The dark side of diet and exercise....

The better you eat.... the more you exercise...
the more you fart.

Now I understand why so many yoga studios also sell incense and candles.  It's not the whole spiritual/meditation thing.  It's to disguise the farts.

Touche dried beans, touche.

Oh my! I didn't expect that.

Not quite a week, and I've noticed something with my GoWear Fit.
Even with erring on the side of too many calories in something, and being meticulous in recording everything, I'm totally undershooting what I should be eating, calorically speaking, and definitely not enough fruits and veggies.

To lose 1.5 lbs a week, at my weight and height, the GoWear Fit wants me to burn 2460 calories a day and consume 1710. Those 750 calories a day difference = 1.5lbs a week (or a 5250 calorie deficit). I've already burned 2015 calories today and that's without exercising.

I need to prime the pump--get the calories in my body first before my body will be okay with burning them. I mean, take today.... I feel like I've eaten a lot, and I've only had 985 calories. Egads!

Armed with data, she becomes a instrument of her own success...

So raise your hand if you've seen "The Biggest Loser."  Have you noticed the armbands they wear?  On the show they're called the Body Bugg.  I got a similar device (made by the same company) called The BodyMedia Fit

I wear this armband 23 out of 24 hours a day.  It tracks my calories burned (90% accuracy), my steps taken (95% accuracy), moderate and vigorous activity (for instance, walking vs. jogging/running), as well as my sleep patterns.  Coupled with the information that I enter on the Activity Manager, such as my height, weight, daily nutrition info, and any exercise done when I don't have the armband on (such as swimming), I get a very accurate picture of my life. 

The summary basically wants to show if I'm running a calorie surplus (gaining weight) or a calorie defecit (losing weight). But eventually I can look at trends, if I'm getting complete nutrition, if i need to revise my sleeping habits, if I need to ramp up my activity levels.  It really takes much of the guesswork out of weight loss. There is a fudge factor when it comes to the nutrition info, but the internet is full of Web sites that compile nutrition info if I can't find something on the activity manager (they don't have all the chain restaurants, so a place like is helpful).

I also bought Dr. Huizenga's book "Where Did All the Fat Go".  The book explains the diets that the contestants on The Biggest Loser are put on (with a large part dedicated to what happened to the at-home contestants during Season 3 of TBL). What I found most interesting in the book was just about how delusional some people are about their health -- self-reporting vs. the tests. Most of the obese people on his show had no idea just how sick they were.  This is why I have my yearly physicals, put all of my blood test results into one spreadsheet, and try to get my doctors to talk to each other.

So this wasn't a review of the GoWear Fit inasmuch as I wanted to let you know where I'm at.  So far so good, but I hope to meet with a dietitian soon to discuss the info I've gathered and the direction I want to go.

More words to live by...

The other day I was talking about the challenges we face ... and I kept on thinking to myself "I didn't know I could until I did."

It's kinda like any experience in life, for instance food.  I didn't know I liked yogurt, until I tried it (okay, the first time I had it, I hated it, but when I realized I liked savory yogurt (with dill, salt & pepper in it), I realized I did like it).  I didn't realize I could run 10k until I ran 10k.  I didn't realize I could do yoga until I tried (even though I need a spotter to make sure I don't fall and paralyze myself). 

The point is this:  I'm always surprising myself. And as long as I'm always challenging myself, broadening my horizons, there will always be a new goal to achieve.

Good thing I'm tenacious.

7 words and 7 rules

My life began to change when I moved out on my own-- away from a family that didn't know how to be healthy, and away from a university with fast food in its food court (as well as ridiculous portion sizes).  The biggest change was living with my now friend Katie.  I originally met her when I was listing a room in my apartment to be rented.  She responded and we instantly hit it off (mainly because my cat really liked her). But I didn't realize how much she would change my life until we began to cook together, and she taught me one of the biggest lessons I can ever impress upon anyone:  Beans!

Okay, it wasn't just about beans, it was about so much more than that.  Before Katie, the only beans I had ever eaten were Campbell's Pork & Beans (my mom would add maple syrup, butter, marshmallows, onions, bacon, or pineapple depending on her mood).  With Katie, I learned the simplicity of a bean.  The garbanzo, the kidney bean, and even non-bean ingredients such as lentils. The lesson was more than the bean, it was about exploring food, honoring ingredients and honoring the body I was putting the food in. Before Katie, I had never eaten Indian or Thai cuisines, and now I'm infatuated with them.

Stephen Sondheim wrote in Into the Woods "The difference between a cow and a bean is a bean can begin an adventure."   And in my case that was so true.

Over the years I've become more comfortable with trying foods that I had never tried before (just think, I was 17 before ever having a non-maraschino cherry, and I didn't even know what it was). I'm also more confident that the food I create from scratch is much healthier than something that has been pre-packaged.  I even started venturing out to farmer's markets on a regular basis to see what they had (among my discoveries, I love buffalo meat, eggs from chickens that live as chickens should, unhomogenized milk, mache, etc and so on.

Recently, one author has really summed up much of what I feel about food -- and that's Michael Pollan.   He's not a doctor or a nutritionist but a journalist.  In his books ( The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Food Rules, for example) he often reiterates the same points (so while I love his message, it's not necessary to read everything he's written unless you want to know the back story behind everything). On the cover of "In Defense of Food," he sums it up all very nicely in 7 words:  "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."  The largest part his books have been about describing what he means by "food."  He began his journey, I believe, with the premise that "food" isn't as intuitive as it used to be because of the industrialization of food and the distance each person has from the origins of the food they eat.  In Food Rules, he explains to the reader what he considers to be food.   Here's the Reader's Digest version: 
  1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. "When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?" Pollan says.
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4.  Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions -- honey -- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," Pollan says.
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry," Pollan says. "Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, 'Tie off the sack before it's full.'"
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. "Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?" Pollan asks.
  7. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.
Not bad, eh?

I firmly believe that the key to success when it comes to either losing weight or gaining health (they sometimes go hand-in-hand) is by eating actual food -- and tuning out what the Food Industry has to say about what you have to eat.  Yes, there are guilty pleasures that we all succumb to (cheetos!), but the reason why they're a guilty pleasure is that despite wanting something we know what's better.  We know what is better and yet the Food Industry has a louder voice.  Why is this so? 

What if we lived in a world where we walked into a grocery store or food market and 90% of the food there was truly good for us, and only 10% were the guilty pleasures.  What if those guilty pleasures cost three or four times the cost of the good things for us? 

Seriously, read this (and the numbers are marginally increasing, not decreasing--and I think the reason for the numbers not increasing at such a great rate is because the number of obesity-related deaths have increased):  

Among Americans age 20 and older, 145.0 million are overweight or obese (BMI of 25.0
kg/m2 and higher):
⎯ 76.9 million men. 
⎯ 68.1 million women.
Of these, 74.1 million are obese (BMI of 30.0 kg/m2 and higher):
⎯ 34.7 million men. 
⎯ 39.4 million women.  

(NHANES [2003-2006], NCHS and NHLBI.)
Also good info:

Seems to me that the Food Industry, despite all their claims, are part of the problem, not the cure. 


The diet and exercise industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is all too focused on innovation:  who has the newest fad diet, who has the newest machine, who has the newest theories.  I will try not to go all conspiracy theorist when I say this, but the USDA and FDA are in on it as well (think about the percentage of a grocery store that has processed food in it--the new and improved tastes, recipes, and packaging versus the amount of space that is for raw ingredients (fruits and veggies, meat, dairy, whole grains, etc.).

It's also all over the media--in commercials, in product placement, in our newspapers and magazines, on billboards and other ad posters.  We are inundated with people telling us what we should eat and more increasingly why.

For instance ... in the Feb. 2010 Glamour (a fashion magazine) are the following
1. Skinny Cow Truffle Bar (ice cream on a stick) with the tag line of "Loving you in that delicious 100 calorie way."  (Food does not equal love. I repeat, food does not equal love.  And just in case you're still needing love, there's an ad for an anti-depressant two pages away.)

2.  Crystal Light Skin Essentials, "Water your body.  Recharge, Restore, Revive.  Help nourish your skin from within with delicious fruity abandon."  (The fine print:  Enhanced with antioxidant vitamins A, C, E as well as a plant extract containing lutein and zeaxanthin to help nourish your skin from within when you drink two 16.9 fl oz servings per day.)  Why not just drink plain water and eat actual fruits and vegetables?

3. Four more Crystal Light ads underneath a feature called "It's your one-week healthy detox" that warns of the dangers of things like The Master Cleanse ("The Master Cleanse and other liquid diets are all extreme, potentially harmful plans that Glamour has never endorsed.) And they have a 1-week plan full of actual foods recommended by a dietitian based out of Los Angeles (with other quotes and advice from other doctors). The recommendations and advice are generally good and I think Glamour is trying to promote being healthy versus being thin (considering the recent publicity regarding using "real-sized women), but nowhere in the article does it say "drink a minimum of 64 fl oz of water daily" and bookending and underneath the full article are Crystal Light ads. While it doesn't have any sugar, it does have artificial sweeteners.  I am hugely against artificial sweeteners.  And I'm not the only one.  Moving on...

4. A tiny little ad for Hydroxycut.  I'm not going to get started on how dangerous this little product is.  Just google it for yourself if it even crosses your mind to use.

5.  The Williams Systers hawking Nabisco 100 Calorie Milk Chocolate Pretzels "Diet like a Diva."  I think the 100-calorie pack idea is ingenious, but it really preys on the idea that 100 calories isn't that much in most peoples' minds. Even if it's 100 calories of crap.

6. Oh yay! More 100-Calorie Pack ads.

7. An ad for SlimQuick.  Again, diet products are dangerous short cuts.

8. An ad for Eukanuba cat food for healthy digestion.  The cat looks really cute.

9.  Nutrisystem.  For many people this addresses the issue of portion size by serving suggested portion sizes.  However, if you've ever read one of their boxes (or Jenny Craig's) it's all chemical crap.  It's not actually giving your body good food. There is a tiny little foot note -- "On Nutrisystem you add in fresh grocery items"  -- okay, well why didn't you start there?

10. DiGiorno 200-calorie portion pizzas "redefining the way 200 calories should taste"  Just looking at the picture all the calories are from the bread and the cheese.  As a New Yorker, I'm offended they are calling this pizza, and as someone interested in health, I'm offended they're hawking this pile of chemical garbage.

11. Sugar Free Jello "Treat yourself to nothing" 10 calories thanks to artificial flavors and artificial sugars. So um... it's just filler?

So in the space of 179 pages, we're bombarded with 11 food ads, a story about what women should eat, a story about what men like to eat (Beer flavored chicken, bacon wrapped anything, banana cupcakes and 5 types of steak) and a variety of sizes of models.  It's no wonder that I, like many people, didn't have a clue of what to eat or how much.... but that was until... (see my next entry...)

Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling

Contrary to popular belief, I (as a fat person) do not stuff Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho-Hos or other snack cakes into my mouth 24-7. I do not eat all of my meals inside of a car (I don't even have one).  I eat McDonalds once every few months (what is it with their fries?).  I used to be a vegetarian (on a bet) and still don't eat much meat.  I do not wrap everything I eat in bacon, cover everything in sugar, or deep fry normally healthy things in oil just to get a crispy outside.

And yet, here I am.  Obese (30.98 BMI -- not too far from just being "overweight"). My cholesterol, insulin, and blood pressure are at all normal levels.

I resent the assumption or stereotype that fat people eat badly. Sure, some do.  But my eating badly only accounts for maybe about 10-20% of my calories. What does me in is usually alcohol (and the subsequent barfood) and portion size.  I'd like to address the latter here.

My brother would agree that I'm being very fair when I say that my parents were not the healthiest people when it came to food.  My mom ate to little and my father ate too much.  As a baby I was a very picky eater and they often struggled to get me to eat.   As I aged, I complied with my parents'  "clean your plate" thinking.  My parents were never the kind of parents that wanted to play with their kids and/or exercise with them. 

But I think the biggest problem I had, and the thing I've had to struggle with most is that after my mother died, I was living with two men, and often eating the same portion sizes as them.  If my brother (who was 17 months older than I was) ate 2 slices of pizza, so did I.  If my father ate 4 Oreos, so did I. Et cetera and so on. You can see the problem, right?  A teenage girl does not have the same metabolism as a teenage boy, or a 40 y/o male.

Even now, I find that I can eat just as much as the boys, and I shouldn't.  I just have no idea where one goes at almost 30 to learn how to eat like a woman that wants to be thin (other than magazines that often offer up contradictory and/or fad advice).  I know this is something I'm going to have to figure out for myself (armed with information like my Basal Metabolic Rate/Harris Benedict Equation Rate), but there is a part of me that wants to go off to some fat camp and/or etiquette school to learn how to act like a woman around food rather than some caveman.

A journey of a thousand miles, and/or 10 kilometers

A few years ago, before I tried to become a gym rat, I had the ridiculous idea of running a 10k Race (Lawyers Have Heart).  I thought my office was going to have a group of people walking together, but as it turns out all the people that signed up for the race were runners/joggers.  Lucky for me, my coworker/softball teammate said she'd stick with me.

We started together, we ended together.  There was some jogging, some power walking, and lots of talking about her upcoming wedding, our families, and our health. It took 1 hour, 29 minutes to go 10k. We beat people who were jogging.  We didn't get hauled away in the van of shame. And amazingly, we were 30 minutes behind a coworker that was a former marine.  Is it fast? No.  But did it prove something to myself? Yes.  I can complete things that are hard.

I can't even begin to tell you how much it means to have someone willing take a journey with you.  When I did start going to the gym, my trainer was the one telling me I could run on an elliptical for a kilometer.  He was there telling me I could run for 5k.  And he was the one i wanted to tell that I did 10k in 52 minutes. When doing planks got hard (as we later figured out it was my back problem rearing its ugly head) he would get on the ground and do them with me.  He wouldn't bark at me to do lunges without doing them himself.

So while you're all not here with me as i'm going through this, I know that I'll get strength from you, motivation from you, and you all will help me stay honest with myself.  I'd like to thank you in advance.

There's a moment where fear and dream must collide

I have fears about weight loss/exercise
1. injuring my back
2. losing my boobs (I know, how shallow!)
3. losing weight and then gaining it back
4. losing muscle
5. never feeling satisfied by weight loss

There are things I currently love about my body (my boobs, my curves, my muscles) and things I hate about my body (my stomach, flat ass, my thighs rub, back fat).

At some point i just have to decide that my fears are either reasonable (as in the case of my back) or unreasonable (people judging me at the gym) and whether the benefit is worth the risk.

I suspect that many people get to this point, especially people who, like me, have never seen themselves as a thin adult.  We don't know what we're working towards and if that person will be the same as the person we've grown with (both vertically and horizontally).

I wish could look into the future and see who I am meant to be, under all the fat. I look at myself in the mirror and wonder who I'm hiding. I hope she has some killer facial structure, some curves, strength and endurance.

The Yo-Yo

So after being sick, I've gained back the weight, and a little more because of some emotional eating.  This has always been my issue. The yo-yo. Up some, down some. Plateaus. And my cat even noticed -- he put his favorite toy on my wii fit to remind me to get back in the game.

I've written before that there were two main weight-gaining experiences in my life -- the death of my nana when I was 8, and the death of my mom when I was 13. I didn't have the emotional resources to deal with their deaths for a variety of reasons. The other part of it (and the hardest part for me to let go) is that the people taking care of me didn't have the emotional resources to help me, or to even recognize that there was a problem.

So now I'm on my own. And I'm the one that's responsible for my own success and my own failures.  It makes the successes that much more sweet and the failures that much harder to rebound from.  I also have another factor that wasn't present before -- alcohol.  Just like food was when I was 8 and 13, I let my mind think the alcohol is a comfort. This is dangerous not only because alcoholism runs in my family, but because alcohol is empty calories and destroys my digestive system. The alcohol undermines the goals I've set for myself. 

I know what's coming up in the near future, and I can't, I just can't repeat what's happened in the past.  I need to find the emotional strength to face the pain head on and not try to swallow it.