Tag Archives: weight loss

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Really Sick

A few days ago, a friend’s blog featured a guest post on body image – specifically in relation to dieting and discipline, and the idea of a child being put on a diet by their parents, and how early exposure to a culture of dieting sticks with us throughout our lives.

This week, I hit my lowest weight since high school, excepting one transient moment when I was seeing a trainer and got a bit lower – that lasted all of two weeks, and was in no way sustainable, as I was simply counteracting all the crap I ate at the time with seven or more hours a week at the gym. The second I stopped using a personal trainer, those pounds crept back on.

This week, on the other hand, is a totally different deal. I’ve lost eight pounds in three days. EIGHT POUNDS! SINCE LAST WEEK. Noticeably shrinking waist circumference!  All my skinny clothes will fit again! Which means some of my larger-sized dresses are going to be too big for me now! I can give them away to other curvy ladies in need of some plus-size fashion! This should be exciting, right? Because giving dresses away leads to BUYING NEW DRESSES. Or something.

Oh wait, except I’m sick sick sick and haven’t been out of bed in four days, my last square meal was on Wednesday last week, and I’m convinced the only thing that’s currently keeping me alive is the all-natural root beer that’s delivering sugar to my system, except that it also makes my heart pound, so today I’m switching it out for Lady Grey decaf with honey.

Also (cough hack hack cough) I think I dropped a bit of my lung over there, mind passing it back to me?

It doesn’t help that this whole “loose jeans resulting from being quite sick” is also throwing a spotlight onto how feminism plays into my own life. Can I be happy to have lost a few pounds, when it’s through illness? When I tweet that my jeans are loose and I’m not sure that I care why – and then a moment later confirm that actually, I realized I don’t care why, but I’m going to have to parse the implications of that vis a vis feminism – and a friend, normally more committed to these things than I, then follows up to my “my jeans are loose” comment with “rough life” – are she and I both playing into a mode of approach that we both struggle, on a daily basis, not to reinforce? Does the fact that we acknowledge the ickiness of the logic behind the feelings give us the ability/permission to express them, nonetheless?

Those eight pounds didn’t go anywhere because of any healthy decision I made. They got lost because I got sick. I have felt physically miserable for days. MISERABLE. (Does anyone else ever forget, so quickly, just how bad it feels to be sick? Because I swear I never think it’s as bad as all that until the disease is IN ME and I feel like THIS:

Me, for the last four days

So the minute I think, well, at least this is one positive thing this stupid illness has done that’s good, I also slam into a wall of the following logic:

“Don’t feel good about this. It isn’t healthy. Feel good about healthy things. Don’t feel good about being too sick to move, waking up in a cold sweat for four days just because at the end of the rainbow there’s a pair of loose jeans. This isn’t sustainable any more than having a trainer and working out seven hours a week was sustainable. This isn’t real weight loss, it’s not going to put your body in better condition, and you better be able to keep something down today because quite frankly writing while lightheaded is not fun at all.”

Sigh.

I’ve been working hard to lose weight for a long time. Primarily for health reasons, and I can say that honestly because the one thing that motivated me to *actually lose weight* was a health reason. So I shouldn’t feel guilty if I have a little twinge of glee, no matter what the cause, when I get a little closer to knowing what that “healthy weight” is going to feel like when I get there.

But I do. Do I ever.

Not only because I know I didn’t lose those eight pounds under anything that could possibly be interpreted as healthy circumstances, but also because those loose jeans tapped into just how ingrained and destructive my own weight (and weight-loss) expectations are.

Falling short of your own standards is never fun. Especially not when you’re sick.

Losing (weight) in NYC

When I first started this blog, a number of posts were about low-sodium diet options – and my own experiences as I tried to lead a healthier lifestyle. Over time, those have become some of the most long-lasting and oft-checked posts on the blog, and today when I looked at Salon.com and found this article, I thought, this is worth posting up.

The writer of that article talks about the sobering effect of seeing the calories posted at a NYC Chipotle had on him, and how it helped him adjust what he was eating to be more realistic. Apparently an average slice of pizza has about 400 calories; he blended this with healthy breakfast and low-sodium dinner choices, and a lot of walking.

Later in his weight loss, the writer steps up his routine, working in trips to the gym, etc. – and he also reflects on how important it is for changes to be life-long, not just for a limited period of time.

But mostly, he got to eat pizza every day and walk all over the city. Can a diet get any better than that?

How To Lose 1.5 Pounds in 1 Day in NYC

Wake up, go to the gym. Find the gym is closed because it’s too early on a Sunday morning. Walk to the other gym and do cardio for half an hour.

Go home. Chat with roommate, eventually walk to midtown and stop on the way for a bagel with chicken salad and some kind of hyper-organic blueberry and honey juice drink. Continue walking. Peruse overpriced clothing shops for two hours with roommate, who is an enthusiastic shopper. Walk to Trader Joe’s and buy a lot of food for the week. Bring food home. Unpack groceries.

Eat a sandwich made with no salt bread, kalamata olive hummus (yes, I realize I just cancelled out the no salt bread) and some lettuce and tomatoes. Head out again.

Walk to the subway to the UN and catch the tail end of the pro #egypt celebrations, and then walk 7 blocks crosstown to Times Square and pick up a cheap ticket to the theater. Go home, nibble some snacks and have a glass of wine. Take the subway back up to the play two hours later and STAND FOR THREE HOURS at the back of the auditorium watching Al Pacino as Shylock in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Be suitably amazed while sipping small glass of wine from theater bar. Take the subway home, eat chinese food. Wake up in the morning and get on the scale.

Presto, 1.5 pounds lighter.

Next step? Spend the next four hours lying on the sofa feeling sore all over from all the walking and standing you did the day before.

Year 2 Start – Low Sodium Living in NYC

Three years and over sixty pounds ago, I rocked up to New York City on the chilly, bright morning of January 14th. Over the course of the next three years I got a trainer, learned how to work out, and started my first successful campaign against an unhealthy body – my own Battle of the Bulge. But it’s been so much more than that, not the least of reasons for which is because of a series of health-related factors that have started to come into play.

 

Over a series of posts in this blog, I’ve detailed my progress over the last year; after hitting a low weight back in October on the heels of a two-week trip to New Zealand (it’s amazing, how not knowing what you can and can’t eat can lead to dropping weight like it’s going out of style) the number on the scale has crept slowly upwards throughout the holidays. It got so bad at one point in October that I stopped using the weight-tracking software I’d sworn by for three months; day after day of seeing the revised calculation for the day you’ll hit your “goal weight” become further and further in the future is not, even for a few months’ time, my idea of good motivational practice.

And so I arrived at the end of December having gained about 10 pounds since my adult-low back in October…and then I put on another 10 pounds over the final week of the year. I don’t know how I do it (well, I have some inkling, but that’s for another post) but I manage to weight on like nobody’s business the second I stop paying attention. I wasn’t too worried about it at the time. “I’ll do what I did last January,” I told my roommate, “and just be really serious for the first two weeks of the month about going to the gym and eating healthy and all that.”

Having reached the two-week mark today, on the same day as my three-year anniversary in the City, I’ve decided that I’m going to have to spend the rest of January and most of February being “really serious…about going to the gym and eating healthy and all that.” The weight’s going down, but in order to get back to that post-New-Zealand weight – and then go even lower – it’s going to take more work.

Thus begins year two. Book two, stage two, chapter two, whatever you want to call it. The goal is to emulate what I did right last year while at the same time learning from the mistakes and the weight-bubbles of the last 12 months. So I’m back to shopping carefully, checking the nutritional information on everything, putting thought and effort and planning into when and what I eat, exploring even more low sodium recipes and healthy cooking techniques, and dedicating myself to spending more time and effort on productive exercise.

Any tips?

 

Cookin’ up some low sodium wasabi salmon burgers…

Now that we’re nearing the end of the year, I’m once again taking stock of how things are going with my low sodium diet. I’m trying to branch out into tasty items that I can enjoy and still feel like I’m treating myself…so I was glad to find this ready-to-buy recipe for low sodium wasabi salmon burgers on Fresh Direct’s website.

Read the recipe and you’ll notice that it features no salt, just some reduced-sodium soy sauce. Now, if you’re like me and prefer to taste the actual fish rather than mostly soy sauce, you can actually cut this WAY down – or replace it with a small amount of honey with balsamic vinegar, which I’ve used in stir fry recipes to cut the sodium but retain a similar tang.

Note that I screwed up and threw the ginger in with the burgers – but I wouldn’t say it had any kind of ill effect on the final product, which I threw on a brioche roll from Trader Joe’s, lightly coated with some of the recipe’s wasabi mayonnaise (realizing later in the afternoon that I could have just bought wasabi mayo from TJ’s later on) and blanketed by a leaf of romaine lettuce.

YUM. And there are three more waiting in the fridge. The one thing that was aggravating was that they don’t stick together well, but then again, we don’t have a food processor so I was chopping everything quite fine with a knife. (I’m not one of those girls who owns everything in the kitchen, though if you feel like sending a gift certificate for Amazon I’m happy to check out their appliance section)…

Anyway – this may not be a low sodium pizza recipe handed down from my grandmother or a healthy nacho recipe discovered by me and my roommate, but it was the best salmon burger I’ve had in ages and could probably double nicely as fishcakes if you so desired. I plan to have tomorrow’s salmon burger protein-style wrapped in a lettuce leaf. Again, I say – YUM.

 

Free Levi’s, New Friends

Friday morning, I went to the Levi’s Curve ID fittings in Bryant Park. After arriving at nine a.m. and waiting in line till about eleven, I was joined in line by Nicole Poole, the author of Thrift Store Confidential; we and others near us passed a while discussing fashion and clothing, and I have to say, the lady knows what she’s talking about. Her shoes – from Housing Works, I think – were GORGEOUS. There was another girl in line with us who was bigging up the idea of shopping at Nordstrom and I loved how she kept calling it “a hidden gem.” I know she kept a blog, so if she happens to see this – hi! Comment and send me your blog’s URL!

The system the Levi’s were working under assigned a color-coded band to each “fitting period,” and I got a time at the end of the day. Which was good, as I was donating a couple of giant wardrobes to Housing Works. When I got back and got measured…

…and this is really sad…

…they did not have my size. Now, I’m not a thin girl, and I think I’ve owned up to this on a few occasions. I’m working my way toward it, but no, I’m not there yet. And yet…and yet…the entire concept behind the Levi’s Curve ID Jeans is that they’ve measured women all over the place and found ways to fit us all with jeans. I wouldn’t even have minded getting up early, if someone in the line had mentioned (or if the online materials, which I consulted I think about as closely as most of the users of this brand would check) that the jeans were only made (not in stock, not available on the day, but available in the entire range of produced sizes) up to a size that didn’t include my XL derrier.

Whatever. I met some great ladies in the line (oh – the other two I didn’t mention were a photographer/filmmaker from Ghana and a near-retiree who joined us and who I lost track of; thanks to both of you for livening up the morning!), and my younger sister got rewarded for being of a more typical physique ($59.99 jeans for fre-e-e-e-e-e if you don’t count my time!). Levi’s, you could use a bit more thoughtfulness about either your marketing or your sizing, particularly when you’re advertising a line that’s meant to take the “real woman” and her “real dimensions” into account.

Six Month Sodium/Health Checkin

Had some nice news this morning when I realized that despite being on vacation, I’m only two and a half pounds away from the result I was hoping for by June 18th. This means, of course, that the goal must be revised…so the new goal is 7.5 pounds by the 18th (which is a friend’s wedding date, and I shall be appearing in the wedding). If I can do it, I’ll be that much closer to my ultimate goal. If not…at least I won’t feel like I can slack off on my efforts!

Of course, the key to the changes I’m trying to make in my life – eating healthier, exercising, taking care of myself – are not the kinds of efforts that I can slack off on once my goal is achieved. Healthy living, I have to keep reminding myself, is a lifestyle – not an all-out sprint to a goal that can then be abandoned.

So how have I been doing? Well, I managed to get to the gym an average of 3 times a week since January, I’ve cut my sodium levels down to a mere fraction (and a small one, at that) of what I used to eat, and I’ve incorporated things like organic fruit, eggs and vegetables into my diet whenever possible. The most High-Fructose Corn Syrup I’ve had in ages was the lemonade I drank at a sports bar last week, and the presence of processed foods in my diet has gone down to almost zero.  What have been the results? A shrinking number on the scale, better endurance and energy, and, yes, a blood pressure that’s significantly lower than it was when I started worrying about all this stuff back in January.

I still have a ways to go, but progress is definitely being made…