Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Progress Report Pep Talk

Sometimes I make myself blog about my progress as a form of giving myself a pep talk. This usually happens when I catch a glimpse of my still huge body in a reflected surface such as the shiny door of my microwave oven, a window I'm passing by when I'm out shopping, or the television screen.

It may not surprise anyone that there are no full length mirrors in my home. Sometimes I wonder if I really should get one so that I can view my body without the distortion that comes from those reflected surfaces. Frankly though, I try simply not to look because what I see makes me unhappy and demoralized, but occasionally, I catch a look without trying to do so.

So, these little progress reports are my way of talking myself out of an oncoming depression at how I appear to be "different", but not "better" at this stage of the game. Taking stock of the things which actually are better helps, even if many of those things are relative and of little consequence on the whole.

Here are the little things which have changed for the better:
  • My tighter pants (which are stretchy pants) have become loose and are starting to gap a bit at the waist. They're also getting too long and will need to be hemmed. My looser pants are becoming what my husband calls "comically" big. I expect these loose pants to be too impossibly big to wear by the end of spring of next year, even with an elastic waist which can hold them up despite the size.
  • Long-sleeved T-shirts that I wear during cool and cold weather times which were uncomfortably tight now fit properly. My upper arms used to fit like sausages in a tight case before in these shirts, and now there is a little play in the fabric of the upper arms.
  • My face looks younger and better by an appreciable amount.
  • I can only wear my wedding ring if I put a sizing band on it or it is prone to slipping off my finger.
  • I don't get nearly as winded climbing stairs or find it as difficult to haul myself up them.
  • Though I still wake up with back pain and stiffness (from lying down overnight) every morning, I can now walk without sitting to rest most of the time for up to about 45 minutes, though occasionally my hips will ache and I'll have to have a brief sit down early on in a walk.
  • I can withstand hunger pangs far more readily than before and it takes more time to develop a low blood sugar headache than when I started. This is a profound change and I believe my body has made an adjustment to less food and is responding less aggressively to less getting less food. It's still not easy to sit around being hungry, but it is "easier" than before.
  • I haven't felt the impulse to binge eat or eat compulsively for about two weeks, though I still eat things which I crave in small portions when I'm not really hungry.
  • My belly button depth has noticeably decreased. I know this is gross to people who have never been morbidly obese, but when you shower or clean yourself, you have to go pretty deep to reach the bottom and I can tell by the finger depth that my belly, big as it still is, is getting smaller. One of these days, I'll not have to go the entire depth of my index finger to reach the bottom, but I'm not there yet.
  • I'm starting to develop a lap again. My belly apron was so big that I didn't have much of a lap, just my knees poking out. I'm seeing more of my thighes while sitting than I have for quite some time.
  • It's becoming easier to type at my computer as my arms rest lower on my body as my stomach gets smaller. I don't have to hold my elbows quite so awkwardly to work around my stomach.
These are the qualitative differences in my life that I've noticed as of late. I still have a very long way to go, but I'm thinking that when I no longer fear squeezing into an airplane seat, I may agree to go to Hawaii for a vacation. My husband has been wanting to go for a long time, and he thinks it'll ultimately be good for me. My sense is that I may be ready to do this some time late in 2010 if things continue at a pace. Ideally, I would like not to go until I weigh around 200 lbs or less.

Though I don't weigh myself at all at present, I probably will start doing so sometime around the middle of next year, though I will likely do so infrequently (on a monthly basis at the most frequent). There will come a time when progress will be harder to measure qualitatively and a quantitative measure might be a motivational tool. At present, I still view it as potentially more damaging than helpful in my particular case.

Happy New Year to my small group of kind readers, and good luck to you all in the coming year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not Wanting More

During the holidays, I was given a big portion of a cake from a work-related associate. The entire amount of cake would probably be two somewhat large portions or three smallish portions. I gave myself a portion equivalent to a quarter of the entire amount of cake. The cake was divine in texture, taste, and smell. It was definitely one of the best bits of cake that I ever had.

I had about 5 bites of cake in my portion, since I eat relatively small bites. I do this because my mouth is small and I can’t eat a lot at once. I ate my small piece and experienced something that I cannot recall having experienced in my memory, and certainly not as an adult. I thoroughly enjoyed the cake and finished my piece, but I had absolutely no desire to have more. It wasn’t that I was full, as these days I’m rarely truly full. Besides, I’ve been full before and followed up quite imprudently on a desire to eat more (especially when it came to dessert) when I had had quite enough. Fullness never put me off of eating more of something that tasted good.

For the first time in memory, I really enjoyed something, but didn’t want more at all. I had the experience and enjoyed it, and that was “enough”. I don’t think I can recall having “enough” when it comes to food I really enjoy short of having extreme stomach discomfort that forced me to stop, or running out of food. It’s the sort of impulse that tends to make people who are overweight have issues leaving a bag of cookies or chips unfinished. They just keep going back for more at every opportunity until it’s gone. I remember that impulse with perfect clarity as it’s a battle I’ve fought again and again and lost throughout most of my adult life.

Not wanting to go back and eat more of that extremely tasty cake was such a profoundly different experience, that I took note of how the absence of desire felt. I wondered if it was going to happen the next night when I had another small portion of the cake as a holiday treat. I wondered if this was a fluke, or if it was the culmination of the conditioning I’ve been doing on myself for the past six months.

The next night, I had the same experience. I had a small piece of cake and again had no desire to tunnel back into the fridge and nibble at more. Maybe it’s the cake, but I doubt it. I think there has been some sort of shift in my relationship with food as a result of the behavioral changes I’ve made.

I can’t say that I believe it’s going to happen every time, nor can I say I believe it will last forever or happen every time I eat some really delicious food. I don’t even know exactly what actions I've taken which has led to this change, but I have a feeling that it's related to actively tasting food that I eat for pleasure and not denying myself anything that I want to eat. All I know is that it felt good. It felt as if I had a sickness that has been plaguing me all of my life and suddenly I wasn't suffering its effects. It was like a tremendous psychological burden had been lifted, if only for a short time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pigs in Pokes

Lately, there has been a great deal of advertising done by someone using a drawing of a blond woman going from fat to thin and promising you can lose weight by following “one weird old tip” (or something to that effect). I don’t know what the tip is, but the ads look, feel and sound like the same old pig in a poke type of thing that has been sold to those looking to lose weight for decades. These are plans that promise you that you can easily and simply lose weight by making simple and desirable choices in your life.

It’s easy to understand why people want to sell you easy answers. They want your money. The slightly more difficult part is understanding why “we” (and I actually don’t mean “me”, but humans in general) actually buy simple answers to complex problems. My guess is part of it is desperation. We can’t make the lifestyle alterations necessary to achieve a lasting healthy weight, so we keep looking for some trick or option that we’ve missed. Someone has to have the answer because there are still more thin people in the world than fat ones, and the thin ones don’t seem to be any less neurotic or any more intelligent than us.

The thing about these deals, and this applies to all of them, even the most absurd ones, is that they work for some people. Sometimes they work for a little while, and there may be at least a handful of others for whom they work for the duration of their lives. The main problem with the wackier plans is that they rely on substituting real food for fake “balanced” concoctions that offer all of the nutrients you need at fewer calories and with no satisfaction (no matter how hard they try to fake good taste). In the short term, people can manage this. The problem is that, in the long run, you grow tired of a stomach that rumbles because it didn’t get real food and taste buds that want to experience something more.

Many plans actually make sense from a certain viewpoint or seem logical, balanced and healthy. The problem with many of the most sensible plans is that they depend on a certain level of discipline which can be maintained under ideal conditions, but may rapidly fall apart in difficult life situations or when your options are limited. This is something that I faced rather seriously when I found that I was too injured to exercise my way to weight loss as I once did. It is also an issue for people who accomplish weight loss based on restricted food lists. The more you “can’t eat”, the harder it is to take part in normal life, particularly social functions.

I have always been dubious of the diet “pigs in pokes” – the cookie diet, candy diets, cabbage diets, soup diets, etc. It’s not just the fact that all of these plans are so obviously about selling specialty products to people desperate to lose weight, it’s also that I’ve always seen them as very short-term solutions. What happens when you lose all of the weight you want and stop eating the cookies or medically-formulated bars or soups? They do nothing for you in terms of teaching you how to deal with food in day-to-day life and seem to set you up for a cycle of regaining when the "diet" is done.

I think that most people have a terrible time altering their relationship with food, myself included. It's so much easier to radically alter your habits than to moderate them. This is especially true when you have tried and failed so many times to make the changes that are necessary to lose weight. I think that people buying those dietary pigs in pokes are simply tossing out their entire unhealthy way of dealing with food and hoping to replace it with a new and healthy way. Perhaps that is why fad diets have appeal. If the change isn't radical enough, people don't have the sense of abandoning their "bad" way of life entirely, and they really want to get as far away from their "fat habits" as possible in the hopes of building thin ones.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


"Patience" is something I have to keep telling myself through gritted teeth. I'm so tired of my body that sometimes I just want to scream in frustration. I know I have to be patient, and as I've said before, I am absolutely not itching to reach the end so I can start eating more again. I'm on a plan for life now, but...

The thing I'm losing patience with is not looking better or being a significantly smaller size. I don't want to be stared at, pointed at, or made fun of anymore. I don't want to worry about fitting into chairs with handles or having to buy two seats if I go on an airplane. I'm sick of living my fat girl's fears. I'm tired of regarding my body with disgust and thinking everyone else is as well. I'm patient with being fat, just not this fat.

When I started my efforts, I don't know how much I weighed, but it was probably near 400 lbs. When I started blogging, I guessed I may have weighed 330-350, but I wonder now if it was more like 370-390. I've lost a lot, but I still look freaking huge. If I could bear it, I'd get on the scale, but I just can't handle knowing exactly how far I have yet to go.

Back when I lost weight in my late teens, I think I weighed nearly 300 lbs. At that time, I remember thinking that I would have found the whole endeavor more bearable if I just could have started out at 200 because then the road wouldn't have been so long and daunting. Now, that path seems like nothing compared to the one I've been traveling this time around.

When I stand in the shower, scrubbing my vast expanses of flesh, I find myself wishing I could bargain with my body and convince it to let me live in a nicer one if I promise never to overeat again and to take good care of myself. It's like I want to live in a better house before I've paid for it or finished the remodel, and want it to just give me what I want simply because I earnestly promise that I will do the work, and I will pay for it all. But, it doesn't work that way. there's no way of getting it now and paying for it later. I have to pay as I go, and sometimes the wait just crushes me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas and Candy

Today, a coworker who is leaving the company gave me a box of 5 Ferrero Rocher chocolates as a goodbye/Christmas gift. In the past when I was trying to “diet” to lose weight, such a gift would have been regarded as a waste at best, and possibly a burden at worst. When “dieting” and denying myself such “forbidden” pleasures, I would have to give away or throw away this act of kindness and thoughtfulness (as it is one of my absolute favorite candies). My response internally would almost certainly have been one of repressed frustration at being given something I enjoy, but not being allowed to enjoy it. I might also have projected some sort motive to sabotage me on my coworker, who may have noticed that I had been losing weight but gave me candy anyway.

I’m pleased to say that I could accept it with a smile and the sense that I could look forward to five days of savoring the pleasure of them one at a time. At 75 calories per candy, they’re within the allotment I give myself for a day’s treats, though they are a bit on the higher side of what I usually eat as a single candy.

This experience has made me reflect on several things. First, there is the dieter’s mentality and how it increases the chances of failure because of the emotional responses to denial. I remember one of the times I attempted to diet and failed when I bought a box of chocolate and hid it from my husband because I didn’t want him to see that I’d was “cheating”. He found the half-eaten box and I felt terrible for having been “caught”. Of course, he didn’t chide me or accuse me of not wanting to succeed, as that is not his way. He just looked sad for me because I couldn’t make it work for myself.

Denying myself things I enjoyed in the past just made controlling my eating that much harder. It’s odd, but eating treats regularly in small quantities actually makes calorie control far easier as it leaves the baggage that comes along with feeling “deprived” behind. It also makes the notion of a “cheat day” ridiculous. By most people’s standards, I “cheat” a little everyday.

Second, there is also the part of the dieter’s thinking process where everyone around you is seen as a potential saboteur for offering you things that don’t fit in with the limits of your meal plan. I’ve written before about people who insisted and pushed me to eat pizza and other foods I saw as verboten when I lost weight around the end of college. What they did was far pushier than this type gift, and they were well aware of my eating restrictions and pushed me to “have fun”.

This candy gift is rather different because I have never discussed my recent dietary changes with coworkers. That being said, the very fact that I have been losing weight and that is obvious to everyone around me might make me think the candy is a passive-aggressive gift. I know it is not, but I might be more inclined to think it was if it brought out all sorts of feelings of denial and frustration. It strikes me that thinking that everyone should be aware of and accommodate your (unannounced) diet and restrictions is rather narcissistic (except in health-related cases such as being diabetic or having heart disease), but I think one’s perspective can get pretty warped when on the weight loss path.

I remember in the past when trying to diet that I felt really depressed and resentful when special days like my birthday or Christmas rolled around and I couldn't experience anything special in terms of food. A lot of people deal with these situations by focusing on the non-food experiences at this time, but I’m a food addict and part of the reason for that is that I love the experience of eating. I love the smell, taste, and texture of good food. There simply is no substitute for that sort of pleasure and I can’t fool myself into thinking that watching a special movie, singing songs, decorating, or doing volunteer work is going to obliterate the sense that I’m missing out on something I’d really enjoy if I were permitted it. I’m so gratified now to have found a way to not have to feel all of those negative feelings associated with the holidays and food, and to still lose weight.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Two-faced Friends

When you're in school, you expect kids to pick on your for being different, especially if you're fat. After finishing high school though, I learned that a lot of the overt mockery slows down. After college, it tends to come at a crawl except from random strangers and children. Adults tend to exhibit more self-control in the interest of showing a modicum of social skill and grace.

That being said, I cannot say that I've been at a loss for being acquainted with adults who have made fun of my weight, or talked about it behind my back. The random strangers who make rude remarks are one thing, but the people who are friendly to your face and then stab you in the back still were able to shock me.

Shortly after starting work at a new job as a temporary employee, I was getting to know my coworkers. One of them, a man who was 28 at the time (I was 26) hit it off particularly well with me. We talked amiably, made jokes, and had a good rapport. I should note that this was all utterly devoid of flirtation or sexual considerations. I know that when men and women get on, some people believe that they only do so when there is some sort of attraction. I was (and still am) deliriously happily married and relate to all men I encounter as potential friends, much as I relate to women. After several weeks of working together, I thought that this fellow was going to be someone who I'd get along well for the duration of my time at the job. I should note that he worked one shift and I worked another shift, but there were times when the schedule overlapped.

One day, he was sitting at a table that we worked at communally with those on our shift with several other coworkers on his shift. I was working in another part of the office in private work spaces that my shift's workers were currently occupying. We swapped off in these spaces according to the types of tasks that needed to be done. The schedule for our work was set for the most part, but my schedule wasn't quite the same as that of the other worker's, so I left my cubicle early to join in on the work at the communal work table.

The cubicles were located about 15 feet behind the table that my coworker's shift was working at, so I was approaching from behind. As I was walking there, I heard him say very clearly, "what it must be like to have sex with (my name)... it must be like lying between two big slabs of beef."

Since my shift ended earlier than that of everyone else on my shift, he didn't expect me to approach and didn't hear me, but I sure heard him. I was humiliated and furious. I didn't confront him directly, but I did say something about people who pretended to be your friend and then stabbed you in the back. He pretended that he didn't have any idea what I was talking about, but this just made me angrier and more aggressive. One of my other coworkers told him to "give it up", meaning that there was no use continuing to pretend that he hadn't said something really ugly about me.

After that, all of my interactions with this particular coworker were cold and officious. In the end, he was fired and I was given his job because he was not the greatest worker. I became a permanent worker and he was headed for the door. This was gratifying because I thought he was a thoroughly despicable person and deserved what he got.

I have blotted out a lot of the immediate pain I felt at that betrayal and the two-faced nature of his actions, but the effect was to make me wonder what every "friend" I've ever had has thought about me and said about me behind my back. To be honest, I still don't trust anyone other than my husband and figure that even people who are nothing but gracious and kind to my face are probably telling their spouses or friends about how disgustingly fat I am. I take it as a given that even people who are nice to me are going to judge me and speak ill of me when I'm not around. Sometimes I wonder if the scars of the cruelty I've lived with most of my life will fade after I lose all the weight I want to or if they're with me forever.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

(About) A Third of the Way There

I've mentioned before that I don't weigh myself, but rather measure by look, feel, and clothing. I've noticed that drops in weight tend to be noticeable in little hops. It's rather like walking along the same road for awhile then suddenly finding you are stepping down rather than walking down a slow incline. This is fine with me as I'm seeing what others are seeing in terms of (subjective) progress rather than some arbitrary (objective) number on a machine.

My sense right now, if I had to guess, is that I'm down about 70-75 lbs, and my overall impression is that I've lost about one-third of the weight that I would like to lose. Now that winter has come around, I have a whole other set of clothes to measure progress against and it is pretty gratifying. There's a particular winter shirt which is very long that I had to stretch (with considerable, but not fabric-tearing resistance) to pull over my belly last year that now fits somewhat loosely around the bottom. Since my stomach has shrunk much less than the rest of my body (much to my dismay), this has made me pretty happy. Despite my impression that the old belly isn't moving much at all, this is proof that it certainly is.

For now, I'm staying the course. My guess is that there will come a point (likely as I approach the sub-200 lb. level) where I'll have to shake things up to keep up the steady progress. Right now, I've got two more years to reach my goal so I'm pleased with how things are progressing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Mother's Book

My mother had two tricks in her book of half-assed parenting, and my father had no book at all. According to my mother, he never wanted kids (thanks, Mom, for sharing that fact with my sister and I... it really helped us feel unwanted and unloved from a young age), and this explained his lack of parenting. As for my Mom, she alternately claimed to want as many kids as she could push out but was stopped in her tracks by a uterine infection that required a semi-hysterectomy or to have not had sufficient access to "rubbers" when she was younger.

Getting back to her slim volume on parenting though... My mother either was completely slack about monitoring us in vital aspects of our childhood or adamant about adhering so strongly to her principles that she exhibited no flexibility whatsoever. She never pushed us to brush our teeth on a regular basis, for instance. Though she claims to have told us to do so, I can't recall her telling us past the age of 6, nor did she ever buy toothpaste. When I got old enough to care because of my own concerns as I approached adulthood, I'd already lost two molars to cavities, was in need of some fillings (which I never got until my 20's) and had to buy my own toothpaste.

When I asked my mother about why she didn't push us harder to brush our teeth, she shrugged and said, "I tried, but you didn't do it." I guess it was just too much trouble to come upstairs to the bathroom every night and check on us when she could just sit on her ass in front of the T.V. and leave us to fend for ourselves. It could also be that having lost all of her perfect, white teeth to gum disease around age 26, she found it hard to care about our dental health.

In terms of the things that she did care about, there was generally a patchwork quilt of things she'd insist on then drop from consideration. One of those things, of course, was food. My mother is a terrible cook and most of the vegetables that I was offered as a child came from a can. Canned vegetables might be okay if you are putting them in soup or cooking them up creatively with some other ingredients, but slopping them into a pot to reheat them and then dropping them on a plate is a singularly awful experience, particularly for a child.

I recall one situation where my mother served us canned peas when I was around 10. Usually, she didn't care about what we ate, but she insisted that I eat those peas and wasn't going to let me up into I consumed all of the vile things. They were mushy and tasted bad and I loathed them. In the end, I think she gave up before I gave in and I didn't eat them. I love all sorts of vegetables, and eat them everyday, but I still hate peas and have never bought them fresh, frozen or, shudder, canned.

This little anecdote is being offered to illustrate how our eating habits are influenced by people telling us what to eat and not to eat. Despite being very open-minded about sampling new foods, I've formed a seemingly life-long dislike of something because I was forced to eat it when I found the experience repugnant. I think parents often make the mistake of forcing foods on their children in an effort to make them eat more healthily without considering the palates of young children. Kids have a much stronger sense of smell and taste than adults and are naturally still more in touch with what and how much they need to eat than adults. It's only after years of being pushed to "clean your plate" or to "eat your vegetables" that they grow into adults who overeat and eat junk food continuously as an act of rebellion.

In my mother's book of parenting, we were poor and food should not be wasted so if she peeled 10 lbs. of potatoes for mashing and dropped a bucket of them on the table, we were supposed to put away as much as possible. If she opened up a can of some mushy, over-cooked, salty canned vegetables that even most adults would not eat, we were obliged to help her finish it. It wasn't about healthy eating, it was about what she felt should be done in line with her valuing the cost of food over our health. In the end, she obliterated any healthy relationship my sister and I could have had with food, but she absolutely was unaware of what she did.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Not A Calculator

Most days, I drink between one and four cups of tea. Each time, I put a splash of low-fat milk and one or two packets of Splenda in the tea. On a “big day” of tea drinking, I might consume as much as 50 extra calories in milk and sweetener, but I don’t count this in my FitDay calorie counting log. This doesn’t mean that I believe the calories don’t “count”, but rather that it’s unlikely that 50 or so calories one way or the other is going to hamper my weight loss efforts significantly and I’m going to explain why.

Awhile ago, there was some hoopla surrounding an article in the New York Times written by a man who proclaimed that exercise did not aid weight loss because all it would take was a mere 40 calories per day (the amount of a pat of butter) of increased consumption to nullify the effects of the exercise. Setting aside all of the obvious reasons why this is wrong, there is the fact that your body is not a calculator.

In this age when we live around machines that are capable of precision, we often make the mistake of believing our bodies are nothing more than a biological version of a computer, or in this case calculators. There is a misunderstanding that you if you enter the proper numbers, you are guaranteed to lose or gain weight. Bodies, unlike computational devices, are not nearly such simplistic mechanisms.

Your body is designed to adapt. Part of that function is to slow down or speed up metabolism in order to hold on to what appears to be the current state (unless you are ill). If you eat a few more calories today, it will likely boost your metabolism a bit to stop you from gaining weight. If you eat a few less, it will slow it down to stop you from losing. It’s only when we start to go to relative extremes in terms of exertion or consumption that we see an effect. This is one of the reasons that people plateau in weight loss.

The computational model is gratifying because it is logical and gives us the illusion of precise control, but our body simply does not work that way. You can do all of the exact calculations you like and it may refuse to cooperate or act in opposition to what appears to be logical. So, I don’t fret the low-fat milk that I splash into my tea when I calorie count. While I think eating hundreds of calories more per day would have an impact on my weight loss, I don’t think that 20-70 will have much of an impact. It also stops me from feeling that I have to fuss over and record every move I make and makes the chore of calorie counting a little more bearable.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


For the first time in many years, I actually know my bra size. That may sound strange, but the truth is that I’ve been wearing the same two increasingly frayed and deteriorating, stretched-out bras for a very long time. That may sound kind of gross, but let me say that I don’t sweat much at all so it’s not like they were getting stinky with repeated wearing (and honestly, I do laundry every other day so it’s not like I couldn’t wash and swap them out). The not sweating thing should actually be another “fat myth” posting because many people seem to believe fat people sweat after the smallest bit of exertion. I rarely sweat after a great deal of exertion, and it’s rather a problem in summer when I feel like I’m baking in my skin with no (or little) surface cooling from sweat.

Getting back to the point though, the bras I’ve been wearing have been ill-fitting for quite some time. My breasts were spilling out the sides to some extent and the straps kept falling down. At one point they were too tight and more recently too loose. They’re so old that the size information has completely worn off and all that has been left behind are blank, frayed tags.

I decided that I’d lost enough weight to justify new bra purchases and measured myself using on-line guidelines. Honestly, bra size is rather tricky to establish. You’re supposed to measure two different ways in order to determine circumference and cup size and in the end, I just sort of guessed a bit on the small side. I chose smaller than I thought I’d need based on measurements because I have a 38 C on hand from when I’d lost weight so long ago and I just wanted to bridge the gap between what I was (whatever it was) and being able to get back into that tiny, tiny bra again.

My measurements seemed to say I was a 48, and I guessed D as a cup size, so I bought 44Ds thinking I’d get into them soon enough. It turns out that I either suck at measuring or the online instructions to add two inches to my measurements were wrong. The 44Ds fit a little tightly, but can be worn now without discomfort. Why am I making a big deal about a new bra? Well, they make a huge difference in my appearance. Having a proper-fitting bra with the right cup size helps bring out the effects of my weight loss more profoundly. When I see myself, I can see a new body definition and it makes me feel better than before.

I also feel like I’ve got another benchmark for judging my progress. With my old bras being stretched out and unmarked for size, and my not knowing the original size, it was hard to know how many sizes down I may have gone. Now, I know that I am at somewhat tight 44D and will be able to note progress from this point onward.

Monday, November 30, 2009

(Only Just) Full "Enough", But Not Full

In one of Stephen King’s series of “The Dark Tower” books, there is a section where a few of the characters are traveling through a cold, barren area with no means to create a fire or heat. Before they set off on the journey, one character warns another that they will be miserably and uncomfortably cold during the journey. The cold will not be enough to kill them, but it will fill them with despair and discomfort during every waking moment such that it will feel impossible to endure over the long duration of the trip.

Yesterday, I was having one of those days where hunger gnaws at me all day. It is one of those familiar situations for people trying to lose weight where you want to eat all of the time and never feel satisfied within the limits of your eating plan. By 4:30 of that day, I had eaten nearly 1300 calories of the 1500 I try to allot myself. In the end, I finished at around 1600 thanks to the good choice of hummus on whole wheat toast for dinner. The protein in the chickpeas, coupled with getting pretty busy and not being able to dwell on my hunger, saw me through.

The situation in the first paragraph came to mind yesterday when I was fighting off that desire to eat all of the time. Much of the time, I am not eating to a point of feeling full, but eating smallish amounts in an effort to keep my hunger at bay and to fool my body into thinking it’s not starving when it really would prefer more food. Just like the characters in the story are never cold enough to freeze to death, I’m never deprived enough of food to starve. And just as they are often miserable because they can’t get warm enough, I’m sometimes miserable because I never can quite eat “enough”. I’m often trying to balance myself on the point of being just full enough not to uncontrollably dive deeply into a pile of food and only come up for air when I’m uncomfortably full.

I think one of the reasons these days come around where I just want to eat and eat and eat is hormonal (possibly linked to ovulation), but another is that constantly eating below your body’s desired number of calories takes a bit of a toll and it will eventually rebel and try to bully a good solid meal (or two, or three) out of you.

Occasionally, I think it’s okay to give in to this urge with some limitation. Ideally for me, I’d like to do this about twice a month, but only up to the point of 2000 calories. I don’t want to overeat, but perhaps should just give my body a few more calories now and then. I have done this on occasion, but not in response to these days when I want to eat all of the time. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I’m more likely to eat more for emotional reasons than physical ones.

For now, I simply want to be aware of this pattern, and be prepared to manage it as best I can. I think that trying harder not to eat more calories on occasion for emotional reasons and to “save” those higher calorie days for when my body has a biological reason would be the first step.

Friday, November 27, 2009

So Creaky and Clumsy

I mentioned several posts ago that I had bought a DVD to try and do some more exercise. The disc I bought, incidentally, is "Moving Free Longevity Solution" by Mirabai Holland. I chose it because the reviews mention that it's good for people who have never taken a class in aerobics, and it mentions that it is good for older people. Though I'm 45, and not a boomer or senior, I feel like my mobility due to back and knee problems, as well as weight, is poor and I need something which won't tax me too much as a start.

I tossed the DVD in the player yesterday and gave it a try and I can't say that I was impressed with myself at all. Either because of poor coordination, lack of fitness, or weight-related issues, I couldn't keep up with the instructions. Ms. Holland is often a step or two ahead of me, even on the slow moves. I also have problems with my knees cracking like they're filled with broken glass on some of the positions so I'm going to have to modify things a bit.

The truth is that I got through only about 3-5 minutes of the dance before I stopped. I may be exceptionally clumsy, or just horrifically bad at free-flowing motions, but I just felt like I couldn't keep tabs on what I was supposed to be doing.

Despite what a big, lumbering ox I feel like, I'm going to keep at it slowly but surely. It seems that all of my exercise attempts have to be done by inches rather than by miles, or even feet. I feel like I'm crawling in terms of physical fitness improvement, and it can be discouraging. However, if I can walk up to 40 minutes when I couldn't walk even for 5 at first, I know that those inches will add up eventually and I'll get stronger.

In terms of this DVD, I'm guessing I'll have to repeat the first 3-5 minutes again and again before I catch on enough to do a few more minutes. Eventually, I'll be able to follow and keep up throughout the whole thing. That will be another milestone that I can note when the time comes.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Complacency and the Food Compass

Lately, I've felt like I've been in a (productive) holding pattern. I eat on or close to target every day, get in a sufficient amount of exercise and wait for appreciable results. I think less about the struggle because I struggle less, though sometimes I feel like I had better focus and resistance to eating earlier in the process.

Sometimes I find myself slipping into emotional eating or compulsive eating without thinking too much and landing a bit higher than I'd like in calories or eating unhealthy food. I wonder if the success I've had to this point has brought on some mental complacency. It's as if I feel less vigilant because I now require less food policing.

This type of complacency is, I'm certain, the youthful sprouts of backsliding. I can see how not nipping this type of mindlessness about food in the bud could lead to regaining in the future when I let my guard down even more. I'm also guessing this is one of the many reasons why it is common for many people, particularly women, to do well initially on their diets and then halt their losses for awhile, or even gain back much of what they lost.

I have an acute sense of my food compass needing to be forcibly held in position such that it points at careful eating at all times. If I become inattentive to its position, it will gradual start making its way back toward less mindful, less healthy, and less portion-controlled eating. It can't be left to its own devices for long at all. I reckon that people who have never had an eating disorder don't give a second thought to their compasses for most of their lives, and are able to point them in the right direction without fear that they'll drift out of place the minute they turn their backs.

I'm hoping that I can snap my attention back when I first start perceiving this drift, but I do get tired of thinking about what I eat, measuring it, and writing it all down all of the time. The tediousness of tracking food, preparing it so carefully, and controlling my desires is immense. In fact, I'm realizing that getting healthy and staying there is unlikely to ever be something which won't drain my time and energy, and it's yet another thing I'm going to have to get comfortable with and accept.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sense Memory

Sense memory is very potent in all animals, including humans, of course. We all recognize this rather quickly when we smell a familiar scent from our childhood or a song reminds us of some experience. Strong sense memories very likely helped our ancestors survive since recalling it was yet another way of seeking food and safety or avoiding danger.

Food is also appealing to us based on sense memory. In fact, one of the reasons we crave foods that we favor is that we wish to repeat or reinforce the sense memory. The only thing that separates a carrot slice from a potato chip in desirability is the time it spends on the tongue. Once you swallow it, your stomach doesn't feel worse or better for being full of chips instead of carrots.

The interesting thing about taste as a sense memory though is that it is one of the least reliable. If you've ever revisited a childhood favorite after a long absence and found it unpalatable, you have had experience with this. The tongue seems to have a short sense memory and is more easily "trained" to appreciate different flavors than other senses are to accept variations. Your nose is unlikely to decide a bad scent eventually smells good through repeated exposure, but people do learn to love foods they used to hate and hate foods they used to love.

What's the point of all of this talk about sense memory? Well, I've been thinking about it and how it can be used to break cravings for certain foods and binging. If you're looking to reinforce a sense memory, how much food must be consumed to give satisfaction, and how best to maximize the experience where it is on the tongue such that consuming more is not necessary? Mindful eating is a part of this, but keeping in mind that your tongue and not your stomach is the part of your body that needs satisfaction might help one feel that less is enough.

I'm also thinking that absence from certain types of food can make the tongue grow far less fond of that food. In my case, I have experienced this rather profoundly with Burger King's original chicken burgers. I used to love them when I was in my early college years, but after not consuming them for a decade or more, find them quite unappetizing upon revisiting one recently.

The purpose of this process is not to "trick" myself into not wanting things I want, but rather in "training" myself to want less of things that are less healthy and eaten for entertainment and to more of those things which are nutritious. My tongue doesn't need to be fooled. It just needs to forget a few old things and gain new memories of better food.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Boss of Me

Several weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a work acquaintance about how she allowed her clients and coworkers to control her behavior. She was complaining that a coworker who belonged to a cult-like religion had cornered her on two separate occasions and spouted her cult's dogma at her. She didn't want to be impolite, so she wouldn't say something abrupt like, "I'm very sorry, but I'm not interested." The coworker could behave inappropriately toward her, but she could not bring herself to stop her.

While my acquaintance was quite troubled by all of this and was beginning to experience anxiety at the thought of going to work and being trapped by this colleague again, she simply could not take control of the situation. She said that she tried to avoid the coworker as much as possible, but sometimes couldn't escape such as when they both ended up in the elevator together. It was particularly troubling to her because this colleague only targeted her and no one else.

This situation and others like it made it clear that my acquaintance allowed other people to control her behavior by handing them power over her. Her cult-following-coworker targeted her because she had figured out that she was someone who could be manipulated into doing things she didn't want to do. While we discussed this, I explained the concept of an external locus of control to her. The short definition of this is that it refers to one's sense that the outcome of events is either in or out of their control. All people have varying degrees of external and internal loci of control.

I've been pondering the effect of locus of control and eating disorders. In my case, I have had a strong sense that whatever I do has no effect on the situations around me and that "fate", "luck", etc. have taken the wheel and driven my life to some pretty terrible places. I work hard, do my best, am kind to people, and still find that things do not go the way I would hope.

Part of the reason for this is that I grew up with parents who both had profound emotional problems and compulsive behaviors that resulted in a chaotic and stressful childhood. My mother in particular tried and failed many, many times to accomplish various goals. Additionally, she imprinted on me time and time again that I was responsible for the happiness of others (including her own, and she was never happy) and that the interests of others should come before mine at all costs. Combining the role modeling, life experiences, and verbal conditioning that I experienced, it is no small wonder that I place control of the outcome of events outside of myself. I give power to others just as my acquaintance does and have a strong sense that they should have that power.

In regards to how this relates to food, I have had a few thoughts. The primary one is that I have felt that food controls me rather than me controlling it. For the vast majority of my life, I have felt a sense of hopelessness about ever having control over my eating. I wonder now if my issues with food are tied to some extent to a life pattern of feeling helpless to affect things I desperately want to change.

Perhaps having an external locus of control increases the chance of overeating since one may feel outside factors are always going to push them to do things they don't want to do. Essentially, I don't want to eat that cake, but I am powerless to resist its influence over my sense of smell and taste. People don't notice that you allow them to coerce you into doing more work, watch the T.V. shows they want to watch when you prefer something else, or give them your time and attention, but they do notice that you're fat. In essence, the only place where they don't want you to surrender control is in your diet so they don't see it as a problem.

Taking control of your eating may require a huge mental shift from nice, helpful person to someone who is more self-interested and involved. This is a very hard shift to make because many overweight people have poor self-esteem and feel the only way others will like them is that if they accede to the wishes of those around them.

Another thought I had in regards to this issue is that eating could be a form of rebellion against attempts of others to control you. When you have everyone around you telling you you shouldn't eat so much and harassing you for your appearance, it's possible that overeating is the one thing that you decide you will do in defiance of others and their efforts to control you. It's a gratifyingly easy way of doing whatever you want and getting pleasure despite what others might want you to do.

I'm not sure that these thoughts relate to my issues with food, but I do think a piece of the picture is related to locus of control for me. Food has been the boss of me along with a great many other people around me. Shifting to a place where I'm the boss may be a step on the path to managing my eating for life.


I just want to crawl in a hole and hide from all of the torment I face every time I step outside my front door.

But, it's really not a whole lot safer here (on the internet).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Of Exercise

I don't write much about exercise because I don't do much of it. It's not that I hate it or don't want to do it, but rather that my body has been too hard to move and in too much pain during these initial phases of weight loss to do much. I want to exercise, but I really can't push myself too hard without being in pain or risking injury.

When I started out doing this in June or July of this year, I couldn't walk 5 minutes without sitting due to back pain and I also found I had to walk very slowly and felt like my heart was really pounding from the effort. My hips also ached rather badly within the first 10 minutes of walking. I've been walking at least 5 days a week and have now reached the point where I can walk 40 minutes without serious discomfort. I have almost reached the point where I walk out the door without fear of being in terrible pain if I can't find a place to sit and rest. If someone had told me 6 months ago that I'd be walking like I am now, I wouldn't have believed it. The progress hasn't been remarkable, but it has been a slow and steady improvement.

I have added in a little light weight lifting at this point to try and build strength and a little muscle mass. It's nothing too complex or sophisticated, but it really doesn't need to be. I bought a couple of plastic weights that can be filled with water at a dollar store. When full of water, they weigh about 2 lbs. each. I also have some wrist and ankle weights that I can add on later when I'm ready, but for now, I'm sticking with the 2 lb. weights which I do a range of motions with through about 20-25 reps in front of my computer. I have a friend who is a fitness instructor and he said less weight with more repetition is better for building strength.

I have a recumbent exercise bike and a treadmill at my disposal, but I can't really use either yet. The treadmill causes my back to hurt more than regular walking, and the bike is hard to use with my current body size. Last time I tried to use it several months ago, my hefty belly apron sat on my thighs such that I couldn't pedal for more than 3 minutes with that weight lying on my legs. I might be able to do it now that I've lost between 50-60 lbs., but I'm not sure yet. I'll probably give it another try sometime early next year when I want to step up my exercise. I'd like to try it again only when I'm more confidant that my gut isn't going to make it impossible. Failure is often worse than not trying when it comes to these things.

The next step for me is to try a DVD of dance-based aerobics designed for older people and people with arthritis. I don't know if it'll be possible, but I figure it'll be the next thing I can work slowly at accomplishing since the time when I can be outside simply walking is limited due to weather conditions.

The strange thing is that I'm actually wary of doing too much exercise for weight loss purposes because that was how I lost so much weight in college. I don't want to rely on burning up the calories to lose weight and prefer to focus on the food consumption control. If my life circumstances change, I may not be able to maintain an exercise routine, but I'll always be able to manage how much I eat.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Appetite Dogs

Many times during my 20 or so years of marriage, I have remarked to my husband that food addiction is so much harder than other addictions like alcohol or smoking. You can give up booze or cancer sticks and experience nothing but benefits, but you can't give up food. You have to have food to live. I used to feel that if I could just decide never to eat again, I would be able to control my weight. It was having to eat at all that often sent me into binges, cravings, and blood sugar yearnings.

I'm not sure that it is true that it is harder to deal with food addiction, but it is a fair bit more complicated. You can give up fast food, junk food, and sugar and still remain fat. I guess you can give up carbohydrates and dairy as well, but the problem then becomes that it is difficult to manage your diet in any circumstance where you do not have 100% control over your food choices. What is more, sometimes cutting out all of the food that might make you fat causes illnesses. Getting the mix right for nutrition and swearing off of multiple categories of food can be tricky.

At any rate, I know now that one of the reasons I struggled so hard when I tried to eat more healthily before is that the "all or nothing" approach is a hard one to maintain forever for a variety of reasons. If you swear off of certain foods, you are often going to feel left out or deprived during celebrations or special occasions. There's nothing more depressing than a birthday without a special treat or going to a restaurant to enjoy a special meal and writing off everything on the menu except the green salad and lean chicken. Food is fuel, but it is also social and cultural.

When "all or nothing" doesn't work, you have other options, but they are risky. Many people find that they can't go an inch without taking a mile when it comes to certain foods, but I think that's because they try to cut back too much too quickly. I think you need to first adjust your body slowly to the idea of less food and change the way you eat (tasting very consciously with every bite and eating more slowly) rather than shock it with drastic portion reduction and an abrupt change in your eating habits.

I've mentioned before throughout multiple posts that I've reached the state I'm at right now where I average 1500-1600 calories most days (sometimes bumping up to 1800-2000 and sometimes dropping down to 1400) by making slow changes. I ate smaller and smaller portions and didn't calorie count. I calorie counted one day a week, then two days, then three, and now all seven. The first month or so was really hard, but it has gotten much easier as I've gotten accustomed to it. There are days when I'm surprised at how easy it is to stay within my plan and feel that I ate plenty of food without being terribly hungry. On those days, I feel like I must have done something wrong and eaten too much. I'm supposed to suffer every day, aren't I?

What I've come to realize is that it doesn't have to be all or nothing and that in fact that just makes everything that much harder on your body and your mind. The main drawback is that the slow adjustment approach is less fulfilling initially because you don't see rapid weight loss. If you imagine your appetite as 30 unruly dogs on leashes struggling to pull you the way they want you to go rather than allowing you to direct and lead them, the gradual adjustment to diet and lifestyle approach is your taking control of one dog at a time by pulling in the leash an inch at a time. After you slowly pull it in, you train it so that it doesn't go wild when you allow it on the leash again.

The dramatic dietary change is like simply yanking them all in at once. The problem with pulling them all in at once is the difficulty of holding back 30 unruly mutts is considerable and the chances that you'll simply let go of all of the leads and let them run wild is pretty high. That is, if you just say "no chocolate, no chips, no fats, very few calories" one day and try to stick to it, the chances that you'll just give up and give in to your desires to eat those "bad" foods is higher.

I feel like I've slowly trained the dogs of my appetite one by one and have fairly decent control over each of them. Occasionally, one will act up and strain at the lead and I'll eat a little too much of something or other, but it never goes way over the line. Sometimes it's a struggle to stay in the range of calories and to eat what I should or what I want, but usually I feel pretty good about my ability to keep things where I want them to be.

I wish I had considered the systematic reduction and alteration plan before rather than feel that I was going to be controlled completely by "trigger" foods all of the time. While it is true that I suffered for a few months with losing control with some things (and expect to do so again), I find that putting the brakes on myself got easier and better as a result of the way in which I've slowly built up to this point. I can eat a square or two of a chocolate bar and leave the rest in the refrigerator for later. I can ignore cookies, cakes, or chips. Sometimes they go stale before I can eat them all.

I don't know if this method would work for anyone else, but I'm happy with how it has worked for me. I'm happy that I can eat a donut, some candy, or ice cream and not feel deprived or lose all control. I imagine that this is what people who have never had an eating disorder must feel like everyday of their lives. The only difference is that they don't struggle as much to get to this point and stay there.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How "Thin" Feels

One of the often-used catch-phrases, platitudes, sayings, or whatever you want to call it is that "nothing tastes as good as thin feels." I'll be right up front with my opinion that I don't believe this is true for overweight people, and the the statement isn't very helpful for people who are obese in particular.

The first issue I have with this statement is that it's like telling a child that he should study hard instead of playing so that he can get a good job and be happier as an adult. Embracing and fully internalizing the idea that a state you may (or may not) achieve in the distant future is going to be so much better than immediate gratification is not easy. Many very overweight people see "thin" as something which they are incapable, perhaps genetically, of ever being. The best many of us hope for is to be "less fat."

Second, many people with weight problems haven't been thin for a very long time, if ever. In my case, and the case of many obese people, I haven't been thin since childhood and it wasn't a state I fully appreciated at that time. I have no idea what "thin" feels like. Like the child who is told to sacrifice now for the future, I can't even begin to relate to the reward that I'm striving for. I can't assess the value of feeling thin since I've never felt it.

Third, it's simply impractical to weigh the value of being thin to a sensory delight. Being thin creates abstract rewards and food is a concrete one. It's comparing apples and oranges. One brings about esteem and image benefits and the other is setting off endorphins in your brain. One directly stimulates your pleasure centers and the other is indirect.

Finally, I don't personally believe that "being thin" is necessarily going to feel great. I think that the real issue is not suffering the bad aspects of being fat, not good aspects of being thin. Essentially, you're avoiding pain, not gaining pleasure.

I think the decision to lose weight among many people comes as a result of thoroughly being fed up with the suffering they endure from being fat, and one of the reasons they regain is that absence of psychological and physiological pain is a less potent motivator than the immediate pleasure and comfort one gets from food.

My point in bringing this up is not to discourage weight loss or to say that it isn't worth the sacrifice of the pleasure of food. It's more a recognition of the fact that, unless you lose weight and are attractive and young, the rewards for being thin are not a potent motivator. The motivation is no longer suffering the misery of being fat.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Teardrop

I'm starting to grow increasingly unhappy with my body shape. Because of the unequal distribution of my weight loss, and a belly apron that isn't retracting very quickly due to stretched out skin, I'm starting to feel like I resemble a teardrop in shape.

The belly is definitely the slow mover in my progress and continues to be the focal point of most of my self-loathing. When I catch glances of myself reflected in windows, it looks little different from how it did when I started because it hangs down nearly the same amount. It just doesn't stick out as much and feels softer. I'm thinking that a girdle of some sort is going to be in my future at the rate my skin is going to shrink in my lower body.

Of course, the view isn't helped by the previously posted issue of "clown pants". Seeing my disgusting gelatinous belly apron wobbling around freely in baggy pants really isn't doing much for my self-esteem. It looks like a tent has been pitched over some scary creature that wants to get out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

(Almost) Clown Pants

I'm not a "girly" girl. I think this is the result of having grown up overweight and poor and building a character that was not very feminine as a result. Of course, I'm not a tomboy either since that carries with it certain elements of athleticism. Mainly, I've just felt like this blob of something. I often don't even feel human.

I never felt "pretty", so I am not drawn to pretty things. Clothes have never been of interest to me, nor have manicures, make-up, etc. There is no reward for me in buying new outfits because I don't feel I look good in anything. A lot of women who are losing weight talk about "rewarding" themselves for their efforts by buying girly things, but I can't think of much more inappropriate for me. My reward is simply feeling better in many ways. It's what I want and need, and I'm getting it parceled out by the drop as time goes by.

If you couple my lack of interest in clothes with my lack of desire to spend and waste money, you have someone who is currently between 50-60 lbs. down in weight and still wearing the same clothes. I've got 7 or 8 pairs of pants that I could wear at my highest weight and three or 4 of them were snugger than the others. The tighter pants fit okay for now, though they're also starting to suffer from "long pants" syndrome and are in need of a hemming. The other pants are starting to look like clown pants. The waist is elastic, so they don't fall down, but the bagginess is starting to get a bit out of hand. I imagine that they will be completely unwearable by spring of next year. I wish now that I hadn't thrown out so many of my somewhat smaller clothes several years ago. I "gave up" on ever wearing them again at one point and only kept around one pair.

I'm very reluctant to buy new interim clothes because I know that I'll be in transition for the next few years. I want to get everything I can out of the clothes I currently have first, even if it means walking around looking a bit goofy on occasion. The truth is that, given that people point or stare at me because of my weight anyway, it's rather hard to care about how my current clothes are fitting anyway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Tortoise and the Hare

Most of us remember the old story of the tortoise and the hare. As children, we rather viscerally reject the notion that the hare would be so dumb as to blow it in such a careless fashion. I’m not so sure that anyone accepts that slow and steady wins the race, at least not deep down.

Obviously, the story of the tortoise and the hare has popped into my head more than once as I proceed down the weight loss road. From visualizing a multitude of fat cells shrinking at an infinitesimal rate until they reach some sort of critical mass where I can see a change to repeating to myself that I didn’t get fat all at once and therefore can’t lose it all at once, I try to offer myself mantras to be patient. I’m trying to be the best tortoise I can be.

That being said, I realized a long time ago that this isn’t a race I slowly plod my way to victory in and then go on with my normal life. This must become my “normal life”. There’s no going back to the way I was with food unless I want to return to the way I am in weight and size. While a time will come when I can eat several hundred more calories per day than I do now, it will never be the case that I can “pig out” without significant risk to returning to my current state of obesity. This was the realization I didn’t make so many years ago in college when I initially lost weight.

I continue to feel slightly frustrated with the tortoise approach though. I occasionally read about obese people who have lost 30-50 lbs. and are unhappy that no one has noticed, or dissatisfied that they don’t look appreciably better. I empathize. I have likely lost about 50 lbs. at this point as well and do not feel I look any better. I feel better and move a bit more freely, and I look different, but not “better.”

That being said, what else am I going to do? This is how it’s going to be for life so I’m not chomping at the bit to do something else, such as pig out on food that is highly caloric. I try to view this as growing more and more accustomed to and comfortable with a normalized relationship with food with subsequent weight loss rather than a diet with only weight loss in mind. I can have my health and a better quality of life, or I can have an all you can eat buffet of food and hide from life as best I can. I’m tired of not having my health, and of hiding away.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Benefits of Being Fat

Recently, I was participating in a thread on a popular weight loss forum about motivation, and it got me thinking about the many reasons we fail to lose weight. This particular thread was from a woman asking how to get motivated in the face of multiple failures. One of the things I realized as I offered my opinion was that one reason we fail is that success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, at least for some people.

This is the kind of topic that is verboten when the topic of weight comes up in public forums. It’s a little like talking about smoking and the fact that many people who smoke are often thinner than those who do not and that many people feel smokers look “cool”. These are potential benefits of smoking. It’s not worth the damage to your body or the risk, but these are “benefits” for some nonetheless. We can suppress the notion that they exist, but they are there nonetheless.

By pretending that there is nothing beneficial in being fat, we ignore the roots of many failures. If those benefits are important enough to us, and we do not first make an effort to substitute some other healthier pursuit or source for those advantages, we greatly increase the chances of failure when we try to lose weight because we're layering multiple sources of stress on top of multiple layers of unmet needs.

The “good points” of being fat are highly personalized, though I can discuss some that tend to apply to me and to possibly others here. One benefit is absolutely undeniable, and that is unrestricted access to the pleasures of food. If you’ve ever endured a rumbling stomach, a low blood sugar headache, or the stress of resisting an overwhelming craving for chocolate, you know that just doing what you want when it comes to food is an experience in luxurious joy. Not having to censor and control what you put in your mouth is definitely better than having to do so.

Another good point is that you take yourself off the market in terms of many expectations that others have of you. If you’re overweight, you can take intimacy off the books if you like because you can tell yourself you’ll never attract someone. You don’t have to wonder what’s wrong with you when no one loves you because you’ve got the reason ready at hand. No one loves you because you’re fat. You’ll never find a mate because you’re fat. The injustices of life make a lot more sense when you’re overweight. In many ways, your life is simplified. Bad things happen because you are fat.

For me, I realize now that one of the motivations I had, besides anesthetizing myself with food, was that it gave me an excuse to isolate myself from the sometimes hostile, always rejecting environment that I live in. It made it easier to cut myself off from people who treated me like part of a freak show exhibit. The resulting health issues made it easy to justify doing even fewer things outside of my comfort zone.

As someone who was raised to always put others needs and wishes before my own, it was more comfortable to be too fat to do something than to refuse to do it because I simply did not want to. I was off the hook from the voice that said, “everyone will dislike you if you don’t do what they want,” because I could beg off for physical reasons. Depending on your character, there is almost certainly no end of reasons to be fat as a form of avoidance of certain experiences.

There is also rejection of the fashion rat race and looks competition. As long as you are fat, you’ve decided that you’ve lost the race before it has begun. You don’t even have to compete. Let’s face it, the race is quite daunting and tiring. If you grew up poor and couldn't buy much in the way of clothes or make-up, or don’t have features which society has deemed to be beautiful, you have all the more motivation to take yourself our of the running. Being fat allows you to be the hobbled horse who sits out the entire race.

One of reasons that I know I gained weight as a kid was for a sense of “armor”. As the child of an emotionally abusive mother and and alcoholic father, I was looking to put something between me and the pain. I also think that there is a desire to be “big” so that you feel stronger against the forces that cause you to suffer. If adults are harming you, you want to be one, too. If you can’t get there in years, you can get there in size.

More than one person has felt that being thinner will make them more vulnerable to attacks of a physical nature. Bigger means stronger. Weight adds power. Women who were molested or raped as children, or who fear such experiences, may remain fat because it gives them a sense of power.

One of the biggest benefits of being overweight is that it changes both your expectations of yourself and those others have of you. If you're someone who is a perfectionist or expects an unrealistic amount of effort or success from yourself, being fat allows you to put down many of the burdens you're placing on yourself. That is not to say that being fat is a good thing overall, but it is useful to ponder the ways in which it benefits you so you can deal with the loss of those benefits more effectively when you change your lifestyle.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Half a Dinner

On days when I can't eat dinner until after 10:00 pm due to work, I always have difficulties mapping out the day such that I don't eat too many snacks between lunch and dinner. Today, I was upset at myself for not waiting until dinner to eat, but really it's all about a failure to plan.

That being said, there is always the possibility of damage control. A few weeks ago, I skipped dinner altogether because I wasn't very hungry by the time it rolled around anyway. This evening, I'm going to eat half of what I planned to. Considering the fact that I don't eat big meals now anyway, that means dinner should have very few calories.

The strange thing is that the idea that I could eat half of what I'd planned to came more as a revelation than as a logical thought. I can't understand why such a notion came as such a novel notion rather than a reasonable consideration. I guess it is a reflection of rigidity about eating timing and meals which very likely has been playing into my overeating my entire life.

To be fair, it may also have to do with the fact that making dinner is a somewhat big production, and it feels strange to go through all of that trouble and end up eating about 3 bites of each food on the menu. That being said, I feel like this realization is going to be very helpful not only now but in the future. It means that I don't have to "save" a set amount of calories for dinner later in the day when I'm starving now. I can simply eat what I want, and eat a very tiny amount of dinner later. The important point is controlling the day's calories, not giving any particular meal an arbitrary chunk of the day's allotment.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

So Many Cells

In dealing with my hard-to-discern progress, I've been trying to conceptualize how the changes in my body occur. Since I likely still weigh over 300 lbs. (perhaps considerably more, it's hard to know), I've been mulling over the effect of the loss of just one pound on the entire mass of me.

My guess based on my calorie counting, exercise, and likely base level calorie number maintenance for a person of my current size, is that I'm under-eating by as much as 1500 calories a day, possibly a bit more or a bit less. That means I'm probably losing somewhere over 2 lb.s a week, and about 10 lbs. a month.

I can't recall if I've mentioned this fact before, but the number of fat cells in your body is set by a certain age (around your late teens). I will always have a lot of fat cells unless I have surgery, which I have no plans to do. Looking at my size, and considering the number of fat cells in my body, I'm thinking of just how little impact 1 lb. of cell shrinkage is going to have on such a vast number of fat cells. There is a lot of territory to cover and the distribution of 1 lb. is going to be infinitesimal and impossible to notice.

This may sound discouraging, but it is not. It actually encourages patience. I know that I can't see a difference in a week, but I will see a difference in a month or two. I have to give my body a chance to shrink in a leap because it's unrealistic to expect it to shrink in baby steps. I have to give it time because there's so much ground to cover. It's a little like tiling a vast space one tiny tile at a time. At first, you feel like you'll never get it all covered, but as the months go by, you have covered a wall, then another, and in a few years, the room is nearly done. Those inches become feet, and the feet become yards.

This conceptualization has helped me become a little more patient with the process during this period of "FWB" (fat without benefits). I'm hoping the sense can stick with me as time goes by.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


As I've mentioned before, in my last year and a half of college, I lost a lot of weight and became much more attractive. The rest of my family remained greatly overweight and continued to eat the pounds of potatoes, junk food, and fatty foods that they always ate. They also did not exercise.

I distinctly recall judging them for their behavior and thinking that they could change just like I did if they were strong enough or had the will. This memory of my attitude makes me cringe and I am very ashamed of myself for having had it. The arrogance I had at that time was not too dissimilar to that which many thin people display toward me and those like me now.

Years after I'd regained all the weight I'd lost and more, I wondered if there weren't some sort of just desserts for me in my "downfall". Though I never said anything to my family members about how they lived their lives or criticized them for their weight (and I still loved them all), I had the sense that regaining weight was a karmic payback for my lack of compassion and understanding at that time.

The interesting and very useful thing about what happened to me is that I also understand just how easy it is to lose weight easily or to suddenly stop struggling with food and then become judgmental. In a very real way, the fact that it was relatively easy for me the first time blinded me to the true hardship of overweight people and it took falling back into the difficulty of it all for me to really understand and have more compassion. It also helped me see how people who do not suffer a problem (or don't suffer it for long) can't develop empathy for those who do suffer.

I don't feel that being fat and suffering health issues as a result for the last 20 years has really been the best thing, but I do believe that something of value emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually has come of it. I can't be happy with the damage I've done to my body, or the pain I've suffered (and continue to suffer), but at least I can see that I've grown in some ways of value.

(A Little) Out of Control

I went from counting calories 3 days a week to doing it everyday rather spontaneously. The idea was to not limit myself to my goal number (1500) every single day, but simply to get some structure into each day so I knew how much I was eating. For 10 days, I ate just under 1500 every day and it was actually pretty easy.

I started to grow both confident and complacent about my control over my eating. Then, there was today. I still tracked my calories, but at the end of the day, I found myself craving salty food and giving in to the craving. I told myself that it was okay as long as I didn't go over 2000 calories because I never planned to eat at a low number every single day. I rationalized it further by saying that it was probably not a bad idea to mix up my numbers and eat a little more occasionally. The bottom line though was that I was eating compulsively because I had a harried, stressful, and painful day.

In the end, I finished at 1950 calories. This is by no means a disaster, particularly in light of all of the days behind it of very good control and strong numbers. There was no way I was going to go over 2000. However, when I found myself saying that it was okay to finish off the remains of a bag of Chee-tos (about an ounce) because I could have a day where I indulged every once in awhile, I knew that I'd lost control and was acting on emotional eating. I ate about 8 cheese curls and threw the rest in the trash. Most of the extra calories I ate ended up being from a few small handfuls of peanuts.

On the bright side, this is the closest I've come to a "binge" in a long time, and I truncated it. On the not so bright side, I came close to a binge. At the moment, this experience only improves my determination for the road ahead, and it gives me a good hard kick in my complacency. Unfortunately, it also puts a tiny dent in my food control confidence.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monitoring Methods

Now that I'm heading deeper into the 6th month of my efforts to lose weight and be in control of my eating, I've decided that it is time to add in another form of monitoring my progress. I still have ambivalent feelings about the scale and will not be using it for the time being.

At this point, I still regard it as a "de-motivational" tool because of the way in which the readings cannot be trusted as a measure of progress. Weight values fluctuate greatly based on time of day, time of month, and increases in muscle mass. I don't want to find myself in despair because the readings haven't moved or have gone up when I know I've done everything right. I'll just keep doing everything right for the time being and let the chips fall where they may.

Previously, I've mentioned that my clothes have been my measure as well as observations of specific bodily changes. I'm also watching my interaction with my environment to see if things are changing. For example, I have a small half-bath bathroom which is little bigger than a small closet that I used to occasionally scrape my belly on when entering or exiting the room and I clear the door with more clearance than before. I also have a chair with arms which I barely squeezed into before which is a better fit, though this is probably one of the slower changing experiences since I'm losing weight so much more slowly in my lower body.

The next monitoring phase is coming photographically. I had my husband take a picture of me about a week ago and download it to his computer. I can't bear to look at it myself, but I am going to have him take regular pictures at 4-month intervals and ask him to check for visible progress. I'm guessing I'll have the courage to look at them myself about a year into this journey, or whenever he does a comparison and reports that progress is clearly visible.

I wish I had had him take a picture at the beginning, but I think that would have put pressure on me to succeed and I simply was not ready at that point. I can only chart my progress if I expect to make it, and I'm not sure I had the highest expectations at the beginning. It wasn't that I expected to fail necessarily, but rather that embarking on this trip was enough of a stretch for me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Brain, Blood, Stomach, and Psyche

I’ve been pondering the nature of hunger as of late, and where it comes from and how to tamp down its insistent cries for attention. This speculation was set off by a question I and others with weight problems have asked ourselves many times. That question is, what is “real” hunger?

My feeling is that all hunger is “real” in terms of the strength of insistence that you eat, but I think that what the question is meant to ask is “when does the body really need food as opposed to want it?” For many people, the most useful answer is “in the stomach”. When the stomach is empty and grumbling, you are likely experiencing true biological hunger.

Unfortunately, getting to the stage of a demanding stomach takes awhile and can be very uncomfortable for most people. Part of me wonders if metabolically speaking waiting for a grumbling gut is akin to waiting for a dry mouth to drink. That is, it may not necessarily be the best to wait that long to eat as there may be some slow down in your overall metabolism.

The place in which most people in developed countries feel hunger is in the blood. That is, their body responds to dips and spikes in their blood glucose levels and demands more when the levels drop. Because of processed food, we experience more blood sugar fluctuation than our ancestors likely did and our bodies have become accustomed to the roller coaster ride and attempted to deal with it. This can result in insulin resistance, which makes the hunger ride all the rougher.

One neglected area where hunger becomes an issue is the brain. An immense amount of energy is used by the brain and those who do a lot of work which requires concentration and thinking are going to find the brain signaling a desire for quick energy. The sugar fixes that people who do computer programming or desk work crave aren’t based on boredom, fatigue or the imagination. They are the result of the brain saying, “I’m running low on glucose to do my job. Please feed me.”

The most dismissed type of hunger, is that which comes from the psyche or that which is based on using food as a palliative for emotional distress. Somehow, the idea that taking drugs, drinking alcohol, having sex, exercising, etc. can be overdone to cope with stress is well understood, and those with addictive or compulsive behavior in regard to those emotional release valves are seen as diseases to be regarded with patience and compassion. Eating too much to cope is seen as nothing more than disgusting gluttony and character weakness.

My opinion has always been that food has turned into the addiction of choice for Americans because American culture has done a great deal to warn and educate people about the nature of other forms of addictions and the risks they carry. How many characters in movies, books, and television shows have been smokers, drinkers, or sex addicts who have lived out the destruction and consequences as warnings to us? Not only that, but treatment for these people is spelled out. For food addicts, the answer is very often, “eat less, exercise more, you fat pig!” “Just do it,” is not an answer to the psychological addiction to food that many people (including myself) have.

If you want to handle hunger more effectively, I think it is useful to consider all factors that drive it rather than to focus only on one. Most people are likely driven to overeating by one more than another, but to some extent, we are all driven by all of them.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fattism and "Natural States"

Recently, I read an article on “fattism” in the U.K. An obese woman was riding a train and an average weight woman attacked her violently for no other reason than she was overweight. The article itself was scary, but the comments were of greater interest to me.

A comment that particularly caught my eye was one that said that being fat isn’t a normal or natural state. As “evidence” that this was the case, the commenter noted that people weren't grossly overweight or morbidly obese 22,000 years ago. Setting aside the fact that this person has no way of proving the presence or absence of people who were very overweight so long ago, the comment betrayed some interesting myopia.

The question really isn’t whether or not people were obese prior to the dawn of civilization. The important thing to consider is whether or not they would have been if they were exposed to the same circumstances that we are current living in. If people thousands of years ago had been given access to plentiful amounts of highly caloric food that could be acquired without physical effort, you can bet many of them would have been obese. In fact, there’s every likelihood that they would have seen being fat as a good thing as it would have ensured survival and been an indication of one being part of a tribe that had consistent access to food.

The thing that frustrates me about fattism is that people don’t seem to realize that evolution is what has lead so many people to be obese. Fattists act as though obesity is an unnatural state which is incomprehensible through any lens other than one of personal failure. The human brain developed as a result of the consumption of fat. In fact, the brain itself is composed of layers of specialized fatty tissue. Our intelligence and higher functioning would never have developed if our ancestors didn’t have a taste for the fattiest foods available.

Being overweight is not a natural state, but eating everything in sight is a natural act. The behavior that fattists find so reprehensible, a lack of ability to resist available food, is actually the most natural behavior of all. The part of our lives which is unnatural is not our actions in stuffing lots of food into our hungry maws, but the easily available food. It is actually far less natural to be surrounded by food and choose not to eat it than to choose to eat it all. If we approach obesity as the consequence of our biological nature (as it has been shaped by evolution) rather than an unnatural state which only people who have failed to develop habits that "normal" people have acquired, it might be easier to deal with and treat the problem.

Of course, fattists are not interested in logic, evidence, or science. They are only interested in blame and finding a way to feel smugly superior to people who are overweight.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Despite my progress, and continually improving habits, I’m finding myself depressed and disheartened at this stage of the game. This is because I’m making progress, but I’m not looking much better. From a psychological behavioral model viewpoint, this is because I’m no longer being rewarded in a tangible manner for my behavior.

At first, the reward was the achievement itself. Each day that I successfully ate at my caloric goals and exercised was like a mental gold star. Since I started out calorie counting only one day, then added two, then three, and am now at the point where I count everyday, the newness of the experience and the impact of achieving each daily goal lasted for quite some time, but has been blunted now. Success no longer feels like an accomplishment. It’s simply what happens everyday and will continue to happen pretty much to the end of my life (with some modifications).

Given my current lofty weight, viewable progress has been slow in coming. I tend to notice progress in leaps after a month or two rather than in steps after a week or two. I’m also very cognizant of the fact that my stretched out skin is going to sag even when the weight that pulled it into its current shape is reduced. I may not look as good as someone else at my weight because the skin won’t retract fast enough (if ever).

This is a stage which I call “fat without benefits” or “FWB” for short. I think that this is one of the many reasons people often fail at diets. Being fat itself has no benefits, but the actions that lead up to it are gratifying. You have freedom to eat whatever you want and the pleasure of the food you’re consuming both physically and emotionally. You avoid the discomfort and stress of hunger and aren’t having the mental battles that go along with scrutinizing and censoring your food choices.

If you are very overweight, you’re going to spend an appreciable amount of time being in a state of “FWB”. You’ll be getting incremental improvement that is too small to be seen (and possibly too small health-wise to be palpable for quite some time) punctuated by bursts of reward occasionally.

I’m pondering now if this long, tedious slog is going to be harder than the acutely uncomfortable initial phase of a lifestyle change to lose weight. While it’s very hard to get started, it’s difficult in a different way to keep going. The fact that you were sick of being fat is what drove you initially to change your lifestyle, and now that you’ve changed it, you’re still fat and will be for the foreseeable future.

I expect to spend at least 2 years in varying points of this phase given my current weight. That being said, I am not finding the food restrictions or the exercise particularly oppressive or restrictive, but I’m just frustrated and occasionally depressed by the lack of noticeable progress. I guess that this might be a time to turn to a scale so that I can get numerical feedback that will be symbolic of progress, but I’m concerned that the sometimes impatient and compulsive nature of my character might make that a poor option for me. If I have those numbers, I might become frustrated if they aren’t moving as I expect they should. For now, I’m going to just simply be aware of how I feel and try to accept that this will be my reality for awhile and I need to make peace with it as best I can.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Many years ago, my husband had some problems with his throat being too sensitive and sore for a long period of time. His work involves talking a lot every day so he had to expose himself to pain unavoidably on the job. When he came home though, he wanted to reduce the strain on his throat so he asked that we not talk. In fact, he didn’t want to utter a word if he could avoid it and would clap his hands once or twice for yes or no.

Initially, I understood that he wanted to give his throat every chance to heal by resting his voice when he could. However, it didn’t seem to get better as time went on. Time went by, and I was shut out of conversations with him for months. This was very stressful for both of us, but as the more gregarious person, and as someone who had far fewer social interactions at work, this wore on me much harder than him. Eventually, my husband started talking again because the strain on me was too difficult, and it was starting to have an impact on our relationship.

One thing that my husband realized as a result of this was that he was probably making his situation worse by treating his throat with kid gloves, at least past a certain point. By treating it as something that needed to be protected and reducing strain, he was making it weaker, just like a muscle that atrophies. Now, when he has throat problems, he only doesn’t talk for a maximum time of a week then starts talking again to try and “toughen” up his tender throat’s speaking endurance.

I mention this experience because I think many aspects of our biology work in a similar fashion. That is, we have to condition them to tolerate things that are outside of what they are used to. This comes to mind mainly in regards to hunger. When I first started trying to control my eating, the hunger at times nearly drove me mad. It occupied my mind and body and I found it unbearable at times. I think this is because my brain was so unaccustomed to tolerating hunger that it sent very urgent signals to me about this new and strange condition. In essence, I had a sort of “bio-panic” to hunger pangs.

Now, when I get hungry, it’s still very uncomfortable, but it’s probably about 70% as bad as it once was at its worst point, and about 50% of what it was before in general. I think that by tolerating hunger more often and by gradually reducing the amount of food I eat, I’ve trained my brain not to send such panicked and urgent signals to me when I’m hungry. In essence, I'm attempting to condition my body to tolerate hunger just as my husband had to condition his throat to deal with more talking when it was weak.

Don’t get me wrong about this. Being hungry is still a difficult and unpleasant experience for me. It’s supposed to be for everyone because that discomfort drives survival. Those who are sluggish to respond to hunger cues were more likely to die because they didn’t seek nourishment aggressively enough to survive. That being said, I think that people who can maintain a healthy weight have a less urgent biological response to hunger and can resist the urge to eat better than those of us who are quite overweight.

My hope is that my body can be re-trained to send less loud and painful hunger signals. If the hunger signal strength can be turned down to a low enough volume, it will be more bearable and easier to resist eating as time goes by. This is something that I'd hoped for when I started this type of behavioral change, but I had doubts that it'd work. I'm happy to say that it does appear to be working to some extent at this point.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Empowering Lie

Back when I was more out of control with my eating than I currently am, I used to tell myself that I was making choices, not that I was out of control. If I ate ice cream because I was depressed, I told myself that did so by choice with the full knowledge that I was attempting to drown my pain in creamy deliciousness. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was bad for my health and would likely cause me to gain more weight (or at least sustain the fat I already had), but I chose to do it anyway.

I told myself that this type of behavior was me being in control of my eating. This is what I would call an “empowering lie”. By lying and saying I was in control, I felt like I had power. I’m not fat because I can’t fight my urges. I’m fat because I choose to be so. I can’t tell you how many times I told myself that I was choosing to “be bad” when I overate or ate poorly.

Of course, no one chooses to be fat. That’s where the rub is on this control scenario. Choosing to drown your pain in food or to act on cravings or compulsions is not you being in control unless you are embracing the full implication of the choice. We make the choice dismissing the consequences, denying them, or mentally mitigating their impact. The final one of those is the easiest to do if you’re already fat. You aren’t likely to make yourself look much worse, even with a few more pounds.

Here’s the bottom line. It’s not a choice if you only have one option. If you can’t say no or if you can’t resist your cravings or impulses, it’s not a choice between, “yes, I will eat poorly this time,” or “no, I will eat properly this time.” Saying that you choose “yes” the majority of the time isn’t a choice because you almost certainly can’t say “no”, at least not most of the time. You have to be capable of saying “no” for there to be a choice and to actually be in control.

The scary thing for me is that I’m unclear on how I made the transition from choosing to eat to choosing not to eat. I don’t know what process allows me to say “no” now and not before. This scares me more than I can express. If I don’t know how I got here this time (or last time), I don’t know how I’ll get back if I get lost.

To me, this is the turning point for all people who lose weight as compared to those who try and fail. The fact that the birth of this capacity to truly make a choice about what and how much you eat is hard to recreate, stimulate or induce is frightening. It’s the critical yet elusive element in weight loss success.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mentally Dealing with Plateaus

When I was in college, I had an experience that many people do during their years of hard study. I would often get sick during vacations, but remain well during the time periods when classes and tests were going on. This pattern was so common that it would be hard to reach any conclusion but my body was holding sickness at bay until my schedule was a little clearer.

This experience, one that my husband and others have shared as well, demonstrates the power that our minds have over our bodies. The placebo effect similarly shows that we have considerably more control over our health and well-being than we generally realize.

Recently, this thought has been on my mind as I’ve been reading a popular weight loss forum and several people have lamented, quite understandably, that they’re frustrated with doing everything right and not advancing much or at all in their weight loss. There are some women who literally have dieted for months with no or minimal loss. Part of this is, I'm sure, individual chemistry and the plateau effect. I strongly believe that plateaus are caused by our bodies desire to rest in a state of homeostasis rather than to keep losing weight. Also, from an evolutionary viewpoint, hanging onto body fat is more desirable than losing it because those who had the greatest fat stores survived the best through lean times.

While part of the problem these women are having is absolutely biological, I sometimes wonder if it may also be psychological. In particular, I’ve pondered whether or not their minds are controlling their bodies to some extent. Just as my mind used to make my body wait to get sick in college, I wonder if these women’s minds are making their body’s hang on to weight.

I’m not suggesting that this is a conscious choice. In fact, I often feel that our conscious desires have far less of an impact on our bodies than our unconscious ones. I never said, “I can’t get sick now because I need to study for tests and take tests.” It just happened of its own accord.

In particular, with weight loss, I wonder if the psychological need to remain overweight combined with a desire to fail on some level enforce a long and difficult stall in weight loss. I’ve said before that I don’t think one can be truly successful losing weight until one is “ready” psychologically to face it. That readiness is different for each person, but it incorporates elements such as having sufficient motivation, lacking hard stress, and dealing with the factors that push you to take comfort in food. These are all very hard things to come to terms with, and I’m not even sure that I’ve done so completely. I just know I’ve done so enough to get on the path to losing weight.

I also want to make sure that when I use a phrase like “a(n unconscious) desire to fail” that it is understood that I do not mean that in a pejorative sense. I’ve failed plenty before and I’m sure part of that was my unconscious desire to fail as well. It’s not only failure based on a fear of change, but also fear of losing pleasure and comfort. If you find food to be a means of anesthetizing you in times of emotional or physical difficulty, you may want to fail in order to have an excuse to return to your “drug” of choice. Pain is a potent motivator to continue to pursue destructive behavior, and a lot of overweight people are in significant pain both emotionally and physically.

At any rate, I want to keep this in mind should I start to falter or struggle in my weight loss endeavors. If I find I’m on a plateau, I want to think about these types of things in order to help me break through the barrier mentally as well as physically.