20 Days In


It’s been nearly 3 weeks since I made a firm commitment to getting my chubby self into better shape. So many friends and acquaintances have come through with great advice and have shared similar stories about their struggles with food and/or weight – it’s been quite inspiring.

The honesty and openness has been humbling, and I’m so grateful to those who have and who continue to share. Seeing my friends at various stages of their own process helps me to really internalize the long-term nature of this project.

Let me share with you a little slice of my own motivation for getting going with this, apart from a general sense of wanting to be thinner and, therefore, healthier. Ok, and wanting to buy clothes at regular, normal-sized-person stores.

(Apologies in advance to The Engineir, who has no idea this has been weighing on my mind, and who really is a wonderful person.)

The last time my husband gave me a compliment was on our wedding day, just over a year ago. “You look beautiful,” he said. At the time, I couldn’t remember the last time he’d given me a compliment like that, and so I made a mental note to pay attention and make sure I wasn’t just taking them for granted.

Some of you who haven’t met me in person won’t realize I’m not someone who pays a lot of attention to fashion, or make-up, or trying to look “put-together” most of the time. Indeed, I’m a t-shirt and jeans/shorts kind of person – I value comfort and utility in clothing most of the time. So, I can understand Mike not coming home every day and saying, “WOW! You look FANTASTIC in those chicken-poop-covered jeans!” or “Boy, you sure do look sexy when you haven’t showered in over 24 hours! I really dig the bits of leaves in your hair.”

Every now and then, though, I’d give it a shot – putting on some make-up, dressing up a bit when we went out, et cetera. But still… nothing. I started feeling even more depressed about the state of my physical self.

A year passed, and then a bit more. And then I decided to get my shit together and change my relationship to food and to my body.

A few days ago, I dyed my hair a reddish-purple color. “I like it,” The Engineir said. I figured that almost counted as a compliment, however small it might be (I was glad he liked it, of course.) That was the first compliment-like thing he’d said, though, since our wedding day. It stings a bit.

It’s not something I felt comfortable approaching him with, either – “Hey, why don’t you compliment me more often?!” I mean… gosh. For someone who’s insecure already, not receiving compliments is pretty much a validation of all of my fears: Of course he’s not giving me compliments… I don’t deserve them. How could anyone find this fat body compliment-worthy? Of course I don’t look “nice” or “pretty,” I look like a fat girl who is either a.) wearing too-loose clothing to cover up the fat rolls, thereby exacerbating the problem, or b.) wearing normal-fitting clothes and has the telltale fat rolls flying in living color.

Worse than not receiving compliments would be receiving fake or pity compliments. <shudder>

 If I complain about not being complimented, he’ll feel like he has to compliment me, even if he doesn’t mean it, and then I’ll just have to shoot myself in the head.

Anyhow. All of that was a long way of saying, “maybe if I lose weight, my husband will think I’m pretty,” which is another reason to keep at the hard work.

It is work, too.

Most days, I have a protein shake for breakfast and lunch, some type of carby pre-workout snack, and a whole food dinner. Most days.

Yesterday, for example, I went on an eight-hour motorcycle ride with a couple of friends, and we stopped at a small-town pizza joint for lunch. They had no healthy or gluten-free options, so I went with the flow and ate 3/4 of a 10-inch pizza. It was what it was (damned tasty!)

If I plan things out carefully, I can eat a pretty decent set of meals, as I did on this day (I also earned about 550 extra calories from exercise here:)

Or, if I don’t think things through, I can blow a bunch of calories in stupid places and have to make up for it with more exercise or less food (no exercise on this day, but some unwise food choices:)

Before today, I had lost 7 pounds, plus 1 inch from my waist and 1.5 inches from my hips – not bad. Not as “insta-progress” as my impatient self might want, but it’s progress. This morning, though, I had gained back nearly 2 pounds. Argh! I know it will come back off again, and probably soon, but it’s still discouraging.

Many will say “don’t weigh yourself every day; do it weekly, heck even monthly!” But it’s hard to walk past the scale without hopping on “just to check.” Maybe I’ll put the scale away someplace out of sight, but the urge to know is pretty powerful.

I haven’t been keeping any self-destructive treats in the house, which surely helps in the discipline department, but there are indeed times when I get Serious Cravings. Sometimes they’re easily put to bed by a stevia-sweetened lemonade, other times they just sit and fester and suck.

I’ve been religiously tracking my food and exercise on My Fitness Pal, which is a tool I really recommend. My daily calorie goal is 1200, to which I can add more by working out. 1200 calories is a pretty fair number if I’m only having shakes for breakfast and lunch, and am careful about dinner portions and content. I did have to drop drinking milk most of the time, though, which is a huge bummer. At 160 calories for 8 ounces, that’s a significant portion of my daily allotment. On the plus side, though, we’re spending a lot less on milk (and actually, other food, too) these days.

Thus far, I’ve only exceeded my calorie goal on one day, and thermodynamics dictates I will have to lose weight if I am diligent in sticking to it.

The goal, however, remains firmly in mind – a body I’m not ashamed of. That’s a powerful motivator.

I spend a fair amount of time being “somewhat hungry,” but I seldom get to the point of Really Uncomfortably Hungry. I seriously do look forward to dinner, though!

The Engineir had a birthday recently, and to celebrate we went up north to Ludington, Michigan. This is a lovely spot, right on Lake Michigan, with beautiful, sandy beaches. Naturally, since it was right around the fourth of July, all of the beaches were jam-packed with sun-bathing, lake-swimming, tanned people, many of whom were just fantastically fit, and didn’t seem to have a care in the world sporting their swimwear. How I envied them.

I think I have always assumed it comes easy to The Randomly Slender Folks, but of course some of them work really hard at staying fit; it just looks like an effortless state of being.

While it’ll probably be a year  (perhaps longer,) before I can be among the number of happy swimsuit people, every day is a part of the journey toward that goal.

It’s been hot as blazes here in Michigan for the last several weeks – temperatures averaging between 90 and 100, and we’re having one hell of a drought to boot. Scary times, climatologically, but we can talk about that later.

When it’s over 85 degrees, I don’t do well exerting myself outside; I become tachycardic and nauseated. Thus, I wasn’t able to ride the bike and get my regular cardio workout. My metabolism needs to be kicked in the ass; dieting alone or exercise alone doesn’t do the trick anymore.

So, after much internal debate, I joined a local 24/7/365 gym. I figure $29.99/month is a pretty fair deal, especially if it helps me to reach my goal faster, and maintain it once I get there. It’s a monthly investment to make sure I’m doing what I need to do. I’m really digging the air-conditioned gym environment, but I do get bored on the equipment more quickly than on the bike.

The gym has nice, new machines which are easy to operate and which allow me to vary what I’m doing when I inevitably get bored. I’ve spent a lot of time on the treadmill (4 mile per hour pace typically, with occasional jogging for a few minutes (ick,)) and I’ve been incorporating some elliptical training, too. The elliptical kicks my ass, incidentally; I’ve only been able to do it for 10 minutes thus far without wanting to puke.

Saturday, I started doing some light weight-lifting, too; leg curls and extensions, bicep curls, hip ab/adduction. My fitness gurus assure me I’ll burn more calories at rest when I have more muscle, and my physiology coursework would seem to agree with them.

I’m finding tools to help me to my goals. I’ve been using Endomondo (a workout tracking site) since I took up bicycling a year and a half ago, and two days ago, my FitBit arrived. This is a handy little clip-on device with an accelerometer and altimeter to help track how active I am during the day, and includes steps taken, calories burned, flights of stairs climbed, and has a sleep quality algorithm built-in.

It’s nearly 3pm, so I should head over to the gym before the post-work crowd makes me feel even more self-conscious and uncomfortable…

…And we’re back – the gym was nearly deserted, thank goodness. I really detest being the obviously out-of-shape newbie, even though everyone there has been very friendly. It’s all my own baggage weighing me down (figuratively and literally, I suppose.)

Now, to figure out some healthy but hopefully tasty thing for dinner, so The Engineir doesn’t have to feel like he’s on the diet with me.


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19 responses to 20 Days In

  1. David Smalley

    Good work Lady,

    Yes building muscle will help burn calories, something I read recently said to build up some muscle (yes gain weight) then cut back on the amount of calories you take in. That way your body burns off more even at rest

    I am proud you are taking charge of part of your life you do have control over : )

    What I remember most of you is your great smile. Keep it up.

  2. Bob D.

    Great job, keep up the good work! I know it’s not easy, and I respect your efforts!

  3. -B

    Congrats on the progress. +2 is simply an outlier. Ignore it and keep on the downward glide slope!

    I look at your logs and scratch my head. Mine seems simpler.

    coffee – 1

    water: 2

    Mid morning snack
    apple (or banana)

    water: 2

    weight watchers or other microwave dinner (under 300 calories)

    water: 2

    large salad (with grilled chicken but no croutons, etc.)
    1 Tbsp of vinaigrette

    water: 2

    Dinner’s often subd with something like a small burger, fried egg or 2, etc. with condiments being primarily mustard (low calories). No fries, cheese, little dairy, etc. simply because they cost to much toward the daily limit (as you found with the milk). If I sub lunch, then I go light on dinner. I’d never make it with the shakes you’re doing. Not enough filler for me.

    But we’re all different, so ever onward and downward!

    • Erin D.

      Yours does look simpler, but I’m being obsessive about getting as accurate a calorie count as I can. I enjoy a wide variety of foods, and know the more healthy foods I choose, the better off my body will be. I’m really bummed about not drinking as much milk, because it really makes my body happy – as soon as I drink a glass, it’s like my tissues go “ahhhhh, thank you; I know just what to do with this stuff.”

      Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  4. -B

    The big thing is finding a combination that works for you, so again, congratulations.

    I re-read my typical day and can only think… ugh… how boring. 🙂

  5. SLneir

    go ahead and drink your milk . One a day won’t make that much difference. Make your body happy.!!!

  6. -B

    It’s all about compromise. Drink the milk and drop something else if you get to your daily calorie cap.

    I had sushi last night. YUM! I skipped the snacks throughout the day as my trade.

    On a different day, I might have decided to skip the sushi and fill up on more filling, lower calorie choices.

    • -B

      Personally, it was the “what the hell, it’s only…” mindset that lead to me being 320 pounds. Believe me, this is the first time I’ve said anything publicly about that number. Years of “giving in” added up and it was something I was ashamed of. Switching back into that mindset is far to easy (for me).

      • Erin D.

        Hey, kudos for putting the number right out there – I know how scary that is. But it’s in your past now, and you won’t go back that way again, I bet!

        I have that same blind spot: “It’s only $5.00,” “It’s only *one* bowl of ice cream,” et cetera. Man does that stuff all add up, fo sho.

        I still wrestle with all of it, obviously, but I hope I’m retraining my brain and awareness.

        You’re awesome, Mark – thanks for sharing. 🙂 <3

  7. -B

    The strangest thing started happening in the past few weeks. I’ve not been hungry before time to eat. This is after myfitnesspal cut my daily target by 312 calories a day. The first few weeks it was like when first starting on my diet. It was crazy trying to stay under the goal and not go nuts. Then, just out of the blue, there was a day when I was way full yet way under my target. Then another and another. The only times I break out the top of the target is when I intentionally eat extra (not because I’m hungry but because I’m lazy and undisciplined). Based on the first… 10 months (really?) this is a new thing. I’m not talking about 100 calories under target either. I’m talking I’m full and not getting hungry on days where I’ve only had half the target intake. I then have to grab something to bring it up over the bottom end so the app doesn’t nag me about the risk of my body going into “starvation mode” (where it then becomes harder to lose weight).

    It’s crazy but I hope it keeps up like this.

    Here’s to the day when your body also shifts gears.

    • Erin D.

      That’s fantastic! 🙂 I’ve already noticed I feel full sooner, and get hungry less often. Yesterday I didn’t do very well (we were traveling, it was 8,000 degrees, and I ate stuff I wouldn’t have normally (510 calories in a medium Burger King Mocha Frappe, incidentally.)

      By the time I got home, though, I was still under my target after adding in the couple of hundred calories burned by riding.

      Then… then, I took my bedtime drugs.

      And then? I ate ALL THE STUFF. For a “bedtime snack,” I had a piece of bread with peanut butter on it, a black plum, a cup of whole milk, 1/2 cup of popcorn, a cup of cole slaw, and a tomato.

      The non-drugged portion of my brain was literally saying, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! STOP IT!! You don’t want this stuff, what the hell?!”

      And the rest of me said, “screw you; this is DELICIOUS.” Nom, nom, nom.

      That binge put me 192 calories over my goal – which is still not too damn shabby. 1680 calories (my total daily intake for yesterday) is probably easily 1000 calories under my typical day two months ago – possibly more.

      As I was lying down to go to sleep, your words (paraphrased) echoed in my head: “It was just one day. Tomorrow is a new one. Soldier on!”

    • Erin D.

      Apparently, my subconscious wanted to give this a try. I “need” over 700 calories more today, but I’m full from dinner. >.<

      • -B

        Yesterday was a bad day for me, too. Angus blue cheese sliders at the Batman movie, a double bourbon that was really a full low ball glass (she was pouring HUGE shots), and then SOMEONE brought some some oreo double stuffs. ACK!

        • Erin D.

          Jinkies! Sounds like an extravagant day. 🙂 Still, I bet you enjoyed it all, and it’s only a blip on the radar. Back to it! Also, your theatre has blue cheese sliders? Jeez!

          • -B

            A whole menu AND booze! Delivered to you in the theater unless you’re in the iMax. Then it’s drinks and snacks only.

          • Erin D.

            Wow, nice! We had a place like that in Centralia (The Olympic Club, a McMennamin’s joint,) but they only did second-run films. Jealous!

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