Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I've always been fat. Seriously. Always. It has just been part of who I am. Margee: intelligent, creative, fat. For years and years I wished it was something I could change about myself, but never really believed I could do it.

Looking at my graduation pictures was the first time I realize I was that fat. My internal image of myself was closer to what I look like now (35 pounds later). It occurred to me that I was growing and growing and growing, and it wasn't going to stop unless I was dedicated to myself and made hourly conscious choices and ate better.

May 2008 (225 pounds)

May 2008 (195 pounds)

Gosh, darn. Look at those collar bones! And you can see my face so much better!

Most importantly, though, I can now fit into most department stores clothing sizes. This has been the number one best thing that has happened since losing weight. I'm hopeful (and excited) to see what my face will look like at 163!

I'm going to win this race (against myself), even if it costs me tons of money!

Motivation is the hardest part. Working out in the morning is part of my routine, but it's much harder to make a routine out of eating healthy. To inspire me, I'm creating a chart of "celebrations" for hitting a weight.

Historically, the problem is not believing in myself. I don't believe I am capable of the weight that's right there on the scale. This is in part to natural weight fluctuations. Today the scale told me I was 189.4, but yesterday it told me I was 191.4. But the problem is circular - I don't believe I am that weight, so I am not inspired by myself, so I don't try, and so I end up NOT being that weight.

For these celebrations of weight loss, I am going to count the first time that a number appears on the scale when I weigh myself in the morning. So, today I can celebrate being under 190, despite the fact the cynical part of me believes my weight will shoot up tomorrow.

I have one "celebration" to fill in still (may end up all being manicures!), but here is the chart:

185 - Manicure
180 - Shoe shopping
175 -
170 -Hair coloring (I've never done this before!)
163 - Clothes shopping

My goal is to be 163 by my birthday (52 pounds!). My present to myself for achieving my goal will be a huge shopping spree. If I'm able to drop the 7 extra pounds (my stretch goal) I am going to get a message in addition, which is something I've never done.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I want some gnocci

I wanna eat some crackers and cheese, burrito, sandwich, chips. Anything that's bready and over my calorie limit.

I'm not hungry, I'm just bored and craving. The delicious tea I just had is not improving my mood, just delaying it.

The gum I'm chewing is no substitute for pizza. Noodles would taste really good right now.

I love my job, but I don't work well when I'm not stressed. There's no upcoming events. I don't have any deadlines that come soon. I'm just bored. So I want to eat.

This is the reason I'm overweight. My relationship with food is really fucked up. But I'll get through it. This feeling will pass and I'll make some healthy choices for dinner tonight. Because I can, and I want to.

It won't "taste as good as being thin feels". Oh, my body- and fat-positive friends would be really upset with me if they know this line inspires me. I kind of hate myself for it too. But it does. And I need a mantra right now.

Goal setting --- and making!

By the end of the week I hope to be in the 180s! That rocks it. And all because I kept on my calorie budget last week, and am even getting better at getting more protein. Let's hope I can do the same for this week. I've started out well. Yesterday I ate 9 calories under my budget. :)

Sometimes living California is a pretty awesome thing, including making all restaurants with 20+ chains have calorie counts on their menus. This not only allows me to make healthier choices when I eat out, but some restaurants are changing their menus to have healthier options as a result. I can't wait until this law takes effect. (Additional information here.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hungry for change

Maria DeLourdes Oregel hasn't found work since her harvesting job petered out last year, her husband's hours at the local chicken farm have been cut by a third, and even though she feeds her children meat only once a week, she runs out of cash before the end of each month.

She's one of the lucky ones. At least she has a roof and her family has some kind of paycheck.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shake a tail feather

Today's exercise is one of my favorites: dancing. Out for dinner, drinks, and dancing with friends. Hope that the drinks don't negate the dancing, but they may. In SF and wanna come? Just give me a call at (415) 493-8597.

Have a Freakin' Fabulous Friday!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Small margin of error

One of the hardest things to do while counting calories is doing just that - counting calories.

Hungry after I had finished my lunch (and given myself 30 minutes to digest), I went scrounging around the farmers' market looking for something to eat. The spinach paratha looked appealing, so I bought it and ate some. The only problem is that sparkpeople doesn't have spinach paratha in its database of calorie counts. It took some googling to find out that my after lunch-lunch was a good choice: only 150 calories in the half a slice I had. Thankfully.

I have finished all my meals with only 92 calories to spare! But 92 calories to spare means I have calories left over - I have finished my day within my margin! Two days of success. That's wonderful news. I am still not getting enough protein in, and I'm not exactly sure how to increase that amount. I don't care for meat that much, and I'm tired of eggs. I think I need to increase my bean consumption (which is currently at zero). If you have any suggestions, I would welcome them.


Yesterday was a complete success! I ate between 1,330 and 1,680 calories, ate when I was hungry, and didn't eat too much. Today is day two, and I'm looking forward to repeating my success.

A few things I do along the way to make sure I eat healthy:
  • Water - I try to drink 8 8-ounce cups a day. I also count my other drinks (mainly coffee and tea) toward the end goal of 8, but I try make the majority of that water.
  • Planning ahead - I try to plan out what I'm going to eat that day. When I make a switch during the day, I must first decide what I'm going to switch it out for.
  • Count calories - As I've mentioned before, if I don't count it, I don't lose weight. It's really that simple (for me).
  • Believing in myself - This is by far the hardest for me. Saying "I can" instead of "I will" or "I should" makes me more successful, but too often I don't trust in myself. When I lose that trust, I lose respect for my decisions and overeat. I try to counteract that by saying positive mantras to myself during my morning workout. They deal with weight (this week I will be 1.5 pounds lighter if I keep up the good work), they deal with being body positive (I love my hair and I look beautiful today), they deal with food (Today I can count all my calories), and they deal with my day (Today is going to be great; I'm going to make it great).
So far I'm off to a good start - I've even counted the cream in my coffee - and I know I can continue, if only I believe in myself. (I believe I can, I believe I can, I believe I can.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tan, tall, and THIN

I have returned from the land of long legs, blond hair, and small waists. I loved Southern California, but I ostentatiously don't fit in. Not only do I have a higher BMI than a very, very large majority of the population, but my dark, curly hair and one-piece bathing suit was like someone yelling "ABNORMAL" constantly. I just didn't fit in.

One of the graces of Northern California generally, and San Francisco specifically, is that there is no "normal". Sure, hipsters dominate the city, but so do hippies, business people, and children of all ages. Makeup is neither mandatory nor extraordinary. And heels are a nice addition to an outfit, but not an expectation to every outfit.

I never before have felt so darn fat as I have in Southern California. Everyone looks awfully similar, and I don't fit that mold. It is nice to return to Nor Cal where the body mold is thrown away and replaced with a political agenda.

I'm happy to say that I achieved my goal: I did not gain weight while on vacation. The constant activity (boogie boarding, biking, hiking) combined with healthy restaurant eating proved a success. The success ended last night when I overate. I lost a pound on vacation, and in one day I gained that pound back.

Despite the pound I gained back last night, I am resolute this morning in being successful this week. I begin at 193.0, and by the end of the week I'd like to lose 1.5 to 2 pounds. (My goal is 2, but I want to be realistic that sticking to a program is hard work.) The only way I know to actually lose weight is to track my food. So far this morning that has been successful, including not eating a cupcake that looked delicious because it wasn't in my calorie plan. By making the commitment to track everything I put in my mouth (no matter if it's in my plan or not), I keep myself motivated to make better choices.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thin assumptions

On weight-loss forums, I've come across very little conversation about why people choose to lose weight. I've read a lot of goals and motivations (e.g. "I want to be a size 10 for my wedding", "I want to look good in my senior photos"), but very few that question why being a size 10 is better than size 14, or why someone wouldn't look good with a little more weight in their senior photos. It's just assumed; thinner is better.

But is that true?

I have come across many people who would look better with more weight, and I personally prefer the curves of slightly "overweight" women, and I know I'm not alone. Size 2 is not a healthy size or look for many people, yet the underlying assumption of weight loss is that fat is the enemy and thin is the savior.

For years I have simultaneously accepted two things. First, that thin is not necessarily better. And second, that I am ashamed of my fat. These two concepts lead me to be ashamed of my desire to be thin, and afraid to admit that I was anything less than happy with who I was.

It was only recently I realized the fundamental third concept that I needed to feel body positive, and accept my desire to lose weight. It seems obvious now, but it took me 20 years to get there. Third, fat is not necessarily better than being thin. It is okay to want to lose weight and strive for a different body. There is no ideal way to be - fat or thin. You can be happy, comfortable, and prefer your body at any size.

Which lead me to the question: Why be thinner? (I briefly cover this in a previous post).

One of the great things about my weight loss so far is I am more active than I've ever been. This morning I cleaned out my old closet - a task I've let sit for three years. For the first time in my life, I understand the desire to move and not just sit at a computer all day. I clicked up some rocks yesterday - real rock climbing in the outdoors! - something I would never consider a year ago. It's amazing what my body can do, and I look forward to what it has yet to do. (I'd like to try running.)

Of course, you can be active without being thinner, but I've found it much easier to move with 30 pounds less attached to my limbs. I also know I can lift much more than my thinner counterparts in the office, and that I can run faster than them to. Thinner is not always better, but it feels better for me - which is all that matters.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fat of July

My father was the first person I remember who told me I was fat. Coming home from my first week of second grade at a new school, frustrated by my social ineptitude that I learned from my chronically-depressed dad, I shyly mentioned that I hadn’t made friends yet.

“Yeah, it’s hard being the chubby kid,” my dad remembered from his childhood. “Does anyone else have a few extra pounds in your class?”

My dad was the first one to tell me I was fat, but that time in second grade was not the last time. He made frequent references to the fact that I was “chubby”. It wasn’t until I grew older and looked back on school pictures that I realized it wasn’t until years later – after my self-esteemed around my body had been entirely eliminated – that my cheeks became much rounder.

But it’s not my father’s fault I’m fat. I’m fat because food is my addiction.

Over the 4th of July I went to a party my parents’ friends were throwing. I’ve never been the best at socializing (see above), and don’t know how to relate to all these older parents. I calmed and distracted myself by frequent trips to go get something to eat, despite the fact that I was the opposite of hungry.

I have to count calories to contain my eating habits. Eating as I should has trained my body in new ways. I now feel sick after binging on ice cream, which is a completely new phenomenon. The moment I stop counting calories, though, I often go over the top. I had four hotdogs during the Fourth of July, along with all the potato salads, noodle salads, chips, etc. Nervous and without anything to do, I choose my addiction – eating.

When I count calories, I most often stay under the 1500 calorie limit. I often stop doing this because I don’t know how to correctly enter the food I’m eating into Spark People. Or because I don’t want to know. My mother can eat whatever she wants practically, because of her weight-loss surgery, so when I come home we eat delicious home cooked dishes that I could never make at home. In my excitement to have something so luscious in my mouth, I overeat.

My relationship with food is unhealthy at best, and part of this adventure is to learn new ways of approaching food. Shelia is an inspiration. She has been able to control her appetite by slowly transitioning her relationship with food and easing her body into enjoying the healthy stuff. I look forward to the day where – not only do I get sick from the bad food, as I do now, but – I want the good food in portion-controlled measurements.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Facing my fears: tracking calories on a bad day

I notice that on days I'm afraid I feel like I've eaten too much, I get afraid to track my calories. For instance: today I ate something while I wasn't hungry, on top of eating something I shouldn't, so I never logged into SparkPeople. At least, I only logged into SparkPeople after talking myself into it.

And the results weren't as bad as I thought they would be.

My breakfast was 206 calories
My lunch was 400 calories.
I snacked for 320 calories

320 calories is a lot for snacking (and not enough for breakfast, might I add), but together they added to 926 calories. That leaves me between 404 and 754 calories for dinner. I can do that.

Today was a great tracking opportunity. I was scared to track my calories because I was afraid I was over, and I found out that it's better to know my caloric intake than not know. It helps me make better plans for myself, and makes me ultimately feel better about myself. Even had I completely been over my calories for the day, I would have at least admitted it to myself instead of being shamed about the possibilities of over-consumption.

Healthy and delicious eating

I just had the most delicious salad.
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow tomato
  • Red onioin
  • Broccoli
I let the salad marinate overnight so I don't need a dressing. The yellow tomato's sweetness mixed with the onion's sharpness creates its own delicious dressing.

Oh yummy!

Routine on pause

I create organized systems for every part of my life. I like routines, I like consistency, and I like numbers. Which is why I have a very consistent Monday through Friday routine. I work out in the morning, run five minutes late to work, and then pretend to go home at five. (Generally, I have a planned work/activist/social activity. I rarely am actually home.) I make my lunch the night before, pack my clothes for the next day, and go to bed.

This morning I slept through my alarm, and woke up about the time I should have been half-way through my workout at the gym. I'm trying to decide what that means for the rest of my day. Do I exercise after work? Tonight is the only night this week I don't have plans, and I was looking forward to going home, relaxing and doing laundry. On the other hand, I know that the next week will be difficult for me weight-wise due to the vacation. I SHOULD work out after work, but I think I'm just going go home, do laundry, walk around a bit in the park, and go home and enjoy my new room.

I am very good about my exercise routine (normally). It's just a habit - get up and go to the gym. But I am terrible with food. As I think I've mentioned before, I'm a food addict. An alcoholic once said, "I don't want just one drink. I want ten." The same with me and food. I don't want one of anything. I want AT LEAST ten.

I've tried to handle this in a variety of ways.
  1. I'll buy food I can have a lot of, like baby carrots or broccoli.
  2. I'll pre-portion everything. When I make soup, I immediately put it into portion-size containers. I will eat whatever's in front of me, so I need to have the food in a portion size I should consume.
  3. With the help of portion control and calorie counting, I am slowly training my body to know what is a portion. I have been on this training path for over six months now, and it's still going slowly.
I no longer can eat an entire cake, but I can still eat half of one. This probably doesn't sound like a huge improvement, but it really is. Unlearning a lifetime of habits is slow-going, and every small sign of progress is a huge success, even if it takes months and years to get it right.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Talking the talk

A little irony for you: the week I start blogging about weight-loss is the week that I gain two pounds. It was foreseeable (even expected). Every time I go home I gain some weight due to the delicious cooking and eating out. Yet, I've often gone home and gained four pounds in two days, and this week was quite the reverse: only two pounds in four days!

I am definitely improving my eating habits, despite the weight gain. I am both dreading and looking forward to my vacation next week in San Diego. It is a test of my willpower. There will be no portion-controlled Lean Cuisine waiting in the freezer for me when I'm hungry. I will need to navigate the "real world" of food, and manage my own food addiction. I hope I can be somewhat successful. While I would love to say success would be to continue to lose weight while on vacation, I don't think that's possible for me at this time. If I do not gain weight the week I am gone, I will consider that a very big success.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Little successes

One of the fun things about weight loss is going through the closet and seeing what fits.

Today I found a dress I haven't worn in years. It is the first - and last - sundress I owned. Sitting in my closet at my parents' house, it waited for me for years as I fluctuated sizes. Now - finally - it fits again! I am really excited to wear it again.

There are only a handful of items that I owned when I was last size 14 that still don't fit me (well). I am currently a little over 190 pounds. The lowest weight I've ever been is 185. It's exciting to know that in just over five pounds I will be the lowest weight of my entire non-child lifetime! I wonder how long it will be until I drop another size, and will be the lowest size that I remember ever being.

Operation Beautiful

One of the reasons I use the resources at Calorie Count is because their resources are health-conscious and not demeaning to your body. I believe people are beautiful at every size, and I try to maintain that attitude as I pick resources that help me in my journey.

The Body Positive is a great organization that talks about "Health at every size". Since I've begun being active every day, my resting heart rate has significantly decreased, I can better feel my body (and understand her needs), and I can climb mountains, bike trails, and run races that I never thought possible for my still-overweight body. They reinforce the idea that I don't have to be thin to be fit. Or beautiful.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and am amazed what looks back at me. It's not just my curly hair and hazel eyes that I admire, but also the curve of my hips, the swelling of my smiling cheeks, and my neck that I like. For me, part of losing weight was not only acknowledging that I was unhappy with my current situation, but also that I am beautiful - no matter what.

Operation Beautiful began under this exact premise. You are beautiful - always. I have taken to (under their suggestion) putting sticky notes with loving phrases in random places: bathrooms, office buildings, and most importantly - mirrors. "Smile! You are beautiful. Life is beautiful." "Today is a great day to be YOU - you are amazing and beautiful!" Things like that.

It seems so young to do it, but it also makes me smile, and I love hearing comments. "Did you see the sticky in the bathroom?" someone will ask laughing.

I feel that this post isn't complete without listing the reasons why I am losing weight. It's a long explanation, and I'm going to try to give the short version:
  1. First and foremost, I have recently admitted to myself that I want to be "normal". Not average, but able to blend in. I hate feeling that I stick out - the fattest person in the room, the most colorful, etc. - and I want the feeling of just blending.
  2. I want to go shopping with my friends and co-workers. I haven't been able to go on a "normal" shopping trip since I was... 14.
  3. I want to be more active. It's been nice seeing the improvements of my health and strength as I've gone through this journey.
  4. I want to be able to trade clothes with my friends
  5. Shoes - my feet are fat like the rest of me. I need wide widths, and rarely shoes fit me.
  6. Weight loss has increased my self-confidence. It's something that I can accomplish. It's something I am accomplishing

Friday, July 3, 2009

A scarcity of abudance

Earlier this week I worked in a "recession relief" food pantry, giving out food to (presumably) families that are in need due to the current economic crisis. We handed out hundreds of pounds of carrots, potatoes, onions, rice, beans, and a variety of other items. What was so depressing, though, is that this food would last a family of four a day - maybe. If a family was in real need, they would have to go hungry, or travel to another food pantry.

The entire situation is sadly ironic.

Here I am, an overweight woman whose main problem is I have too much good food, and I'm volunteering to help those who don't have the beginnings of enough food. As one of my spiritual leaders said recently, "There's a distribution problem."

My main problem with eating is that I binge. I find something delightful (banana chips, ice cream, pasta), and then I eat and eat and eat, until way past the time I am full. Yet there are those in the city I live who don't have enough to eat, much less to get fat on.

I often feel guilty about being fat. There is - of course - the guilt of binging, or the guilt of self-loathing, but there is also the guilt of privileged. With luck of the draw I have the problem of too much food, while - and let me be cliche here - there are children starving in Africa. And San Francisco. And every city. One in eight people are hungry in the United States, and I stand with the growing numbers of obese Americans. Let's hope, not for long...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dropping a size

After a few weeks of pants sliding down (sins belt, since women's pants seem to have a code against practicality), I went shopping today. I didn't really expect to fit into a size 14 pants, and grabbed a large range of sizes.

I tried on a size 14 first. Looking at it, I just laughed at myself. I can't yet fit into something so tiny! I tentatively put my foot in, expecting the pant leg to only slide up half-way. As you can guess, they not only slid all the way up, but fit too!

The last time I was a size 14 was when I was 14! When beginning this weight-loss journey a little over half a year ago, size 14 seemed so far away. I still can't believe I've accomplished this goal. Last year at this time I was a size 22.

I am currently at my parents' house. They are "foodies" and I always have such a struggle not binging on all the delicious things they keep in the house. Tonight we had an "antipasti dinner" of just amazing appetizers that my mom cooked up from her ingenuity. I had at least 10, if not more. They are just so darn good. It would be better if she was a terrible cook. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


My last birthday, I made a commitment to myself: 52 pounds in 52 weeks. After gaining and losing weight my entire life, it was time to come up with a plan and stick to it.

My lowest weight that I can remember is 185, at age 14. The highest is 226 at age 20. Passing my 21st birthday, I wanted to best myself, and see what I can do.

For years I'd buy something barely too small, and say, "It'll fit when I lose weight", certain that the process would happen naturally - wouldn't my desire to weigh less just make it so?

My first year at Mills College I went on and lost about five pounds, weighing at the end of it 211. I was too embarrassed to continue my weight-loss process when I met my boyfriend A. A and I dated for two years, and in those two years I gained not only the five pounds I had lost, but an additional ten pounds.

The first time I realized I needed to do something about my weight - NOW - was when I looked at my college graduation photos. I was so happy to be there, but I hate those photos. I don't look like I think I do.

Before my January 7 birthday, I lost fifteen pounds and gained five back. I was 215 on my birthday, and I am now committed to lose an average of a pound a week until my 22nd birthday.

It is now the first of July, and I am just under my goal. I have lost 24 pounds in the 26 weeks. I am almost at the halfway point, and I am right on track.

I am currently breaking through a period of being unmotivated, and am making another commitment to myself: I will post here three times a week.

I am currently using a variety of tools. I log my calories in Spark People because that's the tool I've been using the longest. I am motivated by Calorie Counts' newsletters (from Lastly, I use Fat Secret's challenges as something to motivate me. (It helps to know that others will see my failures too, not just my psyche.)