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, April 29, 2015

Rock Bottom

So here’s what’s been going on.

I’ve been on what is referred to as a “plateau” for about six months.  Except it’s not really a plateau, it’s been a very slow weight gain of around eight pounds from my lowest recorded weight.  When I have a plateau, it’s not because I’ve been doing everything right and still inexplicably not changing, it’s because I haven’t been doing what I know I need to do nutritionally or getting enough physical activity.  So I’ve known exactly why things weren’t moving along the way I want them to.

A little over two weeks ago, I refocused.  Spring was here and I could get back outside – so I did.  I’ve worked out every single day, without missing a day, for the past sixteen days.  I walk, I sometimes jog a bit, I ride my stationary bike, I do core circuit training, I lift weights.  My entire right foot is essentially one giant blister and I can’t turn my head to the left, but I’m feeling pretty motivated.

I also got my calories back where I want them – between 1,400 and 1,800 per day with good nutritional practices.

One week in, I had shed two pounds.  Exactly what I was expecting to see.  Encouraged, I pushed on.

The second week in, I went away for a small weekend vacation.  This involved some indulgent food that I don’t normally eat, like cream of crab soup and margarita pizza.  Still, I tracked my calories diligently the whole time and upped my physical activity to compensate.  Both mornings at the hotel, I got up and did two miles of fast walking in the workout room, then hit the pool for laps, then took a decent little hike across some sand dunes while out sightseeing (walking over dry sand is amazing for the calf muscles).

I came in to my group meeting yesterday expecting to have lost a pound, maybe two if all went well.

I gained five.  Five pounds.  In a single week of working out daily and carefully watching what I consumed, even on a two day vacation.

Five pounds.

To say I hit rock bottom emotionally is something of an understatement.

I never wanted to be that member freaking out at a weight loss meeting and fighting back tears, but there it was.  A very public and embarrassing meltdown.  From a purely scientific standpoint in order to put on that much weight in a single week I would have had to eat roughly 6,000 calories per day, every day.

Let me assure you, I did not.

I said there had to be some mistake and asked to be weighed again on their alternate scale.  The nice ladies who run my meeting said of course.

I was still five pounds heavier than last week.

I didn’t run out of the meeting, I stayed.  But I think it’s obvious that I need to shake things up somehow in a very big way.  My group meetings are not expensive, but I’ve been paying for them for six months now and the only change that’s happened is that I’m twelve pounds heavier.  I also fundamentally don’t agree with this particular group on some of their nutritional ideas, like their insistence that an adult consume at least two servings of cow’s baby food every day (I think they must have some kind of corporate deal going on with the dairy farmers association or something).

I have one pre-paid ticket left, so I don’t need to make this decision this week.  I know all of the reasons why these kinds of spontaneous and heartbreaking weight hikes happen to people who haven’t eaten even remotely enough to warrant them: too much salt, water retention, and as a good and wise friend pointed out to me my muscles are probably swollen and retaining water from my failure to take a single rest day in the past two and a half week period.

So today I rested.  I had a healthy fish dinner.  I didn’t binge and I didn’t cry.

However, my faith that it's even remotely possible for me to win this battle is shaken.  Profoundly.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Crush Conundrum

I try to keep my blog pretty focused.  There’s a lot of foodie love here, a lot of health stuff, and a lot of focus on fixing self-esteem, not to mention railing against the things that frequently break it apart.

Sexuality isn’t a topic I touch on often (if ever) but I’ve noticed something and it’s really, truly puzzling me.  So I’m going to bring it up just for the sake of getting other people’s opinions.

I like men.  I’m heterosexual so I like looking at men on occasion.  Mostly, I admire my husband Ted – who is my very favorite man.  Sometimes I admire men who are not Ted, and when I do this I pick famous ones I have no chance of meeting or ever interacting with.  Though my male friends are quite charming and attractive, I don’t consider it a very good idea to spend much time pondering the virtues of folk who are part of my life.  It’s not productive, and I’d prefer not to risk those thought processes turning into word, or action as it is my intention to stay monogamously with Ted for life.

That being said, some of the famous men I find very attractive happen to be gay.  The first example that comes to mind is Zachary Quinto, whom I first noticed playing Sylar on Heroes but really fell for when he started to portray Spock in the new Star Trek reboot.  I also admire John Barrowman and Neil Patrick Harris.

Every time (almost without exception) I mention in conversation how attractive I think Zachary Quinto is, someone nearby me will quickly point out that he cannot return my affection because he is gay.

Why do people do that?

I also think Brad Pitt is quite beautiful.  Since Brad Pitt is straight, do the people who do this believe that Brad is going to find out and promptly come to my house to try to steal me from Ted?  That’s quite flattering if they do, but I submit that even if Brad Pitt and I were trapped alone in a room together for an hour sparks still would probably not fly.  For many reasons – the first being that we’re both already married, but beyond that he’s a gorgeous actor and I’m an average Josie.  He’s charismatic and I’m shy.  He jets all over the world making movies and public appearances and I really prefer writing about things.

I’m sorry Brad – you are beautiful, but it’s just not going to work out between you and I.  I want Ted, and you (for rather obvious reasons) want Angelina Jolie.

I always assumed that if either Zachary Quinto or Brad Pitt were to discover that I find them lovely they would probably react the same way: they might smile, be flattered (and probably slightly embarrassed) and to offer to take a picture with me or sign an autograph.  Then we all move on with our respective famous and non-famous lives.

The phenomenon truly confuses me.  It seems as though many people find it taboo for a heterosexual person to find a homosexual person attractive.  Is the reverse also the case?  Is it taboo for a homosexual to be attracted to a heterosexual celebrity?  Either way, since we’re talking about the famous and beautiful whom we are never, ever going to meet (much less date) regardless of their sexual orientation – why does it matter if our passing fancies are able to return our admiration?

I think it's the heavy brow that makes him so appealing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Favorite Food (Fat is Awesome)

This is my favorite food:

I sometimes refer to the avocado as proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  Lately I've been happily buying up six packs of beautiful gator-pears at Costco for about a buck each.

Recently, my Mom-in-law asked me what foods are good for the brain.  I responded: fat.  I give this response because fat is what your brain cells are made out of, so it’s a logical assumption on my part that eating fat will provide fuel for your brain.

Avocado is my topmost, favorite, super-happy way to eat fat.

Over the years I've had a love/hate relationship with edible fat.  At one point I was firmly on the, “if you don’t want to BE fat, do not EAT fat" bandwagon.  I have since, after better research, gotten off that one.

It was silly of me to get on there in the first place since technically I've known better since I was in my early twenties.  Twice in my life my attempts to force my body to be thin have made me seriously ill.  Most recently I tried giving up food in favor of subsisting only on “health-shakes” with a predictable result that is well documented earlier in this blog.  The short version is that my liver’s response to the diet was: “Nope.”

A decade prior to that, I tried a slightly less drastic seeming (but in retrospect similar) plan where you leave all the food choices up to your consultant and eat only the pre-packaged insta-food that they sell to you (cough*JennyCraig*cough).  I lost weight at first, but since their quickie meals had almost no fat in them my gall bladder was left with nothing to do.  Bored (and undoubtedly angry) it formed stones and had to be removed.

You’d think I would have learned back then that forgoing real, fresh food was a bad idea for me – but sadly I did not.

These days I’m working on dealing with the root mental cause behind my obesity (an eating disorder) and feeding myself with the freshest, most nutritious things I can find, research, and afford.  Avocado is an important part of my dietary choices.

Here is why I love the pebbly green monsters:

1)      They taste awesome.  The avocado often reminds me of a hard-boiled egg yolk for richness and flavor, but it’s even better.  It’s creamy, delicious, and satisfying.  When I take a bite of avocado my brain responds by saying, “mmmm… yes, fatty goodness.”  There is a valid reason why we crave fat and receive a pleasure response for eating it – that’s because we need fat in our diets and it is good for us.
2)      They play nicely with others.  When eaten with other vegetables the oils in avocado actually help your body absorb the nutrients in the other vegetables more effectively too.  Almost every day I eat a big bowl of cut, fresh, raw vegetables.  Adding half an avocado in with the mix and stirring it all up together with a little salt and pepper looks a bit weird, but is 100% better for me (and better tasting) than any salad dressing.
3)      They are so, so good for us.  The fat in an avocado is the kind that a body truly needs.  Cholesterol lowering, triglyceride lowering, blood sugar regulating, heart protecting, yummy yummy fat.  The same type as is found in nuts and olive oils.  Studies show that people who regularly consume avocado tend to weigh less.  The reason why is unknown – my guess is that it’s just because they’re a popular food among health nut types.  However personally, I've noticed that the satisfaction they give me helps me to resist the siren song of fats that are less good for me.  After my avocado salad at lunch I’m feeling pretty sated, so when they roll out the afternoon cake at the office it’s a lot easier for me to avoid it.

The entire fruit contains on average about 235 calories, so I try to eat only a half per day.  However if I slip up and eat the whole thing that’s not a slip I’m going to cry about like I would chowing down on too many potato chips.

In conclusion, if you haven’t had the opportunity to get to know these little beauties I encourage you to give them a try.  Since most people encounter them for the first time as guacamole – here’s my recipe.  Enjoy!

Carolyn’s Guac:

·         4 ripe avocados - diced (Haas avocados are ripe when the skin is very dark green and they give ever so slightly when squeezed)*
·         1 large, ripe tomato – diced
·         ½ red onion – minced
·         2 or 3 garlic cloves – minced
·         1 big handful of chopped fresh cilantro
·         The juice of 1 lime
·         Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Eat with veggie sticks, pita, tortilla chips, or use as a spread on sandwiches.  This is also a great topping for baked chicken or fish.

*Note: Alton Brown refers to the avocado as an “edible food grenade” because once they've been popped open they will oxidize and turn brown very quickly.  The acids in lime juice and tomato will help to slow this process, but if you need to store any extra guacamole make sure you cover it very carefully with a tight layer of saran wrap pressed firmly against the surface. Air is the enemy!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Choose Something More Important Than Beauty

A friend of mine once pointed out to me that if we don’t give advertisers credit for the small steps they are willing to make toward promoting visual acceptance toward a larger number of people, they’re probably just going to give up and go back to only featuring people who fall within a very narrow visual margin – because we, the public, are just never happy or satisfied.

He makes a good point, which I admitted when he said it.  And yet…

This is the most recent ad I’ve seen by the Dove Corporation, it’s been making the rounds on the internet right now, and it really bugs me:

Pretty simple concept.  Chose which door you should walk through – the one for beautiful people, or the one for average people.  That’s it.

My choice?  To walk away and a find a door that doesn’t imply my value is based on my appearance.

Look, I know what the golden ratio is.  I know that it’s a pretty simple visual equation that indicates health and thus good breeding prospects and strong children.  I know because of that it’s a social advantage to have a face that follows that ratio because people respond better to symmetrical, unblemished faces and proportionate bodies.  It’s all science.  It’s our lizard brains talking – not our higher minds or our spirits.

I do appreciate that Dove is trying to sell products by telling ALL women that they are beautiful (I mean, that’s a nice thing to say) but I have two problems with it.  One is that the focus is still on the way we look.  The second is that it’s untrue that all people, women and men, are equally beautiful.

What I want to promote is that if you’re not beautiful it’s okay.  You are valuable.  The way we look is one thing about us, but not the only thing.  Not the most important thing.  Even the most beautiful person is going to fade and get old, and being old is okay too.  Our worth doesn’t decrease as we wrinkle and sag.  And how much more brutal must old age be for those who were told their entire lives that they’re better than everybody else because the arbitrary way they looked was so nice?  Then that gets taken away from them, year by year, line by line.  Slowly stripped and ripped to pieces.

These ads are still telling us that visuals are the most important thing – and it’s that idea I just don’t agree with.

I know I should be giving them credit for trying to make people feel good about themselves, and I am.  I just want more.

The thing I value most about myself is my imagination. That's the door I want to choose.  What do you think is the best part of you?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Please Don't Call Yourself "Fat"

If you are not.

Last month one of my favorite bands was on tour in Europe.  A lot of people met them, took pictures, and subsequently (and graciously) shared those pictures on social media.  The pictures were adorable and fun to see, but I lost count of how many of them came with one of the following captions:

“I look totally gross and fat, but here’s my photo.”


“I look horrible and fat in this but I have to post it anyway.”


“I look so fat in this pic, but here it is!”

100% of the attached photos contained a young woman of average to small size, usually quite pretty by conventional standards.

Look… I know what calling ourselves “fat” when we are quite obviously not fat is code for.  It’s coded language for, “I feel insecure about how I look because the world constantly reminds me that I’m worthless outside of being beautiful, so please please please reassure me that I am.”  And these girls inevitably got what they were looking for, a virtual tidal wave of internet assurances that they were not fat, and that they were beautiful.  I get it, believe me.  When I was younger, I did that.

Women who do this generally fall into one of two categories; they are seeking social reassurance as described above.  Or they are suffering from something called body dysmorphic disorder and actually cannot see themselves as they truly appear.  I’m not speaking to the body dysmorphic in this article, that problem is a whole other kettle of fish.  I’m speaking to the women of socially acceptable size who insist on using the word “fat” to seek reassurance of their beauty or to explain that they’re having a day where they don’t feel so good about their appearance, even though they know full well that they fall easily into the parameters for acceptable female body size.

Here is why that behavior is so harmful:

It reinforces the social standard that “fat” is synonymous with “ugly by default”.  Fat being accepted as universal shorthand for “ugly” and “undesirable” and “unwanted” means that people like me – who actually ARE fat – are reminded constantly that our innate (and largely unchangeable) body shape is utterly unacceptable.  The fact that I have and will continue to lose weight does not change that fact.  At goal I will be 170 lbs.  I will be healthy, strong, fit, and still completely, totally and unacceptably large by American female standards.  I actually aspire to look something like the gorgeous Hilda (pictured below) when I am finished, but since my natural size is quite large, once I’ve fought down well below that weight I will continue to sag and droop like a melting ice cream cone.  My body is NEVER going to be what fitness enthusiasts refer to as a “beach body”.  Fat has been and will be a descriptor that applies to me and that is not going to change.

But I’m a grown up.  Although I get hurt (sometimes to the point of tears) by the depravations of this fat hating world, I’ve got a grownup’s thick skin and ability to realize that people are trying desperately to build themselves up when they do these things – it’s got little to nothing to do with me.

What worries me more is when it starts – in childhood.  Normally sized, healthy kids screaming the word “FATSO!” at other normally sized, healthy kids.  Fat as kid-code for “yuck” and “gross” and “I just want to feel superior to you!” leads to my friend having to comfort her eight year old when she comes home crying from school because the other girls told her she was fat (and had bugs).  At eight years old that strong, outspoken, intelligent girl is already totally aware that fat is a terrible, horrible thing to be.

But what if it wasn’t?

What if saying, “Hey – do you know Carolyn?  She’s the fat girl with crazy red hair and secretary glasses over there.  Yeah, the pretty one.”

Was exactly the same as saying, “Hey – do you know Carolyn?  She’s the tall girl over there with crazy red hair and secretary glasses.  Yeah, the pretty one.”

I understand that people being the wretched things we are, if we remove the stigma from this descriptive term kids are only going to find another way to torment one another, but go ahead and call me Don Quixote because I am still going to advocate for removing the sting from fat.

One way to do that is if average sized woman would please stop using a word that simply describes my physicality, like “tall” or “short” or “fair” or “freckly” as a lazy way to say they don’t feel great about themselves today.

It’s actually totally okay to just say, “hey – you know what?  I feel really down about the way I look today.”  Since people are told constantly that the appearance of their face and body far outweighs the content of their character that is a totally natural and understandable way to feel.  I for one am happy to build a friend back up when they’re feeling beaten down.

But not one more time am I going to tell somebody who isn’t fat yet insisting to me that they are, “you’re not fat.”  Because that’s tantamount to reassuring them, “don’t worry – you don’t look like me.”  I’ve worked way too hard stitching together the tattered shreds of my own self esteem to carve and sacrifice it up for the sake of yours.