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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cookie Dough Dessert Hummus

This recipe was simply too strange not to try. I love hummus and I make many different types from many different beans. All tend to be savory, a bit salty, usually garlicky. Prior to stumbling over this recipe it had never occurred to me that “dessert hummus” was a possibility.

Here’s what you will need:
1 can of chickpeas; drained and rinsed (the recipe says you’re supposed to peel them but um… yeah, no. I don’t have time for that. I just turned my food processor on and walked away for a few minutes. Same thing, right?)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (The “natural” means no sugar added, blech. I realized you can substitute this with 4 tbsp. of PB2 dissolved in 1/4 cup of milk if you want to bring the peanut butter fat content down some. I just used Jif whips when I made it.)
6 tbsp. maple syrup (it’s supposed to be REAL maple syrup but that’s difficult and expensive to find in my area, so… Log Cabin won.)
1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I couldn’t find minis in a 6 oz. bag and getting a 12 oz. bag only to use a small fraction of it, thereby leaving the rest lying around in my house like a food grenade is a bad idea. So I opted for the 6 oz. bag of regular sized morsels and put most of it into the recipe.)
A pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients except the chocolate morsels in a food processor, turn it on, and let it run for a couple of minutes. Then fold the chocolate morsels into the resulting mixture and you’re done!

The texture is a bit grainy (probably because I didn’t peel my chickpeas), peanut buttery, lightly sweet, and surprisingly good. I dipped pretzel snaps into it but it would also work just fine with celery sticks, apple wedges, graham crackers – basically anything that plays nicely with peanut buttery things. After chilling it could easily be rolled into balls and dipped in melted chocolate to make a decent gluten free cookie. With a few minor alterations this recipe could be made vegan.

Here’s a guesstimation of the nutrition info based on my input of the recipe into the Daily Plate:
Makes: 8 servings
Calories: 144
Fat: 3.5 grams
Carbs: 30 grams
Protein: 5.5 grams
Sugar: 11 grams

Is it a worthy dessert for its calorie cost? I think so. It’s pretty satisfying due to the protein content and yet doesn’t tempt me to hork down the entire thing in one sitting. It’s also pretty healthy as desserts go, so I believe I’ll be making this one again. I may even spring it on unsuspecting guests at a party…

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Zumba Etiquette?

I have no idea what the proper etiquette for group workouts is (or if there even is any).

My Monday and Tuesday evening Zumba classes can get pretty crowded. According to the online sign-up, they’re supposed to cap out at 15 participants but I think there are at least 20 most nights.

Last Monday, just after we’d all started dancing, a young woman came in, looked around the room, then came and started dancing (literally) less than a foot in front of me. She more or less planted herself where I already was. She wasn’t very good either, so there was immediately a lot of arm flailing in the general direction of my face.

Startled and somewhat taken aback, I stepped off to the side and stopped dancing. The girl who’d previously been just to my left shot me a sympathetic look and helplessly shrugged, as if to say, “I have no idea why she can’t seem to see you. I’m sorry!”

Although I’m more cantankerous in my 40’s than I was a decade ago, I really didn’t (and don’t) know how to deal with rude (or selectively blind) dancers in a Zumba class. So I simply moved into one of the less heavily occupied portions of the room and went back to dancing. The girl who’d occupied my spot continued right along, never having acknowledged me in the least.

It was curiously like being invisible. Briefly, I wondered if I’d suddenly developed superpowers, but since I still seemed perfectly visible to everyone else in the room I guess that wasn’t it.

On another occasion a girl came in and started to dance directly beside me. This time I was definitely visible because we smiled at one another in greeting. Since the room was not at all crowded that day, I moved up a step or two so that we weren’t directly beside one another – giving us both more room to move.

She immediately moved up directly beside me again, giving me another grin as if to say, “oh – we’re moving forward? Cool! I’m with you!”

She did this for the whole class. If I stepped forward to get some space she was right there with me, if I stepped back, she stepped back. I had an awkwardly dancing shadow for the entire class.

I can only imagine she believed that, much like the military, we were expected to stay in perfectly straight lines while dancing.

What on earth is the proper etiquette for these things? Is there a polite way to say, “Hi! Yes, I’m friendly – but could you get away from me please?”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Quitter! Quitter!

It’s been entirely too negative around this blog lately, so to mix things up I’m going to tell you why I quit.

No, seriously – it’s a good thing!

I started my journey toward losing over 100 lbs. on the HMR system. It turned out to be a very bad idea for me as the artificial and/or extreme low calorie nature of that diet caused my liver to start failing, however it did take off the first 35 lbs. that needed to go.

When I left HMR (on my wise Doctor’s orders) I went to Weight Watchers. There I had a great leader and fantastic, supportive classmates – and I took off another 40 lbs. WW is a decent program, their system of tailoring your personal diet to include those things you love while encouraging you to try new ones is smart, and it’s something that people can do for life – which is very important for weight loss sustainability.

I don’t agree with them 100%. For example, they push milk which I think is unnecessary for adult animals (it’s baby food). Also they try to get you to figure out how to stay within your points on days like Christmas and your birthday – I personally believe there are days when you should just forget the whole restriction deal and enjoy yourself. There can be an almost fearful attitude toward food at WW that I think isn’t 100% mentally healthy.

However, I was happy on WW and it’s easy enough to ignore what you don’t agree with and take to heart all the useful, encouraging things that they offer.

Through no fault of WW I began to suffer diet fatigue about seven or eight months ago. I had simply run out of energy to keep doing the same things I’d done before. I remained on the program, slogging along, but my weight began slowly but surely creeping upward instead of downward. I knew I had to try something new, and as much as I would have liked to add a new plan to my existing old one, my diet budget being what it is (I have a spending allowance I dedicate to my weight loss efforts) in order to try something new I had to give up WW.

That was hard. I love my leader and my classmates. And I was a coward – I knew I was leaving but didn’t tell them. For one thing, I knew they’d try to talk me out of it, but my mind was made up so I knew that was a waste of time. I wasn’t quitting my efforts to get where I want to be, but I was leaving their company and in the end I slipped away very quietly. I guess a lot of people do that.

So I joined a gym.

I’ve said in the past that gyms aren’t the right choice for me because if I have to go home, change clothes, and go back out again – I probably won’t go. Well, I’ve also said in the past that WW isn’t for me, so obviously I change my mind a lot.

Deliberately working out isn’t precisely a natural activity. Human instinct encourages us to conserve energy whenever possible just as our metabolisms strive to conserve calories, it’s all about survival. Over the years when I trudge along on a treadmill or elliptical machine, it’s all I can do not to stare at the clock, waiting for the time when I can cease this boring activity.

So there’s a trick to it. I’d heard of this trick before, I’d just never managed to successfully implement it until now.

Find something physical to do that you think is ridiculously fun.

That’s where Zumba fits in. Silly, I know. Most of the time I’m pretty sure I look like a baby hippo hopping and flailing around that studio. But it really is a big dance party with great music and energy and moves I’m able to follow and lots and lots of sweat. It lasts a whole hour (unlike my generally half hour treadmill sessions) and I don’t even notice the time flying by because I’m enjoying myself.

Apparently I will go home, get changed, and go back out – if where I’m going is to a big, fun dance party.

Group exercise is so different from going it alone at home. The energy of a great instructor and the rest of the class lifts and carries me along, helping me to work harder than I would have on my own.

It’s awesome, I’m going three times a week, and my membership also includes access to a lot of weight lifting machines. Since lifting weights is a varied activity, it doesn’t bore me to tears like hamster wheel activities do.

In addition to that, I still take walks and hikes with Ted.

This is all well and good, but there’s a great saying that goes, “you can’t outrun your fork.” What this refers to is that physical activity alone isn’t going to effect weight loss. It's easy to consume back the calories burned in even a strenuous workout and it’s a lot harder to burn a significant amount of them than people think. So I’m also using the Daily Plate (my favorite old standby) to track my calories and the quality of my nutrition.

I’ve found that when it comes to weight loss, loyalty to one specific method doesn’t really work for me. In order to continue and fight off boredom and diet fatigue, I’ve got to shake things up a bit. Zumba is my new shakedown.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Food Policing

Seriously. Don’t do this. Ever.

What follows is more or less a transcript of a conversation I had in my work break room this morning while I was trying to put together my morning cup of caffeine.

Me: Staring blankly into a very full refrigerator, trying to figure out where I left my little bottle of coffee creamer. A male co-worker came in (aged 50-something, generally a nice guy).

Him: Using the low, chastising tone of voice you use with your dog when you find them rooting through the kitchen trash, “get outta there.”
Me: Looking up in confusion, “excuse me?”
Him: “I said get outta there.”
Me: Further confused, “why am I not allowed to look in the fridge for my coffee creamer?”
Him: “Because that stuff is all junk.”
Me: Now angry, hurt, defensive, you name it… “well, when I desire an opinion on what I put in my body other than my own, I will be sure to come look for you.”
Him: “So in other words, shut up?”
Me: “Pretty much.”

Then, since I was hurt, angry, and defensive, I explained that my coffee creamer is fat and sugar free. Which I shouldn’t have, because it is in no way, shape or form anyone’s business other than my own what I am choosing for breakfast. He then food shamed me again because – chemicals.

He even said, “speaking as a diabetic; that artificial crap is worse for you than just eating sugar.”

Although I was feeling a strong desire to point out at that juncture that, although fat, I am not a diabetic (nor suffering from any weight-related complications) I simply took my coffee and left.

I wonder what he would have said if I hadn't identified that I was specifically looking in there for coffee creamer? His objection began when he came into the break room to find a fat girl peering into a fridge, so the fact that I was looking for food of any sort is what wasn't allowed. At my size I should be able to live comfortably off my fat stores for a few months, right? And according to him I need to do so until I stop shamefully taking up too much space.

Speaking as someone who does have an eating disorder, this kind of encounter can be incredibly harmful. Getting policed, shamed, and harassed for having the nerve to both be fat and eat in public is exactly why people retreat to eat in secret. And eating in secret is where binging occurs. I’ve struggled for years to find the courage to unapologetically eat in public – and when something like this happens it knocks me back down a peg like nobody’s business.

I reiterate, I know that intentions are good ones when this kind of conversation occurs. I know, and I don’t care.

Do. Not. Do. This. To. Anyone.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Why Sustained Weight Loss Fails

This isn’t meant to be the sum total of reasons why 95% of people can’t sustain significant weight loss, they’re just my personal observances on why it’s so very difficult for me.

1)      It often doesn’t feel worth it. To lose weight I have to be hungry a lot, for at least several hours every day, which is emotionally draining (see ego depletion). I also have to consider, weigh, measure, and catalogue everything I eat, which is tedious and (again) emotionally draining. In return, I get to look like a cloth bag stuffed with cotton. Some of the cotton slowly gets removed, but since the exterior bag is exactly the same size as before, it is now wrinkly and saggy and at 40 years of age (it might be slightly better if you are younger) the bag does not seem inclined to shrink at all. So as weight loss continues I can reasonably expect to look more and more like the saggy baggy elephant. With it being as emotionally draining as it is, this end result doesn’t really feel worth the difficulty of losing and then sustaining that loss which will need to continue every day for the rest of my life.
I have also become very physically uneven. I have a stomach that collapsed over itself when I got fat and in case that wasn’t gross enough, the right side hangs lower down than the left. My right thigh is larger than my left thigh (and the fat over my right knee sags down over the knee) and my left calf is larger than my right calf. Since I have never had what society deems to be a “hot body” I admit it’s probably psychologically easier for me not to look good than it would be for somebody who did (or does) look traditionally good. I’m used to not having a good looking body, I’ve never had one so I don’t even know what it’s like to. For this reason I have low expectations where my self-esteem is concerned. But since it’s such a daily struggle to maintain and keep losing weight and I now look in some ways even worse than before – why am I bothering?

2)      I’ve explained before how the body doesn’t know the difference between “healthy weight loss” and “starving” because… well… there is none. And when you starve your body it goes into a state of hyper vigilance waiting for an opportunity to not die when the calories it’s been deprived of are re-introduced. What this means is, I’m even more inclined toward weight gain than I was before. So the slightest slip up on my part can translate to putting pounds on at a truly terrifying speed. Also, when you starve your metabolism slows down to (again) try not to die because you are starving. So the more weight I lose, the less calories I need, the more daily hunger I have to endure to continue to lose weight and look even more saggy and droopy.

3)      I’m aware of the argument that I’m now “healthier” as a result of weight loss. Except… I wasn’t unhealthy before. Losing 70 lbs. has actually caused my blood pressure to elevate slightly. I guess this is a symptom of stress my body is showing because I’ve been living under starvation conditions for so long, but I can’t confirm that because there’s no doctor anywhere who will admit that “dieting” and “starving to death” are actually the exact same thing. However my joints function better, they will probably last longer, and I briefly experienced an improvement in my asthma symptoms (although they came back late this summer with a vengeance for reasons I can’t explain). I also have way better stamina, which feels good.

4)      Self-treating for an eating disorder is difficult and risky. For me, the reason for being overweight is that I suffer from B.E.D. (Binge Eating Disorder). There are effective treatments for this, but they are cost-prohibitively expensive, so I try to teach myself behavior modification techniques on my own using books. Behavior modification has statistically been shown to be the most effective treatment for my type of E.D. but the E.D. is not going away, and treating myself for it has limited effectiveness (some weeks I don’t binge at all, some weeks I binge every day). It just feels like an exhausting and never ending fight right now that I know I don’t have proper help for, and the help I really need I cannot afford.

So I admit, there have been positives. I look better in clothes (and worse out of them). Clothes shopping is easier. I have better stamina and endurance. I sweat less during everyday activities (I no longer sweat while taking a walk unless it’s particularly hot) but I still sweat like crazy and turn red as a beet during high impact workouts. I turn so red that occasionally someone will stop me and ask, “are you okay?” which is embarrassing. I seem to be one of those people that just easily turns red during exertion.

What is my point? I don’t know, I don’t really have one. I’m just venting out how I feel right now and how I feel is negative and tired. I’m sure I’ll feel better about the whole thing tomorrow. I might need to shake up my routine again and try something different.