What I Weigh … Today

I have a small confession to make here. I’ve kind of hidden this blog. It’s now tucked away behind a tab and not my home page anymore. Why? Because I need to go back to blogging about weight and I don’t need that to be my homepage. (Not that I think anyone will read this, but I should also say: Trigger warning! If you tend to stress and obsess about your weight please mosey along. I don’t need to bring you down in my stressing and obsessing, OK?)

At the end of January, two things happened at the same time. I completed a month-long elimination diet that I undertook primarily to clear up a non-healing sinus infection. I also got to work on a big, intense, stressful cookbook project that required me to make and eat dozens of rich, fattening, delicious dishes–often multiple times. On top of all the other work/stress going on in my life, I gained 15 pounds from the end of the elimination diet. I was 10 pounds up from a weight I could barely live with as it was but had been basically living with for a couple years.

OK, here’s the numbers. I reached my all-time high weight of 168 at the beginning of June. I know the BMI system is more or less bullshit, but for whatever reason, I decided to check my BMI. I learned I was 1 pound shy of obese. Now I realize BMI is a poor indicator of a person’s health or fitness, but it bothers me. I felt I was on the precipice of something. At 37, I’m legit middle aged, and it feels like this is the time of my life I could slip from chubby-but-healthy into obese-with-disease-red-flags very easily if I wasn’t paying attention.

And you know what? I wasn’t paying attention. Not to my weight. Not my own hunger and fullness signals. Not to the fact that in yoga I was starting to have to shove my own midsection out of the way to twist into poses. Not to the shrinking pool of garments I could squeeze into. Not to the sadness I felt when I saw myself in the mirror. Not to the frequent hangovers resulting from drinking I was doing to turn off the stress and sadness. I was only focused on my assignments, projects, and deadlines.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been following a self-styled wellness and weight loss program. It’s something of a mashup of everything that’s ever worked for me in the past plus one new approach. Let me break it down for you:

Food Tracking

I committed to doing this reluctantly. Reluctantly because I know it’s unsustainable to record everything I eat forever. But it’s been a very, very effective weight loss method for me in the past. I realized though I had to be aware of the pitfalls I’ve discovered along the way. Trying to adhere to a 1,200 calorie diet leaves me irritable and distracted. In fact, I didn’t want to impose any calorie limit on myself at all. I never want to feel like I’m truly hungry and can’t eat something because it isn’t in my calorie budget. For me this is about awareness. I want to eliminate unconscious and automatic eating. Writing everything down, neurotic and unsustainable as it is, makes me very aware of my food choices.

Intuitive Eating

Look I know that I have basically put myself on a diet though I vehemently hate diets. Even as I’m tracking what I’m eating, I’m constantly trying to make sure what I eat is in response to my own feelings of hunger and fullness. I have given myself full permission to eat whatever I want–I’m not banning anything from the program here. I just need to check in with myself about why I want to eat something, what is the right amount, and how it makes me feel.

Meal Planning and Home Cooking

I love restaurants, but restaurants are where I’m most likely to eat a 10,000 calorie meal. I need to really pick and choose when I eat out and put things in place to make eating at home the habitual, automatic thing that I do. Meal planning is a big part of this. I need to sit down over the weekend, plan out dinners for the whole week, write them on my calendar, make a shopping list, and go to the store. It sounds so simple, but this one thing may be the most important item on this list!

Weight Monitoring

I’ve always believed that for me daily weigh-ins help. It just prevents me from veering into deep denial territory. I get all the daily small fluctuations and they don’t faze me at all. But it’s that every-morning habit of stepping on the scale that keeps my eyes open to what is going on with me. It can really be a window into my unconscious behaviors–if I do it.

Moderate Drinking

Alcohol and mindless eating go together like margaritas and chips and salsa. Not to mention the fact that drink calories add up fast. I do best when I track and limit the number of drinks I have in a week. I use an app on my phone and I try to limit things to 7 drinks in any given week, 2 drinks on any given night. I also try to abstain two days a week.

Fitness

I bought myself an unlimited pass for the whole summer at the yoga studio I go to. I’ve been trying to get there four to five times a week. Additionally, I’ve been really trying to hit my 10K steps a day goal on my fitbit. For the moment, that’s the fitness program. I have some vague aspirations of perhaps going back to running in the fall, but for now walking and yoga, my two great loves, seem right.

Mindfulness

This is the new thing I’m trying. Mindfulness meditation. I’ve been reading Full Catastrophe Living and trying to focus on being present in my body and attentive to my breath a few minutes each day and especially when I’m in yoga. Stress, and disconnection from my body, seems to trigger a lot of the eating and drinking that’s gotten me into trouble with myself here. The more I can get a handle on that, the healthier I think I will be.

So, after two weeks of this I feel cautiously optimistic. I’ve lost about 5 pounds and feel physically and emotionally better already. I am reminding myself daily if not hourly to focus on how I’m feeling and what I’m doing more than on what I weigh. For better or worse, I want to lose weight. (You cannot imagine how much I wish this weren’t a priority. I have tried everything short of electric shock therapy to make this not important to me.) Simply not gaining more weight would be a good outcome. I don’t want to wake up at 40 and not recognize myself or feel ashamed of how look and uncomfortable in my own body.

Blogging this stuff out seems to help me. If anybody is here reading this please leave me comments if you have them. I’d love to connect with and support any fellow wellness-minded food lovers out there.

 

11 Responses to What I Weigh … Today

  1. bethh June 23, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    I’m reading :) It’s weird, I was just thinking about your blog and another one that hasn’t posted in just ages – it seems like the blogs I read are falling by the wayside and I miss some of the authentic voices I was able to visit with more often in the past. So yay for posting!

    It sounds like you’re working hard to keep yourself honest and informed without slipping over into judging and being angry/guilty, so that seems really healthy.

    I’m on a new fitness kick myself – I’m training for a big bicycle ride in September, but I’ve also added in running for the very first time in my life, along with roughly-weekly visits to a local pool. I’m struggling with making all the pieces fit while still giving my body time to recover from various bursts of activity.

    My weight issues are different from yours, though – at my absolute (rare!) lowest weight I’m still about one number below obese on the BMI chart, and more usually hover in the low-obese section. On the positive side, I usually stay within a 20-pound band of weight (if, admittedly, usually at the top end of it). Also, I don’t have the same emotions around weight that you do, for better or worse, I really don’t know! Anyway, I do want to lose another 15 pounds before September, but my main focus is feeling strong and healthy. The ride is going to be way challenging and I am not as far along in my training regimen as I’d like, due to life things that precluded riding a bike!

    • joymanning June 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      Hi, Bethh, thanks for your comment. Your training program sounds like a fun way to focus on fitness. I love biking but I’m really scared about biking in the street with cars! I really do think that the BMI chart is not especially useful and that many people are both fit and supposedly obese. I don’t know why I let it affect me.

      • bethh June 25, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

        I was lucky and had friends who were way into biking who pulled me along into that world. Now I’ve been biking for (wow) 17 years as an adult! It can be hairy but I feel very comfortable on my bike, and also live in a city that is super bike-aware.

  2. Julie June 24, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    I, too, am here and reading. I always thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and I am looking forward to hearing more from you. I’m sure there are many more people who are also reading, but lurking.

    This particular post struck a chord with me. I feel like I am right there with you, teetering on the edge of feeling that I have lost complete control with my weight. I know what I need to do, and yet somehow, the days slip away and I am just not doing it. Like you, I have been trying to get back to a more basic approach (10,000 steps/day, tracking, etc). Now I just need to stick with it.

    Glad you’re back, Joy!

    • joymanning June 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

      Hi, Julie, Thanks for chiming in. If you are a fellow fitbit wearer you should add me and we can cheer each other on. It really is a strange and disturbing feeling to just not even know really how you came to gain weight but that’s how it happens to everyone. My life long dream is a stable weight that seems to control itself. Is such a thing possible? Maybe for some people but it seems unattainable to me.

  3. Kitschenbitsch June 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    Still reading. :) Still trying myself to find a healthy, non-obsessive way to manage my weight… and struggling.

    • joymanning June 26, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      Kind of a life long struggle I guess, Kitschenbitsch :)

  4. katie June 26, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    reading. I too have always enjoyed your blogging for the mix of cooking and being conscious of your overall health state…and trying to make being conscious sustainable. and, I too am struggling to carve out time to be active, to eat with awareness, in the every day push of anxieties and business. brava for picking up the tools that have worked for you, and being open to new ones.

    • joymanning June 26, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

      Thanks, Katie. Thanks so much for commenting. It does seem like doing all the things you need to do feel your best tastes a lot of time! I do find when I’m really taking good care of myself I seem able to get more done.

  5. carosail July 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    What a lovely surprise to see you posting again, Joy. I”ve missed you and eagerly await the funny, kind, aware and inspiring blogs I know you will share. Good luck.

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