I can’t live without…

I have now lost a substantial amount of weight. I am closing in on 60 lbs. So it is noticeable. Naturally in our superficial and fat obsessed society I am asked quite often about what I eat. Yesterday I saw some people I haven’t seen in a few months. One was very interested and said she would give it a try. A coworker overheard and started asking me questions, too. She then said that she can’t live without potato chips. She has to have them everyday; they are her favorite. Another coworker has told me in the past that she could never eat like I do because she needs meat everyday. She said she is a carnivore. A third has told me she needs protein because when she eats carbs she gets very hungry and craves carbs.

I am not quite sure what it is about our society or our nature that prompts us to see someone getting a result we want and then immediately dismiss whatever that person is doing as not feasible for whatever reason. It could be that we are just constantly searching for a magic bullet. Or that we secretly wish we can still eat all the junk foods we want and will all of a sudden start getting healthier and losing weight.

I was thinking about this kind of reaction recently. I am now at the point where Round Table Pizza commercials make me feel sick to my stomach. I used to love their pizza! But now I just feel queasy and gross at the thought of eating cheese, pepperoni, bacon, or any of the other greasy stuff on there.

That brings me to my next thought: Would you rather feel like you can’t live without cheese or bacon or burgers or fried chicken or whatever it is that you currently feel addicted to? Or would it be better to stop eating those foods, switch to whole, plant foods, and get past the addiction? I know a few people who have quit cigarettes. While the quitting process is never easy, everyone knows that cigarettes are very harmful and that quitting is the right choice. So how is diet different?

I think truly the hardest part of switching to WFPBNO (whole food, plant based, no oil) is the convenience factor. There are just so many foods out there that are so easy to heat’n’eat or just eat straight that are simply horrible for our health. I work inside a grocery store so all day long I see the foods that are profitable. These are not health foods! And most people do not buy a cart full of fruits and vegetables.

We are literally addicted to foods that are killing us. I am so glad that I was able to break out of that cycle! I cannot live without my greens, beans, fruits, potatoes, and other healthy foods. And I very much prefer my life this way!

What can you not live without? What are your favorite foods? What makes you feel the healthiest?

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What does change really look like?

I have been having an issue lately with the compliments I get. Everyone acknowledges that they can see that I’ve lost weight. No problem there since I’ve lost over 40 lbs. Then they tell me how great I look. That’s the problem. I think I look the same. I have been having this issue with how I see myself. Every time I look down, I see my belly as I always have. When I look in the mirror I see the same face looking back.

I feel different. I have much more energy than I used to have. I am also stronger with more endurance. When we first started walking I would run out of energy so quickly. I remember the first time we walked around Lake Merritt in Oakland – 5.5 k or 3.4 miles around. I was so tired and sore I could barely walk for the rest of the day. Now I am able to get a few miles in before lunch and still walk the dog in the evening!

I also like to get up and move. Two years ago I could sit on the couch watching TV all day long, only getting up to get food or water or use the toilet. Now I can watch about an hour and a half before I am literally antsy. The dog loves it! He is always up for another midday walk. Sometimes we head to the parks and hit the trails, other times we just explore our neighborhood. We have a lot of hills around us so I can always find a new path to challenge me. And he loves all the new smells.

I also know that I have hit my comfort level with eating following the McDougall Program. I always know what is okay to eat. And I know how to bring food with me everywhere I go. I love to eat the same kinds of foods but I change the flavorings or cooking method to keep it interesting. I know the foods that are easy to snack on and what foods are special foods since they require more effort to prepare. It definitely takes the stress off to have the food side of it figured out.

All of these are great measures of progress that have nothing to do with how I look. I am proud of how well I am doing. I feel amazing. I am even okay with the plateau I’m on right now. The only problem is that I still think I look the same. So here is a comparison showing me for the past few Octobers. I realized when looking for these pictures that I don’t take that many pictures of myself so it was hard to find good pictures that show my face. Two are right before work, one is just out of bed. They are all just me.Comparison - October 13 to 15

What does change look like for you? What can you see? What can you feel?

4 months as a McDougaller

As of today I have been following the McDougall Program for 4 months. In that time I have lost more than 40 lbs. I have also regulated my periods. My skin looks amazing. I have digestive regularity. I eat whenever I am hungry (when I have food). And I never restrict anything I truly want. The funny thing is, though, since I switched to this way of eating I haven’t wanted anything off plan except pumpkin pie with my sister. So I had a piece. It took two days to eat it. And it was worth every bite. I tell people about my diet, but I am definitely not on a Diet. I intend to eat this way for the rest of my life. And I love it!

So what does this look like in a day? I almost always eat oatmeal for breakfast. I learned a great trick which is to put quick-cooking oats in a bowl and pour boiling water over them then cover for 10 minutes. Perfect! I usually just eyeball it to about half a bowl of oats, then add dried or freeze dried fruit like currants, blueberries, strawberries, or apples. I add enough water to fill the bowl then cover with a plate. While it steeps I do my hair and makeup for work or watch tv or take the dog for a walk. When I’m ready to eat I add a little brown sugar and sometimes cinnamon then stir it up and enjoy! I actually like to make it on the thicker side so I can eat it on my way to work. 🙂 What else are red lights for?

Lunch is often leftovers from dinner. I have also been enjoying Dr. McDougall’s soup cups. The chicken ramen is my favorite. I also went through a period where I ate a bag of frozen corn and a bag of mixed vegetables. Sometimes I bring plain potatoes and make sandwiches with some ketchup and a sprinkle of salt. Now there are brands of frozen steamed rice. Occasionally I’ll go out to eat. I like sushi (all vegetables) or pizza with no cheese or meat and lots of veggies.

I snack a lot during the day. I eat bread right out of the bag – usually Alvarado Street Bakery. Sometimes I treat myself to a loaf of sourdough bread, though, when I’m feeling indulgent. I also have been known to buy Red Vines. Once I even got some sugar snap peas and baby carrots! I also like the applesauce pouches for when my blood sugar feels very low.

Dinner is usually where I put the most effort. I like to cook with a range of flavors. I love Mexican because salsa adds so much flavor without much fat. I like to make other ethnic foods as well like the Kenyan food and fried rice I made awhile back. Ethnic foods are so great since they have so much flavor. Standard American fare tends to focus on meats and cheese-heavy dishes. So the variety of flavor offered from cuisines around the world is refreshing and, quite literally, enlightening. The biggest point I can make for dinner is to eat food that fills you up in a way that makes you feel healthy. That is my priority. I like to be filled up comfortably with warm food that fuels my life.

I also walk everyday with my dog and sometimes my husband. I wear a pedometer with a goal of 6000 steps a day. Most days I meet it, some days I far exceed it. I have discovered recently that I am taking fewer steps on the same walk. So the dog and I are going for longer and longer walks. He loves it! He knows when we are doing a longer walk based on which way we go at an intersection. I love how enthusiastic he is about our walks, too. Last weekend we went to a park I went to for day camp as a kid. We walked about 3 miles in a light drizzle. It was such a great walk! But we never push past where I am comfortable. I do not force myself to exercise when I don’t feel like it, unless I am home alone and the dog needs a walk. But then he is very understanding. 🙂 What a good boy! I love that I enjoy my daily walks and actually feel it in my legs when I am too sedentary. I used to be able to ignore the feeling and just keep sitting but now I get up and go for a quick stroll. At work I walk around the building, go to another business nearby for something, or just stand and work for a bit. At home I strap on the leash and we hit the pavement. Even 20 minutes refreshes me. The best part, though, is how good it feels. I WANT to walk.

Happy dog
Happy dog

It is not all sugar and spice, though. I am struggling with how I look. I don’t see any change in the size of my belly. I understand that I have lost some size since I had to buy smaller pants, but what I see when I look down is the same that it has always been. That is a challenge. I also am having an issue with feeling vulnerable without the buffer of fat. I still have plenty, but almost everyone who hasn’t seen me in awhile tells me how great I look. It makes me feel very uncomfortable since I don’t think I look that different and I don’t think I looked that bad. Or maybe I never think I look that good. It’s hard to say which. In any case, I am not quite sure how to respond. I usually try to focus on how I feel and my health improvements instead of how I look.

I am also having a major struggle with the idea of conception. I am terrified to get pregnant right now since I am still so far from healthy. But I also am terrified about waiting any longer since I am now 33 1/2. What if I lose all the weight to get to a healthy BMI and still can’t get pregnant? What if there is some residual damage from being so obese for so much of my life? What if I am totally fertile and still can’t get pregnant? These thoughts are circling my consciousness these days. I want so much to go through the process of having a baby and raising my child. But what if it never happens? Will I always have this gnawing feeling? Will it always make me feel so left out when my friends talk about their kids? Will I ever accept that this could be it for me? I don’t know.

I will say that my PCOS is much better on this starch-based diet than it ever has been before. My periods used to be so painful I would have to take 800 mg of ibuprofen at a time to feel any relief at all. I also was glued to my heating pad and constantly shifting positions to keep the pain at bay enough that I wasn’t in tears. It didn’t always work. Now I often go through whole days with no medication at all. When I do need it, 200 to 400 mg is sufficient to manage my cramping. The improvement in my cystic acne is amazing as well! I currently get a few small pimples here and there and usually one cyst near my chin, but I don’t have a rash of pustules anymore! I can leave the house without any foundation and still feel okay about how I look. That is HUGE for me!

Obviously I am still a work in progress. But I’m okay with that. I just want to be the best me that I can be. As long as I continue to improve I am happy. And every day I continue to make choices that benefit me in the long run. So I’m doing well. All in all, I am confident in the fact that this is how I will be eating and exercising for a long time to come. 🙂

Moving moving moving

Life is very busy right now. I am so thrilled that last week on Tuesday I got to meet my nephew for the very first time. He is such a smooshy-face! He is charming and inquisitive and absolutely adorable. I know I’m biased, but he is a darned cute kid!

When they first arrived my brother-in-law was craving a milkshake so we walked to an ice cream parlor that was a few blocks away. I think it may be about a half mile or so. I was holding the baby – L – and my sister pulled out the carrier. I am still well over 300 lbs and much larger than I am truly comfortable being so I was very nervous that the belt wouldn’t reach around me. But it fit! And not even at the loosest setting! So I got to walk with the baby strapped to me. I loved the extra cuddle time and held his feet the whole way. He did great until he finally got so tired he let Momma carry him again while she worked to soothe him and get him ready for a nap.

That day between the walking around and the “baby bounce” I did more than 12,000 steps! I was so proud of myself.

Yesterday’s WW meeting topic was ways to fit fitness in. Lots of people talked about their structured workouts, which are great. I talked about that little love bug who kept me moving for hours! After the meeting I took a nap then took the dog for a walk. I had taken him on a shorter than normal walk before the meeting (since I go at 730 am) so I took him on a longer one for the afternoon. Right when we got home my mother-in-law invited me for a walk with her. I should have known that she would push me much further than I really wanted to go, but I did it anyway. We did about 5 miles in the Oakland Hills on some beautiful trails. I was huffing and puffing (and I will definitely be digging out my inhaler for future hikes), but I made up and down all of it. It was about 2 hours total. And I made it to over 16,000 steps yesterday!!!

I am working as hard as I can to feel strong in my body and this helps for sure. It is an amazing feeling to look down a steep hill and see the trail I just made it up. I didn’t take any pictures, but the views were amazing. And now I know that I CAN do that kind of trail. I am looking forward to the day that that is easy for me.

I also have been cooking up a bunch of new recipes. I found another great website for inspiration: http://fatfreevegan.com/

My father-in-law is so impressed with how much weight we have lost that he has decided to try it out for a week to see how he feels. I am going to print all of the McDougall info and possibly a few other recipe ideas for him. He enjoys cooking very much so I am curious to see how the transition to fat free cooking goes. But I am just happy that he sees something positive in us and wants to make a healthy change himself.

Check out the great recipes there! One that I made over the weekend was the Melty Pizza Cheese variation. I poured it over plain pasta at my company party and added sweet potatoes I brought with me. It was a little weird to bust out my little containers of food, but so nice to not be sick to my stomach in the morning! And the cheese sauce tasted great! I ate some more with left over sweet potatoes and green beans. An interesting blend of foods, but quite tasty.

One other thing that is challenging for me right now is my mom. She has a very bad back and was hoping to have a small fusion surgery this fall. When we went to the doctor for a consultation last week he made it clear that what she thought would help would probably not help and would most likely end up hurting her more. We were both devastated and sat in the car crying for about 10 minutes after the appointment. One thing he made clear was that her weight will hinder any recovery. I am planning on spending a week at her house with my sister and her family and asked if my mom would commit to following the McDougall program since I’ll be there cooking for myself anyway. She agreed. She has been increasing her starch consumption but still has dairy, eggs, and oils as a regular part of her diet. So for a week she’ll switch to tea for her caffeine and go strictly starch based for the rest! If she notices a difference in her arthritis, blood sugar, or weight and feels better then she can continue if she wants. I hope she does.

So that’s me for now. I am trying so hard to see the positive in myself. And I am doing all I can do right now. And I just keep moving.

10% gone, now what?

Last Sunday I hit my 10% weight loss goal at my Weight Watchers meeting. It was fun to celebrate and I am very proud of myself for the hard work I have put in to change my health for good. And yet, I feel almost lost now. What do I focus on next? My ultimate goal is still so far away I cannot even fathom focusing on that yet. I could just focus on getting below 300 lbs, but that seems almost anticlimactic since it’s about half of what I have done so far.

I also have no idea what my life or my identity will look like when I get to “goal.” What is “goal” anyway? It’s definitely not a finish line where now I’m done. My health is a life-long commitment and I will work every single day for the rest of my life to ensure I don’t end up as sick as I have been. I also know for certain that if I stop following Dr. McDougall’s general dietary recommendations I will regain my weight and end up right back where I started. Or heavier.

I have had people recently tell me that it’s okay to eat oil every now and then and also that it’s not like I’m allergic to it. However, we took my uncle out last weekend for his birthday and my food was SO OILY that I was sick to my stomach for a few days. I ate only cooked vegetables so I could not have gotten sick from bad meat or any of the other things that causes tummy troubles from eating out. I know for certain that it was the excess fat in the meal that made me sick.

One thing I’m afraid of is that I will have to constantly fight with people to justify eating the way I am, even when my meals do not affect them in any way! Why are people so defensive about their food choices that someone choosing to eat differently is such a threat? I don’t understand that.

I am also dealing with some fear of losing weight at this point. When I was young I was assaulted by a man who tried to rape me. It sucked and I didn’t know what to do so I internalized it. I know that I have used my fat as a buffer to keep me feeling safe. But I had this physique when that happened and I still get unwanted attention, as big as I am now. So what can I do to make myself feel safe now? I am not sure. I am working on addressing the fear as it arises and strengthening my body so that I feel powerful. I also will probably take a self defense class in the next few months. I think that’s all I can do for now. But it’s enough and I’m okay.

In the meantime and in keeping with the ideas I brought up in my last post (found here) I am working on liking myself without a lot of modification. About two weeks ago I stopped using shampoo. Then a week ago I stopped using face wash. I am using way less makeup and trying to find ways to style my hair without a lot of heat. This is what I looked like today before I left for work.

No 'poo for the win!
No ‘poo for the win!

I am happy with how I look today, even though I used a curling and a flat iron. But overall, I am doing way less to make my hair presentable and I am so happy I don’t need to put on foundation anymore. I am wearing a bit of concealer under my eyes and a touch of cover up on my acne spots with a light dusting of powder to set it. I also do eyeliner and mascara just about everyday. Today I added a quick swipe of a creamy, sparkly gold shadow pencil over the regular liner. Compare that routine to what I used to do: foundation, concealer, cover up, powder, blush, bronzer, highlighter, eye shadow base, two to three colors of eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, eyebrow pencil. I did that everyday for years! So it is very refreshing and empowering for me to be able to show so much skin on my face with confidence.

If you are interested in learning about why I don’t use shampoo anymore, ask me in the comments. There are a ton of people who do “no ‘poo” and I love how soft my hair is already. Here are a few more silly pictures I took. I am happy that I am starting to like my natural self. 🙂

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A time to renew

Yesterday was an interesting day in terms of how the calendar lined up. It was the first day of Autumn which means that now the hours of night are long than day. It was also the end of the High Holy Days, and the day when the Book of Life is sealed for another year. This time of year has its challenges for many of us. For me it is a stressful time as I get closer to Thanksgiving. Every year of my life that I have spent that day with my maternal grandmother has been very difficult.

This year, though, my mom will be having surgery that month and my grandma is taking care of her post-op. This is great news because it means we can skip the big family get together! Maybe another relative will have everyone else over and I can spend the day with just my mom, the hubs, and the dogs. That would be a wonderful day for me to give thanks and focus on the truly important things in life.

I have also had some really good things happen in the fall, though. We are coming up on our 8th wedding anniversary. I get to see my sister and meet my nephew next month. We are also having a big family party for my niece’s birthday. So fall is definitely a time for celebrating in my life, too.

As the great wheel of time rolls forward this year I am thinking about using this time of darkness and hibernation as a chance to rest and rebuild myself. I am working on untangling some of the emotions tied up in my weight. I have been carrying them around and struggling with them for years, but I think I’m finally ready to unwind them and let them go.

How can I do that? Well, I’m not entirely sure. But I know that part of it will be to continue my meditative walking in nature. Part of it will be to accept the fact that I look like I do right now, and that’s okay. Part of it will be to continue to learn how to improve my health and well-being every day.

One thing I have been thinking of lately is how I look. I shared my weight loss progress with a coworker the other day. I was so excited that I’ve lost 28.6 lbs. He said it was great and asked if I can imagine how good I’ll look in a year. I’m sure he meant it in a positive way, although it’s not really a positive thing to say. I also tend to judge my appearance harshly on days I don’t heat-style my hair or if my makeup isn’t staying in place the way I think it should. Part of that comes from working in the beauty industry for so many years. Part of it has to do with my negative self talk.

The real question, though, is why do I need to wait to be beautiful? Can’t I be beautiful today at 320? Can’t I be beautiful with no makeup or natural hair? Why am I left out of what I consider beautiful? I understand that when I flat-iron or curl my hair, when I put on a full mask of makeup, I look beautiful. Did you catch that? I LOOK beautiful, but never accept that I AM beautiful.

So what I want to work on this winter is the transformation into seeing myself as beautiful. I will untangle all those nasty thoughts I have about myself and wrap them around me in a strong cocoon. When I am ready, I will pull myself out, strengthening myself as I go, just like a butterfly. And I will be able to see beauty in myself and see myself in beauty.

Metamorphosis

It’s a tall order, for sure, but one well worth the work. I was reading about a woman yesterday who cleans her hair with baking soda and vinegar. I have used that cleaning method in the past with great results. I looked at all of the lovely pictures of the woman and several others online and they all have such great natural hair. Why not me? So I am going to go “no ‘poo” as well and hopefully find some of that natural awesomeness in myself, too.

I have also been reading about barefoot living. I have been letting my feet out as often as I can and I even ordered some custom fit huaraches. It’s funny, in shoes my feet were never visibly soiled so I hardly ever actually washed them. Now that I am walking around my house constantly barefoot as well as outside a little and sometimes on trails my feet get washed often. They look so healthy from the gently scrubbing and I feel like my arches are starting to pull back up.

Maybe there is a beautiful person somewhere inside after all. Not hiding behind layers of fat, but hiding behind layers of social constructs. Fix your hair, wear the right shoes, look a certain way. All of these are just fleeting as style is fluid. Why bother? I can be myself and be amazing, right now. I do not need to lose any weight to be beautiful. 🙂