Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Bad the Rest of You Looks Like Hell

These are the words (in my head) that complete the end of the sentence that begins, "you have such a pretty face...," which many of us with mega pounds to lose have heard through the years.

I guess people really think saying we have pretty faces is a compliment, but would they isolate only the faces of thin girls as pretty? No -- they are just pretty.

It's been years since I've heard this compliment (?!) myself now that I'm approaching the half-century mark, however, the memories came flooding back due to a Facebook post recently.

My mother posted a photo of my 21-year-old daughter who happens to have inherited her father's genes and is not heavy. My mother's friend commented that, "she was beautiful." My mother's reply was, "she looks just like her mother." Her friend then had to add, "yes, Dee has a very pretty face." Ugh -- I hated to not only hear it again, but see it in print for others to view as well.

Now I'm not a spiteful person, but if I were, I might say to these people, "you have such a thin and shapely body -- too bad your face looks like hell."

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Coconut Diet

Okay, I admit that this is a hokey title for a book and probably one that is hard to take seriously, but it does exist.

I requested it from the library after reading various articles on the benefits of coconut oil, which is easy to find if you search online.

The diet itself is basically low-carb, but not the "eat tons of bacon and hamburgers" kind of low-carb. Carbohydrates are mostly in the form of fruits and vegetables rather than processed white flour/sugar products. The diet also encourages the addition of healthy fats, like coconut oil and olive oil.

Since giving the Coconut Diet a try, I've been steadily losing weight. No big surprise since we all know that the equation is basically calories taken in minus calories expended equals weight loss.

However, the eye-opener for me was feeling satisfied and NOT hungry. After all my many years of dieting, I swore off diets about 15 years ago because I was tired of STARVING. Rationally, I know at my size it is pretty impossible to truly starve, however, I hated the fact that ANY diet meant being constantly hungry and thinking only about food and what I could eat at my next meal.

So currently I am low-carbing it in a healthy manner and for me it seems to be working. On the occasions where I have had some ice cream or indulged in some cookies, I've still lost weight, but the cravings for more sweets intensifies to binge proportions. So, at least for me it's best that I keep those treats to a minimum, not because I'm denying myself or feel that the food is "bad," but I've learned that I do not like the way those types of food makes me feel.

I've found that sticking to real foods is best as even low-carb processed snacks or Atkins-type bars can slow weight loss or lead to wanting more "junk." Staying away from artificial sweeteners (diet soda mostly) is important to me because of the dangers of aspartame and others, but also because they induce cravings as well.

I often repeat to myself the opening words in the introduction of Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

It just makes sense, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Food is a Drug

I often think about drug addicts or alcoholics and how difficult it must be for them to stop using the substances that are killing them and ruining their lives, because I am an addict also. My drug of choice is food. It's legal and readily available everywhere I look.

It's not illegal to eat while driving, but get caught with an open can of beer or some leftover pot, and I could go to jail. It also wouldn't be appropriate to pull out my crack pipe or Jack Daniels bottle and indulge at work, but no one has a problem with my Dunkin Donuts Coolatta and sugary coffee roll snack at 10 AM.

The evidence that I overeat? I'm fat. I can still go to work as a fat person. I couldn't go to work as a drunk.

I've always known I've had a problem with food, but the last few years I've really zeroed in on how it makes me feel. When I'm upset or anxious, something sugary, doughy, or creamy calms me right down. Within minutes of the carbs hitting my bloodstream, a soothing feeling washes over me. Other times when I'm nervous or angry, something crunchy like chips or cookies are what I crave. The physical act of chewing or chomping is what makes me feel better.

Pre-Diabetic or Just Carb Sensitive?

I started to notice the effect simple carbohydrates had on my body and mind after our weekly Saturday pizza outing routine a couple of years ago. Feeling sluggish and foggy in the brain; unable to attempt any activity of value, I'd come home and nap for a few hours. What a waste of a day off. Paying attention to this, I started to balance any kind of sugary or white carb food with extra protein or fat to slow the absorption into my system. All this did was help me pack in twice as many calories.

In order to beat the dieting roller coaster I knew it would be necessary to avoid the foods that have always given me the most pleasure -- anything made with white flour and sugar. I seriously believe these two ingredients are the devil. One tiny slip of a nibble and the cravings for MORE begin. It's a vicious cycle that makes it difficult for me to be successful on any eating plan that allows me to eat "whatever I want" in moderate portions.

After all, no drug rehab program would allow an addict to use a "moderate" amount of cocaine or heroin each day. That type of plan requires more self-control than I possess.

Photo Credit: Nara Vieira da Silva Osga, Brazil

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Losing It Again for Good

I have been fat my entire life, except for a brief few years when I experienced life as a thin person after losing 100 pounds.

I was 21 years old and woke up the day after a bad breakup and decided I no longer wanted to settle for less. Less was a man who cheated on me every chance he got. He was also my FIRST serious boyfriend, so I guess I felt fortunate to have someone - anyone who said he loved me.

I started a diet that day that lasted an entire year and helped me shrink from 218 pounds to 118 pounds. I was oddly determined and believe it or not, I NEVER cheated that entire year. I stuck to the plan, which was basically the Weight Watchers Quick Start plan (1984 -- before the Points system). I didn't join WW this particular time, but borrowed the booklet from a friend. Quick Start was about 800 calories a day -- I didn't realize that it was only meant to be for the first few weeks to give weight loss a boost.

It certainly was not easy. Every night at 7:00 PM I would ceremoniously eat my last morsel of food for the day, a red delicious apple. By bedtime my stomach would be noisily churning with hunger. I couldn't wait until morning when I could have my next meal of 1/2 a banana; 1/2 cup of skim milk; and 3/4 cup of Special K for breakfast. I thought I was so clever putting pressure on my empty belly by sleeping on my stomach to quiet the rumbling.

Was life all fairy tales and happiness after losing 100 pounds? At first, yes it was. It was a major accomplishment and one I had dreamed of my entire 21 years of life. I remember thinking that it only took me one year -- why had I given up so many times before?

Everything was a double-edged sword though. All of a sudden men noticed me, which was amazing, but weird. I had never really thought about the fact that men looked past me before as they would a boulder standing in their lines of vision. Suddenly they were turning their heads to check me out as I walked past.

My body looked great -- in clothes. The possibility of sagging flesh never entered my mind, however, when I sat down, the skin on my legs spread out like pancake batter on a hot griddle. At the gym in my leotard (hey, it was the 80's), I would get on all fours to do leg lifts and my excess stomach skin would fall toward my belly button and puddle inside the stretchy Lycra. I NEVER wore a bathing suit. It was a huge disappointment.

Back then I had never heard of weight loss surgery, as it seemed there were very few obese people like myself. To illustrate my point, there was only ONE Lane Bryant plus-sized clothing store in our entire state, and it was tailored towards mature women. As a teenager, I squeezed into as many local x-larges that I could find and relied on the Levi's store (now the Gap) sized 38 waist jeans and corduroy pants to form my wardrobe. When my father passed at 13 years-old, my mother and I drove almost two hours to the Lane Bryant store to find a funeral-appropriate outfit. I was so embarrassed to have to shop there.

Shopping for clothes as a thin woman should have been fun, but it freaked me out. I had always just gone to the very end of every rack to flip through the narrow selection of the largest possible size in only a few limited stores. Suddenly I could shop anywhere in the whole mall? It was overwhelming to have so many choices. I would always pick the wrong size, bring it into the dressing room and be shocked that it was too big. It was strange not knowing my own body. As a fat girl, I had always fantasized about wearing clothing that hugged my body and showed off my curves. The year that I got thin, do you know what was in fashion? Dirndle skirts!!!!!! Basically a skirt with hundreds of gathers and folds that made you look three times your size.

Lightheartedness aside -- staying thin was a struggle for many reasons that I won't go into in this post. When the weight crept back up after a few years and it was clear that my thin days were history, I was somewhat relieved to stop the dieting rollercoaster. I had a glimpse of the other side and found that it wasn't as magical as I thought it would be.

Here I am today at 47-years-old and 255 pounds -- ready to tackle this demon once and for all. I know there won't be a rainbow and pot of gold at the end of my journey this time, but I do know that I will have more energy; will be able to move my body around less cumbersomely; and will hopefully be able to avoid many of the family diseases that are headed my way if things don't change.