Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Breather

First off, my weight last Wednesday was 145.6, back exactly to what it was 2 weeks ago. I didn't have time to post a Wednesday Weigh-In and update, between office wind-up and food prep. I'm more interested to see what the scale says next Wednesday.

Thanksgiving itself was pretty great. We spent it with Bob's family and it was actually one of the best Thanksgivings we have shared. I handled the turkey and pumpkin squares (made from scratch...including the pumpkin itself), Bob made his GF mac 'n cheese, and his mom pretty much slaved over everything else. The turkey (which I had brined the day before) came out especially tasty and juicy. There were no food disasters or kitchen mishaps. This was also our dog's first Thanksgiving, and she was very well-behaved and goofy. She was the centerpiece of the day.

No, I didn't pig out. But I have a weakness for the gamey dark meat. And Sandi's cranberry orange jello mold. A peek at the scale the next day showed zero gain, so that's good.

For Black Friday, we avoided the big box stores and chains, and instead stuck to all local shops and artists. The highlight was hitting up the Bazaar Bizarre, featuring some of the most unique, neat-o wares by local DIY artists. Artisan glass, found object wearable art, scarab jewelry made from watch gears, marshmallow soap...I was overwhelmed by such talent. And THE coolest T-shirts I ever saw, designed and sold by Psycho Reindeer. I couldn't resist picking up a shirt for myself:

Today, we went to the newly-restored Capitol Theatre and saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was fantastic. Tonight, Master Chef Bob made Vindaloo (basically, Indian hash) from some of the 10 pounds or so of leftover turkey. It was quite tasty:

Yeah, Goji wasn't too far from the turkey. She's developed quite a taste for it. Our cats don't much care for turkey, but this dog goes apeshit for it and will actually go through her whole repertoire of tricks without being commanded to do so. Impressive.

And tonight we are staying in and watching some DVDs, starting off with a zombie movie to get into the holiday spirit. Tomorrow, we'll be taking Goji to the park for a run and some frisbee action. Later, we'll be putting up the holiday decorations and tree, which will no doubt be destroyed by Monday. Goji was already trying to pull down the (empty) pet stockings that I just hung on the mantle.

Still working out every day (except Sunday). I'm up to Level Two on the Jillian shred, which I alternate every other day with the other Jillian vid, with an extra 30 minutes on the bike for cool down. Yeah, the bike's a cool down. It's my recovery after those got dam walking push-ups, plank jacks, squat thrusts and lunges w/bicep curls. *shudders*

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Efficacy of Weight Loss Blogging

I got my weight-loss shit together when I lost a good friend almost two years ago. She was a hardcore bulimic: she would typically spend an hour in my bathroom, several times a day, flushing the toilet over and over again. One time, she flooded the bathroom. Even as the toilet water, toilet paper and undigested food swirled around her feet on the bathroom floor, she thought her disorder was a secret to us. The other signs were there, too. The flushed, chipmunk face from swollen salivary glands. The bloating. The abnormal hair loss. The teeth. I played along with the denial game with her, that game of "let's pretend I'm not going to purge this sandwich." Her fixation on food was profound. It was the subject of most of our conversations. We would go out to eat or order pizza and relish the pleasure it gave us. We were binge-buddies. And Bob and I would silently stare at each other when she left the table immediately after eating to go to the bathroom. Again.

I didn't have the courage to confront her with it. I was scared to. Scared that she would fly off the handle. Again. That she would disappear and not speak to me. Or threaten suicide. Again. See, it wasn't just the bulimia. Indeed, that was a just a symptom of something much deeper and darker. For instance:

1. She regularly engaged in "splitting." In other words, she held extreme black and white views of events, trivial matters, herself and her relationship with others. Most of it negative. She demanded nothing less than unconditional acceptance. The slightest (and unintended criticism) was met with harsh rebuke or great hurt and offense. She would obsess over perceived criticisms of her.

2. Manipulated by this splitting behavior, I learned to say and do the right things to her. Unconditional, noncritical words and compassion were like currency. The more I pleased her, the better she felt about herself and the more she rewarded me with kindness and acceptance. Later, my therapist (I'll get to that in a moment) would describe this type of conditioning as akin to a mother bird feeding a hungry hatchling. It was a neverending process of feeding her unstable ego.

3. At the high point in our relationship, I was her best and only friend, someone who didn't abandon her. At the time, I didn't notice her long history of broken relationships with her family, friends and boyfriends. I also didn't pay mind to the other current friends who were disappearing. It was them, not her. They were assholes, like she said.

4. Her low self-esteem was bottomless. Certainly, she had days where she felt positive and empowered. On her dark days (there were many), she was a loser. She was fat (she wasn't). Nobody liked her.

She became so embedded in our lives that it was not unlike having a third spouse. Or child. She demanded more attention. She was going to spend holidays with us and our family--without being invited. When I sheepishly tried to quell her plan, she became depressed and withdrawn until I promised her an alternate visit.

And we wanted to help solve her problems for her. I didn't want to hurt her because I thought we could position ourselves to help with her bulimia and dark moods. More importantly, I thought that if I broke off our relationship she would severely hurt or kill herself because, at that point, she had no one else and was in a dark place. She was in pain, harboring negative self-views that increasingly worsened. My responses, no matter how well-intentioned or loving, were not helping her. In fact, it was exacerbating her condition. She did not need my compassion...she needed professional help. I certainly was unqualified to do it.

In the end, the friendship became so destructive and turbulent that I went into therapy. I thought it was me, that there was something wrong with me because I couldn't fix this relationship.

It was during that therapy that the psychologist explained that my friend was displaying symptoms of borderline personality disorder. Imagine therapist counseling me on the problems of someone else. It was during this therapy that the doctor explained my friend's eating disorder and how it was just one symptom of a much larger issue that would take years of intensive professional treatment to resolve or at least minimize. Until that happened, I needed to walk away.

She advised me to break off my relationship with her immediately and cleanly. No follow up phone call. No letter of explanation. No email. I did it. It hurt bad, the resulting guilt and sudden separation and loss. It was like she died. I lost a best friend just like that.

To get over that grief, I worked on myself. I re-evaluated this fixation on food, alcohol (she was also a heavy drinker) and self-image that was destroying my friend and bringing me down with her. With that, I was able to overhaul my own physical and mental roadmap and, well, that was that.

I didn't read other weight loss blogs and start this blog until a year after I rebooted my weight loss program and already lost about 70-75 pounds of my starting weight. And I'm glad I didn't.

Most obese people do not have eating disorders ("ED"). Statistics to that effect are readily available for your Google research pleasure. From my own unscientific observations over the past year, most weight loss bloggers do not identify ED as an underlying cause of their issues.

There are, however, bloggers who claim to have an ED. Usually self-diagnosed. Usually untreated. There are actually PRO-ED blogs and message boards out there. Lots of them. The proana (anorexia) and promia (bulimia) sites are disturbing, for sure. But some are much more subtle in reinforcing ED, perhaps unintentionally so.

As is human nature, we tend to seek out others who are like-minded, or at least seem to share whatever our own issues might be. What I've found in this little corner of the blogging universe is a surprising lack of meaningful exchange of information and opinions. Sure, there are informative and provocative blogs. But communication in a blogging context is typically unidirectional, like an arrow shooting into the great expanse that is the internet. Feedback is limited to friendly words of support and encouragement, humor and/or light commentary. Perhaps some differing viewpoints, but those are rare as they tend to be perceived as hostile or confrontational. Us floggers like harmony and would like to buy the world a Diet Coke. That is the nature of blogs in general, I suppose. By saying this, I'm not suggesting that blogs must be so interactive, or even so important. They don't, and they can't usually. This is not a message board or chatroom, after all.

But in the case of some ED blogs, it is particularly worrisome. I'm not talking about those who have sought and obtained professional treatment and are in recovery. There are plenty of those, and they are quite insightful, helpful and inspiring. Instead, I am referring to those blogs where the person has identified himself or herself as having an ED, but who has consciously chosen to forgo treatment.

First, I wonder how this person came to diagnose himself or herself as having an ED. Does she even have binge eating disorder or is it a matter of simply overeating and failure to regularly exercise? There is a significant difference between binging and overeating. I have even used the word binge casually myself. But does it rise to the level of a medical condition? Or is identifying oneself as a "binger" one way to medicalize or justify a weight problem, like a cloak or a shield?

Binge Eating Disorder--which research has suggested is more prevalent than even anorexia and bulimia--is a big deal. It effects not only the victim/patient, but also that person's family and friends. Though not yet formally recognized on the DSM-V until at least 2012, it is a serious disorder that requires serious treatment. If a person does truly have BED, but refuses treatment and instead resorts to blogging, it is potentially dangerous not only to herself, but to other readers who may also have (or think they have) an ED and have identified with him or her for that reason.

For those who don't get professional treatment and instead engage in virtual self-help via blogging, they risk dealing with the ED in isolation of the other problems intertwined with the disorder. While they publicly journalize their attempts to fix themselves, they deny, minimize, omit or distort the extent of their underlying emotional and psychological issues, deliberately or unintentionally. There is a fixation on the food (healthy or unhealthy), scale numbers and measurements, and attempts to limit calorie intake. Well-intentioned words of encouragement and support (which is about all most readers can offer) can reinforce that blogger's conviction that he or she can continue to do this on their own. More troubling, it sends a message to other readers with ED that they, too, can beat this without getting help.

However, according to many ED specialists, this self-help approach can be dangerous, as it may ultimately undermine that person's ability to successfully recover from the ED. Sure, there is a dispute among some professionals as to what to treat first: the weight or the disordered eating? But obesity treatments in and of themselves tend to be ineffective in the long run. And there is little disagreement that the psychological aspects must still be addressed to facilitate recovery. Changing eating habits, for instance, is not enough and may even make the problem worse. "Strict or unsupervised dieting" or calorie restriction can even trigger binge eating or other ED complications.

ED is a tough disorder to treat. As it is, therapy--under the guidance and supervision of a professional qualified to deal with ED and related issues--isn't always successful, though still effective and certainly better than going at it alone. For example, therapist-led group therapy for binge eating disorder, which is a common cognitive-behavioral treatment approach, has a success rate of approximately 51%. Only half. Of course, individualized treatment may be more effective, and necessary, depending on that person's circumstances.

More to the point, for patients engaging in self-help, the numbers drop dramatically. Even in self-help group therapy, less than 18% of members abstained from disordered eating. And that's in a structured group setting.

Imagine, then, the recovery prognosis for those who attempt to treat the ED on their own, without any therapy.

That is not to say there are no proper forums for dealing with an ED on the internet. For instance, there is a compelling ED website called Something Fishy, which provides abundant resources for ED treatment and recovery, including an impressive national referral system. Interestingly, its moderated message board is very trigger-conscious. Its policy specifically prohibits the disclosure of weight, weight goals, size, measurements, before/after pictures of participants, etc. There is no bragging about ED behaviors (what you binged on, when you last purged, etc.) or links to a participant's personal journal, website or blog. There is no discussion about calorie intake. Wow. This policy really drives home the depth and seriousness of ED. The factoids we take for granted and are helpful to us are poison to someone with an ED. For that person, those elements need to be stripped away in order to effectively deal with the illness. It seems so counter-intuitive at first, but ultimately makes sense.

At this point in this long post, as I wind things up, I could wax poetic about the epidemic of obesity and how we should talk about our WL goals/obstacles/successes if it helps us and support each other and all of that. That would be stating the obvious.

The harder, the more difficult thing is realizing that there are some very sick people here. You or I may even be sick ourselves but haven't brought ourselves to confront that fact. It is important to be careful of identifying yourself with or as someone with an ED (as I have in the past and might have again) unless, well, you have things sorted out upstairs and, where necessary, obtained the help of a therapist, nutritionist and other professionals. And to understand that ED is a sickness that requires help that blogging may not provide for someone with an untreated ED. Or worse.

Wednesday Weigh-In: 11/18/9

146.8 lbs this morning. About a pound gain. Yeah, you'll have that.

Tonight, we're going to an advanced screening of the new Twilight movie. No doubt the theatre will be choked with teen and pre-teen girls swooning at boys who sparkle. I am frightened to my very core.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In: 11/11/09 & Looking Back

Since I've been feeling perfectly healthy for several days, the "official" weigh-ins are back on. Scale tells me I'm at 145.6 lbs. That's a two-pounder loss since the last WI two weeks ago. While I am pleased, the scale numbers matter less and less. My body seems to have changed rapidly over the last 2 months or so. The tummy is most definitely flatter. Muscle tone is becoming visible everywhere...back, shoulders, thighs, abs. So weird. I've never looked like this before. It's like everything is settling in. One day in the near future I might be drunk brave enough to take and post pics. Right.

But even more than that, I feel good. Consistently. No, not the high and low extreme feelings from earlier in this process, but, well solid. I am more active even in passive activities, and it's effortless. For example, I take my dog on 20 minute walks twice a day. Years ago, I would have considered just one 20 minute or half-hour walk to count as exercise towards weight loss (Not surprisingly, the weight did not come off as expected, except for the typical 10-15 lbs of water weight that initially slides off whenever I began a diet/fitness plan). Now, it's just routine, a part of life in addition to my normal 60-90 minute workouts. I can shop forever. I usually don't buy anything, but I like to walk around and just look. And it doesn't wear me out. Even when I was sick, it only lasted about 3 days and I was still doing things. A far cry from what things were like 1 or 2 years ago.

In fact, there is an embedded normalcy to this. Often, I find little to talk about anymore on the weight loss front. What was a milestone before is now just "meh." Healthy eating is so everyday--so innocuous--that trying to sing praises about my meals seems forced. Right now, I'm lunching on an artichoke and spinach salad in a lemon dressing with a slice of roast lean meat. I could tell you how awesome and healthful it is. But, whatever.

Wait. It has kalamata olives. Now I AM excited.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My New Roller Derby Name Is....

DeathMetal CamelToe.

Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

Run the machine for your own roller derby name and then jam on over to MizFit's blog for a chance to win a free Roller Derby DVD workout!

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm Not Dead.

I'm getting better. I don't want to get on the cart. I feel fine. I think I'll go for a walk.

It was a cold. Not the flu...or worse. I'm quite better, actually. Just chillin' with Bobzilla (who caught my disease but is also recovering quite well). In fact, we just came back from taking Goji on a long walk in the leaves. We're a bit winded, but otherwise A-ok.

We may even go to Dave 'n Buster's tomorrow for some skee ball and trivia action. But not munchies. Their food pretty much blows.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In: 11/4/09 and PLAGUE!

I've been going back and forth between feeling really crappy and feeling like my body is winning the brawl with this bug. Headaches, sore throat, burny lungs and nose, discomfort and stomach cramps and digestion issues. OMG, the stomach cramps. What the hell. I'm getting upper and lower body action at the same time. No fever, though. That's positive.

Bob had to sleep with earplugs last night to drown my snoring, due to my mouth breathing from the congestion. I was a chronic snorer for years, but that disappeared with the weight loss. It was almost nostalgic to see those foam plugs sticking out of his head.

When it comes to sickness, I'm a big whiner and it shows here. I'll probably keep posting boo-hoo updates just in case a documentation of my slow death from the new plague will be of value in future medical research. Actually, it's just a morbid fascination. One of my favorite books is The Stand by Steven King. It's scary because it COULD happen! It's prophetic. Like Fahrenheit 451.

Workouts were toned down this week. No Jillian. No crazy lunges, walking planks, mountain climbers or burpies. Just my old school 60 minute bike rides and light weight lifting. Obviously, if this gets worse, my ass is staying in bed with the dog.

I've decided to skip an official weigh-in number this week because the reading is probably "false" anyway. Unofficially, I'm at 146.00 pounds but I don't trust that number given the circumstances. We'll see how the next week or two goes. And as I'm writing this, it seems I've grown unattached to the numbers lately and have been less concerned about registering a big loss every week.

In other news, Cleveland has the honor of having one of the worst serial killers ever. And we apparently are unable to draw a reasonable conclusion from a months-long foul odor at a sex offender's house. Yay us.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'm such a pig

It started last night. Burning throat and nose. Then drips. I woke up at 5:00 this morning with raging sore throat and snot. I'm uncomfortable and irritable, but at least I don't think I have a fever.

And now I'm googling "H1N1 symptoms" and have become an armchair medical expert. I'm on pins and needles every time I feel something vaguely akin to death.

This is the first time I've been sicky in over a year. All this healthy eating and exercise and daily mega doses of Vitamin D are going to be put to the test. That, or I'm turning into a hypochondriac.

Probably caught this from the masquerade ball. Damn.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Every Day is Halloween

The only thing that would have made this Halloween perfect was carving a pumpkin. Our costumes turned out better than expected, although, per usual, no one except for a small handful of like-minded nerds "got" our costumes. It's lonely being an uber geek.

Bob did his own makeup and looked quite dapper as Orville. I think I like the man drag a bit too much.

Or perhaps it was the pants? I just didn't want to take them off. Ever.

This getup also had some unintentionally horrifying consequences. My beard and mustache, made with crepe hair, looked not unlike pubic hair. My "O" face? Disturbing. And certainly scarier than any Freddy Krueger or Angry Town Haller.

The masquerade ball was fun and crowded. So many good costumes. Lacey's Road Kill Skunk was adorable:

As was Mariah's marionette gone bad:

During the night, we rescued a poor hungry street kitty and took her to the vet this morning for blood screening and vaccines. She's disease-free, boostered up and de-flea'ed. She is also a non-stop love machine and more doglike in her mannerisms than a cat. In other words, she'll cling to you for life. Mariah is fostering her but she needs a permanent home:

After the partay, we wandered around the Day of the Dead display next door:

Trick or treating was a hoot. The halloween displays were fiercely competitive, and one of our neighbors even ran a cotton candy machine. Dayum. Swarms of kids came out in miserably cold weather, although they pooped out after an hour. In my day, we would trick or treat until folks ran out of candy and the bottoms fell out of our bags. Kids these days are sorry amateurs.

Sunday was a relaxing retreat spent mostly playing the new Ratchet and Clank. I also whipped up an awesome batch of quinoa salad for the week. Will post the recipe later. If I remember. Which I probably won't. So, real quick, it's 1 cup of quinoa cooked in 2 cups of boiling water, some toasted slivered almonds, sliced green onions, lots of grated carrot, chopped flat leaf parsley all tossed in a dressing made up of 1 & 1/2 TB canola oil, 2 TB low sodium Tamari, 2 tsp. cider vinegar, 1 tsp kosher salt and juice of 1 small lemon.

I only had two fun-sized candy bars. A Snickers and a Milky Way. They were good, but Mitchell's pumpkin ice cream beats them silly. I'm going to try...real make that pint half gallon last til Saturday at least.

Otherwise, still working out as usual. Still eating well, with the exception of drinking some calories on the weekends. *shrugs*