Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last Day Of July

 Today is the last day of July.  I've been on my journey down Highway 150 for a whole two months now. This two month mark is the first big rest area where I can pull off the road and think about my travels.  I can look back, thinking about where I started.  More importantly, I can look ahead to all the places I have yet to visit.  All in all, I'm glad that I began this journey down Highway 150. 

 I can't believe how much my life has changed in two months!  I eat healthy food in appropriate amounts, I exercise like a demon, and I have lost 35 pounds.  That's 10 percent of my body weight!  According to current wisdom, if I were to have my blood pressure and lab work checked, I should see a significant improvement in all the important numbers.  As for changes that I can see, I have more strength, more endurance, and more energy.  No one I know, other than family, has mentioned any change in my appearance, but I can see the differences.  I used to have one of those shelf booties, but the shelf is gone now.  My boobs stick out farther than my belly again, so I know my stomach is shrinking.  My arms are a little smaller, enough to make a difference in some of the shirts I like to wear to work. 

I have worked hard to make this weight loss effort a success.  I'm the one who makes good food choices, and I'm the one who finds the motivation to exercise at least four hours a week.  But I haven't been alone on my journey.  I have found my family and friends to be supportive.  And I have developed an online support system that rocks!  Everyone who reads and follows this blog is great, and those of you who comment just make my day!  I also have found friends at two online sites: and  Each of these sites has a different feel and a different set of characteristics that make them helpful in the war against blubber. allows members to join both large teams and small groups, and anyone can form a team or a group.  Members have easy to access daily log for thoughts, workouts, meals and snacks.  Each team and group has its own board for comments.  There are also a  number of other resources at PT that I have yet to explore. is a big, fancy website with many different types of resources.  "My Plate" allows users to log food intake and fitness efforts.  Nutrition and calorie-burning information is easy to determine and is nicely recorded.  Members can also join groups, accept dares, and connect with other users in many ways.  

Each site serves a different purpose for me. PEERtrainer allows me to connect with controlled numbers of people in my small groups.  In these groups I have found new friends to encourage and who encourage me.  Livestrong is the place where I keep track of my calorie intake and fitness goals and where I map my progress.

Recent research has shown that people who belong to online weight loss communities are more successful in their efforts to lose weight and change their lifestyles.  In this fight for my life, I'm ready to do anything and everything to increase my chances for success.  

Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing and encouraging.  It's time to hit the road again!  I'm back on Highway 150, heading for my destiny.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Long Week

It has been a long week.  I spent three days at a work conference.  I am less than one hour away from reaching my goal of getting 4+ hours of cardio this week.  I reached my other goal for the week, too.  I reintroduced fruit to my life!  I seriously thought it would make me stop losing weight.  Yeah, I know... that's really good scientific thinking for you.  Hey, I'm as irrational as everyone else.  Anyway, I'm down almost five pounds this week, so I must be on the right track.  Tonight, though, I'm wiped out from water jogging my ass off and from learning 800 million things this past three days. 

Don't give up, keep moving, and eat well.  I promise to write more tomorrow.  :-D

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Snakes and Onions

I am shedding my layers of fat the way a snake sheds its skin.  Unlike the snake, my process of shedding will continue through the loss of many layers until I finally feel that I am naked to the world.
I am an onion.  Every thin layer I peel from my self is another pound lost.

Losing weight is really about removing layers of artifice and camouflage.  We, who are fat, are hidden beneath layers of weight we do not need.  These layers pad us and cushion us and separate us from the world.  In some ways, they insulate us from aspects of life.  Fat people may not have as many relationships with other people.  We might not participate in as many activities.  We may hold ourselves apart, separated from others by our layers of protection.  It takes courage to begin to remove the layers and to continue to remove them until we expose our true selves.  I sometimes fear the person I will find when the shedding is done.  Other times I am giddy with anticipation at meeting the person who hides inside me.  Mostly, I harbor the simple hope that I will recognize myself when all the extra layers are gone and I am left with my one true self.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Food Rehab

I have a new idea.  I am going to commit an act of wanton gluttony and get myself sent to rehab.  Food rehab.  I will spend several months there, getting whipped into shape by a personal trainer and fed by a personal chef.  I will not be apologetic.  When people ask where I've been, I'll wave a careless hand and loftily announce that, "I was in rehab."  It seems to be so fashionable these days.  I want to jump on the trend.

Doesn't that sound great?  I would love to have someone take over the responsibility of feeding, watering and exercising me.  Of course, I'm one of those people who thinks that coming back as a dog in my next life would be a great thing.  Well, only if my human is the pampering kind.  The deal is off if my human intends to leave me staked out in the yard.  Yikes, I really do digress. Get back on track!

Being responsible for my own actions is of utmost importance to me.  I have learned to be accountable for my actions.  I do this personally and professionally.  So.... I have to tell you that today was a nutritional nightmare.  I was weak today.  For the first time in ages I ate a package of processed snack foods.  Then, I ate a snack bar.  I felt like I was eating candy.  Okay, it wasn't all that bad.  The snacks were 100 calorie brownie bites and the snack bar was a Fiber One bar.  I was sitting in a class for work all day.  I needed both of those snacks. (Can you hear the whine?)  There, I confessed.  I'm not perfect.  I strive for perfection, but I find it to be an elusive goal.  Truthfully, I'm rather proud of myself for not partaking of the homemade cookies and brownies; the packages of Fritos, chips and Doritos; and the assorted chocolates and candies. 

I have more class time this week.  I promise to pack a salad and fruit tomorrow.  FRUIT!  I started to eat fruit again.  I continue to be afraid that the fruit will stop my weight loss progress.  It's all sugary and delicious.  Fruit is nature's candy.  

I am amazed by how much my view of food has changed in the past few months.  I'm really doing quite well with my daily food intake, today excluded.  I think I'm getting more comfortable with food.  I do know that I don't feel as threatened by food.  Except for the fruit.  Fruit is going to be scary for a bit longer.  Figuring out good nutrition and exercise regimens is gradually starting to become slightly enjoyable.  (Can you hear the enthusiasm?) 

I still think it would be easier to deal with food decisions if I could go to Food Rehab...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ten Things I Hate About Being Fat

10. Being cautious about walking in nylon workout pants.  Rubbing thighs and nylon?  That's a potentially flammable situation.

9.   Feeling like I have to explain to fellow shoppers and cashiers that it ISN'T for ME whenever I buy ice cream, candy, or baking ingredients for work or a family birthday.  Mind your own business, you sanctimonious &%^*$#.

8.   Clothing manufacturers who think that fat people want to wear shirts with super short sleeves.  This makes me want to scream.  Who wants to wear shirts with tiny sleeves when your arms look like lumpy hams??

7.  People who repeatedly encourage me to eat desserts.  C'mon people!

6.  Having weird squishy lumpy dumpy parts sticking out everywhere on my body.  Why couldn't I be one of those fat people whose fat is all tightly packed and sausage-like?  I am all soft and doughy.

5.  Not being able to sit in a standard beach chair.  I actually squashed one once.  THAT was humiliating.

4.  Tiny bathroom stalls.  If this has ever been an issue for you, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.  I know they are designed by skinny men who never... sit.

3.   Elastic waist pants.  Oh how I hate you, elastic waist pants.

2.   Being treated as though I am invisible.  Hellooooo!  Fat person here!  How could you possibly miss seeing ME?  For pete's sake....

And the number one thing I hate about being fat...

1.   People who think that, because I am fat, I must be stupid.  That ticks me off like nothing else.

What do you hate??  Let me know!

Monday, July 26, 2010


There is a great impatience inside of me.  It pushes at my skin as it tries to break free.  I want to hit my milestones much faster than is humanly possible, but that does not mean I will not try.  There are things I want to do!

When I first began losing weigh and getting fit, my goals centered around clothes.  I imagined walking into stores and trying on outfits, finally able to choose items that flattered me the most instead of simply choosing clothing that fit.  I have always looked forward to having that choice.

Today, I read a forum post made by a woman who is now a fraction of the size she used to be.  Although she is now able to fit into much smaller clothes, she is still unhappy with her size.  She still feels large.  I fully empathize with her sense of discouragement.  I will feel the same way for a very long time.  After reading her comment, I realized that my excitement about new clothes had abated somewhat.  Because it will be such a long time before I look the way I want, am the size I want to be, I decided that I must develop some newer, better goals.  I need interim goals.

My first goal, as a reward for losing thirty pounds, will be to join the gym.  Many people view going to the gym as a painful necessity instead of a reward.  Not me.  Nope.  The gym is closer to my home than "my" pool, and the gym has air conditioning.  It's summer in the south.  Need I say more on that subject?  Yes, I do.  Exercising outside when the humidity is 60 to 95+% for more than five months is something akin to self torture.  

My second goal will be to add activities back into my life as they become possible.  I want to ride my bicycle.  I want to go canoeing and kayaking.  I want to be able to hike for hours.  I want to try riding a jet ski.  I want to try windsurfing and kite boarding.  The list of things I want to be able to do is virtually endless.  I will participate in each of these activities as soon as I can.  Each one will be a gift I give myself.

I have ambitions, and I have dreams.  Now, I have real goals that mean more to me than outfits ever could.  Instead of allowing my goals to center on my wardrobe, I will allow my goals to reflect my capabilities.  I am not what I look like, I am not a size or a set of measurements.  I am what I do.  I will do it all.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thoughts About Food

I am afraid of food.  It makes me nervous.  Food has the power to sustain life, but it also has the power to take life.  Eat the right things, and you'll live a long and healthy life.  Eat the wrong things, and you'll be doomed to a terrible lifelessness.  Some foods will magically reverse the signs of aging, and other foods cause the body to rot and fester.  Nutritionists and dietitians all seem to have competing agendas.  Makers of processed foods seem hell bent on enticing and cajoling us into premature death by partaking of their quick-to-fix mealtime solutions.  Restaurants are the trickiest. 

We go to restaurants for the ambiance, the luxury of having a talented chef prepare meals for us.  Have you SEEN how they cook??  Yes, the food is delicious.  Yes, I am envious of their talent and creativity.  But the fat!  The salt!  The very things that make the food delicious are the very things that are most likely to kill me.  I am afraid to eat in restaurants.  I know that every tasty bite I take is another day or week off the end of my life.

Sometimes I feel like the paranoid monarchs of old who employed food tasters to ensure no one poisoned them through their food.  I would like to have someone to test the dangers of my food before I eat it.  Of course, I would have to wait ten, twenty, fifty years before I could evaluate the damage of saturated fat, sodium, preservatives, and other evils on my food taster.  Alas, this is not a practical solution.  My solution?  I cook.  I micromanage my kitchen.  I assess and evaluate every drop of oil and every grain of salt that finds its way into the food I eat.  I am obsessed. 

When I go off track and eat wantonly, my gluttony is a shadow of its former self.  Instead of eating a half gallon of ice cream* I eat extra sticks of string cheese.  If I am feeling daring, I dip those sticks into salsa or another salty condiment.  And then I fret.  I fret about sodium content.  I fret about the fat in cheese.  As I lie in bed at night I can feel the cheese attaching itself to the walls of my coronary arteries, and I am afraid.

I am working on channeling that fear.  Now that I have truly adjusted my food intake in favor of a healthier way of eating, I am ready to further refine the quality of the food I eat.  My desire, my goal, is to make as many things as I can from scratch.  I want to control what goes into my food.  Take ranch dressing, for example.  I love it, I eat it every day.  It is easy to buy in the store, but it is almost as easy to make at home.  I can do that.  I do not need to buy veggie burgers; I can make them myself.  I do not need to eat sliced chicken or turkey from the deli; I can cook it and slice it myself.  Taking control of my food, like taking control of my activity level, is simply one more weapon in my arsenal.  I am in a battle for my life, and I need to use all of the cunning and strategy I can muster.

* One of my pet peeves is the down-sizing of ice cream cartons by companies who then market a  "20% bonus" carton that STILL doesn't add back up to a half gallon.  Not that I eat ice cream anymore.  Sigh.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Can No Longer Sit Still

What has happened to me??  I want to wail.  Sometime in the past two months I turned a major corner in my life.  I was a very happy couch potato.  I used to lounge around and watch TV like a champion wastrel.  

My absolute favorite TV shows are the ones that feature competing chefs:  Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Next Food Network Star, Chopped, and the creme de la creme... Top Chef Masters.  I LOVE these shows, and I can watch them for hours.  I even watch the reruns, watching carefully for tricks and tips I might have missed the first time.  Strangely enough, I have found that I do not actually have to eat food to enjoy it.  I can watch people cook great food on TV and be as satisfied as if I had eaten it myself.  If I could market this quirk, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams.  I'll let you know if I ever figure it out.  But, back to my laziness...

So, there  I was, watching Chopped.  The couch was soft and squishy, the house was cool, and I was slouched down amongst the cushions.  I was happy.  Knives were flying, appliances were whirling, stoves were flaming, and pans were burbling away.  And then, something extraordinary occurred.  My gaze kept shifting from the TV to the aerobic step sitting next to the coffee table.  I recently dug that step out from under a box of still-too-small clothes hidden deep in a closet.  It sits on the floor near the TV in case I ever feel motivated to use it.  The day I got it out, I managed to step for 2 minutes before flopping back on the couch.  

Tonight, however, I could not stop looking at that step.  Finally, with a sigh of disgust, I hauled myself up off the couch and went to change out of my work clothes.  I came back in shorts and sneakers, and ... I can barely say this next part.  I looked at the couch, looked at the step, and THEN I STEPPED.  Left foot first, for a minute... right foot first for a minute...  I thought, "I should be done by now," but noooooo.  I KEPT STEPPING.  After a few minutes I started stepping up sideways, leading with one foot and then switching to the other.  Ten minutes later I finally gave out and sat back down.  Ten minutes.  That is five times as many minutes as the first time.  I felt like I was possessed.

I am a giant, fat sloth, not an... athlete!  Given a choice between lounging and leaping, I choose comfort every time!  I have no athletic tendencies!  Except, I really do.  I used to bike, and canoe, and sail, and kayak, and hike, and backpack.  I even went rock climbing a few times.  Some vestigial remnant of the person I used to be must have been living inside me all these years.  I have reawakened a sleeping dream.  I have reconnected with a part of myself I thought I had lost forever.  My hope is a living, breathing entity that I am setting free to help me shrink my body and expand my capabilities.  I am alive with wonder and the promise of a future I had given up hope of ever seeing.  I am going to be the person I always wanted to be.. and that is more than I ever thought possible.

I am alive with wonder.

Blog Hop

Here is my first attempt at linking to a Blog Hop!  I stumbled upon a few of the blogs in the hop and, shy creature that I am, I slapped my name onto the list!  I'm telling you, this blogospherical world of linkiness is all new to me, and I think it's fantastic.   Enjoy what everyone has to say!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I think, as adults, we tend to forget the joy we experienced as children.  One of the simplest of childhood joys was the movement of our bodies.  If you have ever seen an infant kicking its legs and waving its arms, you have seen the joy of movement.  If you have watched a small child spin around with arms flying, trying to lift straight up off the ground, you have seen the joy of movement.  Children instinctively know they want to move.  As we age, our responsibilities begin to tether us to earth, holding us back and keeping us from moving as freely and joyfully as we did as children.  Some people manage to hold onto their passion for movement and remain athletes throughout life.  Others succumb to the pressures of life and become sedentary and still.

I have always wanted to run.  As a small child, I never walked.  I ran from place to place, from one adventure to another.  When I grew older, I tried to keep running, but pain in my knees kept me from flying along.  As I grew older still, I found myself slowing down to the point of trudging along through life.  Sooner than I had anticipated, I knew I was only a few years away from developing a discouraged, shuffling gait.  My body plodded along, but in my heart I still wanted to run.

I have always been able to run in my dreams.  In that ethereal world of possibilities, I can run like the wind.  On rare occasions I do fly in my dreams, but I am much more likely to find myself pounding along a wooded trail, my feet kicking up leaves and dodging loose stones.  At a bend in the trail, I might swing around a small tree and then power up and over a mountain ridge.  All too soon, as if I am not allowed to linger too long in that world of freedom, I also wake up.  I wake up grounded, saddened by my loss of speed and exhilaration.  

I have found a way to run during my waking hours.  In the shallow end of the pool, buoyed by water, I am able to run until my legs are weak and my soul is clean.  Fortunately for my still-way-too-large behind, I am also able to run off a great number of calories. In the water, as in my dreams, I am moving, sometimes joyfully, sometimes grudgingly, but always moving.  In those moments I am, once again, a child.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bat Wings

I wish my arms would shrink at the same rate my rear end is shrinking.  I have really fat arms.  We're talking pterodactyl-sized bat wings.  Seriously, I could knock someone unconscious with a simple wave.  I feel like I should have liability insurance for my arms.  I could be in a commercial for some creepy lawyer referral service.  "Have you or someone you love been injured by a mega bat wing?  Call today!"

Really, what is this arm business all about?  I am terrified that I will lose all the extra weight and become perfectly normal-sized except for the floppy hams hanging off my upper arms.  I was examining the skin on my arms yesterday.  It's all soft and crepe-y like the skin on elderly people.  My grandmother had skin like that.  When did I get old enough to have arm flap skin like my grandmother??

Now I'm convinced that I will need one of those sculpting surgeries to remove my wings.  I do not want to have arm seams!  How will I pay for them?  So many things to worry about.  I hate scars in sensitive areas.  They itch and tingle and take forever to toughen up.  But, I'm tough.  I can handle just about anything . What if I end up looking like a football?  Stitched-up pigskin... now that hits a bit too close to home.  Maybe I could get a nice set of tattoos along the seams that say, "In case of emergency, pull tab."  Of course, I would need nice little zipper pulls inked on there too.

Now, some of you might be thinking that I am awfully optimistic about all the changes I see happening in the future.  My problem is that, in my mind's eye, I am already at the end of my weight loss journey.  I have visualized my success so well that I sometimes forget that I have just barely started down the road.  I just hopped onto Highway 150 a month and a half ago, but mentally I am already kicking back at the end of the trip.  I can picture the scene in my mind.  There I am, sitting in an Adirondack chair, out at the end of a dock, cool beverage in hand.  I'll be the one in the tank top, waving my arms with wild abandon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This Is My Challenge

One of my closest friends is going through some tough times.  She is stuck in a place in her life that she is trying desperately to escape.  It isn't anything terribly drastic, just an overwhelming number of things to deal with, the worst of which is the real estate market.  She feels like she is juggling with leaden feet.  Every day she is faced with these problems and a situation that is largely out of her control.  I, on the other hand, am dealing with challenges that I can control.  Every step I take, every hour that I exercise, every morsel of food I put in my mouth, is something I have chosen.  There is tremendous power in choice.

Of course, with power comes responsibility.  Because I have the power to face my challenges, I also have the responsibility to follow through.  I cannot allow myself to fall into the trap of blaming genetics or the stresses of my life.  I do not have the luxury of saying, "I cannot control this, so I will not even try."  That is an excuse, a cop out.  I have no use for excuses.  Wait!  Don't think that I am heartless.  I do understand excuses.  I know why people use them.  I do not intend to judge anyone who succumbs to them.  Excuses are convenient, they are insidious, and it is so easy to fall under their spell.  In my own life, however, I refuse to fall prey to the seductive siren song of blaming anyone or anything, even myself.  My appearance, the person I am, is what it is.  I am a creature of my own design.  I have the power to change myself.  I reinvent myself every day, with every decision I make.

The decisions I made today included cleaning my home environment, eating healthy and nutritious food, and accomplishing sixty minutes of moderately high energy aerobic exercise.  I love that I have the luxury of being able to do all of these things for myself and that I have the privilege of free time in which to do them.  I love my life!

Monday, July 19, 2010

My first follower and a few bags of flour

Oh my gosh.  I have a follower.  This is very exciting!  My first one!  Thank you!

I started this blog so that I would have a record of my journey, but I'm glad that I can share it with others.  This would be a long, lonely road if I had to go it alone.  For everyone out there who is looking for a weight loss road trip companion, hope in the van... we're hitting the open road.

I'm leaving deconstructed bread crumbs along my road to 150.  These crumbs are not intended to lead me back to my origin, but to mark my passage along this route.  And these are not ordinary deconstructed bread crumbs; they are bags of flour.  Are you with me?  A bag of flour weighs five pounds.  A bag of rice weighs one pound.  A bag of potatoes might weigh ten pounds.  Instead of thinking of nebulous "pounds lost," I prefer to think in terms of items I have hoisted around.  I can imagine how much a can of beans weighs (almost a pound).  I know that a gallon of water feels a bit more than eight pounds.  These items are real.  

When I lose a pound, I picture a can of beans plonking on the side of the road.  When I lose five pounds, I visualize a bag of flour falling from my body.  The mental image of a big poof of white dust as the bag hits the road at 70 mph is definitely a bonus.  

I am losing more than pounds disguised as grocery items.  I am losing fear and shame.  I am losing low self-esteem and embarrassment.  I am losing that moment when I realize that I am barely going to fit into the restaurant booth.  I am losing the feeling of horror when I find out that I can't sit in the cheap plastic chair at the outside table at the cafe.  I am losing the desire to stay home instead of joining friends simply because I'm not sure of the arrangements and don't know if I will, literally, fit in. With every bag of flour that hits the highway, I am transforming myself into a whole new person.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oh, Beast!

I HATE the word obese.  It sounds ugly and greasy.  I glare at everyone who uses the "O" word, especially "normal weight" people.  What was wrong with the other words?  Chubby, chunky, porky, fatty... Why did we have to resort to using a word that carries stigma and bigotry in its oily unctuousness?  

Discrimination against fat people is pervasive in our society.  Nancy Snyderman appears on the Today show and tells people that overweight employees are expensive and risky.  Commercials appear on TV heralding the dangers of childhood ohbeastity.  Some day I expect to leave my house to find a mob of villagers with torches and pitchforks ready to run me out of town.  I want to tell people to be patient with me.  Totally overhauling one's lifestyle is a difficult and lengthy process.  And another thing... I'm quitting my fatness, when will you quit smoking?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Living with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is thought to be the result of miscommunication in the body's nervous system.  There are theories about neurotransmitter deficiencies, improper firing of synapses, etc.  Someday, researchers will figure it out.  Until then, FM is defined by its tender points.  There are a number of painful spots on the body that are common to nearly all people with FM.  The current diagnosis of FM depends on hypersensitivity in at least 11 of 18 pairs of these tender points.  These spots hurt when we touch them.  Press deeply on them, and we may very well kick you.

There are other symptoms associated with FM: poor sleep, fatigue, "fibro fog", etc.  The list is long, and not every person with FM has every symptom on the list.  These varied symptoms make it a difficult condition to diagnose and manage.  For many years, physicians and other health care providers discounted FM.  Before I finally got my diagnosis, I had been told by a rheumatologist that I should never mention FM because my doctors would immediately write me off as a hypochondriac.  A physical medicine and rehab specialist told me that FM was a "wastebin diagnosis" and, were she to apply it to me, I would be forever labeled as a complainer and a difficult patient.  A third physician, an internist, told a relative of mine that he "disliked FM patients" and did not want me as a patient.  When I finally found a physician who understood FM, he immediately tried to prescribe a very potent narcotic for my pain.  In the end, I found a rheumatologist who actually knew something about FM and started me on simple pain medicine cocktail that involved no controlled substances.  He was the first person who started me on the course back to a stress-free life.  The important thing to remember about FM is that it is real, it is documented, and it is manageable.

How do I live with FM?  First, I take four pills that make up my pain medicine regimen.  Narcotics have been shown repeatedly to be ineffective in treating FM.  I do not want them, and I will not take them.  Two of the pills I take are over the counter, and the other two are a mid-level pain medication.  I usually need that combo only once a day.  The second issue is sleep.  People with FM must get the best sleep they can in order to keep symptoms under control.  I use a CPAP machine to help ensure that I get effective, uninterrupted sleep.  Third, I exercise.  Moderate exercise has been proven to alleviate FM symptoms and keep them in check.  I am up to four hours of aerobic exercise a week.  And that's it.  That is how I do live with FM.  

Five years ago I was unable to work more than 3 hours at a time.  Now, I can work an 8 hour day with no problem.  For someone who used to work 24 hours a day, this is a big step in the right direction.  I am hoping that by losing all my extra weight, I will be able to take that last step toward working regular shifts again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

From A Gray Day to Sunnier Skies

I missed my post yesterday.  I also missed my exercise in the pool.  Yesterday was an ugly gray day, and there were thunderstorms all afternoon.  There’s nothing like a thunderstorm in the south in the summer.  We get big lightning and heavy rain.  And when the rain stops, the air so hot and humid and heavy it sometimes makes me feel like I’m a fish breathing under water.

I spent the day watching TV and napping.  I read a bit, too.  I think I was generally avoiding the entire idea of being a member of polite society.  It’s good to step back from the world once in a while.  We have so many demands on us these days that sometimes we need to play hooky from our regular lives.  I don’t mean just taking a day off from work, although those days are necessary as well  I mean take a day off.  No chores, no errands, no blogging, no responsible behavior, no demands.  Yesterday was my day off.

  The sun is out today, and I am back.  I am here.  I am present in the moment. I have eaten nothing unwarranted today.  I plan to get in the pool after work today.  I need to lose more pounds and get strong.  I have important things to do in my life.  The battle continues.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The First Month

The first step I took on my journey toward 150 was what I like to call "pre-diet preparedness."  I think a soft start to dieting produces better results, so I began weaning myself off the most unhealthy foods even before my diet officially started.  The first to go was ice cream, followed by fruit juice.  Those two things are chock full of empty calories.  The next thing to go was bread and pasta.  I had already made a switch to whole wheat bread and pasta, but I decided to remove them both from my food options.  After a week or so of clearing the house of "bad carbs," I jumped back onto the South Beach band wagon.

I really like the South Beach plan.  Yes, it is restrictive, especially in the first phase, but the results are fantastic.  There's nothing better than immediate gratification when one begins a life-altering change in eating habits.  I lost 20 pounds in the first month.  Did I stick to SB the whole time?  No.  No, I didn't.  After a week and a half on Phase 1, I had recurring stomach pain from eating so many vegetables.  So, I reintroduced a few grain-based products:  whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat sandwich rounds, and an occasional serving of fiber/protein-enriched pasta.  I limited the new carbs to once or twice a day, and that eliminated my stomach pain.  Then I started cheating after the second week.  I didn't stray from my meal plan regularly, but I did occasionally partake of some forbidden food.  My transgressions were not without merit.  I didn't cheat by eating donuts or chips ahoy.  I had quality cheat food.  One day I had a bit of coconut gelato.  Another day, I had a piece of wonderfully fresh garlic bread.  On another occasion I had a few nacho chips.  I just love those!  The point is that I have every right to eat whatever I want, as long as I do it with my eyes wide open.

Learning to eat consciously was the first step in my development of a mature relationship with food.  I control the food, the food doesn't control me.  I have acknowledged that there are consequences related to food decisions.  Before, I ate whatever tasted good, what satisfied a momentary craving, or even just what was available.  Now I query every item of food that I eat.  I consider different factors: is it healthy, does it contribute to good nutrition, am I reaching for it out of habit, or is it going to satisfy some need that I cannot satisfy any other way, is eating this item worth the negative stress it puts on my weight loss progress.  If I cannot answer truthfully, I do not eat whatever has tempted me.  These days, when I eat food, I do it with a sense of awareness; food does not jump into my mouth.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Idea Takes Shape

After my friend seeded the idea of returning to EMS in my head, I started thinking... maybe I really could be a medic again.

Of course, I immediately had doubts.  The doubts didn't just creep in, they arrived like banshees.  Champion pessimist that I am, I immediately started throwing one roadblock after another into my path:  I've gotten really fat, it's been five years since I was a medic, I would have to start at the beginning, how would I handle taking a basic EMT class, and on and on.

I decided to take a step back and take some time to think things through.  I took each issue and examined it from all sides.  First and foremost is my health.  Fibromyalgia is an insidious condition that manifests in many ways.  It can cause pain, weakness, fatigue, and an occasional mental confusion we like to call "fibro fog."  But, FM does not need to be debilitating.  I have found, through trial and error, that a creative approach to FM has largely beaten my symptoms into submission.  As for my previous injury, upon reflection, I realized that I had not had any pain from those joints in a very long time.  Apparently, time had neutralized that problem as well.  The time has been five years since I ran my last call.  My certifications have expired, and I am well past the golden window of opportunity for re certification.  I would have to start from the beginning.  At first I rebelled against the idea of taking an EMT-B class.  But, I talked to a few people and every one of them told me I was thinking like an idiot.  They told me not to be embarrassed, that I wasn't really starting over; I was returning from an injury.  They told me to be proud of myself for having the courage to get back into the game.  Okay... health and time aside, that left one big issue, pun fully intended.  I had to face the fact that I have gone way past statuesque to health-threateningly fat.  I am a big fatty!

I have always been big.  Not 10 or 20 pounds over, but BIG.  I was always strong, though, and I was reasonably fit for someone of my size.  I went to the gym, did cardio and weight training, and was always able to do my job well.  I knew that I could lose the weight and get back into fighting condition.  I decided to do it.  I decided to go for the gold.  And that is where this story really begins.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Backstory

Five years ago, I suffered a cumulative stress injury that effectively ended my career as a field paramedic.  I had been a medic for more than a decade.  After months of physical therapy, I was forced into a very early retirement.  I packed up my uniforms and boots, packed up my books and field guides, hung up my stethoscope, and walked away from EMS.  I tried not to look back. 

Today I work in a very staid environment.  I enjoy my job.  I get to help people find solutions to problems, I interact with a wide range of peopl eon a daily basis, and I have some leeway to do my job as I see fit.  What I don't have, however, is a patch on my arm and boots on my feet.  I haven't saved a life in a very long time.

About a month ago, a friend began a persistent campaign for my return as a medic.  I laughed at him.  We'd been through this before.  "I can't do that," I said.  I reminded him that I hadn't just been injured, but that my injury had morphed into fibromyalgia.  People with FM do not work as medics.  Besides, I have gotten old and fat since the last time he saw me.  Okay, I was fat even then, but sitting on my rear for the past five years has greatly exacerbated the problem.  In the past, my friend had sympathized with my troubles and let the issue drop.  This time, though, he wouldn't let it go so easily.  He told me to get off my ass, rejoin the gym, start studying, and go for the gold.  This time I listened. What if I could be a medic again?  The idea began to take shape...