It’s been a while

Day -1/14

It’s been a while, but I need to get my head down and talk to myself about this weight loss process. I haven’t gained all my weight back or anything drastic, but I have reached an age where weight is harder and harder to keep off and/or lose. I’ve reached an age when bad things happen to people around me, when loss is more frequent and life seems a little precarious.

I suppose my response to that could be to give up and give in and buy elasticated waistbands. I’m not ready for that and maybe never will be. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I had to deal with my mom’s 28 pairs of elasticated waistband trousers hanging in three separate closets so, genetically, there’s a chance I will succumb.

I’m still healthy, despite weird stress-related autoimmune stuff plaguing me and my sanity. I can still run for a bus and not die, which is something. I walk up stairs faster than much younger people, but I don’t move nearly enough and am missing my endorphins. Instead, as per the usual, I find myself looking for them in the fridge. (They’re not there, but I experiment anyway.)

Did I mention the need to lose 10-15 pounds? It’s not a lot in the scheme of things. My doctor, bless her, sees so many obese middle aged women that she sees me as thin. I’m not – and the weight I carry is all around my middle which can’t be good even if it’s not catastrophic. What is catastrophic (hyperbole alert) is what my summer clothes currently look like with a spare tire always nudging it’s way outwards with an apparent life of its own.

I can still diet when I need to, but I’m supremely bored with the whole process  so, to that end, I’ve been exploring the very low calorie, quick hit options and think I’ve landed on one that will suit me and the family.



Oh, I almost don’t want to say it.

I’m going to start. No – I’m going to DO two weeks of 800 calories a day, healthy carbs and fats. I’ve decide to generally follow the Blood Sugar Diet.

And, I’ve decided to write here once a day for myself, but with the knowledge that anyone can read it. Anyone. I’m turning comments off because I don’t really want discussion – just a place to be talking to myself and aware that others might be listening in. That’s so, just perhaps, I’ll choose wisdom over whining.

Whining on a diet is so easy.

I might even ressurect some of my 300-odd posts currently archived.

Till tomorrow.



Alcohol and the Middle Aged Woman

Google the title of this post and a whole lot of articles will show up. When teens drink, it’s a social problem. When middle aged women drink, it’s a health problem. And since we’re bringing things into the light, I drink way too much.

What’s “way too much”? First, it’s important (to me) to say that I fail all “Are you an alcoholic?” questionnaires. I don’t blame anything on my drinking. I don’t drink in the day. (though I do think about it.) I don’t ever miss anything because of a hangover. Alcohol doesn’t impede my work or my family life.

Rather, wine is a bad habit like peanut butter on whole wheat toast. It’s a fine thing which isn’t fine if certain limits are exceeded. Experts say that “safe” for most women is 14 units per week with at least two days with no alcohol at all. You’ll have to google alcohol units if you don’t speak that language. There are good calculators online. Lately, I’ve been drinking 21 units per week with no alcohol-free days.

I use wine like I use food – to numb or to distract from anxiety over the unknown. I’m fully aware that I have other coping strategies too but food and drink are the most enjoyable by a long shot. I’m afraid that the old “take a bubble bath” suggestion has never done it for me.

I also know that wine makes weight loss difficult and weight gain really really easy. It doesn’t have a lot of calories but I certainly eat more sweet and salty food when I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. It also creates wine belly – which is probably the more accurate term for grief belly. Wine also interrupts my sleep and causes hot flashes which all make losing weight harder.

So here’s what happened yesterday. I bought a bottle of Valpoicella – one that I really like – and decided to savour it over 4 days. I planned how much I would pour. I planned when I would drink it. I got home after a long day and made dinner (a very strange dinner but it was a meal). Then I opened the wine and found it was corked! Ha! Foiled.

But in a good way. I just had to get on with my evening. I went to bed early, slept well and got up early. I feel happy about giving my liver a break.

First posted August 2013

Where I’m At: Head & Heart

Head: I know that I need to eat enough to fuel my body and I know a lot about that particular subject. I know that there is an optimal number of calories for my age, my sex, my level of activity and my height. I even have a pretty good idea what that number is. I know how much I have to cut back in order to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time.

Heart: I know that, in real life, I don’t do well when put under pressure to perform and dieting is exactly that. It’s self-imposed pressure but still pressure. As soon as I set a deadline for losing x amount of weight, I can feel myself going into reverse. It’s as though I can see exactly what I want on the horizon and then start walking backwards, sad and frustrated that I’m not doing what I want to do yet again.

Anyone with a long history of food-body insanity will know that feeling.

And yet – my body should be 8 – 10 pounds lighter. I would be healthier at that weight. My knees would prefer me to be that weight during a run. My clothes would certainly appreciate the smaller version of me.

It seems so little to lose; yet it is territory that I have not explored for many years. I have headed in that general direction but never settled to see if I like it there. My stubborn self that refuses to respond to pressure is the same stubborn self that refuses to give up on a promise I once made to myself.

And so?

And so…I’m playing mindgames of a new variety. I have gone back to my online journal – good old Nutracheck – and set it at maintaining a weight somewhere around where I want to be. I’ve also double checked that information with the Body Weight Simulator. What that means is that I’ve set up a great big ringfence which will prevent from actually gaining weight in this process. I’ve got lots of calories to play with and a small commitment to exercise – the kind I can keep up anywhere at anytime and will likely exceed.

The idea is to eat like a woman who weighs a healthy and sustainable weight for an active 52 year old. (my next birthday) I have no idea how long it will take to get there but I like the idea of experimenting with real, slow weight loss.

So here goes.

Long Term Weight Loss Goals

Although I can talk “goal weights” with the best of them, my fantasy weight loss goal is actually having food be a complete non-issue.  You know – like when they ask a celebrity or a chef what they ate on a “normal” day and the answer is something like:

For breakfast I had a cup of espresso and a slice of mango.  Lunch was a a couple of biscuits with a chunk of really strong cheddar and a cup of tea.  Dinner was grilled salmon with new potatoes and green beans from my garden and a glass of white wine.

Yeah sure – and 40 cigarettes.

I KNOW it’s not true but it’s still my fantasy to have healthy eating “just happen”.

But how do I balance that goal with my long and sordidly unbalanced history with food?

  • Step One: Remove as many “diet trappings” as possible.

What does that mean?  No more weighing of self? No more journalling?  I guess it’s essential to decide which elements of the dieting trap are toxic and which are helpful.  This is purely personal; one woman’s help is another woman’s poison.

Toxic – Interesting exercise.  Turns out toxic is a state of mind.

thinking about food all the time.

ruining happy social times with thoughts of “I can’t eat that”.

tying my weight to any concept of success or failure of me as a person

behaviour that leads to guilt about eating

allowing myself to get carried away by short term results aka dieting euphoria

To sum up : negativity and obsessing of any kind.

Helpful – but only helpful if they don’t lead to the toxic stuff above

weighing self

measuring waist

weighing and measuring ingredients and portions

journalling food

How do I use those helpful tools in a non-toxic way? That’s the cruncher. I guess my question is my answer. To be non-toxic, these things have to be tools rather than obsessions. It will be a day by day assessment as to how I’m using them – or avoiding them, for that matter.

So here’s the plan:

For the first 3 weeks, I’m going to put away the weighing and measuring of food and trust what I’ve learned over the past 3 years about good ingredients and portion sizes.

I will weigh myself occasionally but only if it’s helpful to see if I’m not gaining.  Loss is going to be difficult to assess when I’m aiming to lose less than half a pound per week.  There will be no “weigh-in day” – just assuring that I’m headed in the right direction.

That’s enough to start.

EDIT 2018: Because I’ve got a nerdy tendency to record life data, I can tell you that, while the thinking was solid, the ‘plan’ didn’t work once I hit some major stresses and challenges. Actually – it did work in some ways. I have a much healthier relationship with food and my body, but I’m still looking for that perfect-for-me, non-toxic, long-term, life-friendly, dieting-free, weight management system.

Fat Armpits

I saw this on the Paul Plakas site:

questionHi Paul,

I am almost 32 years old and have an active lifestyle. I’m 5′3 and 110lbs and like the look of my body EXCEPT I have “fat armpits”. I’m getting married in 5 months and have a strapless dress and would like to get rid of my “fat armpits” before the date. Could you recommend a few exercises that would target the area and help me get rid of them?


Audrey from Calgary

answerHi Audrey,

Since you are already at a good weight and just want some spot reduction your only option is liposuction. There are no exercises you can do to remove fat off specific parts of your body.

This one made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.  FAT ARMPITS?  I admire Paul for his restraint and, as always, his bluntess.

But sadly, I think the question reveals a person who just doesn’t see the Big Picture of her slim trim body and who, every time she looks in the mirror, sees only her armpit issue.

I hope, before she’s 40, Audrey learns to love her little body and wear clothes that cover up her “imperfections”.  Otherwise she’s going to get to middle age never having felt young and attractive like she should.  How many overweight middle aged women wake up to the fact that they weren’t nearly so fat in their younger days as they thought they were?

Love your bodies, women!

Love your bone structure because that isn’t going to change no matter how much or little you weigh.

Love your eyes and your toes and your knees and even your armpits because those are what they are – and they probably look exactly like your mother’s.

And before you consider that liposuction, ask the person who loves your body more than you do if they mind your little physical quirks.  If the answer is yes, dump them.

Stand back from the mirror, look at the whole picture and be thankful. Any other way leads to madness.

I Blame Lycra

I do.  I blame Lycra.

A pair of jeans with a bit of Lycra can accommodate five extra pounds without cutting or grabbing.  Some might think this is a good thing but it does no favours for those of us who are prone to five pound gains which turn into ten, fifiteen, twenty pound gains.

Aside: Does that remind anyone else of School House Rock? Not the weight gain obviously, but the counting by 5’s song?

Anyway – I guess this all takes me back to the fact that I don’t have an objective view of my body shape and size or I might notice a five pound weight gain even if my clothes are still comfortable.  Or is that wrong?  Surely a tightening waistband has always been the first sign of putting on a few pounds!  And now we’ve lost that small but important tool.  It takes at least 10 pounds before my clothes don’t fit.

So it’s back to the mirror, the tape measure and the scales to keep this weight in control.

Just writing that makes me feel exhausted.  I’m exhausted by my own inability to take care of myself.  I’ve had SO much stress these past six months that I have lost all enthusiasm for this process.  But I haven’t lost the determination to never be fat again.  I’m still a healthy BMI and I plan to stay that way.

So there’s no option unless someone somewhere cares to let me in on a previously undisclosed miracle for keeping off weight that doesn’t include balancing calories consumed with calories expended.


I didn’t think so.

Back to the journal I go.  Where I will honestly and consistently write down what I’m eating until someone comes up with something better.

Post Script Thought:  My belts are all a bit big now.  If the waistband isn’t going to tell me about five pounds, I guess I should buy a couple of belts that will keep me informed.  Hmmmmm – after next payday.

“I Feel Fat”

I’m thinking that my life’s work should be to discover an antidote to the phrase “I feel fat”.

I know that even skinny girls “feel fat” once in a while. I know that weight/body/food strugglers feel fat (and feel thin) all the time – regardless of available evidence.

These past couple of weeks for me were a storm of virus, hormones, travelling, work stress and health worry. The virus stopped me exercising and the rest made for some chaotic eating. The result was that I “felt fat” and even watched the scales start to creep up to the point that I didn’t want to stand on them.

Because, you know, if you don’t weigh yourself then your weight hasn’t changed.

If I had kept up the daily weighing, I would have seen the weight come down too but I let my “I feel fat” head rule for days. Then, yesterday before the MRI, I had to get weighed.

I’m happy to report that I don’t care about situations like that anymore, but I do guess what the number will be and I was thinking 153lbs because, well, I was “feeling fat”. Anyway – fully clothed, in the middle of the day, I weighed 148lbs. Absolutely fine, normal and not “fat”. Really, I need a brain transplant.

So I stepped on the scale this morning and all is well. I still have 9 days in which to NOT eat my worry about the results of the MRI but I’m so pleased to be starting from normal and not some silly imagined inflated weight.

And I still need to figure out an alternative to “feeling” when it comes to body image.

In Praise of Slow Weight Loss

I’ve been thinking – wondering really – about why this time has been so different.  Besides the writing, I think that the biggest difference has been a new “forever” mindset.  I’m trying to think of a good analogy to explain what I mean.

In all my previous attempts at weight loss, I was like a person going on a trip.  I’d pack a huge suitcase full of expectation. I’d buy a ticket to a certain destination and have a timetable for getting there.  But I wouldn’t expect the unexpected and I’d always come home before I got to where I wanted to be because I couldn’t handle the very nature of travelling.  “There” remained unexplored and “home” was a place that was ugly but comfortable.

I think middle age has taught me to pack light – ditch the expectations, the presumed destination and the timetable.  Home is no longer an option – I sold that house and have taken to the road! This time I’m wandering around the world and I’ll know “there” when I see it.

I’m pretty sure I couldn’t make any money telling people that the best way to lose weight is to aim for an average of about a pound a month.  But, with the huge benefit of hindsight, I’m very happy to be 25lbs lighter than I was 25 months ago.  If I had repeated my usual on-off-on-off dieting behaviour, I’d certainly weigh more now than I did in January 08.

Maybe I should submit my idea to Carl Honoré and we could launch the “Slow Diet” movement.  That’s not such a bad idea.

Paying Attention – Depression & Weight Loss

A mildly depressive personality is the flip side of some great blessings in life. I don’t want to stop being creative or visionary. Therefore, I have to put up with the fact that sometimes my mood will dip below “fed up” and into a place that I’d rather not be.

I’m also very very lucky that the dips rarely last more than a few days and I can wake up one morning feeling absolutely fine. Today I feel almost absolutely fine. Don’t know why and I don’t want to put too much energy into figuring it out. Generally, life is exactly as it was yesterday and the day before so I’ll accept the brighter day as a gift and get on with it.

The one thing I do want to talk about is weight and depression. Many people (ie doctors) feel that weight loss is a “normal” sign of depression. Well let me tell you (and them), sometimes it’s the opposite.

As soon as I start sleeping nine hours a night and finding that I must feel full all the time, I know it’s time to pay attention, pull back, draw in and take the pressure off – whatever that pressure is at the time.

There was a time when I’d have said that weight gain is a symptom of depression but now I realise that it’s a result of not paying attention when things are sliding. Usually, when I start feeling low, I don’t go near a scale or give a thought to what or how much I’m eating. The result is that I am thrown way off the healthy and sane path and right onto the crazyiness of the gaining and losing pendulum. hmmmmm.

Of course, depression is only one of many many life situations that have caused that in my life. So what’s going to be different this time, now that I refuse to get on the pendulum? I guess, no matter how I’m feeling, I’ve got to figure out how to get of the house, walk to do errands, eat to full but not crazy full. I may not be able to lose weight during a darker time but I can do everything in my power not to make weight gain a “symptom of depression”.

This is different. Thinking new thoughts is like trying on a style of clothes that you’ve seen in the shops but thought could never work for you. I’ve just tired on something and I think it fits.

I’ll walk around in it for a while and see how it goes.

Scale Insanity

How I feel about stepping on a scale is a sure way to tell if I’m living or dieting, balanced or unbalanced.

When I’m sane and balanced and taking care of myself, I can step on a scale and think, hmmmm, interesting. I feel like a scientist gathering a little more information about an experiment. I could step on it every day and marvel at how it goes up and down and stays the same and never feel anything in particular about it.  It is just a tool to help me stay healthy.

When I’m unbalanced and in on/off diet mode, I either avoid the scale altogether and gain weight or allow it to rule how I feel about myself. At my very worst, if the scale hasn’t moved in a favourable direction, I eat to punish myself for not having lost weight.

And I know a lot of women who react the same way, a temporary insanity that is brought about by dieting and a sure sign that we are stuck in an “all or nothing” attitude about feeding and caring for ourselves.

Right now I’m pretty balanced, so talking about the other scenario is like describing some unusual creature of the night who emerges occasionally in daylight to drink at a specific watering hole. You know what I mean. I feel detached – not like I’m actually describing myself and something I am fully capable of falling into.

Happily, after two years of very hard work and Talking It Off with my buddies, I rarely suffer from scale insanity. But I do still weigh myself regularly – at least once a week.


Why not?

I know there are very good arguments for throwing away the scales especially if they trap you into a dieting mindset.  However, after losing 30 pounds, throwing away the scale, then gaining the weight back countless times, I had to do something different.

The use of a scale doesn’t define me as a dieter any more than the use of an oven defines me as a chef.   It’s what role I give the scale in my life that defines me as a dieter. As long as it’s just a tool to give me information, then I’m sane.  When it starts determining my self-worth, that’s a problem!

So my advice is, keep the tool and change the mindset.

Everyone has to figure out the best use of this powerful tool. The only weight I pay attention to is first thing in the morning with no clothes – can’t slip into any mind games or worry about taking off a wedding ring or how much coffee I’ve drunk.

I only use a digital scale and never weigh myself on anyone else’s scale. If I go to a Weight Watchers meeting, I consider that weight unofficial and for their records only.

If I’m not feeling very good about how I’ve been eating, I see stepping on a scale the same way I see opening a bill when the finances aren’t too healthy.  It’s WAY better to know what you owe than to keep on spending in blind hope that it’s not too bad.

Other people don’t own scales and only weigh themselves at Weight Watchers. I say – do what works for you. There is no absolute truth when it comes to the use of scales.  Play around and figure out what helps you stay sane and balanced. If the scale is telling you something other than your weight, change how you use them.

No more scale insanity!