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!

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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.

In limbo..

I had a bit of a breakdown moment at the beginning of April. I wanted to eat everything. All the time. I didn’t, but I really wanted to. It scared me, because I felt like I’d been eating well/enough and not really struggling with hunger much this entire time, and then suddenly, the Hunger Within took over.  I didn’t want to undo my progress. I didn’t want to bring back the diabetes symptoms. I was pretty worried, and then I became worried about being so worried.

I went looking for answers to my new dilemma, and a few trusted weight loss veterans told me I should simmer down and try eating at maintenance level for a little while. That, essentially, I should take a break from dieting. So, I did. Because of this, I’m only 2lbs less than I was over a month ago, but that’s okay. I feel better now, and I feel like I can pick up where I left off without any major issues.

I’m still a little off-balance where my anxiety about losing weight is concerned, so I’ve really been trying to focus my attention on building strength instead of the number on the scale. The problem is, I have a very limited set of equipment with which to accomplish that — a set of adjustable dumbbells with a total weight of 40lbs, and my own body weight. I’ve been looking into joining the YMCA and applying for the po’ folk discount they offer, as well as considering a few other options.  We’ll see what I can come up with.

The main realization I’ve had is that I now know that I want to start lifting heavy weights. Often. I want to be strong, and I want to find out what my now much lighter body can really do.  I’m borderline obsessing about it, which is actually a good thing, because that means I won’t likely give up on trying to make it happen any time soon.

I’ve been following a couple great fitness blogs written by science-loving skeptical reasonable people who are very into keeping shit real. One of which is gokaleo.com. She’s a badass, and when I grow up, I want to be just like her. She is also one of the people that has inspired me to want to lift heavy.

So, this is where I’m at… in this odd sort of holding pattern situation, with very little to report, but a whole lot to say, anyway. Thanks for listening.

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!

My daily food log..

When I first started this blog, I had some fancy ideas about including a lot of food-related content, as well as weight loss updates and general info. Clearly, I set the food aspect of this task aside in favor of my weight loss documentation. However, lately I’ve had a lot of questions from people on Calorie Count about what I’m eating and how I manage my blood glucose. So, I thought I would address those questions in an entry here.

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I basically flipped out about food. I instantly formed a fear of carbohydrates of any kind. This was before I started counting calories, and before I was legitimately counting carbs. I was basically winging it, and because I knew so little at the time, I generally avoided as many carbs as possible, without a second thought about what it might do to my energy or general feeling of well-being.

The funny part, is, that I was still eating more carbs per day back then than I am right now, and back then, I seriously thought I was close to being carb free. I realized the reality as soon as I started logging my food on CC. As I educated myself about diabetes, and became more aware of the carb content of many foods, I ended up finding great low Glycemic Index food alternatives for many of my preferred higher carb foods. I traded white potatoes for sweet potatoes. I use french fried onions in my salads instead of croutons. I eat strawberries instead of bananas. I learned that eating a high fiber food, such as broccoli, when I’m having a starch, like sweet potato, will slow down the digestion process of the starchy food, and thus, avoid blood glucose spikes. I also learned about the importance of eating plenty of good fats. Since my carbs are limited, fats are now my main energy nutrient, and it has been liberating to shed that old “fat makes you fat” mindset. It’s simply not true!

I try to limit my daily carb intake to approximately 100 grams, because that seems to be the happy place in terms of how my blood glucose reacts over time. And also, as a side note, I don’t go in for that whole “Net Carbs” thing. If there’s a carb, I count it, whether it comes from a fiber source or not.

Breakfast is always my lightest meal of the day, contrary to popular recommendations. I’m just not a morning eater, never have been. My meals get incrementally more caloric as the day progresses, and that works for me.

Breakfast

Fruit and yogurt:
170g container of plain 0% fat greek yogurt
50-85g fresh or frozen strawberries, quartered
1 packet of Stevia-based sweetener (I’m liking Truvia at the moment)

120 calories, 14 – 18 carbs, depending on amount of strawberries used.

and/or

Cheese omelet:
1 whole egg + 1 egg white
1/2 to 1oz shredded cheddar cheese
(sometimes a bit of broccoli thrown in for good measure, but only if I feel like finding room for the carbs by omitting something else later in the day)

207 calories, 0 carbs
Combined total of 327 calories, and 14 – 18 carbs on days when I eat both.

Lunch

Tuna Sandwich:
2 oz “very low sodium” Starkist tuna (1/2 can)
1 TB mayonnaise
1 tsp sweet relish
1 whole wheat pita pocket (1/2 of the pita “round”)

250 calories, 20 carbs

Salad:
2  cups of lettuce
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 avocado, cubed
5 low sodium black olives, roughly chopped
2 TB french fried onions (for texture)
Vinaigrette:
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard

308 calories, 16 carbs
Total of sandwich and salad combined – 558 calories, 36 carbs

Dinner

7-9oz boneless, skinless chicken breast (baked)
150-200g sweet potato (baked/microwaved)
125-140g broccoli (steamed)
1-2 tsp butter
(Sometimes I’ll sprinkle 2 tsp of grated parmesan cheese on broccoli and sweet potato instead of using butter)
1/2 TB mayonnaise (I mix herbs and/or spices with mayo and spread it on the chicken breast before baking. It adds flavor, and keeps the chicken moist. I know it sounds very scarily like something Paula Deen would do, but it really is a must for me)
1 slice of havarti or swiss cheese (I add this to the top of my chicken after it is cooked and still warm.. because.. well.. it’s delicious, dammit)

Approx 700-750 calories, depending on size of the chicken and sweet potato.
Approx 50 carbs, again depending primarily on the size of the sweet potato.

Daily totals using the highest numbers: 1635 calories, 104 carbs.

This daily caloric intake permits me to maintain a -1000 daily caloric deficit, which equals out to 2lbs lost per week. This is based on my personal BMR number, and obviously may need some altering for someone that isn’t my physical doppelganger. At my current weight, it is still safe for me to lose at this rate, but, as I lose more weight, I will need to make my deficit smaller in order to lose in the healthiest possible way.