What I Can Do..

I’ve learned a lot over the last 14 months.  Where I began seems a lifetime away from where I am right now. I hope in another 14 months I will have learned just as much more.

In a way, I am still doing exactly what I set out to do, which is improve my health and defeat my insulin resistance issues. The difference now, is, that I am more focused on building a body that is capable. I want to be able-bodied in the most straight-forward sense. I want to do things.

Initially, rather naively, I thought losing weight alone would achieve that for me, and in some ways, it has. I no longer carry around the burden of 115 extra pounds. This is good. But, somewhere along the way, I have discovered that losing weight does not equal being healthy or able-bodied. I realized that not only did I want to be less fat, but I wanted to be stronger.

I’ve mentioned many times before that I don’t really have much in the way of equipment for strength training. I use body weight exercises and have a set of adjustable dumbbells with a total of 40lbs at my disposal. I have to say, it is pretty amazing what one can achieve with such a limited arsenal.

I am very close to being able to do a proper, full-on, no-fucking-around push-up. This is a goal I have set for myself and it will be a great moment when I achieve it. Right now, I still use the arm of the sofa to do push-ups. Not quite horizontal, but getting there. I started out doing them standing up, hands against a wall, so I’ve definitely made some progress.

Earlier this month, we had to have one of our beloved dogs, Heidi, put to sleep. She was 12 years old, and had a health emergency that escalated very quickly. Nothing could be done. The very tough decision was made to bring an end to her suffering. By the time we reached the emergency clinic, she was unable to walk, so I had to lift her up from the ground and carry her inside. She’s a 70lb Australian Cattle Dog.  I wasn’t sure I could do it until I did it, and when I did, it seemed effortless. I was able to keep my dog comfortable and deliver her to assistance with the least amount of pain, trauma and anxiety possible. It meant a lot to me that I was able to do that for her. For the first time, I was able to apply my strength to a real life situation, and it made all of the days pushing around a couple of dumbbells and doing squats worth it.

This is why I want to continue in this vein with my health and fitness goals.

Being strong is more than just flexing a muscle in the mirror.  It’s not a “look”, it’s a state of being. I want to apply it to my life. I want to be able-bodied and useful. I want to know that I can handle life’s unexpected situations where physicality is required. That I can help others that aren’t able to help themselves. That I can help you move your sofa into your new 4th floor apartment without an elevator.

My last weight loss update was in March. I’ve lost 7lbs since then, bringing me to 215lbs. I am 1lb shy of being out of the “obese” range of the BMI chart, and into merely “overweight”. I never thought I’d feel so relieved and flattered to be called overweight. I am 22lbs away from my initial goal weight of 193, but that has really lost a lot of importance for me at this point. I’ll still mention it, just for the sake of perspective, though.

Lots going on for me in July, and hopefully a few photos to share, too.

Thanks for reading me and for the support!

A realization…

I went to an air show at the Redlands airport this past weekend with my best friend, and I had a great time. I felt an unfamiliar sense of being carefree and confident — and that was before I drank all the beer.  (It was sponsored by the Hangar 24 Brewing Company.)  I was striking up conversations with strangers, and they were striking up conversations with me. I didn’t shrink away from people, or avoid eye contact. I was present. It felt… amazing.

I asked my friend Dawn if she had noticed that people tend to treat me differently (see: better) now that I’ve lost a lot of weight. She wrinkled her nose at me and said, “No, Erin. YOU are different, not them. You no longer stand around with your arms folded across your chest and a scowl on your face. People want to approach you because you are now approachable. You are happy and people can see it, and they respond to it.”

Dawn was right. I’ve been grappling with this change since I’ve lost the bulk of my weight and really started to feel more comfortable and capable in my body. Initially, part of me was a little annoyed at the realization that people were so much more closed-off to me when I was a lot heavier. But, I now realize that I was the one putting distance between myself and the rest of the world. Who can blame me, though? I’ve spent the majority of my life living in a body that restricted me in every conceivable way. Being called fat, being mocked for it. Being told I wasn’t good enough, and believing it. Being unable to participate in sports, fitting into nice clothes, riding on rollercoasters, or being hugged with arms that reach all the way around me. It seemed natural to remove myself from most activities, as I expected I would be physically incapable of joining in, anyway. I’ve only been living half of a life. Maybe less.

Enough of the pity party, though. The world has shaped me, and I’ve shaped my world. Now, I’m a different shape, and I get another chance to shape the world I live in to fit me. I know, I know ..the size of our bodies should not dictate who we are or how good or bad life is. But, until you’ve lived an entire “life” as a morbidly obese person, you’ll never understand the limitations set upon you, or the limitations you set upon yourself.

I am really excited to live life in a way that permits me to participate fully.
No excuses allowed.  No excuses needed.

Photo Update Number 2…

I won’t bore you guys with a bunch of blathering this time around, as I think I babbled enough for 2 month’s worth in my last post.

Just wanted to share my most recent photo with you all, holding myself to my promise to post again when I hit 225lbs.  Here it is, alongside the previous two photos for comparison’s sake:

SidebySidebySide
(click photo to enlarge)

I apologize for the wonky photo editing action going on up there. I’m not getting taller, I just suck at recreating my previous photo.

At any rate, I’ve noticed I’m looking older now that my face is getting thinner. That’s okay, though. Taking the sweet with the sour is nothing new to this kid. Also, the shirt I’m wearing in that photo is so big on me now, that I had to bunch it up in a big ball in the back and stuff it down the back of my jeans for the picture. Good times.

I am currently 222lbs, which gives me a total loss of 111lbs! I’ve got a ways to go yet, but it doesn’t appear that my progress is going to slow down any time soon, despite my efforts to curtail my rate of loss. I’ll keep adjusting my calorie intake and try to figure that out.

Friends — thanks for reading me and for all of the support you’ve given me during this process. I appreciate it more than words can say.

I ate ice cream and lived to tell the tale..

Well, I’ve had far too much coffee, and I know I should wait a few more days to eke out another pound for the monthly tally, but screw it. I want to get my babble on, and babble I shall.

As the title suggests, I ate ice cream for the first time in.. well.. nearly a year. Clearly, I survived it. In fact, I relished the experience and plan on doing it again in the near future. I realize how silly this must sound to most folks, or even worrisome, making a big to-do out of eating some ice cream, but for me, it was a way to let myself understand that I can and will be able to handle it, and that I don’t have to live a life of deprivation.

I have been living a rather irrational carb-fearing existence since The Reckoning. Yes, I could have just doubled-up on some broccoli at dinner, but where’s the fun in that? I wanted to push my boundaries a bit, because I do intend on living a “normal” life once my weight is in a healthy range, and I do intend to eat good things, in moderation, for the rest of my existence.

I’m also learning that it isn’t the carbs I need to be worrying about anymore. Yes, lowering them helped me get my blood glucose under control, and yes, as a diabetic, I will have to always be mindful of my glucose levels. But I’m maintaining a very healthy BG level at all times, and most of that has to do with…

Exercise. I was stuck at 238 for a while, longer than I would have liked. I was getting frustrated, and knew something, somewhere, needed to change. I had gotten into the habit of 30 minutes of stationary cycling 4 or 5 days a week. I was breathing hard, my heart was pumping, I was sweaty and pink-faced at the end. However, what I didn’t realize is that I could do more, and that I should be doing more. So, I did. I increased my time to 45 minutes, and within 3 days of doing so, I dropped 2 pounds. Unstuck.

On a crappier note, my knees suck. I was doing weighted squats the other day, and kept hearing and feeling a rather disconcerting crunching noise/sensation coming from my left knee. It didn’t hurt, but it certainly didn’t seem too reassuring. I have a history of patellar subluxation, which is a fancy way of saying my knees like to dislocate. It hasn’t happened since I was in my early 20s, and I really don’t ever want it to happen again. In fact, thinking about it happening makes me go all fetal and feel faint. So, I have now opted to cut squats out of my routine. This is a bummer, because I love squats, and they have helped me form something reminiscent of an actual ass. Nothing too spectacular, but I’ve got more going on back there now than I used to. Anyway, I’m looking into some ass-enhancing alternatives to remedy that issue. No, I won’t be purchasing the padded booty underwear. That’s cheating.

Now for the numbers.
I am currently 231lbs, which gives me a 7lb loss since my last post. This also brings me to 102lbs lost. Wait, wait. That’s not right. What I meant to say was

I’VE LOST A HUNDRED AND TWO POUNDS YOU GUYYYSSS!!!

There, that’s better.

Pretty cool, right? In 6 more pounds, I’ll be posting a new photo. I can really tell the difference in a lot of ways, and I’m excited to see how I compare with my previous photo. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t choose to take a photo at 100lbs lost, and I’m wondering that, as well. I just thought 225lbs sounded like a nice number to memorialize, so I went with it. I’m just gonna stick with that, since I’m trying to be about sticking with things these days. ;)

Thanks for taking the time to read me. Sorry I was a little long-winded and poorly formatted. My paragraphs are atrocious. It’s the coffee. For reallies.

See you in 6 pounds. :)

It won’t be long now…

Something cool occurred to me the other day. I now weigh 12lbs less than the formerly flattering lie I have on my most current driver’s license. I was around 300lbs or so when I listed my weight as 250 back in 2005. How sad is it that “250” was meant to save me some embarrassment? Yeesh. Now, I just have to get down to 190, so I can finally be the weight I had dishonestly listed myself as back in 1992, when I weighed closer to 270! Sorry DMV, I’m a weight fibber like that.

I just got off Skype with my friend Louie. He lives in Palau now, and he keeps pleading with me to come visit him there. I am so not a tropical island weather kind of gal. I’m also not a flying in an airplane anywhere for any reason kind of gal. It did dawn on me that I could now fit rather comfortably in a coach class airplane seat, and no longer require a seat-belt extension thingy, though. I don’t think that would do much to alleviate the heart-exploding anxiety attack I would still endure on a flight to Hawaii and then on to Guam, but hey, it’s a nice thought anyway. Maybe some other time, Lou-Lou. ;)

Kale. I love it.  Sauteed with minced garlic in some olive oil. Fucking phenomenal. Oh! I found bread. BREAD! Diabeetus-friendly bread! Mahler’s California Lifestyle Flax and Soy bread. 6g of carbs per slice, 10g of protein! And it’s not made with a bunch of bizarre crap that gives mice cancer or anything like that, either. All of the ingredients are hippie-approved. Unless you’re scared of wheat gluten because you think gluten is bad because someone else you know thinks gluten is bad for no apparent reason. That happens more often than you’d think. Anyway, having two pieces of bread for an actual sandwich is this rather awesome novelty and I have been enjoying the experience immensely.

Now, for the current numbers:

I am currently 238lbs, which gives me a total loss of  95lbs!! I am so close to 100lbs lost, I can scarcely believe it. I think my last weight update had me at 82lbs lost, and that was close to 2 months ago. My losses are slowing down a bit now, and some of that is intentional, and some of it isn’t. I’ve lessened my daily caloric deficit to around -750 (1.5lbs per week) instead of -1000 (2lbs per week). I felt I was losing too quickly, and while that was sort of the idea initially, in order to get my diabetes under control as soon as possible, I feel like I can now reign things in a bit and try to focus more on overall fitness.

It’s pretty weird to think that I only have around 45lbs to lose now. That seems like a drop in the bucket. I don’t know that I can even remember only being 45lbs overweight before. Maybe when I was like.. 12 years old? What a trip!

13 more pounds until my next progress photo!

The results are in…

I had my second appointment with my new doctor today. We discussed my recent lab test results (cholesterol panel, A1c, fasting blood glucose, etc.), and I had some high hopes, mostly concerning the status of my A1c. For those of you that have no idea what A1c is, it is basically a test that measures a person’s average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months. It is a good indicator of how well your diabetes is being managed over a long period of time, as opposed to a single random blood glucose test.

My first A1c test back in February was 7%. That put me, unsurprisingly, squarely in the “diabetic” category. My second A1c in June was 6.5%. An improvement, but still within the realm of full-on diabetes, and I remember being somewhat disappointed with that result. This time, however, I am very happy to report that my A1c is at 5.3%!! This is a normal level for people without diabetes (normal range for non-diabetics is between 4% and 5.7%). Didja hear that? Normal! Obviously, this doesn’t mean that I am no longer diabetic. I am. I always will be, in the sense that I will always have an issue with insulin resistance. But, it also means that I have made a huge amount of progress towards reducing many of the health risks associated with consistent high blood glucose. Speaking of blood glucose, my fasting BG was 96, which is well within the normal range for a non-diabetic. Double yay.

Unfortunately, my cholesterol panel was a bit wonky. But, it was kind of askew back in February, too. My “bad” cholesterol this time around was slightly elevated (110), and my “good” cholesterol was too low (I never caught that number, unfortunately). Same story as in February. I’ve been trying so hard to employ healthy fats and omega-rich foods into my diet for the sole purpose of thwarting the cholesterol issue. I guess I’ll need to take extra measures. I was given the option of medication, or a bit of a “try harder” time window of a few months. I chose try harder. If my levels are still off in 3 months, it looks like I’ll be taking another pill. I was pretty bummed that those numbers were basically the same still. I really thought the clean eating and exercise were going to rectify that issue somewhat easily. Oh well. Did I mention my A1c is normal? :)

Another oddity was my blood pressure. It was 109/74, which is quite low, but still just in the normal range. I’m still puzzled as to why, but at least I am now 100% certain that I don’t need blood pressure medication.

Oh, another slight problem is that I was hoping to get a big pat on the back for my weight loss progress since I’d last seen my doctor, but she wasn’t handing out any of those. She told me they weren’t so much focused on the weight in terms of scale numbers, but more so on my waist measurement. Gulp. Yeah, apparently my waist circumference needs to be half or less than half of my height in inches. So, since I’m 71 inches tall, she’s looking for me to attain a waist of 35.5 inches or less… HAHAHAHAHAHA. Don’t hold your breath, doc. I’m just not built that way. None of the women in my family are. I’d weigh 150lbs or less before I’d ever have a 35 inch waist, and that is far, FAR too thin for my liking. Maybe the miracle of heavy weight lifting will prove me wrong there. I’m not saying I won’t try, I’m just saying HAHAHAHA.

Have I mentioned that my doctor is pretty effing awesome, despite waist measurement delusions? She is. I fought constantly with my previous quack doc about getting a referral to endocrinology to see about my adrenal gland growths (they were detected 2 years ago during a kidney CT scan, this is a huge deal to me), but all she did was try and obstruct me (inexplicably) from doing so. Hence, she is now no longer my physician. I spent about 3 minutes explaining to my new doctor about my wish to see an endo and why, and she said, “Sure, I can refer you if you want, but you’ll likely be waiting many months!”. I said hey, no problem, I’ve already been waiting 2 years, what’s a few more months. I could scarcely believe how easy it was. Score.

As for my weight, it’s all good news from here. I’ve lost 9lbs since my last post a little over a month ago, which brings me to 82lbs lost so far. The silliest part is that I lost 4 of those pounds overnight about 3 nights ago. For no good reason. It drives me to the point of ultimate breakdown and worry about no progress, and then kapows me with a 4lb drop in a matter of 24 hours. My body is a bastard sometimes.

In closing, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone that supported me and left me kind words for my photo progress post. It turned my shame into pride, and it felt wonderful.

Thank you again.

Doing it wrong…

Yep. I’m doing it wrong.

I have learned some very interesting, preconception-shattering, eye-opening facts over the past couple of days. I am a diet failure, and here’s why:

First of all, the website caloriecount.about.com is where this all began. I had used it a few times to find out nutritional information of foods, but eventually I realized that this website had all of these wonderful dieting tools available, free of cost.

So, I started plugging in my information. I obtained my personalized daily calorie intake goal, I was able to calculate how many calories I burned at rest and with exercise, and was given a realistic goal date with which to achieve the goal weight I had entered. Really good stuff. But it gets better.

The food log: You enter your meals into the food log, and it calculates all of the caloric and nutritional information of those foods, then gives you an analysis of your progress so you know throughout the day what nutrients you need to eat more or less of, as well as how many more or less calories you need to eat.

The activity log: It lets you select your exercise type, the intensity and duration, and then calculates how many calories you burn. Once you add it to your daily log, it then integrates that information with the rest of your totals.

The forums: This place is jam-packed full of knowledgeable health nut/weight-lifting/personal trainer types.  Really friendly, really helpful, really supportive environment. I have had every question I’ve asked so far be answered by multiple people — clearly, succinctly, and with compassion. There can be lots of varied opinions, especially about exercise routines, but those really come down to personal preference, anyway. The important thing is that the mainstays of fitness are universal, and the forum is all about doing things the right way for health, not quick results. I like that.

So, after logging my food and exercise for two days, I began to realize that I was falling way short of what my recommended calorie intake is. I was befuddled by this. I kept checking my numbers and recalculating to make sure I was getting the appropriate suggested daily calorie intake amount, and I was.

Pointedly, the analysis interface displays something called “Daily Net Cals”. I had no idea what that meant, so I opted to ignore it completely, and naively hope it didn’t pertain to me. It then became clear that I should be very concerned about this number after a quick peek in the forum. It is important, because in order to maintain steady, healthy weight loss, one should aim for a deficit of -500 Net Cals a day. Anything more than that, and you are basically making your body think it is starving, and it will start conserving fat stores instead of burning them. Your metabolism slows way down, and your energy levels drop off.

A mere -500 Net Cal deficit every day for a week will consistently result in the loss of 1lb a week, because the body requires 3500 calories to be burned in total for 1lb of weight loss. Obviously, hitting -500 Net Cals on the head can be difficult, so a slight variance is okay, say, -400 to – 700 or so is ideal.

So, why am I doing it wrong, you ask? Because I’ve been cruising around with Net Cal deficits of -1200 to -1500 every day for nearly 2 months!!!!! My metabolism is probably non-existent right now, and my weight loss has been tapering off due to this huge oversight on my part. I really had no idea I was not eating enough. I never felt hungry, and I thought the less I eat (within reason) and the more I exercise, the better the results. So. Stupid.

Now, bizarrely, I must eat more in order to lose more weight. It seems counter-intuitive, and everything in my body and mind is resisting this new information, but the facts are quite clear and the science is irrefutable. The funny part is that I don’t even know how to eat any more than I already am! I apparently just need to find good calorie-dense foods that are still low on the Glycemic Index (for the Diabetes part).  I’m struggling to sort that out as we speak.

This also leaves me in a lurch in terms of my exercise routine. I will have to eat even MORE to make up for the exercise calorie burn in order to maintain a -500 deficit. I have the option to stop exercising until I figure things out, but I would really not prefer to do that.

Had I known I could gorge myself daily and lose weight like this I would have done it years ago. My brain was still stuck in some 1980s low-fat fad-diet time capsule of misinformation. It really doesn’t work that way, and I am so glad to have been shown the light.