Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Scariest Subject Ever!

Dating! (Ominous organ music indicating trouble ahead).

That’s right, I said it.  Dating.  Let me begin by saying that I haven’t actually gone on any dates yet since losing all of this weight, but I have been thinking about it.

I think it was some Meg Ryan movie where they posited that it is more likely for a woman over 40 to get struck by lightning than to get married.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m not talking about marriage.  I’m talking about dating.  Having someone to share a supper and some interesting conversation with now and then.  So, I figured I would at least give it a try.

I signed up on a dating website. While I have a large social circle that includes a great many men, I’m not sure if any of them are actually datable material.  I’m not sure if I find any of them attractive, or if I do, if they can ever see me as anything other than the “before” Colleen.  I know I haven’t actually reached the “after” Colleen phase, but I think I’m close enough to at least entertain the possibility have having a date or two.

So, I chose a website a friend of mine recommended to me when I was heavier.  It’s for larger people, and I figure that since I still have about 46 more pounds to lose before I actually become a skinny girl, I would at least start there.

My profile, with pictures, has been up for a few weeks, and I have had a few interested hits.  I’m not sure I’m interested in any of them.  They all just seem to be, what’s the word I’m looking for here?  Freaks.

Let’s take guy #1 for example.  We’ll call him Bruce…not name he gave me, but really does it matter?

Bruce is looking for a serious commitment of sorts.  He currently lives in my state, but his job is transferring him to another state.  He will be working a few months here, a few months there off and on.  He wants a girl who will agree to a monogamous sexual relationship, no strings attached.  The idea of a monogamous, no strings attached relationship seemed a little odd to me, but I agreed to at least talk to him via email.

After a couple of email exchanges it became clear to me that it’s the girl who must remain monogamous, even when he is in the other state for a few months.  He, on the other hand, would be under no obligation to remain faithful while on assignment 500 miles away. Seriously, dude?  Where do I sign up?  Wait…didn’t I date you in college?

I wished him well and moved on to guy number 2.

Candidate #2, “Joe” seemed kind of safe and boring, but maybe a bit too eager and way too young for me, by about 16 years.  He was getting ready to move here from California and wanted to start dating someone right away.  He immediately gave me his cell phone number and asked me to call him.

I never did.  I have no interest in being a cougar.

Guy #3…we’ll call this “guy” Steve.  It turns out Steve was not really interested in meeting me…or any woman for that matter.  The website I used has a built-in chat feature and after about 5 minutes of “chatting” it became clear to me that Steve was only interested in a little naughty sex chat.

I am a fairly traditional girl when it comes to those things.  Not that I find anything wrong with a little bit of sex talk, but not really anonymously with men I don’t know, which is what I’m politely telling him when he took things way too far…Rick Santorum style.  Blocked!

The rest of the losers that have contacted me do not seem to know how to read.  I specifically put in my profile that I am only interested in men who live in my area.  So of course, I get emails from men in Florida, New York, New England, and Saudi Arabia.  I live in none of those places.

Seriously, I’m starting to get a little scared.  Men seriously cannot be that stupid, can they?  I mean, I know I’m not Christy Brinkley, and I’m not so young any more, so my choices are limited.  But still this can’t really be all that’s left.

I think I’m going to take my profile down off of that site.  Someone suggested that I just try Match.com or something because I don’t need to use that other site any more.  But I just don’t know.  If I do, I’ll do another post with more loser highlights.  In the meantime…back to the drawing board.

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Review of “Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction–And My Own” by Mika Brzezinski

obsessed4xI finally finished Mika’s book a couple of weeks ago.  It is only 228 pages, but it was very difficult for me to read.  I struggled to read it because I felt as if someone reached inside my head, pulled out my innermost thoughts, and placed them on a page for the whole world to read.  But, I am glad that I read it.

She confirmed for me what I have known for a long time.  I have even shared this idea on this blog.  That all eating disorders, whether bulimia, anorexia, or obesity, all have something in common.  They are all illnesses that need to be treated as such.  Anorexia and bulimia have been treated as illnesses for a long time, but obesity still suffers the social stigma of being a personal character flaw that needs to be addressed by that individual alone.

What I learned from reading Mika’s book, and from conversations I have had with a family member with bulimia, is that some of the dysfunction she has with food, and the dysfunction I have with food are the same, and they need to be treated as such.

As a child, a teen, college student, and well into her adult years, she obsessed about food much in the same way I did.  I thought about food all of the time growing up.  I dieted, starved myself, took diet pills, binged, purged through crazy exercise stints.  I never thought I was thin enough.  I always thought I was fat, even when I was not.

Reading what Mika and her friend and co-writer, Diane, had to say was like reliving all those thoughts all over again.

We live in a society that values beauty and thinness above all else.  People who suffer from eating disorders that keep them thin are definitely viewed as having a more sympathetic problem than those whose disorder makes and keeps them fat.  Her friend Diane, whom she confronted about her excess weight put it quite succinctly, “At least your obsession with food helps you keep the weight off…mine doesn’t” (p. 116)  Mika continued, “She may be right, but it is still not healthy.  One problem is that being so thin really gets rewarded. When I’m at my thinnest, I have everyone in the world telling me how great I look.” (p. 116)

This rewarding thinness and weight loss really concerns me.  I have to admit that I have some concern about how everyone fusses over my weight loss. Don’t get me wrong, I love the attention.  When I know I’m going out to be among a group of my friends or family, I take some extra care to look my best.  I choose my clothes to carefully pick out something I know really accents the weight loss.  I fix my hair.  I put on make up.  I prepare myself mentally to have everyone tell me how great I look.  I know it’s a bit narcissistic, but I have lived a lifetime being ashamed of how I look and trying to make myself as invisible as possible.  It’s nice to be fussed over.  But, I am concerned about going from being known only as the fat girl to being known only as the fat girl who lost a lot of weight.  I really long for people to really know me.  I have always felt the real me has nothing to do with how much I weigh, or what I eat, and it would be such a relief to really be seen for who I truly am.

What I found really interesting about this book was the discussion about how food companies have made foods that are deliberately addictive.  The combination of sugar, salt, and fat apparently trigger some of the same pleasure parts of the brain that addictive drugs do.  That explains why it is easy to become addicted to these foods and keeps people eating long after they are full.  I know when I eat processed foods, they have a different effect on me than whole, clean foods do.  I feel more sated, and I definitely have a short-lived feeling of pleasure and satisfaction from eating fried, greasy, salty, sugary foods.  But I also know that once I start to eat these foods, it is hard for me to stop.  There are certain foods I definitely have all or nothing relationship with.  Nutter Butters, for example.  I have known for years that I have one of two choices when eating them.  I can eat none of the Nutter Butters in the box, or all of the Nutter Butters in the box.  There is no in between.

I’m sure the food companies aren’t making foods like this because they are inherently evil, but they make foods like this to increase the likelihood consumers will keep buying their foods so that they keep making money.  That is, after all, why they are in business.

I think that there are several really good points in this book:

  • We need to re-think our ideas about weight either thinness or obesity.
  • We need to re-think our approach to rewarding thinness over non-thinness.
  • We need to re-think our approach to dealing with all eating disorders.
  • We need to re-think our approach to food and wellness.
  • We need to ask/force food companies to be more responsible in the foods they produce and how they are marketed.
  • We need to take aggressive steps to address the obesity problem in our country.

They think an open and honest dialogue is the best way to begin to address some of these problems.

“More than a year after our infamous conversation on Long Island Sounds, Diane and I are more convinced than ever that sharing our stories and providing support to one another are huge steps toward changing the way we think about weight and food.  … ‘We need to be able to have that dialogue, but first thing we need to do is lay down the burden of blame and shame,’ said obesity expert Dr. David Katz. ‘Until we do that, we as a nation are stuck at this impasse on obesity.'” (p. 139)

I agree.  This is primarily why I started this blog.  I wanted to have an honest discussion about what it is like to be fat and facing horrible health problems.  I wanted to discuss how I chose to address those health problems.  I also wanted to discuss how I got fat and what was keeping me fat.

Writing about my problems, and putting my thoughts out into the world definitely helped me deal with some of my issues.  I’m not saying I am completely cured.  Yes, I made the decision to take charge of my life and change its trajectory, but it was not that simple.  I have had a lot of struggles along the way, and I still do.  It wasn’t just one choice.  I still have to make the choice every day to stay on track.

The surgery helps keep me on track, but it does not keep me from making bad choices.  I can choose to waste my daily caloric intake on junk food or healthy food.  I can choose to exercise or not.  I can choose to overeat and stretch out my new smaller stomach, or I can choose to stick to the plan.

But back to the book.  I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in food and health issues.  In fact, I recommend it to anyone even if they are not interested in food and health issues.  I don’t think Mika and Diane mean this book to be the solution to everyone’s food problems, but to be the start of an ongoing dialogue that will hopefully change the face of our nation.

So, let’s not waste any time in starting this conversation.  In the words of the infamous SNL icon created by Mike Meyers…”talk amongst yourselves!”

Resurrecting My Schedule

This week has been rough.  I had a great weekend last week, and it seemed like I was going to have a great week to follow.  And then I woke up sick on Thursday.

I did make it to work that day, but my boss told me that I had the option to work from home, which I used on Friday.  The illness was absolutely horrible, but I am feeling a little better today.

My schedule, eating, exercising, working, was thrown completely off kilter.  I have eaten nothing but crackers and chicken broth for a couple of days.  I tried to keep my vitamin intake the same, but I know that is off a bit too.

Good news though.  I’m down another pound.  Bad news, I spent what feels like forever, in bed completely immobile.

weightnew

I might try to go out and get some lunch and pick up some groceries today, just to get out of the house for a bit, but I think I am still going to keep inside and rest for the lion’s share of the weekend.

Maybe tomorrow I will go for a walk.

I have not had a cold for nearly two years.  I was not sure how my post surgical body would handle being sick, especially if I become nauseated, which I did this week.  I did not vomit, thankfully, but there were definitely some close calls.

I have been very lucky, post surgery.  Unlike many people who have had a gastric by-pass, I have not had very many incidents of vomiting or nausea after eating.  In truth, I have not vomited at all.  Partially because I have been very, very careful about what I eat, especially in the months immediately after the surgery.  I really allowed my stomach to heal well before I started introducing new foods into my diet.  I did make some mistakes, I cannot lie about that, the whole lamb burger incident for example, but mostly I have tried to be very careful.

Now that this illness is on the decline, I am not so worried about being ill now.  I still do not welcome any illness, but I think I feel better about how my post surgical self will weather such a cold.  I am so afraid of getting sick to my stomach and doing damage if I do vomit.  I guess now that my stomach has healed from the surgery the danger of damage is not as bad, but still, I’m sure there is some risk.

Anyway, I don’t want to end this post talking about that, so let me say this.  I lost another pound!!  Yay!

Have a great weekend!

Satisfying My Inner Nerd

I have to blog right away about this weekend before I forget all of the details of why it was awesome.

First, I want to begin by including this video of Wil Wheaton talking about embracing your own nerdiness.

Well, writing, reading, authors, literacy, and the written word.  Those things make my inner nerd squee.

This weekend was the National Book Festival that was put on by the Library of Congress.  The festival used to only be one day, but now it is a two-day affair, which means, I spent two days on the Washington Mall listening to authors speak, collecting free books, bookmarks, and other paraphernalia pertaining to writing, reading, libraries, and the written word.  As an aspiring writer myself, I was in total nerdvana.

The book festival is an amazing, and free, event.

bookfest

I went to Poetry Outloud and listened to young high school students recite poetry, out loud of course.  Then I saw Margaret Atwood, Taylor Branch, the editor of the Washington Post’s food section, Bonnie Benwick.  And that was just yesterday.

Today my friend Lisa and I arrived early and decided we would camp out in the Fiction tent all day.  She wanted to see Khaled Hosseini, (author of The Kite Runner), who was speaking at the end of the day.  We wanted to get there early so that we could get good seats and just camp our butts there all day, which we did. The strategy paid off too, because we were in the first row.

As a result, I got to see Terry McMillan (author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale), Christopher Buckley, Adam Johnson, Roxana Robinson, Mark Halperin, and of course, Khaled Hosseini.

I took some fantastic pictures on my iPhone.  As an aside, I have to say, I’m not overly impressed with the iPhone 5’s battery, which died on me both days.  I tried to be conservative about how much I used it.  I only tweeted one picture of each of the authors today and tried to keep my phone off as much as possible, but it still drained very quickly.  Inconvenient to say the least.

From a writer’s perspective, I was in total nerd heaven.  I was able to listen to several prominent authors talk about their creative process in how they develop their stories and decide what is important.  This is like, Inside The Actor’s Studio for writers.  They just share all of this with us for free. (OK, seriously, they are there to peddle their latest wares, also, but so what!  It’s still amazing!)

From a former fat-girl’s perspective…I do not even know where to begin!

I went to the book fest about three years ago I think.  I went with my brother and his wife.  I was so sick.  Between my asthma, inability to walk, severe back pain, this event was just a nightmare.  I had such a hard time getting around, and standing around was equally as impossible.

This weekend, I walked miles and miles.  My friend Lisa drove us into the city and parked at her office, which is about a mile from the Mall.  Then, we walked all over the festival and then back to her car.  We did that both days. Also, today, we met up with friends from our writer’s group and walked to Starbucks after and then back to her car.  It was not very far out of the way, but just a year ago, I could not have done any of this.

I also met up with a former co-worker of mine who I have not seen in more than two years.  Reggie is just the sweetest guy, and although we keep in touch on Facebook, etc, it’s just not the same as seeing and speaking with him in person.  He has followed my weight loss journey via Facebook and this blog, but he still could not get over how different I looked from the last time he saw me.  It was so nice to see the joy on his face and have him tell me how great I looked.  I love that my journey has made the people I care about as happy as it has made me.  I know they want me to be happy and healthy, they are thrilled to see me doing well.  I love to see that reflected in their eyes.

I hope you all find a way to satisfy your inner nerds.  In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from the bookfest!

Me & Reggie

Me & Reggie

Bonnie Benwick

Bonnie Benwick

Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson

Mark Halperin

Mark Halperin

Christopher Buckley

Christopher Buckley

Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson

Terry McMillan

Terry McMillan

No Time

You know that Styx song, “Too Much Time On My Hands.” Yeah, well that’s not me.  Not these days.

OK, I know that I have a problem with over-committing myself.  I have struggled with this my entire life.  The problem is I want to do everything and there just simply is not enough time in the day to do it all.  And now that I can do more, I seem to really relish trying to cram as much into each day as possible.  Combine that with the fact that I am easily distracted by shiny objects, and boy am I in trouble.

Work has been keeping me very busy.  I think I have mentioned this before.  It’s the busy season with meetings and travel just before the holidays roll around.  That’s just the way it is.  I have been working a long string of ten-hour days for what seems like an interminable amount of weeks.  I’m glad to have a job so I won’t complain too much.  But I a looking forward to when I can take some vacation time, definitely.

I am also keeping my weekends completely filled with fun activities.  Walking, gym, museums, this weekend is the National Book Festival.  This was always one of my favorite things to do.  When I was unable to really stand comfortably, let alone walk, doing this bordered on nightmarish for me.  I had to settle for watching the lectures on C-Span.  This always broke my heart, because I love books, reading, writing, lectures, anything that has to do with the written word.  I know it seems kind of pretentious and snooty, but I love it.  I might be too scatter-brained and over committed to be a voracious reader, but I still do read a lot.  And I have amassed quite a collection of books of my own.  So, a book-fest is a little slice of heaven.  It is to me what a Ren-fest is to an RPGer.  OK, who am I kidding, I’m a Ren-fester, too.  Add another event to the list of things I will be doing on the weekends.

My point is, that every minute of my days seem to be filled right now.  I love it.  I love being able to go places and do things.  I was trapped by my obesity for so many years, I was afraid I’d never be able to do anything again. Yeah, my weight loss has slowed down and I haven’t reached my goal yet, but I am not overly worried about that.  I am just happy that I can get out in the world, walk around, and have some fun.

I’ll get to my goal weight eventually, but for now I’m celebrating the fact that I’ve lost 125 pounds and have the freedom to go out and enjoy life again.

555373_10151900657944328_59046002_n

Speaking of going out and having fun.  This is a picture of me at my friend Sush’s Art Studio.  Last Saturday she had a grand opening bash and I finally had a place to wear the dress I bought this spring.  I’m just glad I had a chance to wear it before I shrank out of it.

Here’s another pic of me in the same dress.

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The party was a blast, and Sush’s studio is just beautiful.  If you’re in or near Arlington, I recommend checking it out!

 

 

Changing of the Seasons

I love autumn!  I cannot wait until the leaves change and fall to the ground, and the air turns chilly.  There’s nothing better than walking down the street or through the park, colorful leaves on the trees, dry leaves crunching underfoot, cool air, scarves, hats, boots, warm jackets, steaming cups of coffee with friends.  Love, love, love, love, love fall. Cannot get here soon enough for me.

One thing I’ve always loved about the fall is the food that comes with it.  Apples, pumpkins, squash, root vegetables, all those hearty stick-to-the ribs foods that help keep you warm on cool autumn days.

I know fall has not truly even started yet, but the food is everywhere already.  Pumpkin bread, pumpkin coffee, apple pastries drizzled with caramel sauce, etc. are all over the place just taunting me.

I love going to coffee shops.  I don’t even have to get coffee.  Tea, water, popcorn, whatever, I’m happy just to be there.  I read.  I write.  I chat with friends.  This is a happy place for me.  There’s a Caribou Coffee in my neighborhood.  I love to walk there after dinner.  I stop at Starbucks on my way to work.  I take a moment to sip some coffee and center myself before heading into work.  There’s a nice little independent coffee shop not far from me that I like to go to sometimes.  The Rappahannock Coffee.  Nice little place.  It’s a bit far to walk, but still a good place to go.

These coffee shops are filled with all of the yummy fall pastry treats and blended coffee drinks that I love.  Some kind of pumpkin coffee, with sweet syrupy pumpkin flavoring, topped with whipped cream, drizzled with caramel sauce.  All kinds of pumpkin flavored pastry treats.  I love this stuff, and I cannot eat it anymore.

I cannot have bread, and I cannot have sugar.  Going to my favorite coffee shops has been pure torture.

Needless to say, these past few weeks have been a little difficult.  Dunkin Donuts does have pumpkin coffee beans that a friend of mine picked up for me.  That has helped.

I am kicking around some ideas in my head for my own brand of pumpkin, squash fall treats.  Once I have an actual idea put together, I’ll test out the recipe, take pics, and post them here.  I was able to put together a pretty good gluten-free pumpkin pie for my sister when she was first diagnosed with celiac disease, so I’m sure that I can make some sugar-free yummy pumpkin treat for myself for the fall.

Today is going to be a pretty exciting day.  I have a lot to do.  A good friend of mine is having a grand opening kick off for her art gallery and work studio.  That starts at 4:00pm.  I am doing some cooking for that.  She has requested that I make my curry chicken salad with mango chutney.  I made it for a party about 4 years ago, and she missed the party because of a family vacation.  She’s been hoping I would make it for her ever since.  So, tonight’s the night.  I have already started cooking, which is probably why I’m so focused on food this am.

I also have to hit the gym, get my hair done, and do a little bit of work.  All of this before 4:00pm.  Not sure if I will get it all done, but I will try.

Some good news, I am down one more pound.  I had kind of a rough week, so I’m pretty happy it ended on such a positive note.  Work was pretty busy and stressful, but ’tis the season there.  And I was struck by constipation not once, but twice this week.  Fortunately, I am doing much, much better today.

Anyway, sticking with my promise, I am posting a pic of today’s weight.  Oh and looking at this picture, I want to get a pedicure today.  I have to get hopping!  Have a great weekend!

weight

When I Get Discouraged…

It is easy to get discouraged when the scale does not move or does not move as quickly as it did in the beginning.  I have amped up my exercise recently, and I am trying to re-evaluate what I am eating to make sure that I am staying on plan and getting the right kind of nutrients.  I’m thinking of cutting back on the cappuccinos and converting back to regular coffee instead.  Fewer calories in regular coffee, although I will miss the foam.

Sometimes all I see is how far I have to go and not how far I have come.  To test the waters and attempt to cheer myself up, I tried on an item of clothing the other day that I have not worn since high school.  Yes, I still own one or two things from high school.

Let me preface this by saying that when in high school, I weighed between 120-135-ish range, depending upon the year.  I still have my high school band jacket and a t-shirt from my first school play.  I was in the orchestra my Sophomore through Senior years of high school.  My skinniest, at 125, was my Sophomore year when the school did West Side Story.

So, I put on my high school band jacket just for shits and giggles.  I can put it on and almost get it closed.  I cannot yet, button it, but a year ago, I couldn’t even an arm through a sleeve.  (Pay no attention to my messy hair and room, please.)

hs

It’s strange, because in high school I thought I was fat.  Everyone around me, almost everyone at least, confirmed this.  I was always being encouraged to diet.  I was always told how pretty I would be if I would just lose some weight.

Right before my surgery, my sister Sandy tried to put the jacket on.  She’s 5’4″ and weighs maybe 145 pounds.  She was always the skinny one.  She put this jacket on.  The sleeves were too short, and she could not even get it close to buttoned.

She turned around and looked at me and said, “Oh yeah, you were soooo fat in high school! Yeah right!”

If only I had known then what it was to be really fat…makes me sick to think about it.

So, when I’m feeling like I am making no progress, I put this jacket on.  I cannot wait until I can get it buttoned.  When that happens I will post a follow-up pic.  Maybe I will even put on my West Side Story t-shirt with it.  (I cannot believe I still have that!)

Happy Sunday, everyone and enjoy the start of football season!  I cannot wait until the weather cools off enough so that I can start wearing scarves and jackets.