With love

Posted in: life- Apr 09, 2014 Comments Off on With love

Image by ©Gary Yost


Week 15: 50lbs, 5 Sams, and failing

Posted in: health- Apr 04, 2014 Comments Off on Week 15: 50lbs, 5 Sams, and failing

There’s nothing like a good bit of stress to put me to the test.  

sam_closeupSam, my love, my little fur baby, has been sick. Honestly, as someone without children, he is really like my baby. I’ve never had a connection with an animal (or a human for that matter) like the one I have with him so when he is suffering and everything I try isn’t helping, it wrecks me.

Add to that sleepless nights listening to him struggle to breath—holding my breath while he strains to inhale, puffing his cheeks as he lets out an exhale—it makes for a fractured me. A me that starts losing the thread on taking care of myself or remembering why I should/need/want to take care of myself.

I’ve had moments of wanting to inhale comfort food and to be totally honest, the last two nights I have had a couple drinks. So I failed in that regard. Actually double failed because a rule I had in mind was that I would only drink on the weekends, if then—and this was wednesday and thursday. So fail. Failing on many counts it feels like because drinking hasn’t gotten Sam any better and I’m not sure it helped me much other than that very fleeting relaxation that comes with a cocktail.

I feel like there is a lot to be written but I lack the focus right now so will wait for another time.

Oh, and I hit the 50lb mark.

Things that weigh 50lbs: approximately 5 Sammies. I don’t want to lose any more sammies.

Week 15 (Sorry, no pic)
Physical: -45lbs
weight = 268.1
first week = 313.1lbs
blood pressure = 130/70
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 68
first week = 77
Mood: can’t remember.

me_040414Week 16
Physical: -50.1lbs
weight = 263
first week = 313.1lbs
blood pressure = 114/65
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 73
first week = 77
Mood: Worried. Distracted. Numb.

Week 14: Creep

Posted in: behavior change, health, human behavior, psychology, weight loss- Mar 21, 2014 Comments Off on Week 14: Creep

I notice old habits creeping back.

They do so very quietly and sneakily–or actually, they may very well be stampeding in with a battle cry of “we shall not die!” and I choose to ignore them because somewhere, not so deep inside, I welcome them back. Either way, I’ve noticed my tendency towards hoarding calories during the day so I can feast at night* is alive and well. My relationship with food is fine during the day. Food is fuel. But come evening, food becomes more than just fuel.

In the same vein as last week’s update though, maybe that’s ok. If I have nothing else planned, why can’t my evening repast become my main source of pleasure and something to look forward to?

OK, keeping it real… as soon as I typed that I knew it wasn’t OK. I was making excuses in my head with    e a c h     l e t t e r     I     t y p e d .

Gollum-Ring-circleThe truth: it is a problem. It’s a problem when I start thinking of ways to get out of plans so that I can hole up with this evening ritual… It’s that old obsessive addictive behavior coming back to life in my neural synapses (I have no idea if that’s where it comes back to life but it sounds good)—like the Ring and Gollum in The Lord of The RingsMy precioussssssss.

These voices (this voice?) are what I imagine a schizophrenic feels like. They call to me and start “rationalizing” why I should change my behavior to suit their hunger. They are so persuasive. So agile in their ability to seduce and persuade. It’s quite astounding if I think of it.

Even more confounding if I think what their bait is. It’s vapor bait. There’s actually nothing there. It’s a complete mirage—a mirage I’m apparently willing to fall hook, line, and sinker for.

Which brings me back to one of my original intentions on this journeyto be a better friend to me and to take better care of myself both physically and mentally. The phrase “you are your own worst enemy” is something I have realized and felt so fully. I see how I keep myself back from happiness, from a full life. When I choose to give in to “the voices”, it’s just that. A choice. I have a choice to opt for something better. Thankfully, last night I did.

me_032014Week 14
Physical: -45lbs
weight = 268.1
first week = 313.1lbs
blood pressure = 119/68
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 79
first week = 77
Mood: Happy. Aware. Trying.




*feast is a relative term these days. In my current reality, a feast equals 800 calories or two-thirds of my daily allotment.

Week 13: Heavy boots

Posted in: human behavior, life, psychology- Mar 12, 2014 Comments Off on Week 13: Heavy boots

Well, poop. Just having a mild case of the bipolars over here…

By all accounts, I had a stellar week. Tuesday through thursday, business as usual. Come friday evening, it was time for bookclub—one of my favorite things. Bookclub is an excuse to get together with a group of awesome women, drink, eat, and chat—about the book, life, or whatever bubbles up. And yes, I “vacationed” (again).

I’m not sure I can use the euphemism “vacation” if this becomes a regular thing (which I have no current plans of it doing) but bookclub just happened to follow on the heels of my friend’s birthday celebration so… the good news is I planned! I planned what I was going to eat, how much I was going to eat, and how much I was going to drink and I stuck to it. Baby steps.

Cue Saturday. Orientation at the animal shelter followed by meeting up with a dear friend who I hadn’t seen in far too long, and then off to a secret garden party (where I abstained thank you very much). I polished off the day with an unexpected visit to my body whisperer who I hadn’t seen in almost a year! Life is good. 

Sunday my charmed life continued. Woke relaxed and ready to get back into the pilates groove after a long haitus. Then onto my standing acupuncture appointment. Can you see where I’m going with all of this? What a life?! 

Heavy boots. Image via http://christenmattix.blogspot.com/2011/07/heavy-boots.htmlSo why did I wake up today with heavy boots? It may have something to do with gaining weight this week. One pound to be exact. But I don’t think that’s it. I think I just have a tendency for big swings—in every way… Big swings in activity, mood, weight. You name it.

I’ve never been about balance. I do things all or nothing. Sometimes this is great, other times, not so much. While I know “they” say life is about balance, I don’t think I’m built for it. I think I might prefer the extremes even if it means having heavy boots sometimes.


me_031214Week 13
Physical: -40.4lbs
weight = 272.7
first week = 313.1lbs
blood pressure = 130/69
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 68
first week = 77
Mood: Mulling. Muddling. OK.




swimP.S. I decided this was all feeling very S.A.D. and I needed to get out of the house, get some sunshine, and go for a swim. So I did! And traded in my heavy boots for a pair a little lighter with a bit more balance.



Insert attention-grabbing title here

Posted in: The Kitchen Sink (aka random)- Mar 06, 2014 Comments Off on Insert attention-grabbing title here

Fast Company has long since been a favorite of mine which is why I was surprised this morning to encounter such a thoughtless bit of writing on it.

I was grabbed by this title: “Your fat is why you’re not as bright as you could be” which was followed by the blurb “Scientists have discovered that a chemical produced by fat goes into your brain and makes it slower. But don’t worry: there’s an easy fix. Just guess what it is.”

Now, let’s say you’re like me and don’t always read the entire article. What would be your take away from this? Fat people are stupid. What else could you take away from it? Oh, and probably lazy, lack willpower, unkempt, and the list goes on.

I may be more sensitive to the subject because I AM obese but the actual findings point more towards the role of exercise and cognitive functioning than they do fat and IQ (not to mention this was a test on mice so the human correlation is tenous). Where was that in the headline? 

It’s just another example of someone writing an attention-grabbing headline with no thought or sensitivity to who it might affect. I am sure I have been guilty of a similar injustice but I don’t write for a mainstream publication and get paid for it.

So please, @arielhs, next time you review some scientific finding or other, go lighter on the hyperbole and heavier on the facts.

Here’s the article. Let me know what you think in the comments. Am I totally off-base?
Your Fat Is Why You’re Not As Bright As You Could Be | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

Week 12: Nuts!

Posted in: health, human behavior, nutrition, psychology, weight loss- Mar 05, 2014 Comments Off on Week 12: Nuts!

I’m staring at the most complicated (perhaps convoluted?) guide to transitioning back to food ever (see above).

213802-goodgrief_super<begin rant> It’s not just one chart, it’s not even one page! There’s the “Transition overview” which breaks things down into 4 weeks. There’s also the “Transition Servings Grid” which breaks things down to 6 days. Then there’s the guide of what foods I’m allowed to replace a meal replacement with and a separate guide of how much of that food I’m allowed. And finally, there’s a sheet that explains the serving sizes of the different food categories and what types of food fit in that category.

Good Grief! Nevermind! This food thing is way too complicated. </end rant>

zendudeOK, now that I got that out of my system… I have to believe these make sense. That there is a method to their madness. Perhaps they make it super complicated so we can obsess about configuring our daily intake? Who knows.

<begin admiration> I do know that I would recommend this program in a heartbeat. My teacher and fellow classmates are great. The teacher has created a space for each person to explore and learn the things they need to learn—no small task when you’re dealing with 18 people who all bring their unique issues to the table. She has allowed us to share our individual struggles, get ideas and feedback from the group, which has ultimately bonded the class as a support network that is so very necessary on any journey. I so appreciate that she hasn’t just been teaching a rigid doctrine. She has been facilitating an investigation. She is empathetic, supportive, helpful, and skilled. So I thank her and my classmates and while I have to start eating again (liver level troubles reared their ugly head again), I’m glad we have a good amount of time left together on this journey. </admiration continues>

And without further ado, things that weigh 40lbs! Woot!


Image courtesy of: http://degreesearch.org/blog/how-much-does-stuff-weigh/

And this jumping girl:


me_030514Week 12
Physical: -42.1lbs
weight = 271
first week = 313.1
blood pressure = 118/67
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 78
first week = 77
Mood: Positive. Happy. Hopeful.

Week 11: Jumping off the wagon…

Posted in: health, human behavior, weight loss- Feb 28, 2014 Comments Off on Week 11: Jumping off the wagon…

…and onto the vacation train

I did not fall. I jumped! The difference being actually choosing to partake rather than being overwhelmed by temptation or desire. Or so I told myself…


I had looked forward to friday night as a reprieve from this diet. I was going to join in celebrating a friend’s birthday and I was going to eat and drink! Yay!! As the evening drew closer, I actually thought to myself that I could do without the food but would love a drink so planned to have my soup and maybe a meal bar while others ate. What I didn’t plan for was as soon as I had a drink (which was absolutely delicious by the way), I wanted another, and before I knew it, all my “plans” went out the window. I ended up not only drinking more than I should have, I ate without thought and basically lost all control (thank you alcohol…).

I’ve always thought it was better to plan a “vacation” from dieting rather than unexpectedly giving into a craving or desire. The latter comes with a host of feelings like guilt and incompetence which, more times than not, lead to more destructive behavior whereas the former allows me to really enjoy the sabbatical and hop back on the wagon reenergized and recommitted (or so I like to tell myself).

But what I learned this week was that it’s not enough to plan the vacationI have to plan my behavior as well. I have to actually lay out the rules of the vacation and strategize around how I will stick to them.

The point of taking a vacation shouldn’t be an excuse to abuse myself. It should be a treat, something I thoroughly enjoy and won’t regret the next day—and while I had a wonderful and fun time celebrating my friend’s birthday with a group of awesome women, I woke up the next day feeling like I had neglected, and to a certain degree, betrayed myself. It was far from the kind of caring and nurturing of myself that I would like to instill in this new me.

So yes, I will plan another vacation but next time I hope I can figure out how to take that vacation without leaving myself in the dust.

me_022714Week 11
Physical: -36.7lbs
weight = 276.4
first week = 313.1
blood pressure = 119/69
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 77
first week = 77
Mood: Sober. Learning. Grateful.

Illustration by 


Week 10: Stuff is falling

Posted in: Design, health, nutrition, weight loss- Feb 19, 2014 Comments Off on Week 10: Stuff is falling


Stuff is falling!

Liver levels are falling*. Weight is falling. Even waffles are falling…(?) Luckily, I as a whole, am managing not to.

I found out my hip pain (did I mention I had hip pain?) is bursitis which is related to, if not caused by, abnormal patella tracking (a kneecap that won’t stay in place and makes this horrible grating noise when I go up stairs. Seriously gross). Luckily, the treatment for one will help the other and that is PT.

I’m just glad it’s not permanent damage to my hip from a lifetime of being overweight. I love fixable problems. My body is so clever. So clever I tell you! It had the discerning taste to rebel against this over-processed diet and is restoring itself beautifully with some fresh veg and protein. Frankly, I have abused it for much of its life and it just keeps showing up for me.

friends-fingers2When I smoked, cigarettes were the friends that were always there for me. When I overate, food was that friend. Same goes for when I drank. I’m not sure why substances needed/need to fill that hole but it seems it’s about time to start treating myself as that friend and take better care of this great body which has shown up for me time and again.

Me: February 18, 2014Week 10
Physical: -36.4lbs
weight = 276.7
first week = 313.1
blood pressure = 119/69
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 63
first week = 77
Mood: Happy. Positive. Grateful.

*For those interested, the normal range for ALT (alanine transaminase enzyme) is between 10—40 iU/L. As of 1/31/2014, my ALT had bust the roof at 259. After just one week of altering my diet, my levels are down to 146. One week people! Let’s here it for my awesome liver. 


9 weeks and 21 questions

Posted in: behavior change, health, human behavior, life, nutrition, psychology, weight loss- Feb 13, 2014 Comments Off on 9 weeks and 21 questions

They say it takes 21 days to form or break a habit give or take depending on who you ask.
I say it’s taken 9 weeks for the cravings to subside—exactly three times as long. I have no idea of the significance but an interesting coincidence nonetheless.

This begs the question, (1) can you break a habit but still have associated impulses? If so, (2) what are those considered and (3) have you truly broken the habit if you still have pangs of want, need, desire?(4) At what point is the old habit sloughed off like an old snake skin and truly left behind? (5) Are cravings considered part of addiction? (6) Do cravings come with habits or are they relegated to the realm of addiction?

I find my habits have changed and my cravings are far fewer and more noticeable–giving me time to react and question them instead of being consumed by them. Now when I find myself craving something, I am able to stop and ask, as if to an infant, (7) “are you hungry?”, (8) “are you tired?”, (9) “does your diaper need changing?”. Well, maybe not that last one but sometimes it certainly feels like it ;-).

More times than not, it will be time for a meal replacement and as soon as I have one, the craving stops. Other times, like when I’m jonesing for a drink, I’ve been able to be in the moment and ask myself what’s behind the craving. It’s usually stress or some emotion that I don’t want to deal with. Or it could just be a gorgeous evening and I want to be sitting outside having a drink with friends. That one will never change.

So this week I’ve wandered into new territory with the re-introduction of food to my diet.
It’s amazing how quickly the brain leaps back to old ways and suddenly thinks “Woh, food! (10) what else can I have? (11) What else can I fill myself with? I’m not even hungry but I’m so high from this feeling, from the seemingly mesmerizing act of putting food in my mouth and only tasting for a brief second before my thoughts leap to the next bite, and then the next, and then the next. My lord! This is nuts.” Thinks I.

Perhaps that is my gift at 9 weeks. I am aware enough to see the craziness. I have had to plan my days so I don’t have food at night (my danger time) but only during the day. Get protein that is good but not so good that I’ll want more. And even be religious about how much vegetables I can have. 1/2 a cup. No more. It’s about staying in touch with what I really need and what my body really needs.

Baby steps. I’m relearning how this works. (and I lied. Only 11 questions but it didn’t make as good a title.)

me_021214Week 9
Physical: -32.7lbs
weight = 280.4
first week = 313.1
blood pressure = 122/64
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 79
first week = 77
Mood: Good. Hopeful. Clear.

Hearts, livers, & time travel, oh my!

Posted in: health, nutrition, weight loss- Feb 07, 2014 Comments Off on Hearts, livers, & time travel, oh my!

When people think of the heart, they think of a sweet, symmetrical red shape. Not only is it the only organ with a cute icon (), it also conjures up feelings of love, warmth, and kinship.

I’m pretty sure no other organ is as lucky—most certainly not the liver. 

When I think of liver, I think of the one food that makes me wretch.
That and bile, which is bitter and gross.
liverisnoheartPoor liver. It’s actually quite a magnificent organ. It cleans our blood filtering out all the toxins we put in, helps us absorb protein, and stores our backup fuel in the form of glycogen (it also has a hand in making sure we don’t bleed to death so thanks, liver!)

How do I know so much about the liver you may ask? The interwebs of course.

mdarby_timetravelI also happened to have a hot date with Dr. Darby, a liver specialist/master of time travel, this morning. The folks at Kaiser (where I’m doing this program) wanted to make sure it was safe to continue—and good news!!! Dr. Darby gave me the green light to continue.

He did recommend I work in some real food though so I’m getting a free ride to week 17 of the plan. Who says timetravel isn’t possible?

For those interested, this means I’ll cut back to 5 meal replacements a day and add in 4oz of lean protein and 1/2 cup cooked veg for a total of ~1045 calories/day (up from 960c). I’ll do this until the rest of the class reaches week 17 (another 8 weeks) and then we’ll all be on the same page.

Bottom line: weight loss will be slower but I’ll be healthy and won’t die—and that’s a good thing.