Pay it Forward Day

So yesterday was Pay It Forward Day
I think the overweight/obesity epidemic is something that requires a societal change, and most of all, support from each other. 

A while ago, I wrote my father an email, and I find myself forwarding it to a few people at work.  I'm going to share it with you all here.  Now keep in mind, I'm not a doctor, I'm not a nutritionist, and I've not yet won my battle. But these are the things I've picked up along the way:

You asked for some information regarding the GoWear Fit device that I'm wearing. The links to their Web site are below, as well as to (where there are reviews, and it's a little less expensive). You get 3 months of the Web application with purchase of the devise. If you sign up for 1 year, it's 7-8 bucks a month. That's two Starbucks chai lattes.

In typical Robby fashion, I didn't want to give you that information in a vacuum, so I've provided a ton more information to you.

I love you lots! Good luck.


Naked Time!

Yes, I just said that.

I'm just going to put it on the record that I think all people (no matter your body issues) should have naked time.  I don't care if it's around your home, just under the covers, lights on or lights off.  You should spend more than 10 minutes a day (shower) completely buck naked, the longer the better.  And for the purpose of what I'm saying, this naked time should be alone.

Almost everyone has some type of body issue -- something they don't particularly like about themselves.  More often than not, that feeling comes from outside of them (TV, magazines, other people, etc.).  The only antidote to that illness is to be naked.  Touch your body (not just in that way).  Feel your skin, your muscles, even your fat.  Come to appreciate the parts you love and the parts that you don't love as much.  Feel how your body moves.  Feel your strength from inside out.

Lastly, stand in front of a full length mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself.  It doesn't count if you giggle while doing it.  Look at yourself and try to, in a sincere way, tell yourself that you are beautiful and worthy.  We all deserve to hear that, even if no one else is telling us we're worthy of being loved.  It's not narcissism.  It's not an invitation to critique.  It's reprogramming the dialogue we have with our own bodies.

And if you're already at that point, I highly suggest taking a photo of yourself naked.  I know, sounds scary.  I'm not talking about porn; I'm talking about an objective way to view yourself from the outside.  If you have a trusted friend to take the picture, or if you have a digital camera with a timer, just do it.  You don't have to keep it or display it.  But do yourself a favor and do this.  You might realize just how critical you are of your own body when really it's a work of art.

Sometimes I wonder....

Am I hungry and it's 6:30 or am I hungry because it's 6:30?

Your cup doth runneth over...

Portion size, portion size, portion size.

Like dress sizes, portion sizes have also gotten bigger over the years.  No big mystery there.  But I think for people new to healthy eating (I don't want to say "dieting" here) portion size is one of the trickier aspects.  Figuring out the math of your weight (BMI, BMR, etc) is a bit more straight forward than the general advice regarding how much of what any one person needs.  We've gone from hunting and gathering to carefully constructing (or not so much) our dietary intake.

Our eyes and our stomachs are little help here.  So our minds have to do the work.   I think meal planning plays a huge part in this.  The other part that I think is very important is our serving dishes and storage containers.  As many nutritionists point out, one of the easiest changes you can make is to use smaller plates and bowls.  If you use a large plate do you feel inclined to fill it to the lip?  Or do you know how much you need?

Another tip I really love is putting leftovers away in separate containers that are pre-portioned.  I love Ziploc's Twist & Lock in the 2 cup container (as well as the similar Target version).  Unlike some other containers, the 2-cup container has a line on the side where 1 cup and where 2 cups are.  It makes measuring things out much easier when I don't have to take out the measuring cups.  By putting them in smaller containers, I feel more comfortable grabbing & going in the morning when I know I haven't filled a very large container to the brim, no matter how healthy the contents.

And for all of the stuff I shouldn't be having?  I use Rubbermaid's 1/2 cup containers for most things (other than butter, lard, oil, etc.) if it fits, I don't fret.  Half a cup of hummus with carrots, half a cup of guacamole. Neither are worth fretting over (but still remember to count the calories).

Landmarks & Milestones

There are almost no pictures of me from when I was 15-17.  This was when I was my heaviest (around 240).  I wish I had better medical records to be able to describe just how I got there, but all I can really say that it was a process from 8-years-old and onward, a punctuated climb towards obesity (I gained more rapidly after my Nana and my mother died).

Ever since then I've been over 200 lbs.  Yep. That's right.  I've been overweight/obese since I was 8.

This morning I got on the scale. 202.
My BMI is 30.01.

I'm 3lbs away from being under 200 and .02 points away from being "overweight" as opposed to "obese."

Back when I was going to the gym and running 5x a week, doing weights and core work, I never was able to get below 200.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to step across that invisible barrier and never look back again.

Classic Food Debate: Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

First a disclaimer:  I generally do not like any weirdly colloidal substance on my sandwich.  I'm firmly rooted in the Mustard-or-Bust camp.  That being said, certain summer salads just don't work with Gulden's or Boar's Head White Wine Horseradish mustard.  So, decisions have to be made in the whole colloidal white jiggly condiment category:  mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

I must admit, for years I was operating under the assumption that Miracle Whip was the Sweet & Low of the Mayo world -- a chemical knock off.  However, a wrench got tossed into the works once I realized it wasn't a knock off, just a different style and a different process.

So I decided to make some cole slaw to go with the buffalo hot dogs in my fridge, and I'm once again standing in the supermarket wondering which one to go to.  There are so many new offerings -- dressings specifically made for cole slaw, mayo made with olive oil, mayo with added omega 3 fatty acids.  But I like to build the flavor, not have it built for me -- so I did a side-by-side comparison of Hellman's Mayo and Miracle Whip, and I was kinda shocked by the results:  Hellman's had almost the same number of chemical names in it (Soybean oil, whole eggs, vinegar, water, egg yolks, salt, sugar, lemon juice, natural flavors, calcium disodium EDTA)  than the Miracle Whip (water, soybean oil, vinegar, sugar, modified cornstarch, eggs, (contains less than 2% salt, mustard flour, paprika, spice, natural flavor, potassium sorbate, enzyme modified egg yolk, dried garlic)) but just in a different order.

What it came down to was really a difference in taste (de gustibus non est disputandum).  I knew I'd be tarting it up either way, so I looked at the nutrition labels.  Hellman's clearly lost that battle to Miracle Whip in terms of calories and fat (MW has more sugar/salt, but I'd need to add salt and perhaps sugar to the slaw, and it was negligible).  But still -- a little bit of label reading yields amazing results.

Robby's Cole Slaw:
2 cups shredded cabbage (I use red cabbage)
1 cup shredded radish
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup Miracle Whip
1/8 cup Champagne Vinegar (apple cider or white wine will also work)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Depending on the vinegar, you might need to add up to a teaspoon of sugar,  but try to leave it out if possible.

Mix all of it together.  Chill. Eat.

I divide it into small tupperware containers (4 usually, sometimes 5) to bring to work.

I've also been known to use the slaw as a topper to garden burgers.  Sometimes if I'm feeling frisky, I'll add a diced hard boiled egg into the fray.

Tis the season....

Every year, as the days get longer, I get this giddy feeling.  I know it's coming.


I've been playing softball for a long time (even down to playing T-ball on my brother's team with my hair hiding in my hat...).  I love it.  I love the competition, the camaraderie, the suspense.  The hot dogs, the pixie sticks, the soda as a child and as an adult, the beer, chicken wings, and the pizza.

With my back the way it is, I always worry about softball.  It's a strenuous sport on my back -- lots of bending, running (yes, a fat girl can haul ass around the bases), and twisting.  But in my head I've always said to myself (and sometimes to other people) that if I'm going to go down, I'm going to go down swinging.  That being said, I've had to adjust how I play the game -- from my swing, to my pitch, to my throw..... and now what I eat after the game.

I won't begrudge anyone their celebratory beers and carb-loading, but I need to make a change for myself.  Luckily the bar we go to post-game is a bar/restaurant that I've been going to since I was in college and the owners know and love me.   The menu is a minefield of fried and fatty foods, but my team has gotten in the habit of ordering veggie plates before any of the fried food comes out.   I'm also very lucky that many of my teammates understand my back issues and also know I'm trying to stay healthy.  Even during the off-season they're very supportive.

So who knows what's in store for me.  All I know is that this season will see many victories, on and off the field.

In-Flight Safety

If you've been on a plane before, you've heard the in-flight safety speech.  Exits here and here, don't panic, stay buckled, seat is a flotation device, etc.  But what I want to bring your attention to is the part about cabin pressure.  If cabin pressure falls, masks will fall down.  You're supposed to secure your own mask before helping anyone else, such as a child or a nearby passenger.

I think this is the perfect metaphor when it comes to relationships and balancing our responsibilities.  I don't think this is license to be a self-involved, conceited, narcissistic prick.  However, part of being a healthy, responsible adult is being able to value our own needs and give deference to them. 

Too often we put other people first when our own cabin pressure is falling (and our stressors are flying in from every direction).  Then there's the Second Arrow, a Buddhist idea that when we suffer, we add insult to that injury by deriding ourselves on top of the initial suffering.  The first arrow could be that you're overweight.  The second arrow would be that you feel you're not valuable as a person to be healthy, or you deserve nourishing food, or that you don't deserve to take up space in this world.  In Western terms -- we add insult to injury.

I want to see a change in society, a movement perhaps, of people being okay with putting themselves first, and not feeling external/internal pressure, guilt, or remorse for doing it.  That's what I've decided I need to do.  I went to bed last night thinking "Tomorrow, I'm going to take care of myself."  I woke up thinking "Today, I'm going to give attention to the thoughts and feelings that come up within myself.  I'm going to nurture myself even if no one else is going to do it."   And you know what?  It feels damn good.  Thich Nhat Hanh once wrote that anger (though I'm going to use it to describe all emotions) is like a child crying for its mother.  The mother holds the child until the acute emotion has passed, and then lets go.  I realized I never get a chance to live in that emotion, and that's why I often don't have the ability to let it go.

Being mindful of other people does not mean you vanish.  On the contrary, when you are mindful of yourself, knowing your own gravity, needs, wants, thoughts, emotions, etc. you are better able to mind other people.  You know when someone's entered your orbit in a positive way, and you know when they've crashed into it.  And you're able to note it, and act on it.

Breakfast in Under 250 Calories

The most important meal of the day, right?
Well I believe every meal is important, but it's also important to start off on the right foot.

Enter one of my favorite new products:  Smucker's Low-Sugar Jams.  They're not Sugar Free (ie, full of splenda), but they just don't add any additional sugar.  The result is a product that has a higher water content/is less gelatinous....which means... it is perfect for mixing. 

I take my Brown Cow Plain Non-Fat Yogurt (I haven't seen it, but I know they also have a plain greek yogurt that has 15 grams of protein per serving!!) and make any flavor I want (they only have Blueberry, Vanilla, Strawberry, and Lemon flavors) by adding the jams.

I make a parfait out of it using 1/2 cup of Fiber One Original cereal (I can pre-mix the yogurt flavor in a 2-cup container and then add the cereal in the morning--but use the original -- the others don't mix well and/or have a higher sugar content) and whatever fruit I might have on hand, such as fresh strawberries. 

1 cup plain non-fat Brown cow yogurt = 110 calories (that's 10 grams of protein!)
1 tbsp low-sugar Smuckers Jam = 25 calories (not bad if you have a sweet tooth and/or don't like the flavor of yogurt)
1/2 cup Fiber One Original = 60 calories (57% of the daily recommended fiber for a 2000 calorie diet)
1 cup strawberries = 46 calories (that's between 1 and 2 servings!)

= 241 calories for a very filling breakfast

A Game Changer

I don't know about y'all, but I can get bored eating the same things over and over again. What I've realized is that if I play around with the texture of something, I can eat it many different ways and never get bored.  Enter the Magic Bullet Blender.  While it can't make half the things it says it can make, I use it all the time for smoothies (my freezer is stocked with frozen fruits that I freeze when they're in-season or cheap) and soups.

Here's one of my favorite soup recipes -- I rarely add cream/butter (cheddar, not goat cheese)/cheese but tend to spice it up with some black pepper or even red pepper flakes.  You can do it with fresh broccoli or frozen broccoli.  It's also a great way to use the stems.  I've made so many other veggie soups the same way -- corn, pea, cauliflower.  I do it with a baked/microwaved sweet potato, some water, a little bit of butter and madras curry.  Eat your heart out.

When you've had an "and" and you're back to "or"

.... makes the "or" mean more than it did before..... (From Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods)

I was chatting with a dear friend of mine and we were talking about life, love, and a bunch of assorted topics when I realized my first "diet."  It was a self-imposed restriction on peanut butter.  My father loved to take big heaping spoonfuls out of the jar and just eat it like that.  Somewhere in my mind I associated those big spoonfuls with being unhealthy.  I knew how it was calorically dense and most peanut butters had added fats (oils, binding agents) and salt (for taste).  I decided that I could only have one PB&J a month.  That was my first "diet" or food rule.

It wasn't a total denial that I couldn't have something, but it was a recognition that, for me, it was a sometime food.  Now I'm not strict about it anymore, but I do make sure that I get the good peanut butters (with no added junk) and that I eat it sparingly in the context of a balanced diet. 

And you know what happened? I didn't die.  I didn't binge.  I didn't feel deprived.  I had something to look forward to.  I feel that way about many more things now.  I rarely buy ice cream or steak (unless it's grass grown).  I have only ever bought 1 jar of Nutella in my life.  I don't keep chips at home.  And while there are days when I crave it, I know the feeling will pass.

The Plan

A few weeks ago, I erased my huge dry erase board in my entry way (that is coincidentally next to the kitchen) and I wrote out my goals.  I see it every day, many times a day.  It is a constant reminder that I'm trying to make a change in my life for the better.

With a little prodding, I've decided to post the photo of the board:


-Be on or below 170lbs by October 31, 2010

-take better care of self, cats, apartment, job, etc.
----this includes actually planning doctor's appointments, getting to work on time, spending more time playing, etc.

-take a vacation (Volcano Sprints!)

-put my heart on the line a bit more
----I've been playing it way too safe for way too long

-visit more with friends
----I think it might explain myself a lot to say that my mother and grandmother were both agorophobics. I'm not one, but my comfort zone is definitely my apartment. I'm a very introvered person sometimes (especially when I'm sick or depressed). So I need to come out of my shell even when it feels uncomfortable.)

-volunteer more or at least more regularly

-finish what I've started (from big projects to little projects to the food that I buy)

-create a routine
----sunday = farmer's market
----monday = groceries and meal prep for week
----tuesday = laundry or cleaning
----wednesday = (will be softball pretty soon)
----thursday = laundry or cleaning (if it wasn't done already)
----friday = be social
----saturday = volunteer or explore

-get more organized

-figure out what it means to be 28, because 29 is looming

FCAs (focus-correction areas):
-be moderate with alcohol, and eventually no alcohol (it's subversive to my desire to lose weight)

-eat more fruits and veggies

-prepare more meals, eat out less

-have a plan of how to get back on the horse when something goes wrong.
And yes, I need to buy more Brita Filters b/c I put my last new one in....

July 22 Update:


... is more than just the space around us, but also the people around us.  Are we surrounded by people that will help us move towards our goals (whatever they may be ) or do they distract/divert us from our goals?

I was so nice to see the conference room packed full of people who were ready to hear some truth (not hard truths, not didactic "you must do this" but soft "you're worth doing this...") and to make some changes.

Granted they didn't cancel the ice cream social, but I think more people walked away with a renewed enthusiasm for their weight loss/health gain journey than expected.

I know I found my motivation:
If Bernie can lose 130 lbs, I can surely lose 30.  Whow knows, maybe more.
And I don't have a picture of myself with Rebecca because I have a sneaking suspiscion that I'll be seeing her much more (and she'll be seeing way more of me than I can probably handle, but she'll be armed with a tape measure and some tough love).

It's contagious....

my boss just ordered 2 GoWear Fits (one for him, one for his wife) and 2 other people asked me about mine today (summer = short sleeve shirts)

I'm excited to tell people how great this little device is, especially for people who like DATA.
It won't lose the weight for you, but it will make it less of a mystery.

Tomorrow I get to meet Rebecca Scritchfield and Bernie Salazar (at-home winner of The Biggest Loser, Season 5).  I'm kinda jazzed.  I'm hoping it will help reinvigorate me, clear up some questions and get me back on the right track (especially when my own back is not in the right track :( )


Most people who are fat/overweight/obese (and even some people who aren't, like those with body dysmorphic disorders) hate looking at his or herself in a mirror.  They reflect our flaws, they reflect what separates us from how we want to see ourselves.

I have a fun and unique issue with mirrors.  Growing up, my mom would have me lie with my head in her lap, and a bright light shining on my face.  She would proceed to inspect my face -- popping pimples and pushing blackheads (of which I have many).  She would show me the especially large ones and say "good job."  Each session would end up with me scrubbing my face with a hot face cloth.

Though my mom has passed, I have kept up with her perverse sense of grooming, of inspecting (or as my friend in the UK calls it, scrutinizing) my face for flaws.  And it's moved to other places on my body.  I find the errant hairs on my neck.  The ingrown hair in my armpit.  The double-follicle on my leg.  And the perverse thing is that if I perceive a flaw, a blemish, I will dig at it until I bleed.  Gross, right?

Over the past few years one of the areas that has received much of my attention is my abdomen.  I hate it.  I look at it in the mirror and i hate it.  It feels so apart from me, and what I want to look like.  I push and pull the fat in different directions and wonder where I end and it begins.  I try to find where the parasite attaches.  I can't go at my abdomen with a pair of tweezers or a pin and remove the whole thing, but I do find ways to injure it as it has injured me.

It's an anxiety disorder that perpetuates itself.  When I'm stressed out, I tend to break out and find more flaws with my skin, so i feel the need to pick more, and it brings me relief, but then I get scabs and scars that I scrutinize and map with my fingers.  I've had to cover my mirrors.  I've had to sleep with gloves on (or else wake up to a bloody pillow case).

Wow, okay. tangent.  What i really wanted to write here was that when I was scrutinizing my abdomen, I thought about portrayals of fertility goddesses all through ancient cultures.  They all had abdomens/bellies/pooches.  Being fat in some cultures is the epitome of beauty.  So I kinda threw myself away from the bathroom, away from the mirror just hating the society that has shaped my hatred of my own body, of that which makes me feminine.

So i'm just going to promise myself now that I'll try and love my flaws a bit more. Those flaws were made by a person who hurt greatly and needs my love and compassion right now.

We are our own teachers....

For almost every species social learning completes the knowledge instinct does not.  We learn from our parents, our family and friends, our peers, etc.

However, not all of it is good information.

I'm baffled at some of the things I hear.  I am especially curious about some of the things obese people tell each other when it comes to diet and nutrition.  I wonder if normal-weight people would look at me (on the cusp of overweight and obese) and say "What the hell gives her the right to claim any knowledge about being healthy?"

Well just because I have the knowledge doesn't mean I have the willpower.

But I will tell you this:  your fad diet will do nothing for you.  Your cleanse will do nothing for you in the long run.  If you can manage to eat a balanced diet (focusing on plants -- veggies and fruit and shifting away from fats/meats) you will not only be healthy, but if you are overweight/obese, you will lose.

Your fad diet without exercise means very little.  You want lean muscle, right?  (of course you do, muscle burns calories even when you're at rest!!) Well you need to feed it.  What does it need? A variety of nutrients -- proteins and complex carbohydrates.  Those lean muscles you build while exercising will help you maintain your weight loss.

So don't say to me that "All you need to do is eat X all day and you can have anything else you want for dinner."  Especially when that X is something like SlimFast and not nutrient dense/laden enough for people.

A SlimFast shake is roughly 200 calories, right?  My body burns 700+ calories between midnight and 7:30 am.  That 200 calories of nutrients (?) is going to be burned quickly.  So just eat the egg white omlet with spinach and mushrooms, will ya?  Get some Fiber One (half cup) with some berries in it.  It's okay. Your body will thank you for it.

The Catch-All

I'm particularly offended by people who think that I choose to be fat.
I'm also offended by people who say "well maybe if you lost a few pounds..."

Maybe if I put my fist in your face....

The things we carry....

Obesity and emotions are intricately tied together.

This morning, I had an important realization:  I will never be able to let go of all the emotions tied to my obesity until I confront them head on.  In my case it means confronting my father head on.  I could write out a laundry list of the particulars, throw the kitchen sink at him, and just bury him under the collective weight of his failures (in my eyes), but that just deals with the anger I feel, not the pity, the resentment, or the hurt.  I think those are what keep me fat. 

And either I forgive him silently, deal with this openly, or just continue to stuff the emotions down with each swallow.

I feel bad that he never got the chance to deal with his own issues before having a family of his own (and I resent that he didn't deal with any of those issues before he had kids), and that in his mind, his family was so destructive towards the formation of his own identity.

I pity him that he his stubborn to sensitive ratio isn't as high as mine (he might have been able to block out a few more negative voices, just like I did).

I pity that he didn't and doesn't know how to be healthy, and that he doesn't choose to learn.

I resent that he made decisions for me that suited his needs, not mine, and that he continues to do that, despite feeling like he has made huge sacrifices for me. (The biggest of which all surround my mother's death, which is traumatic in and of itself).

I resent that he has a selective/revisionist memory that negates my memories (that my brother corroborates as accurate) and my emotions (which he rubs salt on).

I resent that as a 28 y/o I am more self aware than he is at 60.  I have no feeling of being protected in this world and that's scary.

My whole body is the physical scar of how he injured me (not necessarily by malice, but by ignorance).  I have cavities because he didn't think to take me to the dentist.  He would get on me about being thin but would buy crap food and eat badly in front of me.  When my back was first injured, he didn't make the connection to my mom's back injuries and mine, nor did he think to take me to a doctor to investigate.

It hurts that in order for him to deal with his own issues, he feels the right to be a selfish asshole. And if I'm to be a good, supportive daughter, I'll smile and be accepting.  ((AA has no step for letting people tear you a new one)).

I know I'll have more to add to this list, but this is all I can handle right now.  Just wanted to share.

One of my favorite quotes...

Nelson Mandela:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves 'who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?'
Actually, who are you not to be?
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

[[Edit:  I have just learned that Mandela was quoting someone else in his speech -- Marianne Williamson]]

A very interesting article: You are loved, dear daughter.

by Jan Shepherd

What are you afraid of? Chances are, it's what we're all afraid of: not being loved, not being accepted, not being pretty enough, or smart enough, or desirable enough - the list is too long to ever be Enough!

What's beautiful enough? Perfect enough? Dreamgirl enough?

Getting back on the horse

I think everyone has a bad day.  We all slip up.
These mistakes don't define us, but rather, it is how we pick ourselves up.

That being said, I'm having a time of getting back into things.
Between my back saying "no más" and my grandma being "no más," I've "no más'd" myself into a bit of a funk. It's an endless cycle -- an emotion gets me down, I stop taking care of myself the way I should, I gain weight, eat badly, and then feel depressed about that.

There was literally one day i was so depressed I barely even got out of bed.  On a normal day, I average around 11,000 steps.  On Wednesday, I had 976 steps. My calories consumed has gone up, my activity down, and my alcohol intake up.

In other words, I'm a mess.

Did you know that the only day that doesn't end in "day" is "tomorrow?"