Wide Angle

This is the photo that is on my new light rail pass:

eco pass photo

I can’t even get this photo to look as stretched and bad as it does in person.

What in the world?  As if I didn’t already cringe every time I see a photo of myself.  It’s bad enough that I have to accept normal photos of myself which testify of an unavoidable truth about my size, but now, to add insult to injury, my light rail photo has been stretched even wider.  My head is the shape of a sideways egg.

I think that almost every person that has started a diet has that one picture that alerted them to the fact that they are actually heavier than they thought.  I say almost because I had a neighbor once that said she found out she was heavy through gossiping.  She saw an old friend (let’s call her Linda) that she hadn’t seen in a while, and Linda had gained a significant amount of weight.  She said that she was talking (gossiping) to another friend about how much weight Linda had gained, and her other friend said, “Um.  I hate to break it to you, but you are about the same size as she is.” She was indignant!  She went to her husband and told him, “I can’t believe what she said! She said I was the same size as Linda!”  She said that her husband looked at the ceiling.  Then he looked at the floor.  Then he quietly said, “I think that she might be right.” Awkward pause. “I think I’m going to go work in the garage for awhile.”  He exited the scene as fast as he could.  That was when my friend finally realized that she was, in fact, overweight.

I didn’t need someone else to tell me that I was overweight.  I knew since elementary school that I was bigger than everyone else.  Granted, I was only about 10-20 pounds more than others, even through high school, but I knew.  I would worry that when a group of kids were laughing, they were laughing at me.  It took until my 20s to not be self-conscious about my body anymore.  Still, photos were a constant reminder that the weight was there.

I think that there is a big difference between being self-conscious about your body and being realistic.  I know that I am fat. I don’t deny it. Denial can be just as dangerous as self-consciousness.  I don’t necessarily like it, either.  When I see photos like the one on my new bus pass, I am reminded that my faults are available for everyone to see.  I think that this photo rubbed me the wrong way because it exaggerated something that I already knew was an issue.

So, there is one of the things that I want to die with my diet.  I want the shame that comes with taking photos to die.  I want to be able to look at myself and not have to acknowledge my biggest fault.  I want to look at myself and just see me.



It took me a while to get to the computer this evening.  I was watching the social media fallout from the Biggest Loser finale.  I am not going to comment on it directly, because I’m sure many people have not watched it yet.  I’m just not sure if the show pushed the contestants too far or if they did it themselves…

I have really struggled with starting my new diet.  For years.  I was going to start initially in 2011, but I just couldn’t get my act together.  I was scared, because I sacrificed a lot to start our family’s business. Then, I sacrificed for years while having our four children.  I was not ready to sacrifice food.  I just couldn’t do it.

Good food has been a guest in all of my family events since birth.  In fact, the quality of a family event was judged by the quality of food served.  I had to accept that I had to let go of that idea of food as comfort to start this diet.  I was holding onto it.  I couldn’t imagine letting it go.

I’ve lost weight before.  I even kept it off for a few years, but I still clung to food for comfort.  Despite my association of food as comfort, I was able to keep weight off.   I didn’t have to worry about feeding other people.  I just had to worry about myself.  Now I need to find a way for this to work with my family.  I just didn’t know how to do that.

Then, on Sunday I had a breakthrough.  Nothing exciting happened.  No one encouraged me.  All of the sudden, I just realized that I am ready.  I knew that I was ready for my journey.

I don’t know what was so freeing about that moment, but since then I have not struggled with food.  I know that I am ready.  Perhaps blogging helped me get in the right frame of mind.  I’m not sure, but I know that I am ready for this now.

Let’s do this.

What do the Broncos have to do with weight loss?

I am sitting here from my home in the Denver area, processing the Broncos’ loss in the Super Bowl.  I’m not much of a football fan, so I am not as sad as all of those around me.  Instead, I have been thinking of how to turn this disappointing loss into a learning experience.

How the Broncos’ 2013 season is a metaphor for weight loss

The Broncos started the season strong.  They were good.  They were on fire. The same goes for someone that starts a new diet.  The first week usually shows a decent loss on the scale.  It’s easy to be excited, motivated.

The Broncos had a good season. Sure, they lost a game every few weeks, but they won most of their games.  The fans were excited; the adrenaline was pumping.  That adrenaline fueled each new game. Likewise, when you are losing weight successfully, you feel invincible.  When you keep seeing good losses every week, an occasional bad week won’t get you down.

The Broncos played well through the playoffs.  Then, the Super Bowl came. The very first play by the Broncos offense was a disaster.  The center thought he heard Manning’s voice and snapped the ball before Manning was ready.  The image of Manning’s face as he saw the ball fly by was one of confusion and surprise.  That one play seemed to set the stage for a disastrous game.  The Broncos never seemed to regain their footing.

The same can happen when we have a hard week in weight loss.  Maybe we give into peer pressure and eat something we are not supposed to eat.  Maybe we are stressed and eat emotionally.  Maybe we just doubt our own ability to succeed and don’t see any hope for the future. In a country so obsessed with food, it is easy to lose your footing.

Momentum is everything in weight loss.  It is easy to give up when we feel that our efforts are going to produce results.  Our journey doesn’t have to be like the Broncos game tonight.  You could feel their spirit being crushed with each bad play, each touchdown that the Seahawks scored.  Each mistake that we make on our own journey can seem to hold us back.

Life is hard.  It is even harder when you have to lose weight.  What is going to keep you motivated–even through the hard spots?  There are times when every person feels the weight of the world on their shoulders.  What is going to keep you going in the hard times.  The Broncos never gained footing in the Super Bowl, even though they had a spectacular year.  It was the negativity of the moment that seemed to keep them down.

I have no answer for myself yet, but after watching the game, I know that I need to prepare myself beforehand to have hard times.  What am I going to do to keep myself motivated?  It is so easy to focus on the present and forget how spectacular we are and how far we’ve made it.  I am certainly guilty of dwelling on the mistakes of the current day and not looking back on my long term successes.  I don’t yet know what my inspiration will be, but I think I need to find it now before I go through the rough times.  What will be my lighthouse when I hit the fog?

The Broncos were a great team.  They lost sight of it for a short period of time, and it derailed their goals.  I don’t want that to happen to me.

What will be your lighthouse?

Outer Island Light Station

Outer Island Light Station, Apostle Island National Park, Wisconsin. nps.gov

The die in diet

My parents recently went on a Kaiser directed eating plan.  At the orientation, my dad was sitting next to a sizable fellow.  My dad said that while the nurse talked about the program, the man was not listening. Instead, the whole time he was writing the word diet and circling the first three letters.:


die in diet

Die in Diet

I don’t think that he is the only one that hates the word diet.

I teach college writing.  Once, one of my students wrote a paper on dieting.  Basically, she said that if people that needed to lose weight would stopping using the word diet and use the word “healthy living” instead, the dieting crisis would be solved and there would be world peace.  (Okay, I added the last part.)

I sat down with her and told her that you could not make the solution to a complicated issue seem so easy.  If it were easy to lose weight, then everyone would be thin.  In fact, by saying that losing weight (or quitting smoking or stopping drug use) is an easy task, it devalues the effort of all of the people that have tried to lose weight with no success.   Instead of listening, she then proceeded to show me why her argument was correct. (I suspect that she was really making a statement to me. For my feelings on that, see my last post.)

There is nothing easy about dieting.  In fact, I die a little bit inside at the thought of it.  But if you really think about it, parts of you do die with any diet.  I would like the part of me that is worried about sitting in wicker chairs to die.  Also, I would like the part of me that is worried about whether or not I am photographed at a bad angle to die.  I would like the part of me that is super hot in the summer because I have so much insulation to die.

I guess the “die” in diet is not all bad.  I think I will start making a list of the things I want to die with my weight.  I’ll make sure to show them in a later post!

(Fun side note: My husband, who has always been at a healthy weight, was curious about why I’ve been typing so much lately.  I finally showed him my last post about thin people diagnosing fat people.  When he reads my other blog, he makes a comment about it.  This time, he was silent.  Finally, I asked him what he thought.  His response: “I’m afraid to say anything.”  I can’t say that I blame him. Ha!)

Thin people diagnosing fat people

One of my major pet peeves is when a thin person tries to diagnose why I’m fat.   I find that most of these people have been thin their whole lives; they’ve never had to deal with their weight.  The ones who brag about what great shape they’re in are my favorite.  If I were 120 pounds, I could run, too.

This starts in high school.  After I skipped my breakfast and ate my 150 calorie lunch, I would have to listen to someone give me weight loss advice as she or he was wolfing down Taco Bell.  Then, when I was in college, I would be living off of lime jello and lima beans.  These same people were giving me advice as they were eating their footlong sub and 16 ounce soda.  Now, I read their advice in newspapers.  Don’t even get me started on the comments section.

I was reading an article in the New York Times today about obesity:

NYTimes Link

The New York Times: Obesity Is Found to Gain Its Hold in Earliest Years

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE the New York Times.  I just get tired of skinny people trying to diagnose fat people.  Basically, the article says that if you are overweight as a child, you will be obese as an adult.  No one knows how to cure childhood obesity.

No one ever considers the fact that our ancestors all come from different areas of the planet.  I am part African American and part Native American.  Neither of my native cultures eats wheat or high amounts of other carbohydrates like what is found in the American diet.  Our culture pushes bread and pasta as healthy.  It is also a cheap form of food.  High sugar foods are available in large quantities everywhere.  It makes sense that those of us that hail from cultures that do not consume large amounts of carbohydrates would have a hard time processing those carbohydrates.  I wish I knew that when I was younger.

When I was younger, I would eat small amounts of whole grains all day. I virtually eliminated fat.  That was what was supposed to be good for me.  Meanwhile, I would dream about steak fat and butter and think that I was weak-minded.  Perhaps, my body was telling me what I was not eating enough fat in my low fat diet.  I could gain weight easily–even when controlling my portions.

I was not alone.  I know lots of other overweight people that are doing the same thing.  We eat what we are “supposed” to eat.  Then our bodies crave the foods that our bodies need.  Why do we ignore our bodies and listen to some magic pyramid?  By the way, studies show that since the FDA pyramid was released, the country has been slowly getting fatter.

Are my ideas radical?  No, not really.  There has been a lot of talk about nutritional typing.  I know that I am the protein type.  If you look at a list of foods that are good for the protein type, I craved or dreamt about every single one every time I was on a Weight Watchers diet.  By not eating the foods that fueled my body, I was destined to fail.

Now, when I realized that I wasn’t designed to eat pasta, I was relieved.  I never liked spaghetti or pasta salad anyway.  I ate them out of some kind of obligation.  They were fat free, after all.

I guess my point is that we should learn to listen to our bodies and not a bunch of people that have no idea what it is to be fat.  Except when your body craves sugar.  Don’t eat that.  It’s like a drug.  I think that we spend too much time trying to use “willpower” when our bodies are trying to tell us that we need something.

The worst part?  All of these skinny experts are telling us what we should be eating. And the more we eat like they tell us, the bigger we get.

Weigh In #1

I did it!  I finally remembered to weigh myself!  I remembered after breakfast.  I considered waiting until tomorrow, but I decided to stop putting off the inevitable.  If you look at my photos, you see that my ostrich method–hiding, hoping my weight would disappear–is not working so well.


It is a big number, but I was actually pleasantly surprised.  I weigh exactly the same as I did last year.  When you’ve been steadily gaining 10 pounds a year, not gaining a single pound is a great improvement!  I learned about nutritional typing at the beginning of the year and started eliminating a lot of the foods I shouldn’t have been eating.  Most of them I don’t even like, but ate because they were all over that dumb FDA food pyramid.  I was still eating junk food, though.  But I didn’t gain any weight.  That showed me that I was on the right track.

I decided for some crazy reason to look up my BMI.  53.5.  YIKES.  Anything over 30 is considered obese.  To not be considered obese I have to weight 170. That is 137 pounds less than I weigh now.  What the heck has happened to me?

(By the way, I remember 170, and I was a size 12.  Since when was a size 12 considered obese?)

My target weight is 140.  That is at the top of my healthy range.  I picked the top of my range intentionally.  I once read a big article once about how to tell where you are supposed to fall in your healthy range (BMI of 20-25).  If you have small wrists, you should aim for the lower end of the range.  If you have large wrists, your ideal weight should fall on the higher end of the range.  The article I read said that a large wrist indicated that you are bigger boned and vice versa.  I own bigger boned.  My wrists are huge.  (Even when I was thin they were huge.)

I have to lose 167 pounds.

I am no longer pleasantly surprised. 167 pounds is 54% of my body weight.  That is more than half.  That number is totally insane.  It is time to get this under control.

I believe in setting goals.  My first goal is to lose 27 pounds.  That puts me at 280.  Then I am only double my goal weight.  Only double.  Now I need to make a plan.  How should I go about this?  I need to eliminate my sugar cravings, but then what?… That is my project for this weekend.  Make a better plan.

167 pounds. Yikes.

Minor details

So, I was thinking about the pain of going without sugar and my diet, and I realized that I forgot one crucial step of dieting:  I forgot to weight myself when I started.

Call it denial or… Okay, it’s denial.  Now that I realized that I have yet to weigh myself, I thought about doing it now.  But I can’t do it now.  I have jeans on (jeans are heavy), and I just drank a bunch of water, and I ate both lunch and dinner.  Nope, it will have to wait until the morning.

There is an art to weighing yourself.  You certainly can’t weigh yourself after a meal.  That just won’t do.  It has to be before a meal, or you might weigh a few ounces more.  Also, it always helps to weigh yourself after you’ve gone to the bathroom.  Pee is heavy.  A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds.  Imagine how much weight you’ll lose just by peeing! The best time to weigh yourself is in the morning after you’ve been to the bathroom.  That has to be the lowest weight of the day.

Obsessions over silly small things like this is probably the reason why I have yet to tackle my obesity problem.  Still, I am waiting to weigh myself until tomorrow.

I’ll post the results!

I want on the train

I missed the train today.  This might not seem particularly life altering, but it symbolized a lot for me.

First of all, I was tired.  I have worked in Downtown Denver for years, and I have never felt this tired.  I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  My body was achy, and my energy was much lower than usual.  It didn’t occur to me until later that I was probably suffering from sugar withdrawal.  Still, I just felt like a sloth today.  This has to change.  I cannot function like this.

Second, I could have made the train if I had picked up my pace and run.  I knew when I saw the train that there was no reason that I could not make it.  I used to work downtown in the 1990s.  Back then I was in my early twenties, and I ran for the train almost every day.  I worked in an office building that was a 10 minute walk to the train station.  My group got off of work at 7:00.  The train came at 7:09.  It was a challenge to make the train, but we had a plan.

We worked in a call center for a telephone company.  We had to be online until 7:00.  One man in our group was always the first to make it to the elevator.  He would hold it while the rest of us energetic workers ran to meet him.  We rode the elevator about 7 floors to the main level, where we would dash to the train.  We had a pact that whoever got there first would hold the door for the rest.  Every evening we would collapse on the train seats, satisfied and out of breath.

Today, I was only yards away from catching the train.  It was right in front of me.  I just couldn’t run, though.  Being overweight bogs you down.  Things wiggle that didn’t used to wiggle.  I watched the train pass by.  You know the worst part?  For some reason the next two trains didn’t show up.  That never happens.  I was late to pick up my kids from school because I couldn’t run to a train just a few yards away.

Now that I’m blogging, I am very conscious of how my weight affects my life.  I am building a list of reasons why I want–no, need– to lose weight.

Next reason: I want to run to catch the train again.

They want to melt in my mouth

Today was the first day of my new lifestyle.  I decided to go easy on myself and just cut out sugar.  (Just.  Ha ha.)  I thought it would be easy.  After all, I’ve cut sugar out of my diet before.  Of course, that was when my kids and husband were out of town.  I just learned that cutting out sugar during my regular daily life is a totally different situation.  A situation that I underestimated.

It started with Phase 2.  Phase 2 is a program that I attend through a local church that supports mothers of school age children.  It is like a MOPS group for women with older kids.

At every Phase 2 meeting, we get a free Starbucks drink of our choice.  I really wanted a latte, but I couldn’t use my normal sweetener of choice, which is Sugar in the Raw or another similar sugar.  I have an aversion to sweeteners, because they are linked to all sorts of illnesses like MS and Alzheimer’s.  If there is any part of me that I want in good health when I’m old, it’s my mind.  I usually reach for stevia which is not as happy as sugar, but I left my stevia at home on the counter.  I looked at my options.  I have to poison my body or drink this latte unsweetened.  I took a drink of my unsweetened latte.  Yuck.  Poison it had to be–I grabbed the Splenda.

I made my way to my Phase 2 meeting.  I was proud of myself for remaining sugar free.  Sure, it was only 9:45, but you have the celebrate even the little successes.  I went to sit down at my table, and the table had little chocolates scattered everywhere and a bowl of M&Ms.

I am pretty picky about my chocolate.  The chocolate there wasn’t too tempting.  It was out of my view.  Well, it was until the meeting started.  The main speaker introduced herself. Then she said, “We are going to play a fun game.  Grab a couple of M&Ms from the bowl and sit them in front of you.”  Really?  I am trying to avoid sugar, and I have to grab some M&Ms and sit them right in front of me?

Everyone grabbed their M&Ms.  I reluctantly reached over and joined them.  I sat the M&Ms in front of me.  I swear they grew eyes.  They were staring at me.  I had a hard time understanding what we were supposed to be doing with them, because I felt that they were calling me.  Eat me.

After 20 intense moments with the M&Ms, the game was done.  I’m not even sure that I got anything out of it. I quickly grabbed the M&Ms and threw them in my coffee cup and replaced the lid.

I looked at the clock.  10:30.  Four hours into the day, and I felt like I wanted to give up.  This diet might have to start next Monday.  Just kidding.  I am ready for this.

Carb loading

I prepared for the beginning of tomorrow’s diet the way any sane future dieter would:  I ate all of the foods that I won’t be able to eat on my diet. (Except I didn’t eat any cheesecake.  I am kind of sad about that one.)  I wouldn’t normally eat this stuff in one sitting, either, but I did today.  I have sabotaged myself this way before.  Now I have to start the diet or I am going to gain even more weight.

For some reason, when I think about starting a new eating plan, I panic.  I have had to sacrifice so much in my life.  When we started our family business, I was poor for two years, and then I spend many frugal years paying off the six-figure price tag of debt that we spent starting our business.  I had my children earlier that I was expecting, and I put my dreams and career on hold.  I have sacrificed so much.  I cringe to think that I can’t even eat what I want.  I remember how I felt during my former years of starvation.  I don’t think I can function effectively while on a diet.

To start off, I am just eliminating sugar.  I say “just,” but this is the hardest part.  There goes the majority of my comfort foods.  I have an aversion to sweeteners, too, so I can’t substitute.  I know that I just need to let it go.  Why is this so hard?

Wish me good luck.  Pray for me.  I know that I need to do this, but I am scared.