Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wasting Away

For any readers who know me in the mythical land of "Real Life," or have simply seen photos of me, it's obvious I am more than a little chubby.  If you wanted to be medically accurate but slightly less tactful, "morbidly obese" is another applicable term.  Maybe it doesn't sound nice, but sugar-coating an ugly truth doesn't impede its veracity.  To be fair, while the fact I am overweight is apparent, most are shocked if they hear my ACTUAL weight.  I carry it well, and have a very large frame.  Even my doctors have been shocked.  As such, I don't think I will ever be at a "normal" BMI - as flawed as that scale is! - nor do I strive to be.  It's not the numbers that matter, but how I feel, physically, and how I feel about myself, mentally.

The problem is, however, that the answer to both of those has been increasingly negative over the past several months.  I haven't decided yet that I'm going to blatantly tell you how much it is I weigh, but I will say that on June 1st, I was at or around the highest weight of my adult life, 30 pounds heavier than I was when I started dieting while engaged and nearly 70 pounds heavier than I was when I said my vows just three and a half years ago.

For me health, for my self-esteem, and for the hypothetical possibility of ever carrying a healthy pregnancy, these truths were rapidly becoming unacceptable.

I think whenever anyone makes a major life change, there is some big "a-ha!" moment.  I've had several little moments like that, but they haven't been enough to spur me into the lifestyle changes I need to make to get my weight under control.  What was?  When I was at the NASASocial event for the SpaceX COTS 2/3 launch last month, I was on NASATV several times.  Many friends helpfully sent me screen shots of me from their own streams while I was at the event.  While I should have been thrilled at this (and I was, believe me), I was also absolutely disgusted.  I look at myself every morning in the mirror, true - but here I was, and I repulsed myself.  (Don't say anything to reassure me - this is about how *I* feel about myself, remember?)

That was my "wake up call."  Almost accidentally, I immediately began calorie counting again, via SparkPeople (the same method I used to lose nearly 40 pounds before my wedding) and before I knew it, I'd lost 6 pounds in the first week!  It's addicting at that point, honestly, and now, at just over three weeks in, I've lost 14 pounds.  Today was the first day I really FELT like I was wasting away.  I still have a long way to go, granted, but the fact was, the scale was showing progress, but I was still just feeling like a blob.  AND not eating junk food.  Not a good trade-off.  But I wore a skirt today that has been tight for years and it was comfortable.  A shirt that's been too small fit fine!  I'm noticing little changes, and they are keeping me on track when the path seems difficult.

So what's my plan, then?  I've been asked this over and over, usually to a chorus of "oh, I tried all that, and it just didn't work for me."  Here's a fact that isn't evident when I simply lay out a list of what I'm doing: I am REALLY REALLY REALLY OCD.  I am EXACT in everything I can be.  I weigh EVERYTHING I eat.  I even bought a new, more precise digital kitchen scale.  I don't squirt dressing onto my sandwiches or salads - I measure it by the gram or tablespoon.  I don't sneak licks or bites if I can't get an exact figure to account for later.  I do a LOT of math to get all my figures right.  I weigh empty peels and vegetable rinds and measure cups of water.  In order for calorie counting to be effective, you MUST be exact!  Over OR under are bad, and tracking nutrients is just as important because eating 1700 calories a day is FINE if it's nutritious - you can lose a lot of weight that way!  But, eating 1200 a day of, say, chocolate frosting, isn't going to do it.  It's a full, balanced menu.  When I say I "calorie count," I mean I EVERYTHING count, as precisely as I can.  It isn't easy, no.  But I get results through my effort.  I'm not trying to belittle anyone for whom this method DOESN'T work... I just want to explain why I have had so much success with it - basically, because I'm crazy.  ;)

So here's what I've been up to:

  • Calorie counting
  • Drinking a TON of water, very little of anything else
  • Weighing in on my Wii Fit at least once a day to keep myself accountable
  • Eating breakfast to jump start my metabolism
  • Upping fruits and vegetables
  • Snacking responsibly to avoid hunger
  • Compensating for calorie overages by shaving a few off my totals for subsequent days
  • Exercising!  SO important... my Wii Fit has been great, because it's FUN, and I've also enjoy many brisk neighborhood walks
  • Trying REALLY HARD for at least 7 hours of sleep a night
  • Reading SparkPeople/other health and weight loss blogs - enhances my mind set
  • Posting about my progress frequently on Facebook and Twitter, again to be accountable, and to mentally reward myself with encouragement

As you can see, there are a lot of typical "diet" things, but there are also lifestyle changes, and there are "healthy habits" that may not directly impact my weight loss, but get me in a healthier mindset by surrounding myself with information that keeps me on track.

One of the important things, I think, is that it's OKAY to splurge a little, as long as I keep myself accountable for it.  I had a few M&Ms today, and they were wonderful and fit perfectly into my calorie and nutrient counts fort the day.  I've found if you deprive yourself of something entirely, all you do is crave it more and more.  Furthermore, when something is "forbidden," it's always just THAT MUCH MORE enticing!  Having a few (portion control!) candies, cookies, or chips a day isn't going to kill you... and that's so important.  If you're going to stop enjoying your life just to lose a few pounds... what's the point?  I know there's a niche for stricter diets, because some people have trouble taking only an inch and leaving the mile, but for me, personally, a little sweet or salty reward or distraction is important and stops me from ever wanting to sit here and eat an entire pizza with a chocolate milkshake.  It keeps me sane!  And once I get to the "maintain" stage, I'll have a little more freedom... but I also know that once you wipe junk food out of your habits, you honestly don't crave it as much anymore.  And it makes you feel HORRIBLE!  I had a few fried cheese sticks last night at a family dinner, and, while I enjoyed them immensely, I really enjoyed the steamed broccoli more!  I've found my body WANTS to eat healthy, and knowing that has made it so much easier to stay on track.

Of course, I haven't been perfect.  But I'm making progress, and slowly wasting away, in the most excellent of fashions.  I have a long long long (long long long long...) way to go, and I don't know if I'll ever get to where I want to be, or if I'll ever be "thin." But I want to be HEALTHY, and I want to be comfortable in my body.  I'm doing this for myself, and I'm actually enjoying it!

So this is what I've been up to lately... and will be up to for some time.  Naturally, as it goes on, it takes more of a background role in my life, but I wanted to talk about it, because it's important to me, and because I'm sure I'll have plenty to write about later that references it.

But for now, I'll keep on trucking.  And maybe sometime soon, I'll post some pictures of my progress... or my cooking.  When it looks edible, at least.

Which is becoming a more frequent occurrence, I swear!


  1. Good for you! It's so, so, so, so hard to get started and to stick with it. I know I need to start calorie counting myself but I'm not as exact as you. But I need to learn to be! Keep up the great work. You CAN do it and it sounds like you're doing it exactly right -- the healthy way, even if it's not the fastest way.

  2. fantastic! I have never heard of 'spark people' before.

    1. If you have any interest in it, go ahead and put "twirlandswirl" as your referral when/if you sign up. I'll be connected to you, and I get site points. :P #totallyselfless

  3. OMG I love you and I'm so happy you're doing this right now. I too have been WAY heavier than I ever have been. I am completely the opposite of you I calorie count but not OCD, and therefore the snicker wins. SO I started medifast which takes all the guess work out of it. I'm getting similar results to yours- which PROPS to you girl cause you didn't spend the money I'm spending and yours is a lifestyle change, thus more likely for you to continue it after you've attained an ideal weight.

    Anyway, I'm so proud of you and keep me posted and stay in touch if you need someone to walk with gimme a shout I'd love to hang out! :)

    Love you!! :)