Friday, September 2, 2011

It Has Begun

Happy Friday, all!  As promised, I weighed myself this morning, and I've lost four pounds.  Yea!  (smile-smile)  Yes, the great boulder has budged.   It was a relief to see that the effort did pay off.  I'm always afraid when I step on the scale, even when I'm sure I've lost something.   Now, to stay focused and keep it up!

I didn't even work at it that hard last week.  I never went to the gym, although I am staying pretty active with my yardwork and landscaping projects.  I didn't do my hypnosis tapes, either.  In fact, I even had wine most nights.  Hmm.  So what DID I do?  Well, I ate less often, and in smaller portions, and I cut out a LOT of carb-y things I would ordinarily snack on without much thought.   I upped my protein intake, too.  My old stand-bys worked wonders:  Wasa crackers with hummus, raw almonds, baby carrots, turkey, and fresh cucumber slices at the ready.   

One thing that really makes a difference is having C-Man do it with me.   He is more disciplined than I am and he sets a good example.  We've been talking about our next trip to Hawaii as well, maybe as soon as this March.  (Time for another count-down??)  Anyway, having someone to lean on and dream with makes all the difference in the world.  Besides, I don't want to let him down when he believes in me like he does.

So that's it for this week.  As the summer comes to a close and the new school year approaches, the battle with weight loss will probably get harder, but for now, all's well.   Maybe I can make some of these new habits stick before the stress, bad weather, and yummy food season begins.  See you next Friday!

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Back Where We Started ....

.... here we go 'round again!"  Who sang that?  The Kinks?   No matter.  In fact, a lot of song titles come to mind right now:  "Let's Do it Again,"  "Just Like Starting Over," "So Easy to Begin," and so on.  But I'm feeling good and charged up, and ready to make it happen, one more time.  C-Man and I have re-committed to living a healthier life and not being overweight anymore.  As he put it, "It's time to drop all the pounds and pack on the money!"   Boy, I do like the sound of that!   Our financial situation is about as tight as my "fat pants," and something's gotta give!  (And it ain't gonna be my seams.)   Actually, losing weight and saving money go together rather nicely.   We'll be eating out less often, and when we do, we won't be ordering alcohol.  (Have you noticed the price of a good margarita lately?  Good grief!)  Plus,  I'll be buying fewer "convenience items" and snacky stuff at the store, so some savings will be realized right away.    While we're on the subject of money, I've decided against going to Weight Watchers again or trying another plan like Jenny Craig, etc.  I don't want to have to spend money when I already know what to do.  As I keep saying, I know how - I just have a hard time sticking with it.  BUT ... I have accumulated a lot of knowledge and experience in my weight loss trick bag - even some secret weapons.   Time to drag them all out and take a look.  Here are some things I know always work for me:

As for food:
  • Avoid simple carbs (white foods - flour, sugar, pasta) as much as possible
  • Eat whole grains in moderation
  • Always have at least a bite of lean protein when eating carbs, even complex carbs
  • Keep good sources of protein ready, like turkey slices, chicken breasts, edamame, egg whites, low-fat string cheese, raw almonds, peanut butter, tofu
  • Water! Water! Water!  (never a problem -  I drink it all day)
  • Fat free milk
  • All the vegetables and fruit I want

As for behavior:
  • Always eat breakfast
  • Keep portions small; meals should be the size of my fist
  • Breathe before eating
  • Put utensils/food down between bites, and chew slowly
  • Pay attention; don't read, work, or watch TV while eating. (Talking to people is ok!)
  • Always check hunger level before deciding to eat something.  Do the "HALT":  Hungry?  Angry? Lonely? Tired?
  • Use small plates
  • Eat small meals rather than snack, and wait 2-1/2 - 3 hours between meals
  • Avoid eating after 8pm
  • Get enough sleep!
  • Exercise every day; aim for 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 times per week
  • Feeling snacky?  Brush teeth, and then drink more water

As for attitude:
  • Listen to hypnosis tapes every day  - (they help a lot if used consistently!)
  • Remember that I can do this, and say or write affirmations daily
  • Take one day at a time
  • Be grateful for my healthy body and treat it with love and respect
  • Visualize the results; set realistic goals and non-food rewards
  • Rejoice in every small victory
  • Be accountable by weighing in once a week (Fridays!), and maintain the blog
  • Keep my sense of humor
  • Tell that sour-faced, impatient critic on my shoulder to shut up and get lost
  • Think about sex and sexy underwear  - (Sorry - too much information?  )

And finally, secret weapons:
  • Diet tonic water with lime - tastes like a cocktail
  • Fat free canned evaporated milk- great cream substitute for coffee or making soups 
  • Wasa crackers - very filling, crunchy, and four whole ones are only 1 WW point
  • Sugar-free jello - eases the sweet tooth
  • Celery with peanut butter - yum!
  • Soup - good for healthy meal and slow eating
  • Baby carrots and sliced cucumbers
  • Popcorn (no butter, naturally)
  • Skinny Cows!   Only 1 or 2 WW points, and a great treat when you've gotta have one!

So there we are.  I can do this.  There's no more crappy food in the house, I have a gym membership, a blog, a supportive husband, and I even have a month before school starts again.  Today is Friday and I did go back and weigh myself.  Gulp.  I'm just 10 pounds lighter than my heaviest weight ever.   Here's a picture of me with my sisters.  (Can you guess which one is me??)  Interestingly, I'm wearing the same top I wore in the picture I posted on my first blog entry exactly two years ago.  All right, so the last two years got away from me, but not this time.   Stay tuned, and if anyone out there is in the same boat, I'm with you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Queen of "da-Nile"

That's right - it ain't just a river in Egypt.  And man, don't I know it.  I guess it's time to get back to the subject of weight loss. Frankly, I'd rather write about death and sex some more, but what can you do ...?  This is supposed to be a chronicle of how I overcame the fat life.  Fat?  Me?  Oh, yeah.  I almost forgot. (dang!)

Tomorrow we leave for Peoria to gather at my dad's for his annual "fake birthday" party.  It occurs to me that I wrote about this event two years ago, shortly after I'd started this blog.   August, 2009 - two flippin' years ago!  What have I been doing with all this time?   I've been doing a lot, actually.  It's so easy to put my priorities elsewhere.  When it comes to keeping myself occupied, I truly excel.  I can distract myself with all sorts of wonderful, challenging, and rewarding endeavors.  I am the Queen of  Distraction, the Duchess of Rationalization, and the Viscountess of "Absolutely, First Thing Tomorrow."   I've been doing about everything except losing weight. 

It's sad.  When I began this blog, I thought the public nature of it would keep me accountable in my weight loss efforts, and as I went along, I could share the emotional difficulties I have with the process and topic as a whole.  The sharing part was easy, fun, and therapeutic; writing is something I always enjoy.  But the weight loss part, well ... not so much.   In fact, as I have made abundantly clear, I hate the entire business of weight loss and everything that goes with it.   The whole subject makes me squirm with boredom and resentment.  Whenever I'm in a room with people and someone starts discussing this-or-that diet, I feel like getting up and saying, Excuse me.  I'm going to go hit myself over the head with a shovel.    Honestly, I'd rather discuss dryer lint.

But I can't walk away from myself and the reality of my weight problem.  Two years ago, I honestly believed that I was going to tackle this issue once and forever - finally!    Instead, I engaged in another series of false starts and stumbles.  Sigh.  So all right - no more denial, no more dinking around.  Mea cupla. I'm 50 now and my body is rebelling against all this extra weight.  My back and joints hurt.  I know what to do; I just have to do it.   I appreciate everyone's patience.  Now I want to earn your faith and respect, not to mention my own.  It's time to make losing weight my absolute, number one priority.   Come on, Irene.  Let's do it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oh, the Great and Wonderful "O" !

C-Man and I had a great night out on Saturday.  We went to  ACT Theater to see Sara Ruhl's new play, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play.  (Yes, that kind of vibrator!).  The play is set in the 1880's, the Victorian era and dawn of the new electrical age.   At that time, "women's sexuality" was barely acknowledged, let alone understood.  In the Victorian mind, women were considered innocent creatures, not burdened with the base, coarse desires of men.   Sex was inflicted upon them by their husbands, but they endured it out of wifely obligation and the need to become mothers. The Victorians still held onto the idea established in ancient Greece that a woman's "wandering womb" was responsible for many typical feminine complaints:  fatigue, restlessness, depression, anxiety, over- sensitivity, and countless physical symptoms as well.  In other words, women suffered from "hysteria."

What I didn't know was that, in fact, the early days of electricity did bring about a new treatment for hysteria - the vibrator.   Certain more progressive physicians found that a release of "pelvic congestion" could alleviate these symptoms almost immediately.   In the play, this curious device looked like a tire iron with a flattened rubber ball on the end of it.  The doctor would very unceremoniously place the knob atop the woman's nether regions, take out his pocket watch, and time the impending "paroxysm."  This release of congestion was frequently accompanied by rapid, heavy breathing, racing hearts, loud moans, lightning flashes behind the eyes, and often tears, laughter, or sudden appeals to God.  Of course, treatments would need to continue on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.  The bewildered patients did not object!  And the husbands could see results right away:  "My dear, the roses have returned to your cheeks!"  

So this play focuses on one such doctor, his patients, his own repressed and frustrated wife, and several other characters with issues of their own.  It is a thoroughly delightful and poignant look at intimacy, love, and marriage, among other things.  One thing we both appreciated about this play is that while wildly funny (dare I say, "hysterical"?), it never mocks any of the characters or the ignorance of their time.  Everyone in the audience knows what the characters don't, but we see them in a very loving, sympathetic light.  When you think about it, it's not hard to understand why early societies were so flummoxed by this paroxysm in females.  It involved the sex organs, but had absolutely nothing to do with reproduction!  Wha ???  There's also a collective sense of relief among the audience that sex is no longer such a dark mystery.

And yet .... it got me thinking about my own discovery of sex, the woman's orgasm in particular.  When I learned about sex from my parents, the word "orgasm" was never mentioned.  I had a vague knowledge that women could have them, but my definition of the event was WAY off.  I saw that my education about sex was not actually about "sex," it was about reproduction.  Even with a liberal, let-it-all-hang-out, semi-hippy mother, and a physician father, I'd have to figure it out through experience.   And now it has occurred to me, somewhat to my horror, that I've never discussed orgasm with my own daughter.  "Ejaculation," yes - but the other .....?  No, not once.   (Really?  Really.  Not once, and she's already 18.)   These Victorian embarrassments are still with us, or at least, some of us.  Maybe it's time I take her out to a play.  I wonder if The Vagina Monologues is showing anywhere .... ?  By the way, local peeps, ACT is running this show until August 28th.  Grab your loved ones and go see it!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bitter and Sweet: the View From 50

"Everything Must Change."  That's the song on my mind of late.  It's a beautiful song, bittersweet - both mournful and reassuring.    I'm in a reflective mood tonight as I attempt to bring this blog up to date, and these words and melody help soothe the sadness I'm feeling now.  One of my favorite covers is by Karrin Allyson, whom I believe hits it just right.  Here's a link, if you'd like to hear it. 

A very rapid 15 months has passed since my last post.  Many major events have occurred since then: C-Man and I got married (as did THREE of his nieces), and we both turned 50; my daughter graduated from high school; my sister had twins, two darling little girls; my son has been accepted into the astronautical engineering program and UW and joined a frat (!); and I took part in a Gates grant-sponsored pilot program which provided adult basic education to potential auto mechanics students.   Memorable reunions and joyous celebrations dotted the calendar this year.

But much of this period has been difficult, as well.   Suffice it say I've been dealing with some serious concerns and disappointments on both personal and professional fronts.  My confidence as a parent, a teacher, and indeed as a person has been shaken hard.   Some times when I look back over my life, all I can see are the things I've done wrong.  At 50, I realize there is less time for screwing up, and no one gets a mulligan.  Most of us have come to accept that "mistakes" are part of what shapes us and takes our lives where they're supposed to go, and that everything happens for a reason, etc. etc.  I say these things all the time, and I pretty much believe them.  But there isn't a one of us who, alone with our own reflections, hasn't felt the sting of real "failure."  And it hurts.

Even so, a few weeks ago I was talking with my husband and a friend of ours about how this time of our lives is really the sweetest - the best.   We're still young and healthy enough to do the things we want to do, we're (relatively) stable financially and professionally, we're stronger and wiser, we have friends to share the past and future with, and our kids are nearly-grown, so the most strenuous part of parenting is over.  If we're lucky, we'll have grandchildren to look forward to.  This is the best it gets, on so many levels.  Right here, right now.   It's almost too beautiful.  And there's an urgency to this understanding that hadn't been there before.  I'm feeling it in my gut.  Everything seems more real as the future looms closer, along with the changes, endings, and losses that must come with it.    As the song says, "Nothing stays the same ..... There are not many things in life you can be sure of, except rain comes from the clouds, sun lights up the sky, and hummingbirds do fly."

So yes, life is a precious gift, and we have to cherish every fleeting moment.  But today there is a real melancholy in our household.  First, our sweet old dog had to be put down on Friday due to a malignant tumor.  Up to the very last minute, she was utterly devoted to us, and wanted nothing more than to be near us and included in whatever was happening.  She gave us her whole heart, and demanded very little in return.

Even worse is another death this weekend - Marian, the mother of my daughter's best friend.  Though we weren't close, I've known her for years and consider her a friend.  She had a stroke,  developed a cerebral hemorrhage, went into a coma, and died yesterday morning.  Her daughter is only 18.   When my own mother died, I felt like a shattered window.   I was 36 at the time, and now 14 years later, the pain of that loss is still palpable.   I can't imagine what it must be like to lose a mother at 18, and my heart breaks for her.

Not long ago, our beloved Uncle Johnny also passed away unexpectedly.  He was a favorite of all of us - a natural comedian and jazz musician - and one of the sweetest men you could meet. For our wedding, he did all the photography, and then surprised us with a beautifully made coffee-table book of the wedding photos. He and my Aunt Christine had been married almost 50 years, and now she must begin to navigate through life without him.

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around all this loss.  Uncle John is still down in So. Cal. with Aunt Christine, Dakota is patiently (but eagerly) awaiting her walk, and Marian is still over at her house, baking her famous banana bread and doing whatever she normally does.  But no - they are gone and we all continue on.   I think about the people I love, the people they love, and how one day we all have to say goodbye.  I don't fear death, but I dread grief.   Yes, time waits for no one, but sometimes, sometimes ... I just wish I could make it stop for a while.