Read here for the first 10 days
Day 11 – June 9th; weight: 195.8 – 20.4 pounds to goal
I am—somewhat shockingly—almost as low as I’ve been all year (on February 8th, I briefly dipped below 195 only to pop right back the next day). As of now, it’s all about the food. I can’t do anything high-impact (or even moderate-impact, for that matter); I can barely walk. I’m working the yoga, hoping to do up to 45 minutes today (my usual workout). I’ve been super sleepy, though, and getting up on the late side (6 a.m. as opposed to 4:30 a.m.). I definitely didn’t sleep well last night, which may partially have been due to sleeping without the ankle wrap. I bumped it a few times and the can never really seemed to settle in. And I had to get up to pee a bunch of times. So, basically where I was a week ago, minus the five pounds and two flexible ankles.
For all intents and purposes, I’m actually on track with the challenge. Down almost 10 pounds in 10 days. I have a full work day today, but I will try to monitor the food intake. For the past two days, I’ve consumed fewer than 1400 calories (most of last week I was averaging almost 1600), so even though it’s not a huge cut, it appears to help me compensate for the slower/lesser movement.
Biggest Accomplishment: Has to be a full yoga practice. I’ve discovered that if I substitute cobra for upward-facing dog, I can do vinyasa sequences. However, I do have to be conscious of not inadvertently forgetting to stop at cobra (I did that one time and definitely felt the pain).
Biggest Fail: Definitely felt deprived today; also pretty irritated. I had a very small piece of pie (is that a “fail” if I didn’t go for beer?).
Day 12 – June 10th; weight: 196.4 – 21.2 pounds to goal
Once again, weight going up for no particular reason whatsoever. I know, I know… I shouldn’t worry about the day-to-day numbers on a scale, but I slept poorly and the day is looking to be super muggy, so waking up heavier does not put me in the mood to do anything productive today. Not to mention, I worked until 6 p.m. last night and I’m back up working at 5:30 a.m. this morning. Feeling like today is going to be a very long day, indeed.
Biggest Accomplishment: I didn’t eat any of the pasta that the kids did. There’s something oh-so-sad about spaghetti-less meatballs.
Biggest Fail: Was super tired and sluggish, so I took a nap, something I rarely do during the work week. Paid for it by having to work until close to 7 p.m.
Day 13 – June 11th; weight: 196.8 – 21.6 pounds to goal
It’s completely obvious that without some kind of extended cardio, I’m not going to lose weight. It may be all about calorie control, but aside from fasting altogether, I am at a loss as to how to lose more weight. This is basically what happened to me back in February when I was able to lose 10 pounds and then just malingered before putting weight back on. The only “positive” is that I managed to lose the same amount in under two weeks that it took me almost two months to lose earlier this year.
I don’t know about doing any heavy walking at this point; I was struggling with sore feet back when I didn’t have to worry about a busted ankle. I have to be very careful of terrain when I’m walking (fortunately, for the most part NYC is flat, but every once in awhile I get an angled sidewalk and the pain is ever present); I’m literally flat-footed at this point, using great care not to lean even slightly as I go. One of the advantages of walking as exercise is that you simply go without thinking. Now that option is off the table. I have to think every step of the way. Oh, and it’s in the 90s today with high humidity. As if I needed another excuse not to go for a walk. (My ACE bandage is due for a washing!)
Biggest Accomplishment: Honestly? Not having a fucking beer. It’s not that I’m jonesing for a drink, but it’s hot and gross and nasty… perfect beer-swilling weather! And since I otherwise am not losing any weight (in fact, despite “being good” I’m putting weight ON), I typically regress and think, “Why not?” But I didn’t; so I guess there’s that. (And, no, I didn’t have a margarita either!)
Biggest Fail: Despite getting up a little after 4 a.m., I just couldn’t bring myself to exercise. I did 15 minutes of yoga and no meditation. I feel like crap and I’m getting depressed again. This is literally the worst!
Day 14 – June 12th; weight: 196.6 – 21.4 pounds to goal
What can I say? I’m seriously beginning to wonder if I have an underlying medical condition that is keeping me from losing weight. I ate literally nothing yesterday (somewhat on a whim I did a fasting day) and came up only .2 pounds lighter and not even the low point of the week. If I cannot drop any weight eating nothing, then what hope is there for me to drop any weight at all? I mean, do I need to cease all food intake for a week? A month? The rest of the year? I feel like I’m one of those fat acceptance bloggers who rails against dieting. And how it totally does not work. To add more insult to my pre-existing injuries: It’s about 90 degrees in my apartment and I wake with a splitting headache.
I’m also not getting any support for what I’m going through. My sister – dealing with her own issues and who has otherwise been a rock for me – and my daughter just keep telling me what I’m doing wrong: not eating enough. Since when is 1600 calories/day not enough food for a writer (sounds so much nicer than “sedentary person”)? I took one fasting day, in part to try it out but mostly just because I had a super busy day, wasn’t particularly hungry, and have been thinking about the 5-2 diet as a maintenance issue (if I ever get to the point of needing to maintain my weight instead of lose it). Everyone freaking out about me “skipping meals” for one day is not helping me feel good about the efforts I have been making. I know it’s stupid to rely on other people to boost me up, but isn’t that the way it is? I mean, it’s why we join support groups.
Biggest Accomplishment: Just sticking with the plan. I could have said, “Fuck it!” and gone back to my old habits.
Biggest Fail: General grumpiness most of the day?
Day 15 – June 13th; weight: 195.0 – 19.8 pounds to goal
I’m officially 195 pounds! A goal weight I’ve been trying to reach for six months. Granted, I weighed myself after my morning BM, but it still counts! I am cautiously optimistic my weight will hold through tomorrow’s check-in, as I’m shooting today and will be on my feet for the better part of the next 14 hours. The ankle is feeling a lot better (still swollen and bruised, but I don’t have the issues with stairs I did a few days ago so I’m getting some range of motion back), so I’m planning to walk to set (about 4 miles). If I have the energy tonight, I’ll also walk home. Tomorrow will be a “get caught up on (writing) work,” so it’s good to be out and about on a sticky Saturday.
Biggest Accomplishment: Walking home from set. The route is approximately 4.5 miles and connects roughly half-way to the bus that drops off next to my apartment. I turned to the street with the bus route just as the bus was pulling up, so I could have hopped on it and been home a lot faster after a very long day. Instead, I roughed it out the final couple of miles, despite meeting up with three more buses along the way. All my timing was pointing toward getting on the bus, but I kept going. I’m just happy that a little more than a week after my tumble, I’m able to walk again.
Biggest Fail: Eating two granola bars. One of the downsides to working on a set is craft services, the table set up with snacks for people to nosh on during a shoot. Our craft services table was somewhat limited in healthy food choices (there was watermelon early in the day, replaced by caramels and cookies by mid-afternoon). I was starving in part because I had forgotten to eat breakfast before I left the apartment in the morning and because lunch was sandwiches (I skipped the buns and doubled up on the garnish for a makeshift salad). I grabbed one granola bar as breakfast and the other as a mid-day snack before finding some almonds tucked away in another part of the room; I switched to those late in the day: a lot of calories but far healthier than heavily-processed junk “health” food.
Day 16 – June 14th; weight: 194.0 – 19.8 pounds to goal
I guess being on set all day helped bring my weight down. And walking to and from set didn’t hurt either. I’m now as low as I’ve been all year. Of course, the goal now will be to keep the weight off, which will be a real challenge this week. Because of the film shoot, I have to work long days every day between now and at least June 24th. I can’t walk to set every day because our call times are super early; I’d have to leave the apartment around 4:30 a.m. to get there on time and the route is through a neighborhood that isn’t safe at night (even though it’s summer, it’ll still be dark at that hour).
I’m now at the half-way point of my challenge; ideally, I would be at “15 pounds to go,” so I’m definitely off target. At this point, I’d settle for a 20-pound drop, but given my past history with losing weight, I wouldn’t be surprised to put all this weight back on in the next couple of days. My daughter is berating me for stepping on the scale every day, but it’s the only way I have to track where I am at any given moment. I would just love never to see any weight starting with the number “2” ever again!
Which brings up the point of support and how hard it is to get it. Not just from my kids but from well-meaning people who want to advise me on how to lose weight. For example, it’s been suggested I do interval training (not going to happen given my schedule and lack of facilities; I work out in a space barely larger than my yoga mat in my living room where my kids are ever-present). The other “quick fix” always revolves around food. I don’t eat ANY of the things that are recommended we give up to lose weight. I eat almost no processed food whatsoever. I don’t eat out. I never eat fast food. The closest I come to fast food is Mexican take out or buying from a food truck. I have eliminated all take-out from my diet for this month. I mean, there’s literally nothing else to take away other than the random piece of chocolate (<100 calories), which I normally do not consume but it’s my “treat” for days when I didn’t eat more than 1400-1500 calories. And, to be honest, I don’t treat myself daily… it’s more of a “6-o’clock-is-beer-time” avoidance technique.
But the fact that I feel I must defend my one “bad” food choice is one of the many reasons I hate talking about losing weight. Yet losing weight is akin to joining a new religion: it consumes every moment of every damn day. Even when you aren’t talking about it or it isn’t in your immediate thoughts, it’s a matter of minutes before “what can I eat” and “how do I fit in exercise when I have a 14-hour work day” take their place front and center. I hate this. Every horrible minute. And when I talk about what I’m going through, yes, I am looking for some support… something, anything, to keep me going! It’s not about “wanting to give up” but having the tenacity to keep going. One of my pet peeves is truly fit people who are obsessed with fitness: it’s their solution to everything. But the truth is that this goal to be fit, to be thin, to be healthy is never ending. It won’t stop at the end of June regardless of how much weight I do or don’t lose. Restricting calories is a lifestyle; being fit is a daily choice along the lines of the addict’s mantra, “One day at a time.” Even if I magically wave away the 50 pounds I truly need (for my heart, for my knees and hips) to lose, I still have to maintain that lower weight. I lost 45 pounds just six years ago; this isn’t ancient history. I put on weight during pregnancy, but I actually managed to lose that weight and for a couple years I kept most of it off (my low was 150 in June 2009 and I was below 165 until around mid-2012). So I’m not looking at pictures of myself when I was 25 thinking, “Oh, why don’t I still look like that?” But the notion that I may never feel good at any weight, well, weighs on me.
It’s not a happy thought.
Biggest Accomplishment: None.
Biggest Fail #1: Being super grumpy. I was trying to update my blog when the program crashed, which totally set me off on my poor kid (he’s generally a pleasant child but I’m always having to “nag” him to do everything). I know being hungry all the time isn’t good for me or my disposition. Every small annoyance becomes a crisis, especially when I’m taking time out of a very hectic schedule to rewrite something I’ve already written… and remind him to close the damn toilet!
Biggest Fail #2: Totally not out of guilt, I made my son bacon pancakes (no, really; I had purchased the ingredients several days prior but this was the first morning I actually had time to make them). I ate two myself with (real) maple syrup; that was the better part of a day’s calorie allotment not to mention a whole lotta sugar and carbs with minimal protein.
Day 17 – June 15th; weight: 196.4 – 21.2 pounds to goal
In a surprise to no one (pancakes + my natural stasis coming in to roost), my weight is back up again. I’m not too put off, though, since I have to be on set all day today. Nonetheless, it does remind me just how horrid this whole process is. It’s all-consuming and never-ending and I just wish I could give it up and still maintain this minimal weight loss. I know for some people, even losing five pounds (and keeping it off) would be a big deal, but I’m not trying to lose 10 pounds here like my sister is; I’m trying to lose 50. There’s a big difference (both literally and mentally) between being “half way” to your goal and being ten percent into the journey. The whole reason why I opted to do this challenge was because the slow and gradual thing wasn’t working. I had honestly believed that I could drop a good 15-20 pounds this month and that would set me on a good path for the rest of the year. If I make it to June the 30th without drinking again (I’ve had one day where I drank in the last three weeks, the least I’ve drunk in probably six years) and I haven’t dropped below 190, I cannot imagine how I persevere. It becomes just this journey in masochism… I have an on-and-off relationship with a sadist; if I want to play the masochist, I have a friend for that. I certainly don’t enjoy doing it to myself.
Biggest Accomplishment: Not having a drink. A long day of work, a long walk home (it was pouring and I needed to get home by a certain time for my kids’ sake, so I walked half way from the film shoot to the bus). It was 90 degrees in the apartment when I got back, already sticking and soaking (sweat + rain). Instead of kicking back with a beer, I did some more work (two key gigs this week—my long-standing PT writing job plus the film shoot—mean 14-hour-workdays), then pulled out my coloring book (yes, I’ve been coloring in the evenings; I used to color a lot in my 20s) and drank tea until bedtime.
Biggest Fail: N/A.
Day 18 – June 16th; weight: 195.6 – 20.4 pounds to goal
I’m tracking downward again, but that doesn’t mean I’m anywhere close to where I’d hoped to be. Trying not to let it get me down. I have another super long day ahead of me; I don’t mind too much. But whereas when I’m on set, I can be somewhat limiting in my food, when I’m sitting at my desk all day being creative, I just tend to “grab and eat.” It’s rather unpredictable that these would be my patterns (breakfast on set yesterday was donuts and bagels, but I had a boiled egg and an apple; at home I probably would have skipped breakfast altogether and then doubled up on a big lunch salad… but if I have access to “fast and easy”—a slice of bread with cheese, for example—that’s my typical downfall for a diet); you would think that I’d be more tempted by the tortilla chips that came with lunch yesterday than by whatever is in the fridge for my kids to consume. Working from home has its perils.
Since I am short on art for this 10-days section of my journey, I uploaded a scan of some of the coloring I’ve been doing. It may seem juvenile (why not just pick up a good book to read?), but I think finding a new hobby is key to changing one’s bad habits (I have also been playing piano again; I’m getting it tuned today, in fact, because while I don’t really care if the piano is out of tune when my son plays it, I can’t stand to play an out-of-tune piano myself). My routine, typically, is to get up between 4-5, feed the cats, drink my lemon juice (cleanse: for the record, if you do a half-squeezed lemon in hot water every morning, you’ll never have to worry about regularity) followed by a cup of coffee, during which time I check my emails and figure out my work priorities for the day; by that point, it’s usually 6 a.m. and I have to get my son up for school; I make him breakfast and pack him a lunch; I can generally get in an hour of work before 7, along with a second cup of coffee; then, I do my yoga + meditation; by 8, I am back at my desk for the next 3-4 hours working, and I rarely get up for anything other than tea (I switch to herbal tea after my half-caff coffees); then I’ll break for lunch when I might watch up to an hour of television or chat with my daughter while I get her off to wherever it is she needs to be (she typically rises between noon and 1 when left to her own devices); then back to work for another three hours or so; my son gets home around 3:30 p.m., so I feed him and talk about his day; if I need to do more work, I’ll go back until around 6 p.m. when it’s officially dinner time; I cook dinner and by 7 I’m on the couch with a beer in hand; I’ll typically polish off 3-6 beers and then go to bed by 10 to start it all over again. That’s my routine.
So, what do I do when beer is off the menu? How do I both replace those 2-3 hours a day with a less-negative habit plus “reward” myself for a long day’s efforts? “Habit” is short for “habitual.” When we’re spending an hour habitually at the gym, a habit is good; when we’re spending an hour (or more) drinking habitually, it’s not so good. I’ve been bringing in coloring and piano playing because it’s something to do with my hands; I can’t be holding a beer when I am sorting colored pencils, markers, crayons and oil sticks (it may “just” be coloring, but I use a lot of different sources to get those colors). It seems to me that anyone who is trying to make an adjustment whether to lose weight or not really must find something to fill the void. When it’s 5:30 p.m., I can’t just go to bed hungry and deprived. I have to wait until at least 8 p.m.! So even if I whip up something for the kids (admittedly, they are eating a lot of pasta these days; not my best culinary moments, but I’m rarely tempted to eat their dinner if it’s pasta), I still have a couple hours of downtime when the bodega beckons. That’s another problem with living in a big city; it’s no effort whatsoever to go grab a few beers (or a bottle of wine or whiskey… there’s a liquor store about 50 yards from my front door). Unlike suburbia where unless you have it stashed in your second refrigerator, you’re probably looking at facing a bit of rush-hour at the grocery store at 6 p.m. if you really want to imbibe. I just walk out the door and five minutes later I come home with a six-pack.
Coloring may not be as effective as going for a run when it comes to losing weight, but having a new distraction I can turn to is definitely helpful when it comes to breaking the bad habit of drinking on a daily basis.
Biggest Accomplishment: A productive work day, I suppose.
Biggest Fail: Ate a burger. But I substituted a salad for the fries.
Day 19 – June 17th; weight: 196.0 – 20.8 pounds to goal
I tell you, this whole diet thing is the gift that just keeps on giving. What’s the takeaway at this point other than that I seem incapable of losing more than 10 pounds? Well, I don’t feel too horrible. I mean, I’m cranky and often hungry, but I don’t feel like I will die if I have to do this for another six months. Do I want to do this for another six months? Hell no! But I’m getting the sense that no matter what I do it won’t be enough to lose weight quickly. I’m thinking back to my days of swine flu and almost missing that week from hell. There just doesn’t seem to be any other way for me to drop a significant amount of weight without making even more fundamental changes to my lifestyle (e.g. I would have to get a job that requires a lot of physical movement).
I’m feeling less defeated than just profoundly sad: I feel like most of my life is a series of dedicated efforts that went nowhere. This feels like one more thing that I won’t accomplish no matter how much effort I put in to it. The slightest cheat (i.e. a burger on a bun; no cheese, no fries) sets me back. I mean, even if I were at the weight I wanted to be and only had to maintain at this point, I would be failing at maintenance. And where’s the pleasure? Where’s the fun? Where’s the dynamism? I am already of the mindset that life is long and hard and usually along the continuum of horrible to banal. I remember reading about this guy who was living on fewer than 900 calories a day because a study in rats had shown that underweight rats had longer lives. Yeah! Because they won’t give up trying to find something to eat! A fat rat is more likely to loll about and get eaten by a predator.
Not a human problem. And who really wants to add two or 5 or even 10 more years to a life of deprivation? For me, it’s deprivation without reward. I have zero interest in being on this rock heap one second longer than is necessary. I wouldn’t care if I died by 10 a.m. today; I just don’t want to die unhealthy. I’ve seen unhealthy death, and it’s truly the worst. That is why I’m working (not trying, but truly doing it!) so hard to lose weight to begin with. I’m not trying to fit into some ideal; I simply want to age more gracefully without heart disease and breathing issues and body parts being lopped off that happens when you have circulatory issues owing to diabetes or heart disease (the former doesn’t run in my family; the latter does, although seemingly asymptomatic for non-smokers, which I am). I suppose I should take some solace in the fact that I am living more healthily. I didn’t do a blood workup before this month’s misadventure began, but I’m guessing that my numbers would be better now than they were a few weeks ago.
But that’s shallow comfort for “being good.”
Biggest Accomplishment: I guess it was opting to take the bus home rather than the subway. Or maybe it was convincing my daughter to take the bus last night instead of the subway (see recap of my evening on next entry). The result was a very brisk 2+mile walk at midnight as opposed to sitting on the train for an hour.
Biggest Fail: Ate way more than I had plannned; I was thinking about another fast day, especially as I was on set and didn’t want to cave to the snack foods. I also had a couple beers.
Day 20 – June 18th; weight: 195.2 – 20.0 pounds to goal
My body hates me! In a true show of, “Cutting calories doesn’t work,” I ate more than I had in quite awhile yesterday… and then topped it off with two beers… and lost weight! I know it’s not a profound loss today, but I fully expected to step on the scale this morning and be 200 pounds. The set-up was seeing a Damien Rice concert in Prospect Park with my daughter. Other than where we sat, which turned out to be a huge mistake because we could have sat about 20 feet from the stage but that would have been on concrete and my daughter thought we’d be more comfortable on the lawn. We ended up about 100 feet from the stage… with hundreds of people standing between us and the performer! I don’t know if it was because people had paid for their tickets (these concerts are typically free, but this one was a fundraiser) or if the vibe there has become really rude, but the set-up was horrid.
Regardless, they have a very nice food stand there with farm-to-table cuisine (show that it is, indeed, possible to make nice food from sustainably sourced ingredients even at an outdoor concert event: no hot dogs soaked in swill served on squishy buns!). Dishes were reasonable: three for $16, so I bought some nice food (it was an evening out for me, after all) and what’s nice food without a couple beers to wash it down?
Anyhow, even though the scale doesn’t seem to acknowledge it, I think you can definitely see less of me in the composite photo (again, I just let it all hang out, but I can see quite a good drop, especially noticeable in my face).
Biggest Accomplishment: Just a very productive day on not a lot of sleep.
Biggest Fail: No true exercise today. Although I was “erranding” part of the day and walked to work, the store and back (no small feat: I was hauling about 60 pounds of groceries 1.2 miles), I simply didn’t have the time to do a workout given my work schedule and lack of sleep. I’m just starting to get my ankle back up and working (look, ma! no ankle wrap in that photo), so the last thing I want to do is injure myself owing to fatigue.