Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blog remodeling -- done for now

Thanks to Laura N. for alerting me about the comment problems on the blog. I changed some settings in hopes of fixing that problem.

I thought I'd also post about my recent blog remodels, since a lot of my readers are getting this through RSS feed and may not realize some of the changes I've made:

  • I have left the blogspot domain (though my old domain still forwards) and am now hanging out at
  • I have fiddled with the Blogger templates and finally found one I liked. Yesterday I experimented with a blue background, but the purple and green color scheme has been one of the few things that have remained constant over the years and I was reluctant to leave it behind.
  • I made myself a logo header, which was inspired by a photo I took at a coffee shop yesterday. I had another idea for a logo that I might implement sometime in the future if this one gets tired.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekly weigh-in: Monday, August 29

I went to my second TOPS meeting today. I have to admit, I cheated and weighed in at home before the meeting because I didn't want a bad surprise. At both home and the meeting, I was down half a pound.  Not spectacular results, but in keeping with what I expected, given my calorie intake last week. Believe it or not, I am actually improving, but it's still a work in progress. I need to spend some time planning my meals for this coming week.

I'm a little disappointed that I didn't have a great first week's weigh-in, but I have a chance to change that for next time. Next week is Labor Day, so I will be weighing in at home, but since I have weighed in at home before, I know the conversion from my home scale to the TOPS scale is to add 1.25 pounds.

Weekly summary from LoseIt appears below.  The weights will be confusing because Mondays's is from TOPS but the others are from my home scale.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review: Two books by A.J. Rochester

Note: This is an unsolicited, uncompensated review. I purchased both books myself.

When I bought by A.J. Rochester as my latest Audible purchases, I didn't realize that the author had also been the host of Australia's version of "The Biggest Loser." I had just been looking for a book to keep me inspired in my weight loss efforts.

I enjoyed the book, and even bought its sequel, ,and then did some research online just for fun. It seems from her blog "Chasing Oprah" that she has been hounded by the tabloid press over some weight ups and downs since her books. I guess she has that in common with Oprah.

There was a lot to love in both these books. A.J's story is really compelling. describes her dramatic weight loss -- from 130 kilos (287 pounds) to 69 (152 pounds) in less than a year.  In the process, she gives a very honest account of her struggles and her work to learn to work through the pain in her past so she doesn't need to stuff down her feelings with food. She does this with the help of her psychiatrist ("Nutcase"), personal trainer ("Crusher"), and to a lesser extent, her nutritionist ("Beansprout" doesn't get much press here).  She really gets into some deep territory, and really delves into the reasons she felt safer when she was overweight and why she struggled so much every time she came close to a new weight loss milestone.

What I didn't appreciate was the very lame fat jokes that she sprinkled throughout the text. I know she's a comedian and wanted to make the book funny, but talking about how she had to watch out for whaling boats when she was on the beach or "had more chins than a Chinese phonebook" was really not the way to get laughs. First of all, those jokes are old, unoriginal, and unfunny (and she even repeated the same jokes in instead of coming up with new ones, so I guess the title is accurate). Secondly, one minute she is telling women that they need to love themselves, whatever their size, but the next, she is yukking it up about how fat women need to lose weight so they can stop "breaking chairs." Definitely some mixed messages.  Loving her new thin body does not require making fun of the woman she used to be.  I would have rather she showed some respect for the former self, who was, after all, the one who created the "new and improved" A.J.  I loved it when Jillian Michaels pointed that out to a contestant on "The Biggest Loser." Besides, listeners (or readers) who are the size A.J. used to be don't really need more ridicule. She also makes a lot of hostile comments about thin and fit women, which is strange. It gives the impression that the only acceptable size to be is whatever size A.J. is.

She also seems to divide foods up into "good" and "bad" categories, suggesting that it is the end of the world every time she hits a fish and chips shop or wants some chocolate. There is no reason that those foods couldn't have been incorporated into her calorie allowance. She seemed to have no trouble fitting in alcohol.

It was interesting to hear that A.J. had so much success with a low-fat, higher-carb diet, especially since protein is currently reigning as the Macronutrient King.  It really goes to show that the real secret is calorie restriction and exercise, not some magic ratio of fat to protein to carbs.  The real value to is that it is honest about A.J.'s struggles and setbacks and shows that regular, healthy meals and snacks were her big secret to success.

I am about halfway through , and so far it hasn't wowed me.  It doesn't seem to have added a lot of new information not found in the other book, and as I mentioned above, it recycles a lot of the jokes I didn't enjoy in the first book. It adds a few dumb quizzes where the answers are in the format A) I'm hugely fat and happy that way, B) I am the model reader A.J. envisions for this book, and C) I am too skinny to need this book and I'm smug besides.  After the third or fourth go-round of this, I was really sick of it, and I'm sure there are more of them to come.

Warning to U.S.-centric readers: Yes, you will have to hit up Google if you don't know how to convert kilograms to pounds or don't know what "sultanas" are (I was guessing tangerines, but those are "mandarines." Sultanas are raisins) or what a "Pluto pup" is (I figured out from context clues that it's what we Yanks call "corn dogs.") It's not really that difficult, and I enjoyed the Aussie-isms. 

All in all, I would recommend if you are feeling alone in your struggle with weight and want some company and some proof that it can be done. Along the way you'll learn a few useful strategies and get some nuggets of wisdom from A.J.'s team of consultants.  is helpful if you really want the nuts and bolts of A.J.'s particular diet plan and you don't mind a repetition of some of the stories and jokes.

After listening to both, I have a strange urge to watch Biggest Loser Australia and see what A.J.'s personality is like on screen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Self-love and healthy living

I have a good friend who has a beautiful body but is constantly trying to lose a few pounds. She throws herself into cleanses, fasts, all kinds of very extreme things. Then she understandably goes crazy when she gets back to eating again, eats junk food and quickly regains whatever she lost.  She said, "I either have to find some kind of balance, or I have to just learn to love myself." In this parlance, "loving herself" meant giving up on weight loss.  From the way she said "love myself," she didn't sound very happy about the prospect."

I said, "You have to find some kind of balance and learn to love yourself."

I know, I should talk! At least, though, I have never been foolish enough to think I could stick to a cleanse or a fast. As I told her, "I find Weight Watchers too difficult, so how would I think I could do something like that?"

I bring this story up because I don't think this view of "self-love = giving up" is unusual.

Jen from Prior Fat Girl posted recently about some controversy generated by her efforts to lose a pesky 8 pounds that she had regained.  Her commenters had asked why she was "obsessed" and "torturing herself" with the need to lose those last few pounds.  I read the blog regularly, and I don't really see the obsession. Sure, Jen tracks her food and exercises, but she doesn't seem to be following a crazy, strict regime. She just as happily posts about fun treat meals out (pizza, burgers, etc.) as she does about eating homemade veggie-filled meals. Her exercise regime seems reasonable, not "torturous."  I think the only thing that would be torture is the destruction of her house by the tornado and the subsequent remodeling.

Recently Glamour magazine stuck a very silly headline on an otherwise reasonable article about healthy weight loss. Originally, the headline was "Loving My Body Almost Killed Me," but later, it was changed to "Did Loving My Body Almost Kill Me?," probably in response to reader comments about how dumb the headline was.

The message from my friend, from Jen's commenters, and from Glamour is that "loving ourselves" is the same as giving up all thoughts about weight loss and hooking ourselves up to the hot-fudge-sundae IV and installing ourselves on the couch. Anyone who has ever watched "The Biggest Loser" knows that "giving up" and "loving ourselves" are two very different things.

Parents who love their kids don't keep them confined indoors and stuff Twinkies in their mouths. They take good care of their children and make sure they have healthy meals, the occasional treat, and plenty of playtime and rest. Why should loving ourselves be different from that?

I am still trying to find that place of loving myself enough to take great care of myself. It occurred to me that what I really need to do is to avoid the temptation to do something extreme and to keep my focus on a moderate, healthy lifestyle.  I have to be patient to keep making the next good choice and enjoy the present while waiting for the weight loss to follow. True self-love can only help me in that process.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First class of the new term tonight

I just love those first-day jitters! My classes are four hours long, so the first one is always daunting.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) meeting

Today I joined TOPS. At first, I was just going to sit in on the meeting, but I decided to go ahead and sign up. I need something to help me stay motivated and energized, and I don't want to go back to Weight Watchers because a) it costs too much and b) I don't feel like the plan gives me enough energy for the training I want to do.  The plan just left me too hungry and cranky most of the time.  I plan to use my calorie-counting phone app, along with exercise.

The meeting took place at a church a couple of miles from my house. The members were mostly retirees.  It was a 9:30 Monday morning meeting, so I was not really surprised by that.   They all seemed very nice and welcoming.  I could have sat in on the first meeting for free, but I bit the bullet and paid the $26 yearly fee. There will also be $5 monthly dues collected at the beginning of each month.  All in all, the plan will be $86 per year, which is less than three months' meeting fees at Weight Watchers.

I got weighed in and they also took a picture.  Their scales weighed a little heavier than mine at home, and I have an official start weight of 183.75.  Thescale is one of the medical kind with the sliders, and the weigher seemed surprised when I told her to start at 180, as she didn't think I would weigh that much, which was nice, I guess.  The official photographer also took my picture, so I had her take another with my phone camera so I could post it here. I am looking and feeling so large right now. I also took my measurements, though I won't post those at this time.  Maybe after I've lost 10 pounds or so.

The meeting was about an hour. They had some friendly contests -- the top loser of the week/month wins a few bucks, and there is a "Ha-ha" jar that members put some change in when they come in to enter a drawing. If a member's name is chosen and she lost that week, she gets the money in the jar. If not, it stays in the jar for the next week. There was also a team competition going on, but I didn't join since I missed the first couple of weeks.

The programming was pretty minimal. There was a "roll call" where everyone said if they lost or gained that week. The weight recorder reported the gains and losses for the group and the number of members who weighed in.  The leader read minutes from last week. One member was responsible for programming and she passed around an "ABCs of Weight Loss" for everyone to help read.  It was all standard stuff: Exercise, drink water, etc., etc.

I think it will be a good addition to my plan.  I don't really need a lot of information at this point, I need some help staying focused and motivated. I do feel some pressure to go in and post a loss, which is what I was looking for.  I'll report back next week.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I love veggies

This week's CSA bag was packed with great stuff: A small watermelon, tomatoes, sweet corn, banana peppers, bell peppers, peaches, and zucchini.We still have beets, onions, and radishes from an earlier week's bag, plus assorted produce that we bought at the farm market and grocery stores. The last two days I have had salad and the simplest, most delicious roasted corn for lunch.  I'm not sure I will ever boil corn again.

It's hard to believe that I was ever the kid who hated vegetables. I love them now.  The secret was trying different cooking methods until I found one I liked. Roasting and grilling are usually a good place to start.  Boiling is almost always a mistake, IMHO.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Healthy living as a practice

After my big posts about "I'm finally going to do this" and "here's my plan," I had a day yesterday where I had very little control of my food and no time to exercise. I was at work yesterday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and dining services were closed. The only options for meals were the ones provided on campus. Of course, I ate breakfast at my usual time, around 6:00 a.m.  I could have gotten up at 5:00 to exercise but I didn't, knowing it would be a very long day already.  I didn't have great meals, but on the plus side, I had no opportunity to snack, so I may have had an okay day calorie-wise. I'm not sure, because I didn't track.I made sure to fill more than half my plate with fruit or vegetables.  I did what I could.

The old feeling of "It's ruined again" started to creep in, but then I read interview in Grace magazine and was reminded again that healthy living and weight loss/maintenance is a practice, not something you stop and start:

I have come to believe that there really is no such thing as a backslide. It's all part of moving forward, even when it doesn't feel like it. 
There are many clichés in the dieting world: "Get back on the wagon," "Get back on track," "Start again tomorrow (or on Monday,)" and so on. I like to think that it's more a matter of continuing from right where I am.
As Russ and Jeff on Fat2Fit Radio say, "You can fail a diet but you can't fail a lifestyle."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What I'm going to do about it

On my post yesterday, I promised to come back and write about my latest plans for losing weight.

The answer is: Nothing drastic, just a sensible plan that will let me average a pound a week in weight loss. I am just going to use my LoseIt app the way it was intended -- log my food right away and stop before I get into the "red zone." I even bought the book, but it's pretty basic and not worth buying unless you are brand-new to weight loss.

I'm also going to keep focusing on fruits and veggies, easy this time of year, and cutting back further on processed foods. I'm pretty good about this most of the time, but I still have room for improvement.

I am also going to try out a TOPS meeting to see if it could help provide support.

As I posted earlier, I am doing the Up & Running 10K plan this fall. I'm going to work out a new training schedule once I see what the workouts will be like.

Finally, I am going to print out yesterday's post to read when I am tempted to quit.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 15, 2011

Radical self-acceptance

Walking around at the triathlon yesterday was like walking into a 3D vision board. This is what I want for myself, I kept thinking.  There were all kinds of different bodies, of course, but I wanted the kind of body that could finish an Olympic-distance triathlon (1500m swim, 25 mile bike, 10K run) and feel tired and happy but not completely whipped afterward.  The last sprint I did was hard, and there is no denying that the excess baggage I am carrying was a big part of the problem. Yes, there were a few people who sent me "you don't belong" messages, but the one that bothered me most was myself -- I didn't feel like I belonged.  I want to feel like I do.  I can work on the head stuff, dealing with shame, thinking loving thoughts, but I also need to gently work toward a more comfortable weight.  I was thinking that if I got down to 150-155 again, I could be an amazing Athena triathlete and probably win awards.  Those categories, Athena and Clydesdale, were originally created to help people like me who even when they are fit and healthy tend to carry a lot more body mass than other athletes.

I have resisted really admitting to myself that I really, truly, want to change.  I kept feeling on some level that self-acceptance meant that I couldn't admit that there was anything I wanted to change about the way I am now.  But hiding from cameras because you don't want to see what you look like in the pictures is not self-acceptance. That's denial.

Every weight-loss book worth its salt asks you to write out the reasons you really want to change and I have been resisting that like crazy. I have written some half-hearted attempts, but here is the real deal?

Why do I want to lose weight?
  • I want to feel streamlined and sleek. I want to be carrying the exact amount of weight around that I need to accomplish my goals, no more, no less.  That might not look like someone else's idea of fitness, but I want to look like MY idea of fitness.
  • I want to be up for a challenge.  I want to feel ready to go if someone suggests an adventure.
  • I want to be able to do an Olympic-distance triathlon and finish strong. (First stop is the sprint, but this is my long-range goal).
  • I want to get dressed quickly and feel like I look great instead of rooting through my closet for something that will hide all my flaws.
  • I want my husband to feel like he has a partner who will help him live a healthy lifestyle.
  • I want to feel great no matter what I'm wearing (or not wearing).
  • I want to feel like smiling when someone points a camera at me.
  • I want to be fit and healthy into my 70s and beyond like those awesome triathletes I saw picking up their awards yesterday.
  • I want to be happy to be me.  
  • I want to be truthful with myself and take care of myself.

Time to get to work. Tomorrow I will write more about what I plan to do about all this.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Short race report, mostly photos

I did the swim leg of the Sylvania Triathlon today. Here's me looking tough before the race.

The swim is 1500 meters, almost a mile. It's the perimeter of this pond:

The relay races started with the collegiate athletes and Clydesdales (200+ pound men). I was actually quite relaxed even when people tried to swim over me. I did accidentally kick and push some people myself and I hope they were understanding. It is a jungle out there. The turns, especially, get crowded. I got out of the water at around 31 minutes and with a longish run through sand, my official time was 33:02.

There were two all-women relay teams. The other team had a faster swimmer but our cyclist and runner pulled us to victory. This may be my first-ever first place award in an athletic event.

I loved competing as part of a team. Great day!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Up & Running

I'm in training with Up & Running

When I realized how disappointed I was that I didn't win Shauna's Up & Running giveaway, I decided to go ahead and sign up for the 10K course. I am an experienced runner and am even married to a cross-country coach, but I thought trying out a different training philosophy might be fun.

I loved the Two Fit Chicks episodes that featured Julia Jones, and so I thought it would be great to try her coaching. I love running in the fall and thought this would be good motivation to keep at it.

I will post about my adventures here in the future. I paid the full entry fee myself so you can trust that my reviews will be honest.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sympathy, empathy, and overworking a post

In  Brené Brown writes about the difference between empathy and sympathy.  People who are reaching out for empathy are looking for someone who will really hear them and understand what they are saying and relate to it through their own experiences.  A typical empathetic comment would be, "I know what that's like, I've been there, it's difficult," or, "We all feel that way sometimes, it's normal.  You're okay."  People who are seeking sympathy are saying that they are especially victimized, that no one else understands the pain they are going through.  A typical sympathetic comment would be "Poor thing, that has to be so hard." Or even, "I can't imagine, how terrible."  Most of us feel annoyed by sympathy-seeking, she says, because it feels like manipulative attention-seeking.

Judging by the comments on my last post, I'm afraid that people read it as sympathy-seeking, and I'm really sorry that it came out that way. I really overthought and overworked that post, publishing about three versions (sorry RSS feed readers) before settling on what was published yesterday.

It actually wasn't meant to seek sympathy or empathy as much as it was meant to be a comment on the mixed messages we get about weight and physical activity. "People who are overweight just need to get up off their butts," we hear on one side, but the endurance athletes quoted in the article on the recent deaths and discussing it on the forum seemed to blame the people who died for participating in an athletic event while overweight.  I wanted to talk about the fact that there is a point in between being out of shape and being thin where you may actually still be carrying extra weight and yet be well-conditioned. I was actually afraid that race directors and others might start making arbitrary decisions about who is fit enough to participate.  And on a larger scale, the post was meant to talk about our weird relationship to tragedy.  There is this sense that if we do everything right, nothing bad will ever happen to us.  The only way to avoid risk is to do nothing at all, which carries its own risks.

Ironically, though, as I was working on the post, I kept "defensively blogging" (as Shauna and Jennette) trying to make sure that people would read it the right way.  I noticed typos and grammatical errors after hitting publish and edited to avoid looking like I didn't know how to spell or use the English language.  I added the part about actively trying to lose weight to make sure readers didn't think I was in denial about needing to lose twenty or thirty pounds.  Today, I used strikethrough to edit the post so that maybe it would be read the way I originally intended it to be read.  My husband told me a joke yesterday that probably captures what I'm doing here:

Knock, knock
Who's there? 
Control freak -- Now you say, "Control freak, who?"
Any post I put out there is an opportunity to be misunderstood, but I'm hoping that regular readers will understand that though I do have my moments of body shame just like everyone else, in general, I'm a normal person who has a mostly healthy and realistic self-image.  It probably sounds like I'm struggling a little more than usual right now, but I think it's because I'm taking more risks and reaching out past my comfort zone.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Death by triathlon

I am going to be participating in a standard distance triathlon this weekend as a swim relay member.  Funny that the person who recruited me for this challenge was my doctor, because it turns out that triathlons are VERY DANGEROUS, especially the swim, at least according to the New York Times (article 1) (article 2).  One man died of a heart attack during the swim portion of the New York City Triathlon and another had a heart attack during the race and died days later.  Any death is a sad event, but I think that these articles take an alarmist tone. Obviously, many activities that we all do every day like driving a car or walking across a busy street (even with the signal), are much more dangerous than the 1.5 in 100,000 statistic for death during triathlons.

Especially troubling to me is that article 1 quotes professional triathlete Jasmine Oeinck (chosen for the interview because she sustained minor injuries from a cycling accident during the race), who suggests that the problem is that overweight participants compete:
It’s now become a common trend is for people to use triathlon as a way to lose weight,” Oeinck said. “But you go to races and look around, and you start to ask yourself, 'Is this race too much for that person?'"
On an endurance athlete forum, the discussion was similar.  Nothing in the article mentioned that either of the participants who had heart attacks were overweight. Maybe they were and that prompted the comment?  I think it's wrong to make the assumption that an athlete who dies during an athletic event dies because they are too fat or out of shape. Professional runner Ryan Shay died during the Olympic Trials of a massive heart attack, caused by a preexisting heart condition that went undetected. When I did the Bike to the Bay event a few weeks ago, I saw a very fit man on a stretcher who was also rumored to have had a heart attack during the event.

As I have documented here, I could very well be one of the competitors that Oenick would be worrying about. But I also am very healthy, train very carefully for my events, am an experienced open-water swimmer, and have every confidence that racing is safe for me. Every participant in a USA Triathlon-sanctioned event signs a waiver stating that he or she knows that there is inherent risk involved and stating that her or she has prepared for the event. Sure, some people sign that waiver without reading it, but there is no way to prevent that.  Other suggestions like requiring a doctor's note or open-water certification, would be just as easy to subvert and would only add expense and paperwork without making events any safer.

I consulted a statistical chart and it turns out the risk of death in the U.S. is 1 in 1. And though 1 in 6 people in the U.S. will die from heart disease and heart attacks are often triggered by exertion of some sort, that exertion could be having an argument, shoveling snow, or having sex. No one is suggesting that people stop doing those things, though it may be only a matter of time before some expert suggests that overweight people should stop having sex.

Hopefully race directors will do whatever they can to make sure the events they run are safe and let competitors be responsible for deciding whether they can participate safely.  Yes, I am actively trying to lose weight, just like many other people who participate in triathlons.  The fact that these races inspire people to train and get fit should be seen as a positive thing, not a negative. What we supposed to do, train in the dark of night or work out at special "fatties only" gyms until we are thin enough to be worthy to compete?  I really would hate to see people discouraged from participating in fitness events unless they look like Triathlete magazine cover models.

Luckily for me, I know that my doctor would approve of me participating in the swim on Sunday.  I would not advise the other athletes swimming with me to give me any patronizing looks, as it is easy to accidentally kick someone during the swim and I have strong legs.

(Sorry to the RSS feed readers who now have multiple versions of this many-times-corrected post.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Working through body shame

Thank you for the kind comments on my post about body shame.  It does help to reach out and be heard.

I have been re-listening to my audio versions of  and  when I'm driving and that also helps. One "aha moment" was hearing again Brené Brown's "shame web" -- competing, conflicting expectations. I'm going to be honest: I thought I was constantly being triggered in my body shame just because my body was wrong.  But even if I did manage to fix my body, I would get caught in another part of that same web.  We can't manage to satisfy all of the different expectations to "be beautiful," "be ourselves," "be carefree and fun," "be confident," etc., all at the same time.

I spent some time yesterday with a friend who was telling me about a water fast she was thinking of trying while we were having a buffet lunch at an Indian restaurant. If I hadn't been primed with the shame web stuff, I would think she was a little goofy, but I think she is caught up in conflicting expectations too.  I did finally say, in case she was hinting that I should try the fast, that since I had trouble following Weight Watchers, I had no reason to expect that I could successfully fast. I really should have remembered that I wouldn't want to anyway.  I think fasting for religious or spiritual reasons can be fine, but fasting for weight loss doesn't really make sense since you can't fast forever.  All I could think about was Geneen Roth's description of trying to become a "Breatharian."

One tool I would have never expected to be useful when dealing with body shame, but that actually is, is my .  I have an app for my iPhone called "Fat Watch" (terrible name, but good app) where I can record my weight and body fat data, and it helps to see that if my weight is up a couple of pounds one day (say, the day after having lunch at an Indian buffet), that doesn't necessarily mean that my body fat has actually gone up.  It calculates the actual body fat weight from the numbers, helping me to see that the numbers I see on the scale more often reflect body water fluctuations than real changes in body fat.

By the way, have you ever noticed that Indian food (or at least the kind that people like me get in restaurants) seems to double in size after you eat it, making your belly feel like a lead weight for the rest of the day?  I kept having to look in mirrors to remind myself that I had not, in fact, suddenly grown to the size of a small automobile.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The way to eat

This summer, thanks to Groupon, I have found some amazing restaurants and events.  Two are real standouts for me, though.  When we went to a Groupon-ticketed show in Tecumseh, Michigan, the theater staff recommended we try Evans Street Station for dinner.  Last night, I finally used a Groupon for Revolver, a local restaurant so good that it was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, rare for a Northwest Ohio establishment.

What do these two restaurants have in common? They suggest a saner way to eat.

Too many American restaurants try to demonstrate that they are a good value by drowning their patrons in food. These restaurants suggest an alternate definition: Great, fresh ingredients, prepared with care but not fussily, served in small courses so diners can really enjoy each bite.

Dinner lasted about two hours, including dessert (shared) and coffee.  I felt completely satisfied without having overeaten. (I felt that I did overdrink, though, because the staff kept refilling our wineglasses from the bottle we got to share) I loved the whole experience.

People always wonder about the French Paradox, this question of why the French are thinner and healthier than Americans even though they eat cheese and pastry.  These dinners suggest the answer -- they treat their food with respect and take time over it. They don't gobble down mass quantities as they drive down the freeway.

On the way home from the restaurant last night, a driver in front of me was swerving erratically across her lane.  I peeked in the car as I carefully drove by -- she had a sandwich in her hand.  I'm not saying that I have never been guilty of dining while driving, but it doesn't seem to show the food -- or the other drivers -- much respect to give so little attention to either, does it?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Top 25 foods

Thought this was fun and wanted to share: According to LoseIt!, here are the top 25 foods I've logged in the last 3 months (click to enlarge).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Unwanted identity

Yesterday I took a Cycle/TRX class with a very nice instructor who hasn't had me in class before. She kept checking in with me in a way that brought shame and unwanted identity screaming to the foreground. Even though I had my own cycling shoes with clips and set up my bike with no help, she kept coming over and asking, " Are you okay?" with a concerned look on her face. I tried to tell her that though I don't often take Spinning classes at that gym, I take them at the YMCA and that i was fine.

I know what she saw. I get red-faced and sweaty when I work out, and, let's face it, my body does not look like that of an experienced athlete. It makes me sad that when I see the photos from last week's triathlon, all I can see is my belly and how much larger I look than the other women in the frame.

I want my inner warrior on full view instead of obscured in a soggy red casing. Today's million-dollar question: How to reconcile this need with the need for self-acceptance that I truly believe is the only road to where I want to go.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The gender-weight connection that few people talk about

Several bloggers lately have posted that as they lose weight, they feel scared and unsafe. Out of privacy concerns, I won't post links.  Some people have specific memories of sexual assaults or other violations, and others just have a vague sense of dread. On the Style Network reality show "Ruby,"a major storyline is that her 700-plus pound weight stemmed from a need to protect herself from a sexual assault that she only vaguely remembers.

I don't necessarily think that something specific had to happen to you as a child or teenager to feel this way. There are plenty of messages out there that girls and women are not safe, and that sexual attractiveness is a double-edged sword.  Parents fear for their girls as they grow up in a way that they don't fear for their boys, and they send that message loud and clear to their kids even if the kids don't fully understand. I know several tweens who are starting to look older, and people will say right in front of them that their fathers are "going to need a shotgun." This kind of stuff has to make an impact, as do the little micro-incidents of guys at the gas station leering at a woman as she walks in to pay, or other unwanted attention that crosses the line from admiring to creepy.

I have also seen several bloggers posting about the aging process and the accompanying feelings of loss. As I entered my forties, I had the feeling of time running out, of the feeling that what's left of my looks has a fast-approaching expiration date. When I go to movies now, I am closer to the age of the parents than to the young sexy people.  Sometimes as a married woman with a normal husband who can get distracted and busy, I feel invisible.  I was talking to another married woman recently, and she was talking about switching her antidepressant.  "I just need something that makes me happy all the time, since my husband won't do it.  If he would just have sex with me all the time..." She laughed but I sensed that there was some truth buried in this joke.  She is also overweight, and I have heard similar "jokes" from enough overweight married women to wonder if that feeling of losing our mojo could be part of the story of why we gain weight.  These are sometimes the same women who say that when they start to lose weight, the husband starts bringing home "treats" from the bakery or the pizza parlor.

I don't presume to know enough about men's psyches to speculate on what their weight-sex-gender connections might be, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is one.

As a group, Americans are the fattest people on the planet. We also seem to be one of the most sexually confused cultures on the planet.  We have the largest porn industry in the world, but we are in such deep denial about birth control that half of all pregnancies here are unintended.  Our media images of sexuality all seem to be so impossibly unattainable that there is a sense that all of us ordinary people should leave sex to the professionals.  There are also plenty of images in movies and video games that link sexual images with violent ones.

I'm pretty convinced, from a purely anecdotal standpoint, that this ambivalence and fear surrounding sexuality may be one of the bigger factors in the stubbornness of weight issues. Yet most of the weight loss resources out there focus on the mechanics of calories and exercise.  I think as long as there are deeper issues in the way, none of these solutions can work for long. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Interesting definition

Heard an interesting definition of forgiveness on the most recent episode of "Inside Out Weight Loss" yesterday:

"Forgiveness is letting go of the demand that the past be different than it was."

It sounds crazy to think that we could demand that the past be different than it was, but that is what not forgiving feels like, isn't it? When I'm nursing a real grudge, nothing the target does or says makes me feel any less angry because he or she can't (or actually, childishly I feel they won't) go back and change what he or she did.

Interesting insight -- how do I accept that what happened, happened and still soften my heart to the person who wronged me? (that's an interesting expression too: "wronged" seems to suggest that the person made me wrong.)

Lots to think about...

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Workout Log, Week of July 25, plus mini race report

This week's workouts were tweaked because of the tri.  For those who are interested, a short race report follows the workout log page:

I had no idea going into the race how prepared I was -- I had done a little more swimming this year, but not a lot, and a lot more biking. I did a lot less running than in previous years. I set a goal of 1:30 (an hour and a half) for the race.

It has been very hot here, and race day was no exception.  The swim was in a quarry, but the water was very warm, at least 82 degrees. I would have preferred it to be colder so I could have started off cool.  I had a great swim, and then poked around a little bit in transition, fumbling my shoes and socks. I took off on the bike and felt pretty good there too, passing a lot of people.  Then, in transition, again I was poky. My legs were cramping a little.  I took the time to drink some watered-down Gatorade.  The run did not go well. I started off jogging but couldn't find my stride. Halfway through, I started to hurt.  My left hip was bothering me and my toes were throbbing. I tried taking walk breaks but they didn't seem to help.  I alternated between jogging and walking, knowing that I was taking longer than I wanted but not able to make myself go faster.  I did manage to muster enough energy to run once I could see the finish, just to get it over with.

Final results: (400 yard swim, 11 mile bike, 5K run)

Final time: 1:29:54 (beat my goal by 0:00:06!)
Place: 146 out of 263 finishers
64th in the swim, 9:24 (including a longish run to transition)
81st in the bike, 37:21 (17.7 mph average)
205th in the run, 39:31 (12:45 minutes/mile)

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07