Snow is the best workout!

After being snowed in by the Storm Of The CENTURY last weekend, it took four days to dig myself out of my half-mile-long driveway. What an excellent workout it was!   Four days of nonstop heavy lifting with all the wet, sticky, heavy, waist-deep snow!  I made mountains of ice that were taller than I was!  Mountains of ice 9 feet high!   I was upset about not being able to go to the gym for a week, but I think I actually worked harder with the epic snow-removal than I’ve ever worked in the gym!  This was the most snow I’ve ever seen in my entire life.  Snow this deep is a pretty rare thing to see, even in New England.   i feel like I’ve had an effective workout this week, although I’d really like to go snowshoeing, and the snow is still too deep for that.

I’m also upset because my weight loss has stalled and I badly need to talk to a doctor, but I was trapped at home and  couldn’t make it to my appointment last Monday (my doctor was also trapped at home…)  I hope to  get to the bottom of this problem on Wednesday so I can start losing again.

I CAN’T WAIT for the warmer weather to come!!!!  I want to start biking!  I want to be able to hike without slipping and sliding on ice! I want to ride rollercoasters!

Stalled out!

I haven’t lost any weight this month, and it’s very frustrating, because I’ve been doing everything absolutely perfectly.  I’ve tracked my calories with MyFitnessPal and I’m sure I’ve been meeting my target calorie deficit.  I’ve been working out brutally hard in the gym!  I’ve been doing awesomely well and I’m getting fitter, but the scale hasn’t budged and my jeans aren’t any looser.

Since I have thyroid problems and PCOS, I’d like to find out if there’s anything interfering with my weight loss on that front. If either of those conditions aren’t being properly controlled, they can cause weight loss to grind to a complete halt.  On Thursday morning, I had my blood drawn, and I’m *supposed to* to go to see my doctor tomorrow morning so I can find out if anything’s up.  My strong suspicion is that some medication needs to be adjusted.

Tragically enough, we’ve been hit by the blizzard to end all blizzards.  I’m snowbound, completely trapped.  The doctor (and the gym, and everything else) are on hold until I somehow manage to extract my car from this driveway.   I hate this, I hate this, I hate this!  Like, I want the fat off my body!  I feel completely out-of-control, like I’m sitting here, stagnant, treading water, unable to do anything about it.

Oh, and I’ve sprained my ankle.  I sprained it while trying to shovel snow.

I’d like to be able to blog about how I got myself over this hump, but right now, I’m stuck in limbo until I can get to the doctor and learn about my test results.

What I eat

Since I dieted myself into obesity to start with,   I am avoiding any type of structured “diet.”  This means that my weight loss will be much slower, but losing weight in a hurry means you’ll regain it all very quickly as soon as you start eating food again (unless you decide to stick to that extremely restrictive diet for the rest of your life.)   In the past, I’ve found it very difficult to stick to any kind of structured “diet” for months at a time.  Sure, it’s easy to eat nothing but cottage cheese and salad for six weeks, but it’s quite a bit harder to eat nothing but cottage cheese and salad for six months.   I also don’t want to get stuck in the same cycle of obsessive dieting that made me fat in the first place.

Also, very structured diets fill me with feelings of guilt, shame and self-hatred — because it’s like, “I’ve gotta stick to plan!” and as soon as I go off plan, I feel like I’ve “failed.”  Real life happens, sometimes.  Real life is going to intervene from time to time, and you won’t always be able to stick to plan, and that’ll need to be okay.

Therefore, I’m not doing any type of diet at all.  I have a nutritionist-advised daily calorie goal of 1,800-1,900 cals a day.  I count calories, and I use mobile apps like MyFitnessPal to help me do that.   I have a nutritionist-advised daily target for protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake.  Again, I use MyFitnessPal to help me with that, too.  MyFitnessPal is a great tool, and it helps me  mesh my calorie-counting and nutrient-counting with the demands of real life. 

I like The Eat This Not That Diet, because it’s a good general guideline that works well with the demands of my life.  It allows for fast food and eating out, which is important, because I have a 9-5 job and a busy social life, and I often need to go out to eat with friends, and I usually don’t get to go home for dinner between work and the night’s social activity.  Most of the diet plans I’ve ever read have assumed that I just have nothing else to do but stay home and diet all day long — they require elaborate, home-cooked breakfasts, and elaborate home-cooked lunches.  Cooking at home is not currently a part of my lifestyle; there is no time for that.  Breakfast needs to be quick and easy because I’m out the door on my way to work at 7am.  Lunch needs to be either brown-bagged from home or eaten on the go, because I’m at work all day long.  Sometimes I go home and cook dinner, but often I head straight from work to a party or a date or another social engagement.  There isn’t a lot of room in my life for cooking my own food right now, so that’s what I really like about the “Eat This Not That Diet.”   It gives you a lot of suggestions for healthy options when you need to eat out.

I also really like the Flat Belly Diet because a lot of their meal ideas are really appetizing.  This diet has a lot of really good idea for quick, healthy breakfasts that I can whip up in 5 minutes before running out the door and going to work.  This diet also has a lot of really good ideas for sandwiches, which makes my brown-bag lunches more interesting.

Because I’m rarely at home to cook, and because I tend to get way too obsessed with food whenever I think of dieting, it’s important to be able to automate a lot of my meals, so that I can prepare food and have meals ready without really having to think about it.  What I do is plan a weekly menu, like a weekly breakfast and a weekly lunch that I’ll eat every day for a week.  I buy all the ingredients I’ll need for my breakfast and lunch on a Sunday, and then I’ll eat the same breakfast and the same lunch every day for an entire week.  I don’t have to put any thought into planning my meals, and I use up all the ingredients I buy, and I make meals as automatic as I possibly can.   I know variety’s the spice of life and a varied diet is important, but it works better for me to vary my diet on a week-to-week basis, rather than a day-to-day basis.  

Here’s an example of what I usually do:

Breakfast — 450 calories of something, like – a cup of oatmeal with 1 TB of peanut butter mixed in, a cup of skim milk, a cup of strawberries and an apple.

Morning Snack  – 200 calories of something, like a cup of yogurt and a muffin.

Lunch – 400 calories of something – usually a sandwich made of whole grain bread, meat, and a lot of vegetables. 

Afternoon Snack – 150 calories of something, like carrot sticks and hummus

Dinner – 600 calories.  It’s pretty easy to do.  If I need to go to a restaurant, I always find out which restaurant it is, look up the menu, and use an app like MyFitnessPal to calculate a 600-calorie, healthy, nutritious meal.  

When I can’t go home to eat dinner,  I have a shortlist of go-to fast-food options that I like, such as:

  • A 6-inch sandwich at Subway with cheese and  loads of veggies, plus skim milk and an apple.
  • Panera salad with dressing on the side (their dressing is full of sugar) and a whole-grain baguette.  There are also some lower-calorie soup/sandwich options at Panera when I want to mix it up.
  • Chipotle burrito bowl: chicken or steak, black beans, guacamole, lettuce, fajita veg, and any two salsas.
  • 2 slices of thin-crust veggie pizza
  • A salmon-avocado roll, a cucumber roll, seaweed salad and miso soup.
  • Boston Market – 1/4 chicken, mixed vegetables and roast potatoes.  I don’t eat the corn bread.
  • Wendy’s Ultimate Chicken Grill and a cup of Wendy’s chili. 

When I am home to cook, Martha Stewart is essentially my guru.  Martha Stewart’s website has a vast array of healthy and nutritious recipes.   I also really like Rocco DiSpirito’s Now Eat This, because every recipe I’ve tried so far has been full of win, and all under 350 calories.  Any of the Weight Watchers cookbooks are also great and loaded with good recipes.

On Saturday, I cook my own breakfast and I have something fancy that I don’t ordinarily get to have during the work week, like pancakes or waffles.

How to be obese

I’ve noticed that many people who’ve never been obese tend to be very naive about the causes of obesity.  If only it were true that I got this way by lazing around and stuffing my face with junk food all day long!  If it were true, weight loss would merely be a simple matter of eating less and moving more.  If only! If only their naive assumptions were true, my weight loss journey would be much easier!

I resent it when naive people say naive things like “fat people lack self-discipline,” because when people say that, it shows that they have no idea what my life has been like, no idea what I’ve been through, and no understanding of how I even got fat in the first place. I don’t  lack self-discipline.  I have an excessive amount of willpower and discipline, and I’m pretty willing to bet that I can put most thin people to shame when it comes to willpower and discipline.  I’m able to deny myself food for weeks at a time.  I’m able to live for weeks on little else but cottage cheese and carrot sticks.  I know how to starve and starve and starve, and I’ve been doing it since college.   My ability to starve myself for weeks on end is a psychological issue that I need to monitor carefully, because it trips me up.  It’s easy for me to  simply stop eating food altogether, and I tend to be very tempted to live on nothing but salad and water,  and this is the very thing that’s made me so fat.

Flashback to college, junior year, 170 pounds — I was perfect. I had a perfect body, with a perfect BMI.   But I  hated my body and saw a distorted version of myself whenever I looked in the mirror.  Junior year, I decided I needed to  start taking drastic measures to ‘get in shape,’ so I began starving myself.  I started eating only lettuce – salads, no dressing, just water to drink.  I didn’t really succeed in losing much weight because my body didn’t actually have any excess weight to lose.  I was perfect, toned, lean and my body didn’t want to lose weight.  My body responded to this prolonged abuse by clinging to every calorie, hoarding every bit of fuel I ate, slowing my metabolism to a crawl.  Eventually, after a month of starvation, I was so malnourished and so desperate for sustenance  that I just freaked out and started eating normally again.  But this time, when I ate, my body clung to every morsel of food that went into my mouth, and my waistline grew and grew.   So, guess what I did?  I stopped eating again.  Again and again, the cycle went, and I continued to pile on the pounds.   By graduation day, I’d gained 40lb   — 210 lbs!

How could anyone be so stupid?  I was deluded.  I truly believed I was much too fat at 170 lbs.  I truly believed that I needed to lose weight.  I truly believed that food was a vice and that eating was bad and that starvation was a virtue.  I truly believed that good, virtuous, feminine, fit girls didn’t eat food.  I cursed myself for being a disgusting fat pig each time I ate a sandwich, or any kind of normal food.  This is something I still struggle with, now.  The idea that feminine, virtuous, good women aren’t supposed to eat anything is very deeply ingrained in me.  I know it’s a screwed-up idea, but I’m never going to lose weight until I deal with that.  I can’t fall back into old patterns; rather, I need to force myself to eat 1,800 calories a day even when it seems like too much food.  I wish I had a time machine so I could travel back in time and show my 20-year-old self what extreme dieting would do to my body.  If only I’d just eaten a healthy, normal diet throughout my twenties, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

So, consequently, I weighed 210 lbs at graduation – OFFICIALLY OBESE.

This extra weight brought on a number of health problems!   I developed a thyroid condition soon after college, and  I still need to take medication for it.   I gained another 60 lb. in a year directly as a result of the thyroid problem.   I gained 60 lb. without even trying.  I gained 60 lb. before my doctor was able to figure out what was going on.  I was put on thyroid medication, and I immediately lost 40 of those pounds, but then I gained 15 pounds back and I’ve been bouncing between 230-250 pounds ever since then.   I haven’t gone below 230 lbs since 2007!

The other thing was major depression and self-hatred.   I felt like I was worthless as long as I was overweight (hence, the reason I started trying to diet in the first place), and I was absolutely miserable.  What do people do when they’re full of misery and shame?  They tend to mope around.  I fell ill with major depression, and half of it was probably the result of my shameful feelings about my weight gain, and the other half of it was probably the result of all the physical damage I’d done to my body through dieting.  I just moped around.  I was very deeply depressed and found it difficult to get up out of bed.  So, I wasn’t burning calories.  So, I continued to be fat.  Weight gain tends to go hand-in-hand with major clinical depression, and this is why I think the entire idea of “LET’S SHAME THEM SO THEY’LL LOSE WEIGHT!” is a losing proposition.  Shame only motivates people to get even fatter.

Man, if shame motivated people to lose weight, nobody would be obese.  Most obese people carry a massive burden of shame around with them constantly.  Most obese people feel nothing but shame about their bodies.  They feel shame every time they look in the mirror, they feel shame every time they have to eat food, they feel shame every single moment of every single day.  Really, obese people already feel plenty of shame already, so there’s no need to keep piling it on.   The trouble is, shame doesn’t motivate people to take action.   Shame is deeply paralyzing, it’s deeply demoralizing, it’s deeply debilitating.  The only thing shame motivates people to do is lie in bed crying all day long,  which, as you can guess, isn’t really conducive to fitness and weight loss.

I certainly think most obese people have huge mental problems — I don’t think obesity is something that happens to people who are perfectly sane and healthy, which is why I can’t really say that I support the fat acceptance movement.   I support the fat acceptance movement insofar that it’s wrong to discriminate against, ridicule, or shame another human being because they are too fat.  But I can’t accept fat as a healthy variation of normal, because it isn’t. If you’re living a healthy lifestyle and you’re still obese, then that’s one thing, but let’s face reality:  If you’re obese, you probably are’t living too healthy a lifestyle.  I know the kinds of mental issues I’ve had, I know what caused my obesity, I know what I’m still fighting against, and I know that it isn’t healthy.  But, generally speaking, mental problems aren’t a socially-acceptable reason to treat another person with such cruelty.   The fact that it’s so socially acceptable to be so cruel to fat people is pretty fucked-up.

Obesity is a complex issue, but love and compassion is much more motivating than shame and cruelty.

For me, I’ve spent the last decade of my life fighting this.  What’s finally motivating me to do something about it?   I don’t know, it’s hard to verbalize it.  Ideally, I’d like to use this blog to help people,  so I’d like to be able to explain exactly how and why I am losing weight.    I know that it’s a mental thing, and I know you need to make a mental shift to be able to do this.   I haven’t lost too much weight yet, so I can’t tell you  anything with much authority, but I’ve been sticking to my plan longer than I ever have in the past, and here’s what’s working for me, right now:
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Nobody talks about fat people dating

I haven’t come across too many blogs or websites where fat women really discuss the topic of dating while fat.  I haven’t found many places to get wisdom or help or support with the entire experience of dating as a fat woman.   Do most fat women just hide in their houses and stay celibate? Probably, right?

But I see plenty of larger women who are even heavier than I am in relationships, and married.    They must be dating and finding men *somehow*, aren’t they?  How?  Why aren’t they providing wisdom via blogs and websites?

And America is full of fat men, too.  What do fat men experience when they’re out there in the dating world, trying to find a decent woman to date?

Why isn’t this really written about?  Nobody wants to think of fat people dating, I suppose.  Nobody wants to think about the fact that fat people enjoy sex.  EEEeeeeeeeew, so icky!!!

I wish there was someone else out there writing a blog where she talked about dating and meeting men *WHILE* losing weight.   Surely it’s been done before?  Why don’t people blog about it?  I’ve looked this up on Google bunches of times.   There’s a multitude of message board posts from men explaining why they find fat women disgusting and undateable, and then there are also  a multitude of fat-acceptance, “big is beautiful”  websites out there, but there aren’t many written by fat women (or fat men) who are in the dating trenches and seriously trying to be healthy at the same time.

Since there are so many fat men out there, I kind of wonder why so few of them go to clubs like Weight Watchers?   What do guys do for support when they’re working hard at taking off pounds?  Weight loss is bloody damn hard for anyone, so I’d like to know how men on this journey manage it when most of the support out there is so female-centric.   My gym is 90% males, though.  Maybe men just head to the gym instead of looking for the emotional support.

I’m so sick of being sick!  I want to go and run and hike because the thing about working out all the time is that you end up feeling really antsy and stir-crazy as soon as you stop working out.  I have bronchitis right now, I can’t wait to be healthy!!

What I want in a man

This is my lengthy list of demands.  Don’t worry, this isn’t part of my online dating profile — this is just for me to refer to privately, because it’s good to have some standards. If you don’t already have a list like this, then you probably should make one, because it’s hard to approach dating without a clear idea of who you’re looking for.  (WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A LIST YET?)

I can’t pretend to speak for all women, because all men and women are separate individuals with different needs.  This is my own list, and it’s the result of a great deal of thought and soul-searching.

A note — I’m not ranking these points in order of importance.  They’re all important.  The biggest and most important point, “He Must Be a Good Human Being” is going last because it’s also the lengthiest point.  That one is sort of a huge philosophical question — how do you define human goodness? I’ve tried to tackle that in this post, so read on!

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I’m still trying to figure this out!

I will make a visually stunning and compelling blog at some point.   What’s to say?

– I’m FAT!!!!  SO FAT.  240-ish pounds worth of fatness.

– But working so hard on losing it, which will be a major focus of this blog.

– But I’m sick with a cold (My god, I hope it’s just a cold! I hope it’s not the flu), so I’m not focusing on my weight loss efforts this week.  It makes me angry and frustrated, like I’m just stuck here, not doing anything! I can’t go outdoors, I can’t go to the gym and I feel like I’m ready to jump out of my skin!!!!!  Typically, illness always leads to weight loss for me because I never eat when I’m sick!  Fingers crossed, but very unhappy about the setback and also very bored.  I’m very bored, and very bedridden.

– I’m single, and have been all my life because of  ^^^^^ being too fat ^^^^^^ (and also incredibly shy, and a hermit.)    I’ve spent my twenties hiding out.   I spent my twenties living like a hermit, terrified of dating, convinced no man could ever want me.  That lack of love and partnership was hard enough when I was a twentysomething, but now that I’m in my thirties, the void in my heart is starting to become truly unbearable.  I’ve realized that the man of my dreams won’t be a shallow man who cares about looks so much, but he will care about good health.  I wouldn’t want to date a person who leads a self-destructive lifestyle.  Why would I expect Mr. Perfect to want to date someone like that?  I realize that I need to make myself the best potential dating partner that I can be, and being physically healthy is a huge part of that.

– No, I’m not “losing weight to find a man.”  I’m losing weight to avoid being dead of a heart attack before I turn 40!

– I’m all in favor of the entire fat-acceptance movement, and I think it’s all wonderful and that sort of thing, but the fact is,  I’m not feeling too healthy.  I’m all for “fat acceptance,” but I can’t support “unhealthy acceptance.”  I suppose it’s possible for some people to be both fat and healthy at the same time, but I’m sure not!   Although I generally support the fat-acceptance this is not going to be a fat-acceptance blog.

– I’ll keep this blog to tell of my dating adventures in the realms of dating.  I’ve dated 20 men so far in my life.  Dating when you’re an obese woman is incredibly challenging,  I get rejected all the time, so I think it’ll be therapeutic to chronicle my trials and tribulations.  Maybe, by talking about my dating life in public, this blog might help someone else.  America is full of overweight men and women and despite the extra fat, we’re still human beings, and we still want to love and be loved.  It seems like people never talk about the subject of fat women trying to date, although there are entire fetish sites devoted to BBW dating.

– For scientific purposes, I’d also like to keep a record of how my weight loss impacts my dating efforts.

– Losing weight is HARD!  I’d like a place to hold myself accountable, write about my struggles and my victories, and possibly make a few friends who are on the same journey.