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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Status Report: 1.5 lbs. lost, 37.5 lbs. total

I was kind of expecting to stay the same this week due to my 11th Anniversary dinner involving gnocchi, cream sauce, bread dipped in olive oil and wine - not to mention it currently being my personal high tide.

So bonus!  I lost a pound and a half!

Perhaps this also means that the plateau I hit last week will be mercifully brief.  I am hopeful.  It also feels annoyingly like I've been this close to reaching forty pounds forever.

In other news: tomorrow is Halloween.  The game plan involves having bought a type of candy I don't like (candy corn) which I am leaving in a big bowl on my porch while Ted and I go take a long walk among the Trick or Treaters.  Sure, some punk might come and take the whole bowl, but I figure that's their parent's problem.

Three parties this weekend that I'm still planning strategies for.  Two of them are at friend's houses who are aware of my dietary needs and will most certainly have health-friendly foods.  The work related one will be the hardest.  I have no idea what I'm walking into there so it might be wise to simply eat before I go.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Liver Report

According to MedicineNet.com, normal values for liver enzymes are as follows:

AST: 5 to 40 units per liter of blood serum.
ALT: 7 to 56 units per liter of blood serum.

I know that before I began the liquid low-calorie diet plan my levels for both of these fell into the “normal” range. I also now know that only five weeks into the program, I had shot up to around 450 AST and 270 ALT. No, those are not typos – so you can see why my family Doctor was both concerned and emphatic that I quit the program immediately.

As of today, I am back down to around 50 AST and 70 ALT respectively, so in the three and a half weeks I’ve been working on my own to heal through healthy eating (and many prayers from many people) my liver has managed to heal most of the way, which is super good news! I’ll have one more test in another month just to be sure.

I have also, as of today, lost another ten pounds on my own since quitting my previous program.

The Endocrinologist who was administrating my liquid diet program (not to be confused with my family Doctor) insisted up to the day that I quit that what was happening was not the fault of their products, but was instead the result of my having fatty liver disease because I was a fat woman.

My family Doctor found this claim to be suspect considering the very sharp numeric rise while I was solely consuming their food substitutes and also based on the fact that in the ten years she’s been caring for my health I have never once shown a single sign or symptom of fatty liver disease. She believes I was having a vitamin toxicity reaction to the extremely high levels of artificial vitamins in the products I was solely consuming as food. Also their refusal to acknowledge even the possibility that I was having a bad reaction to the products convinced her that I should, under no circumstances, return to their care.

So here I am. Returning to health and hopefully the wiser for my experience as I continue on this very long road.

My family Doctor (to whom I will be sending a thank you card for possibly saving my liver) told me that she wants me to take one very important thing away from this whole experience: that I should listen to my body, know it, and trust what it’s telling me.

There are no easy answers, no magic pills (or protein shakes) and no quick solutions. Every day of my life that remains I will fight this fight and walk this path.  Even once the numbers on the scale read exactly what I want them to read.

I should send one of these to my family Doctor

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Status Report: Nix! Nada! Nothing! The big EGG

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. This week I lost a whopping zero pounds!

This is an excellent opportunity to illustrate the ways in which the simple “calories in vs. calories out” math regarding weight loss that smug people like to toss in your face to illustrate how easy this is supposed to be does not always work.

I will fully admit that I had two high days this week: Friday and Saturday. Friday I went overboard on a popcorn munching fit and hit 1,800 calories for the day. Saturday is the day I deliberately decided to have dinner out and not fret over calories, but I was unable to fully let go so I still avoided two different dessert trays and skipped a pasta side dish I really wanted to try. Being careful in these ways I managed to stick to 2,000 calories that day. Since my calorie goal is around 1,300 calories per day, I obviously had 500 and 700 calories too many on those days.

Allow me to reiterate that the calories necessary (according to Science!) to simply maintain my current body weight without adding or losing anything is currently 2,550 per day – so even on my absolute worst day last week, I was still running a calorie deficit of around 500. All the other five days I stayed within my goal and ran a nice, respectable calorie deficit of between 1,450 and 1,700 calories per day. This means that according to Science! I should have lost around 2.5 lbs. last week.

But instead I stayed exactly the same weight.

The temptation is there to freak out totally, to assume my weight loss is going to halt forever no matter what I do, but I’m staying calm. I know this happens, and I know that it is not a personal failure or character flaw on my part. I know that in many ways the Science! we’re talking about here is a total crock.

I am having my 11th wedding anniversary this weekend and I am going out to dinner and that dinner is going to involve gnocchi in a decadent cream sauce. For the rest of that day, and this coming week, I am going to plan, track, and workout very hard, and I will be okay.

I will resist the temptation to punish and berate myself and simply move forward.

In the good news department: my thirty pound reward has arrived!

Yes, that is in fact a purple Labyrinth t-shirt with David Bowie on it. BE JEALOUS.

I’m sparing you the picture of it with me inside because although it does go on my body I look a bit like a purple stuffed sausage while wearing it. Since it’s a 3XL we can safely assume that the company who made it are not fans of sizeable folk.  I’m guessing their 3XL equates to around a women’s size 16 or so. Although I could have ordered myself a men’s, the men sizes never fail to look like a frumpy dress on me so I figured I’d just shrink into the women’s one instead. This stands a good chance of morphing into my 50 lb. reward before I’m actually able to wear it in public.

In the amusing news department: all of my everyday clothing is starting to make me look like a little kid dressed up in an adult’s outfit. EVERYTHING is too big.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why Weight Loss Fails

I have figured out why ninety-some-odd percent of people trying to loose weight fail at it.  I have cracked the code.  It's actually pretty simple: they just get tired.

This is because you can spend every single hour of every single day for two months straight doing absolutely everything right to remove excess fat from your body - and at the end of it... you're still fat.  You can do this for three months, maybe four, maybe ten... and possibly still be fat.

When you quit smoking, the minute after you quit you're no longer a smoker.  It's a very different thing from quitting cold turkey all the behaviors that made you fat and then having to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And then wait some more - until you finally get to reap the rewards of your hard work.

And it's not that I don't see improvment and appreciate those pounds off every week, I do.  But I'm just feeling particularly tired of waiting tonight.  It's not just a lack of instant gratification we're talking about here - it's delayed gratification to an insane degree.

So that's why people fail, the overwhelming majority of us (understandably) just aren't that patient.  It's difficult to tolerate the extreme discipline and hard work it takes for long enough with the fruit of your hard-won labor constantly dangling just off over the horizon.  So people break.

No, I'm not giving up.  Yes I'm fine.  Tonight I'm just... tired.  Really tired.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Status Report: 3 lbs. lost, 36 lbs. total

It’s kind of a letdown the way the weigh-in ladies at my group meeting do their thing. They will not say a peep aloud about your gain or loss, they won’t even smile. Writing down numbers in complete, expressionless silence does tend to make a person think they’ve done poorly. We don’t even get a, “good job!”

Regardless, I did do a good job and took off another three pounds this week, so I’m patting myself on the back!

Since I’m doing a lot of cooking I figured I’d share a creation that I loved this week. Living about an hour from Kennett Square (also known as “The Mushroom Capital of the World”) I have an exotic mushroom dealer at my local farmer’s market who I’ve been purchasing from on a weekly basis. This week I sautéed up a beautiful, bright green pile of mushroomy goodness. See below!

Exotic Mushrooms with Greens
  • ½ lb. exotic mushroom medley (lobster, maitake, shitake, etc.) 
  • Bunch of fresh green beans 
  • Bunch of fresh snow peas 
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 2 tbsp. really good olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce 

Heat the olive oil. Smash and fine chop the garlic and toss it in. Add the beans and peas and sauté around for a while until things begin to lightly cook. Add the mushroom medley and sauté until everything looks tasty and ready to eat. Remove from heat and add the soy sauce, tossing to coat.

Makes about four servings.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Status Report: 5 lbs. lost, 33 lbs. total

On Wednesday I did something (again) that a couple years ago said I would not do any longer: that being pay someone to help me lose weight. I joined a certain very popular, mildly-successful and slightly-cult-like weight loss organization who, like the previous one I was using, will remain nameless on this blog.

I didn’t want to transition out of the last program and just freefall through space with no outside help. That seemed like a recipe for regaining the hard earned pounds I’ve recently lost. I need community, commiseration, support and the threat of a public weigh in each week motivating me forward. Also, my health insurance company is perfectly willing to help out with this one whereas the last program… not so much.

There are things about this organization I do really like – such as the way it encourages you to eat regular food in the real world like a normal person for long term sustainability and the focus on wholesome nutrition and plenty of activity.

There are also things about them I flat out disagree with – like their insistence that members drink milk (humans are the only animal that insists on eating the baby food of another animal past infancy, it’s fairly ridiculous) and perpetuating the myth that eating too little will make you gain weight. So it’s a trade off.

I’m still using the Daily Plate tracker as well, and when I stack the two plans up against one another for calorie content the Daily Plate recommends a 1,300 calorie per day regimen for me to lose two pounds per week and my new program recommends almost 2,000 calories per day. For now I’m sticking to my 1,300 – if I hit some kind of metabolic road block I’m thinking of trying the zig zag method, which is where you eat 1,300 one day then maybe 1,700 the next then back down to 1,300 etc. Supposedly this tricks your metabolism out of shutting down due to perceived starvation. We’ll see. So far I’m still so big that I haven’t had to worry about it, the pounds continue to come off.

As you can see above, I’ve lost another five pounds since my last weigh in at the clinic – so far I’m doing pretty well on my own. We’ll just call this most recent step my insurance policy against losing that forward momentum.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


This is a difficult post to write because the temptation to feel like a failure is there.

I have mentioned before that I’m not well in touch with my body and the messages it’s trying to send me.  So for the past few weeks that I have been feeling slightly off (vaguely nauseated, weird burning sensation in the vicinity of my intestines, and a roller coaster ride of bathroom unpleasantness) I have been chalking it up to either anxiety or just me feeling sorry for myself over not being able to enjoy autumn apples.

Last week at the clinic the endocrinologist overseeing my weight loss mentioned that my liver enzymes were “elevated” but that it was probably something to do with my birth control pills and it was fine for me to continue the program.

Concerned and confused, I called my family doctor and asked them to review my blood work and explain to me a bit more clearly just what “elevated” means.

Last Wednesday morning the nurse practitioner called me at work and told me that the numbers for my liver enzymes had gone from textbook normal the week before I began the liquid diet program to four times higher than that.  They also strongly recommended that I cease consuming all products given to me by the weight loss clinic immediately and resume a normal diet.  They said that the reason I’ve been feeling off is because my liver is sick – and whatever I’ve been consuming needed to stop.  Right then.  That day.

This resulted in what I can best describe as a disagreement between the endocrinologist at the weight loss clinic and my family doctor.  The endocrinologist argued that in his 26 years of experience this result is something that happens with some overweight patients, our livers are unhealthy to begin with because of our excess body weight and as it begins to shed the numbers go high, level off, and then drop if we just continue the program.  My family doctor strongly advised me not to take the chance that he was wrong since my liver showed zero signs of being unhealthy before I began consuming nothing but the liquid diet and vitamin pills provided by the clinic.

That Wednesday afternoon I stopped the program.

I lost my gall bladder trying to become slim on Jenny Craig, I absolutely cannot take the chance of something happening to my liver as well for the sake of this vanity.  I was numerically healthy before I began, and now I am not.  There has to be a way to achieve healthy weight loss without sacrificing any internal organs in the process.

I’ll probably never know what really happened.  The endocrinologist could very well be right and in a few more weeks the numbers would have begun to drop off to normal again.  He asserted that a “woman my size” must have had a fatty liver to begin with, and for some reason the test numbers just weren’t showing it.

Maybe I had vitamin toxicity because all the vitamins in the food plus two big extra pills a day were just more than my liver could deal with.

Or my body was really choking on a diet consisting only of pills, protein shakes and saccharine chemical sweetener and its cries for real, fresh food that grows from the ground or off of a tree could no longer be ignored.

So I’m back on real food, but I’m not giving up.  I’m using the Daily Plate again to keep my daily calorie consumption in control at around 1,300 / day as I try to figure out what to do next.  Since I think I need the pressure of a weekly public weigh-in I’m leaning toward going back to Weight Watchers.  A bunch of the ladies I work with go so there would be friends with me at the meeting and people to help and be helped by the entire time I’m at the office.

I’ve immediately quit all caffeine and chemical sweeteners again (which is a huge relief) and begun a daily regimen of lemon cleanses and liver-healing foods.  A lemon cleanse is basically just the juice of one whole, fresh lemon squeezed into a 16 oz. bottle of very cold water and chugged first thing after I wake up.  Tart, but refreshing.  Liver-healing foods are things like grapefruit, apples, garlic, Brussels sprouts, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables… basically all the foods I’ve been dying for during the last month anyway, so that’s not a tough prescription to follow.

In another four weeks my family doctor will test me again, and hopefully my body will have begun to heal itself.

I need to make it clear that although the diet I’ve been on is extreme, I still don’t consider it “bad”.  It absolutely works for some people, it worked for my father and my sister – that’s how I found out about it.  The good, caring folks at the clinic have helped many, many people to achieve their health and weight loss goals.

Something not being the right plan for me does not mean I think it’s not the right plan for anyone.  Every body is different, and one size does not fit all.

My answer is out there – I’ve just got to keep on searching until I find it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

True Love vs. Sandwiches

There’s an article making the internet rounds right now about a woman who made her boyfriend a particularly good sandwich and he, upon eating it, declared that if she made him 300 more he’d propose to her.

I’m not as offended by this as some.  As someone very deeply in love I get the impulse to want to do things for the object of my affection simply because making them happy makes me happy too – and I think that deep down that’s really where the idea for this comes from.  Sandwiches make this guy happy, she likes making him happy, and the engagement ring thing is probably a cute relationship joke that got a little out of hand.  I’m certain that if their relationship is a happy one, he does an equal share of nice things for her too.

And on an unrelated note, the blog in question has some really tasty-looking sandwich recipes.

However, the article and people’s reaction to it gave me cause to think about what I’ve learned over the past decade of having what is, in my own opinion anyway, an extremely happy marriage.  It’s far from a perfect one, there are certainly fights and disagreements and tears involved, but I consider Ted and I very successful simply because at no point in any of the bad did he ever cease to be both my best friend and the human being I always want to be around, every day, without exception.  If that were not the case, I would not have married him – and he would not have married me.

This basically boils down the advice I am capable of giving on marriage to one fairly simple rule: marry somebody that you genuinely like more than you like anybody else.

That would seem like an obvious point, but over the years I’ve seen so many cases of married couples who appear to love one another, but in order to truly “relax” or “have fun” they need to “get away” from the person they married.  They love one another, but they don’t seem to like one another very much.

I see this among the types of guys who seem to view women as a necessary thing in life: you’re supposed to have one and they’re good on many levels for many things – but they’re not truly people.  In order to relax and enjoy life and be with people, they really need to be in the company of other men.  Which of course makes me wonder why exactly that type of guy didn’t just, you know, marry a man in the first place.  It’s not one sided, I’ve seen the reverse going on among women too.  It’s almost as though some people view the opposite sex as an entire alien species altogether.  One that they like but… don’t really want to spend time with if they’ve got another option.

The level on which the above mentioned article does frustrate and annoy me is that it perpetuates the sad, tired trope about women being marriage-hungry hunters and men the elusive prey who run and run until they’re finally trapped into this life situation that, deep down, they really don’t want – whether by persistence and nagging on the part of the female or the acquisition of enough sandwiches.  If you don’t want to get married, then don’t.  If your boyfriend doesn’t seem to genuinely want to marry you, then pressuring and/or bribing him into it is probably not going to be a good idea long-term.  When Ted proposed to me he wasn’t 100% sure I would say yes (which is why he did it in private) and if both he and I hadn’t felt 100% sure about the match or were experiencing reluctance, we wouldn’t have done it.  If at any time Ted had referred to me as “the ‘ole ball ‘n chain” or I him, then we would have told one another we didn’t want to pressure a person into something that wasn’t what they desired – and that they were free to go.

It’s pretty simple:
When I am out and having fun – Ted is who I want to be with.
When I am hiding out at home relaxing – Ted is who I want to be with.
When I am sad or angry or frustrated – Ted is who I want to be with.

If he were not that person who was the ideal match to my every mood, then it’s very simple – I would not have married him.

And now that I look at all these words I realize that I’m simply parroting back what my mother and father said to me much more simply from the time that I was a little girl: just marry your best friend.