Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Endocrinologist visit

I saw my doctor today about my thyroid, a follow-up from last year. I was surprised that there wasn't another ultrasound to look at the nodules we had found last time but he said they were very tiny and that since he couldn't feel them by palpating my neck, they were nothing to worry about.

I had to weigh in at the beginning of my visit. Compared to my visit last year, I was up about 4 pounds. I am hoping that my lifestyle changes will eventually have an effect on that, but I haven't had a full week of trying them yet so I can't be too surprised that my weight is still up a little. I was honest about my concern about this and when he looked at my labs, my thyroid hormone levels were down a bit from last time, so he proposed trying a higher dose of the meds to see if that will have an effect. I was at 137 mcg and now I will be trying 150, so it's not a major change. Maybe that will help too, though I have not noticed any real effect on my weight from the thyroid meds so far. I had told him I felt like my appetite was out of control. He looked really serious and said, "Sometimes it's about activity and not just the food." I explained what my level of activity was and told him I was pretty sure it was the food.

I expected to feel discouraged but I realized that since I know that I'm doing the right things, I just have to wait for them to start making a difference. Maybe it was the low hormones too -- I had not seen my test results until today.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What I'm trying out now

In a comment on my last post, Anne asked:
"Trying out the lifestyle of where you want to be is good advice. How is it different from where you are now, other than the weight part?"
I thought it was a good question and spent some time thinking about it. How would the healthier, happier, and hopefully thinner version of me live her life?

 One big part of that is having an exercise plan that allows for a balance between routine and flexibility.  I like to know what I'm going to do most days but also like to add space for unplanned activities or for an easier day if I need one.  I plotted out a workout schedule on a piece of notebook paper, and then spent a ridiculous amount of time duplicating it on my new iPad so it would look pretty.  (I used an app called NotesPlus, and creating the schedule was partly to practice using the app and my new stylus.)  I have found that I won't do strength work on my own so I signed up for a strength class to supplement my Pilates and yoga classes.  Our gym offers early-morning lap swimming time in the outdoor pool in the summer, so I want to take advantage of that.  I'm trying to balance out my activities more instead of relying only on running to get me fit -- I have found over and over again that it doesn't work for me to do that.  Without strength work, I never seem to reliably lose weight.

It may seem a bit daunting but remember, I'm on summer break.  I want to take advantage of that time to get fitter and stronger. I'm also trying to schedule activities so that I don't piddle away all of my time doing stuff like, say, spending an hour creating a workout schedule on an iPad.  I have schoolwork and research projects to do this summer, and so one of the other things my better self would do is to plan time for those projects, instead of hoping that the mood would strike me and I'd suddenly become spontaneously productive.  I am spending some time each morning planning out my day.

My husband and I are also working on decluttering over the summer and spending time each day tidying up. I'm so much happier when things are put away and my living and cooking spaces are neat.

We were inspired by Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? to think about what we really want out of our home and to work to make that vision a reality. However, I'm not being quite as ruthless as Peter Walsh suggests. If I'm not quite ready to give something up, it can stay for now if I can find a place to put it away.  It's part of my idea of trying things out and making gradual changes, not necessarily a complete overhaul.  I'm also violating the Walsh manifesto by buying some new things.  One of my favorite accomplishments so far was that we cleared away some of the plants that were getting overgrown in our backyard and making room for a bigger grill and some new patio chairs with cushions.  It looks so cute and it's really nice to sit out there in the evenings now.  We already had a great bistro table but the chairs that go with it are okay for dining but not for lounging. Now it's like we have an outdoor dining room and outdoor sitting room.

Speaking of planning, one of the things I have learned is that I tend to do better with healthy eating if I plan out my meals for the week (or at least the next several days) and make sure to go to the store to buy the groceries to make the plan work.  I am not, however, going to spend hours putting those plans into pretty iPad charts!  I want to try at least one new healthy recipe each week.  I am continuing to use LoseIt! to track my calories.

I have to be honest, I really am hoping these activities will get me on track to lose weight, but most of these things will make me happier and healthier on their own even if they don't result in weight loss.  I would feel angry if I spent a lot of time doing something restrictive or uncomfortable and didn't manage to lose weight, but all of the changes I am trying out now are satisfying in their own right.  It's amazing how easy it is to let things like this slip away when I get busy or distracted, even though I know they make me happy.  I'm spending some time this summer trying out what it would be like to do them more often, sort of my own personal Happiness Project.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Identity overhaul vs. trying things out

I recently read a post by Suyin Nichols (one of the weight-loss teachers in "The Inner Weigh," which I keep meaning to review but haven't so far) about cutting her hair short and making the decision to stop dyeing it. I love her new 'do, but something about the post struck me as a little odd. Both before and after the decision, she seemed to identify very deeply with her decision to either dye or not dye her hair and to wear it long or short.  (Maybe I'm sensitive because I have long dark hair that is helped along with professionally-done color every 4-5 weeks. No stained towels for me.) I wondered if she might feel pressured to keep her new hairstyle even if she decided it wasn't her after a few months because she had made the decision into such a statement about who she was.

I  think I especially noticed this because I do this all the time, I think it's natural to do it. We come across something new and we decide, "This is who I'm going to be now! The No-More-Clutter Girl or the Vegan Warrior or the Weight Watchers Wonder Woman. This is the person I always should have been! I will never be anything else!" And then we sheepishly realize we can't throw away our high-school yearbook or get a craving for a BLT or decide that counting PointsPlus Values makes our teeth hurt. And then we have to come up with a new person to be so we're not just a failure at whatever we just announced we were.

I had a college friend who was especially notorious for evangelizing her new obsession, whether it was Aikido or do-it-yourself group therapy or the Atkins diet. If you made the mistake of joining her in her new kick, it wouldn't be long before you were going to Aikido classes by yourself, because she would be on to her Next Big Thing. But here I am writing a blog where I have publicly declared my wonderful reasons for being "on" and "off" Weight Watchers a dozen times, and gushed about a lot of other things that have since fallen by the wayside.

I think I'm going to take a cue from Peter Walsh's interview with Koren Motekaitis (my latest podcast find). He says to "commit to something fully and re-evaluate in six months." I am with Koren, who said that six months is probably too long, so she commits to a week or two at a time.

I'm hoping that if I take the attitude of trying things out to see how they work for me instead of dramatically altering my identity to fit the new thing I'm doing, I might be more successful.  For example, instead of striving to get to the "goal" weight where I will finally be able to be my "real self," why not try out the lifestyle of the thinner person I want to become (thanks Russ & Jeff) and see if it works for me? When I lose weight, I don't have to declare the "old me" dead and change who I am. I can see if I like the new weight and see what parts of my life I want to change and what parts are fine the way they are. Maybe starting to think this way will keep me from sabotaging myself so much.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lots of stuff going on

I have had a lot of things going on inside my head this week and in my relationships.  I have been speaking up a lot more about the way I feel, and that seems to translate into snacking less. I definitely think I am someone who "stuffs" my feelings instead of expressing them sometimes. Even in an otherwise good relationship, it's easy to get aggravated by things but not feel okay to talk about them.

Example: The iPhones drive me crazy sometimes.  When I am talking to my husband, and he starts checking something on his phone, it makes me want to scream. I do it too. Those things are so distracting. One of the things we talked about is that there needs to be some separation between "together time" and "work/computer (including phone) time." I think we both felt the same way about this one, but it took a while for us to figure out how to deal with the problem.

One thing I finally discussed in detail with my husband is the way he seems to monitor my exercise.  I can't stand it.  I have asked him to stop and he just doesn't seem to let it go. I finally confronted him (the defending myself thing from last week) and explained that constantly feeling that I had to prove myself worthy of love (thanks, Brené) was not helping me achieve my goals and was, frankly, making me feel the need to do less to prove to him that he wasn't the boss.  There was quite a long discussion about this.  Finally, I asked why it was so important.  "I wish you would sometimes follow up on me to make sure I was doing my workouts." I don't, by the way.  I figure he is capable of making his own decisions.

You know the "Golden Rule," to treat others the way you want to be treated? I'm here to tell you that it doesn't work. At least, I don't want him to treat me the way he wants to be treated. I want him to treat me the way I want to be treated.  I also, though, don't think he really would enjoy me nagging him about exercise. I suppose I should try it but it sounds like too much work. I think my rule is "I get to do what I want."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Comment problems?

A reader alerted me to problems commenting on this blog. I tested with my own account and it seems to work, but it may be a sporadic problem with certain accounts through Blogger. If you are trying to post a comment and have trouble, please email me through the link on my profile to let me know.

I appreciate all of you who read. I hope that it will be working with no wrinkles soon, because I love your feedback.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bridesmaids movie review: Spoiler-free

I went to see "Bridesmaids" with two funny women friends. It was a great movie for a girls' night out, but there was a date couple sitting right next to me, and the guy seemed to love the movie at least as much as his girlfriend.

I was surprised by how many of the professional reviewers seemed to use this movie as a test of whether women could be funny. I think some of the best comics are women. In this movie, though, the women get all the best laugh lines, which is a refreshing change of pace.  It's nice to see a movie about women that isn't completely driven by "Will the girl win the guy's heart?" but instead spotights women's friendships, especially Annie (Kristin Wiig) and Lillian's (Maya Rudolph).  There is also a strong focus on Annie's need to find her strength and pull her life together.

Though there was some of the typical "make fun of the fat character" stuff in this movie, the movie was set up in a way that Megan's (Melissa McCarthy) weight wasn't really the punchline, it was her strange personality.  The character was a little reminiscent of Walter (John Goodman) in "The Big Lebowski." I didn't love the big gross-out scene as much as everyone else seemed to, but at least it wasn't dragged out too long like some gross gags in movies like this one can be.  I would love it if more of the summer blockbuster comedies could be as smart as this one.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

"The things that get in the way"

In a recent post, I wrote about Brené Brown's assertion that the how-to doesn't help when we don't look at "the stuff that gets in the way." I did a little searching on The Google and found a post that really gets to the heart of how those things that get in the way. Here's a snippet:

People diet to get rid of shame. It’s almost as though they believe that they can sweat it away or starve it away.
But you can’t get rid of shame by trying to fix yourself. 
Fixing yourself because you believe you are broken is very different than self growth and evolution and working to become healthy because you love yourself.  Fixing yourself because you are broken is a task of Sisyphean proportions because you will never be fixed. Mostly because you were never broken. You just thought you were, and you will continue to think you are until you find the antidote to shame, which is acceptance. 
Because you believe that you are broken, there’s a part of you who tries to destroy yourself. How many times have you seen people reinvent themselves, “that was the old me, this is the new me!” (Ala Kirstie Alley- over and over and over again). 
You’re always you. It’s okay, it’s necessary even to improve and change, but that happens naturally through the course of life experience, self growth, holding integrity and finding yourself. 
This is what I was trying to express in the last post I wrote. I don't want to white-knuckle my way through my food issues, I want to find a way to be the kind of person who wants to be good to herself.  It's a much longer trip that way, but I'm hoping it will be more lasting. I had a little victory today, standing up for myself in a situation where I could have easily thrown up one of the "Shame Screens" that Brené talks about, but instead I held my ground and told the truth the way I saw it.  I am not broken and I refuse to be treated as if I am.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Food-motivated

I took the Food Involvement Quotient quiz on Refuse to Regain and scored an 8. Some of the questions were tricky -- for example, "Are you frequently looking for new recipes and new ways to prepare the food you eat?" I answered yes, but mostly I'm looking for new healthy recipes. I actually am much better off trying to be creative with food, because the comfort food junkie in me would much rather just eat a big bowl of spaghetti with butter and Romano cheese than figure out a way to make whole grains and veggies alluring.

The "food is fuel" argument doesn't work for me. I admired the man in the story of the 85-year survivor with diabetes, but I also thought that only someone who was very rigid and disciplined could live that way, and I wasn't sure it sounded like a lot of fun to be him or to be one of his family members.

I think it's pretty natural to be somewhat food-motivated. Even when my poor kitty was sickest, he would run to the kitchen when the refrigerator opened. He would be interested in food but wouldn't eat it because he was nauseated.  The vet complimented me yesterday on how well he was doing because he gained almost a pound and is looking and acting much healthier.  His appetite may have been what saved him -- I was able to tempt him to eat enough to get through the tough part.  I read an article in More recently (sorry, cannot find a link) about a woman tending her sick mother, who decided she was ready to die and was advised by hospice that she could hasten the process by refusing to eat or drink.  One week was all it took, but she had to be disciplined enough to turn away fresh summer peaches even though she was craving one.

There are people who do well with rigidity but I am sure hoping there is another way.  I'm sure that some people do quite well having the same food every day and avoiding all situations (parties, dinners out, travel) where they cannot rigidly control their food.  I just don't find that lifestyle appealing.

Life isn't just about being as thin as possible (I hope) and I want to enjoy and engage with life, which includes enjoyment of food to me. I'm not saying I subscribe to the "what the h***" philosophy and am camping out on my couch with a 2-liter of soda and a bag of Doritos.  I want the lifestyle I saw on "No Reservations" when Bourdain traveled to Sardinia.  Gorgeous, simple food prepared with care, lots of family and friends around, and a little wine with dinner.  If I could have that and be healthy and fit, a little thinner and a lot happier, that would be my idea of a good life.
"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07