cough syrups to no avail.  They did chest x-rays, throat cultures and even took out my tonsils.

A few years ago my MD realized it was never bronchitis at all, but a form of asthma called cough variant.  Instead of wheezing – I cough.  It lies dormant for most of the year, and then seasonal allergies will cause an irritation that sets it off.  After that usually my immune system crashes and I catch a cold, which worsens the condition.  Once the cough reflex is engaged it is very, very difficult to shut down.  The good news is that now that doctors know what they’re dealing with they have managed to lessen my coughing time from three or four months out of the year to one or two.  Coughing for one to two months straight is still no picnic, but it cut the time in HALF and for that I am very, very grateful.

Your body actually does adjust to constant coughing after doing it for a few weeks, but the first couple are extremely painful.  Your head hurts, your throat hurts, your entire abdomen hurts as you tear and pull muscles from overuse.  Although it feels as though rock hard abs should be the end result, that never seems to happen.

Through all of that you’re still annoying the living snot out of everybody around you too.

I have learned to avoid movies or any kind of public show during this time where I will be a distraction to the people around me.  Going to restaurants is problematic because I don’t want to cough near other people’s food.  Sometimes I spend the night on the couch so that my husband can get a decent night’s sleep.

And exercise makes things much worse.  Breath is vital to movement, and during my coughing months I have neither breath nor any energy left to expend for it.

Which means I can either work out anyway and ignore the discomfort, or loose no weight at all during the coughing season.

For the past two weeks, I only worked out once or twice a week, so I shed no weight.  Since I watched my nutrition I also didn’t gain any.  I know that’s good, but I don’t know how much longer coughing season will last and I can’t afford to sit around idle waiting for it to stop.  I’ve got to push through.

I’ve gotten to the point where an inability to do my workouts causes a slight panic because I know I’ll either stay in a state of stasis at best, or at worst put on a few pounds.  I wonder if this is a reflection of the anxiety I know lies in wait for me if I ever do get significantly closer to my goal?

The specter of what was isn’t ever going to leave, my body can’t shed fat cells – only shrink them.  So the potential to bounce back to my set point will always linger no matter where I go or what I manage to achieve.

I fear entropy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tickers & Trackers

Although I still highly recommend it, I’m no longer using the Daily Plate to write down everything I eat.  For me personally, it’s not a sustainable lifestyle to write it all down every day because it makes me a little neurotic and then when I don’t track for a period of time I heap on guilt that I don’t need.  The plan I’ve developed and am on now is my plan for life, and journaling all my food isn’t something I foresee myself doing lifelong – I need to be able to relax and just live if I don’t want to sustain another failure.

That being said, for someone just starting out at weight loss you really do need a tool of some kind to tell you exactly what you’re eating and where it falls nutritionally.  There’s an APP called My Fitness Pal which does basically the same thing as the Plate and you can conveniently carry around on your smart phone.  I used it and still do on and off and I really like it.

However, after ten years or so of doing this as well as a crap ton of nutritional research, you can and will begin to track it all in your head – whether you want to or not.  The ability to sense when you’re nutritionally going off the rails is a habit that forms over time and practice.  Sometimes it goes a little out of focus and if you see the scale creeping up again it’s probably a good time to go back to journaling for a week or two just to keep yourself accountable and get back on track.  It’s also possible (though not a personal experience of mine) to skew in the wrong direction and start eating too few calories, at which time same deal: it’s time for another check in with some kind of tracker program.

These days, the Daily Plate is a great tool I’m using to figure out things like the exact nutritional content of recipes that I make.  For example, I used it to sort out the numbers on the supergreen smoothie recipe I posted last week for a friend.

I’d recommend these great (and free) trackers to anyone, but the widget at the bottom right corner of my blog which has read, “I’ve lost 9 lbs. using the Daily Plate!” hasn’t been accurate in awhile, and needed updating.

So in keeping with the theory that you really can find anything on the internet, I googled, “weight loss widgets”, which led me to www.tickerfactory.com.  The service is free, they just put a little advertisement for themselves on your ticker and off you go.  They’ve got them for all kinds of things: weight loss goals, pregnancy trackers, runner’s mileage goals, and they have a ton of cute designs available too.  If you look at the lower right now you can see I’ve got a road leading to my 140 lb. end goal with a cute little snail to represent me.  The snail seemed appropriate as I move a bit slowly.

I know I’m not supposed to look at the whole big number at once because it’s too overwhelming, but the truth is I can’t forget that number.  Sure, I can say my goal is just to lose ten pounds but what I can’t ever lose is the knowledge that each ten is just a drop in the bucket toward that final number, toward that whole person’s worth of body weight I need to shed.

Yeah, it’s daunting, but better people than me have looked far more daunting tasks in the face and not flinched.  It’s long past time I started facing my dragon.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fat Acceptance Reject

I’m trying to figure out where I fall in the whole “Fat Acceptance Movement.”

For the uninitiated, this movement believes that being fat is no more a choice than your race or height is, advocates a state of good health regardless of what size you are through proper nutrition and exercise (they refer to this as HAES – Health At Every Size), and strives for equal treatment from a society in which fat people are the last bastion of completely acceptable social discrimination.

On one side of the debate, you’ve got MeMe Roth and the National Action Against Obesity.  If you’re not familiar with MeMe you can read up on her here.

It’s kind of easy to hate MeMe and a lot of people do.  Personally, I don’t.  I think that in her way she’s genuinely trying to make her world a better place and make people happy.  Activists always believe that if everyone else would just think the same way they do, we’d all be fine.  It’s the same instinct that leads people to prosthelytizing their religious or lack of religious beliefs.  I’ve seen a lot of MeMe’s interviews and she never appears to me to be coming from a hateful place, it’s just that as a lifelong thin person she has no understanding of how difficult it is to struggle with weight, she cannot comprehend why what is so easy for her should be so hard for others.  She believes everyone would be happier being like her so she is honestly, in her way, trying to help people.  She also focuses a lot on removing junk food from school cafeterias which I personally think is a great goal and I can’t fault that.

Honestly, I too believe I would be happier at her size.

On the flipside of the coin I sometimes wonder if fat people aren’t a bit like little people.  They were born with something encoded into their DNA that is going to make life a bit more difficult for them physically and in all probability will also make their life span somewhat shorter than that of a standard human being.  They have to live their entire lives in a world that doesn’t fit their shape.  If someone formed a National Action Against Little People demanding that they grow into normal size folk for the sake of their health – how well would that go over?  Is being fat any different?

Some studies I’ve seen on epigenetics and DNA would seem to conclude that it is not.  Short term change is possible, but the statistical probability of remaining slim even after you’ve managed to accomplish a significant weight loss is staggeringly, heartbreakingly low. ***

Still… being able to go into a normal sized clothing store and shop, not worry about being forced to purchase a second seat on an airplane, not getting mooed at by passing teens in cars, going to a Broadway show without the teeny chairs jamming my hips painfully the entire time, and riding on roller coasters has been a lifelong dream I just can’t seem to give up on.

In the end am I just Don Quixote tilting at windmills?

I like the fat acceptance movement.  I appreciate what they stand for, and in other circumstances as a person with the audacity to be both fat and medically healthy at the same time – I could have been one of their poster children.

But I don’t belong with them.  I don’t want to accept this, I still want to be thin.  Then again I think that a lot of little people probably want to be tall.  Do any of us really have a choice in the matter?

*** The link to this fascinating, though somewhat distressing study was provided by my good friend and faithful science geek: Christopher.