Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wanted: Mojo from 11 Years Ago. Reward.

"I think there's more to you than just fat," said Putzie to Jan in Grease.

"Thanks," she replied with a combination of appreciation and indignation.

I stepped on the scale this morning at the gym, and realized that those four pounds I gained last weekend from one slice of pie, two light beers and eight onion rings are going to keep me from my 10-pound weight-loss goal for August. Aside from feeling miserable while I ran my 2-mile intervals in under 30 minutes, I decided that I was not going to check to see how much water weight I lost after I ran, even though I normally do.

There's more to me than just fat, I reminded myself. I can still kick out the jams, motherfucker. I'm teaching myself and mentoring other writers. I'm writing more and reaping more from it. I shook my debt anchor. I am me. Hear me roar my victory song.

But I seem to be missing one very important component – my mojo. Where exactly did I leave it? And why do I not have it now?

I'm the same weight I was 11 years ago, back when I was unafraid of it. I felt like a fucking goddess. I took a room by storm because goddammit, I was a woman to be reckoned with. Long, red hair. Long, red nails. I wielded my mojo with mad skillz, and had a boyfriend who loved that confidence:

"You're a sexy bitch," he whispered in my ear.

"I know," I laughed, throatily.

That was my mojo talking. And I'm going to find it again. No matter what I weigh.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Moanin'

The hardest part of being on a diet is knowing that I'm not supposed to drink. For those of you who know me, you know I love alcohol. I'd be drunk all the time if it didn't kill my liver...or cost so damned much...or turn my brain into mush...or become addictive....or turn up my propensity to be an asshole...

Anyway, if I want to have a couple of light beers ever, I have to plan for it. I scrimped. I saved my calories. I fucking starved all weekend just to have these two light beers...but then I was faced with a giant decision: do I want that slice of chocolate brownie/banana/peanut butter pie? The answer was an unequivocal yes. I wanted a slice of that pie...and I didn't want to share it...although let the record state that I offered.

The husband didn't take me up on my offer to share, so I ate that delicious slice of pie for lunch. And as any fat girl who dares to eat anything other than skinless chicken breast and raw vegetables in public might do, I'm going to rationalize it. That was all I had for lunch, and I'm sure that blew through my entire carb allotment into this week, but I ate it...and I enjoyed every mouthful.

In fact, it was special pie, handmade by Rock City Pies. The chef is named Nikita Sanches: and you can find Rock City Pies at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale. Get out there and support your local artists by visiting this 9 Mile/Woodward's physical location (find out where here: on Saturdays and's like offline.

I hope you take time to visit him. Tell him Bee sent ya.

As special as that slice o'pie was, it didn't have any beer in it. And it had been two very long weeks where I hadn't had any beer.

I hadn't had any pie for MONTHS, but I shot that record all to hell...

When dinner rolled around, I had my bunless burger. I had a small serving of onion rings. And I washed them down with two light beers.

Now, bear in mind that so far that day, I had a three-egg omelette with veggies and cheese for breakfast (about 400 calories), a slice of pie for lunch (about 400 calories)...and then my supper.

1/4 lb. Cheeseburger, no bun: 270
8 onion rings: 280
2 light beers: 200
Total calories: 760

Total calories for the day: 1560

Weight gain on the scale today from Friday: 4 pounds.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Running For The Guy

When I was little, I remember my mom telling me a story about how this young man had to have an operation on his intestines. I'm sure I was way too young to ask why or what the operation entailed, but my mom told me that this man wasn't going to be able to do a lot of the regular things he used to do.

"Can he still run?" I asked, concern wrinkling my brow.

"No," my mom answered. "He won't be able to run."

"Not ever again?" I asked.

"No, he won't be able to run," she repeated as if I totally missed the point.

Not being able to run seemed like the worst life sentence to me. There were times when I ran just because I could. I'd run until I was out of breath and had to gasp to regain it. I'd run just to feel the wind on my face and in my hair. I'd stretch out my arms and pretend I was flying. It was glorious to feel that sense of weightlessness, that oneness with air and earth. To lose that forever? Oh, it seemed like such a loss to me. I mourned for him.

I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I stopped running. Maybe I got tired of adults yelling at me not to run, that I could fall if I weren't more careful. Maybe I didn't want to arrive somewhere all windblown and glowing with a thin sheen of sweat. Maybe it was for some other reasons altogether...but either way, I didn't run anymore. Not for fun, anyway....and not for any longer than I absolutely had to. I caught the bus, hurried to meet friends, rushed across busy streets...usually no further than a few feet did I ever run. And it began to hurt...which made me want to run even less. I began to hate running.

I didn't run for 25 years.

I stepped on the scale. 215. I'd been on a diet for almost my entire adult life. I went on an extreme diet and lost 70 pounds only to put it all back on plus more in less than 3 years. Diets alone don't work, and I never had a steady schedule where I could take an exercise class. I looked around at chronic exercisers. Most of them ran and I didn't know any runners who were fat.

God, I hated running. And then I remembered the story about the guy who couldn't run after his operation. I remembered how shocked I was that such a great activity was taken away from him. What happened to that joy I used to feel from running? It moved out to make room for my fat.

All running needs is a place and a good pair of shoes. Surely I could find the time to start running.

Starting a running program is brutal. It hurts. It's thankless. It takes a lot of extra time. It's humbling. Parts of me shook like jelly as I attempted a minimal turkey trot. My tiny stride belied the rest of me. My legs took hopping baby steps while my body flopped around in complete opposition of my slow motion. I felt ridiculous. Huge. Under a microscope with the whole gym staring at the fat girl on the treadmill.

There weren't any fat runners, I reminded myself, except me. If I could keep it up, soon I'd be thin, too. Meanwhile, my immediate reward for doing my workout was being able to take a long hot shower at the gym, a privilege I sorely missed.

Three years later, I weigh 221. I'm still the fattest runner on the treadmill. I've shucked my baggy sweats in favor of more form-fitting leggings. I run intervals: several quarter-mile jogs at 5 mph interspersed with short walks. I do this for 2.25 miles in about 30 minutes. My body is tighter. My legs are stronger, leaner, more flexible. I can start to see muscle definition all over. When I finish my workout, I hold my head up high. I did it. Again today. God willing, I'll do it again in a couple more days.

I run for that guy my mom told me about years ago, but most of all, I run for me. I run because I can. And I'm so absolutely grateful that I can.

And I'm 100% thankful for a long, hot shower afterward. Indoor plumbing, I heart you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

1,000 Ways How NOT To Diet

Thomas Edison failed a bunch of times when he tried to make a light bulb, but he kept at it. What did he have to say about his failures?

He found a thousand ways how NOT to make a lightbulb...which led him to the ONE success.

When it came close to the time for me to quit smoking, I re-examined all of my failures and from what didn't work, I discovered the strategies that would help me succeed.

Smoke-free after nearly four years, I won that battle due to my willingness to try a bunch of things that everyone said would fail...purely based on looking at ME.

Why would I think dieting would be any different?

I dunno. I just did. I thought it was all about math: calculate how many calories go in and how many go out, and then voila. Weight loss. When that didn't work, I thought it was also about adding in some behavior modification: go to the gym three times a week, work your motherfucking ass off and track how many calories go in. Voila. Weight loss.

Eat more. Eat less. Eat more veggies. Eat mini meals. Eat one big meal and then go smaller throughout the rest of the day. Eat vegetarian. Don't eat processed foods. Skip dessert and sweets. Don't deprive yourself. Sleep more. Get up earlier to work out. Sleep less. Don't eat late. Eat when you're hungry. Maybe you're eating for the wrong reasons. Eliminate fat. Eat mono-saturated fats. Limit your fat intake. Eat more fiber. Go gluten-free.

It all whirled around my head. I followed the advice. Most of it. Some of it conflicted, so I tried one way first and then the other way. I kept gaining...aka failing.

The proverbial lightbulb went on over my head: I've found a thousand ways how not to lose I don't need to try those again....but there's one way that I succeeded before. I was on this protein shake diet. Aside from the fact that it very nearly ruined my digestion, I lost 70 pounds in about 5 months. How could I take the basic premise from it and not sabotage my innards?

What did the diet do besides limit calories? It limited carbs. An extremely low-carb diet can tax the kidneys, but what about a modified low-carb diet? What if I kept my carbs under 100 grams? That was do-able...but I was going to have to figure out what I could eat. No sammies for lunch? No potato chips? No oatmeal? No hummus? Limited booze?

What the hell was I supposed to eat?

I had to rethink EVERYTHING I ate, and then cook stuff ahead of time....and then I had to figure out how to package food to carry it to work with me.


And so I figured it out. For the first few days, I felt a bit off -- dizzy and out of it. I had a nagging headache. I was tired, crabby. I wanted to crawl into a dark room and sit there quietly until this feeling went away.

It wasn't unlike the first few days of not smoking.

After one month, I've lost a little bit of weight. My clothes fit a little better. I've learned to buy chicken breasts in the frozen 4-lb. bags and dump them into the crock pot twice a week so I can make chicken salad, pulled chicken, barbequed chicken and chicken with vegetables in minutes. Venison, pork tenderloin and lean cuts of beef also work well. I boil eggs first thing in the morning so I can have them hard-boiled. Plain yogurt mixes well with homemade jam or freshly harvested honey. Berries are in season, and I can eat a full cup a few times a day. Cereal with milk is key first thing in the morning for energy. Freshly sliced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese is yummy. Dark chocolate is a great way to handle my chocolate cravings.

At least it's not failure....and it's too soon to rejoice for success....but at least it's looking up.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vanity of Vanities, Sayeth the Preacher

The review for the movie "Julie and Julia" said something about how the blogging part of the story was completely self indulgent.'yah...blogging by its very nature is self indulgent. I mean, doesn't the reviewer understand that? Blogging is a bunch of words put together and then published onto the Web in hopes that millions of people will read it and relate, and then respond in the form of a communal commentary, which will immediately result in odes of praise and/or controversy, but either way, it's a ploy for attention.

It's also a way for us fledgling hacks to get published on the Interwebz. When anybody finds our scrawls, we react a little like Steve Martin in "The Jerk": The new phone book's here....the new phone book's here....I'm somebody!!!!

It's vanity. All of it.

Traditionally, however, we think of vanity as someone being especially devoted to his or her appearance, similar to the myth of Narcissus who fell in love with his own image.

And yet, by looking at me, you'd wonder if I'd gazed into a mirror today. How could I possibly be labeled as vain with runaway hair like that? Can't I see that my pants aren't neatly pressed, my tee shirt has a tiny bleach stain on the right shoulder? My accessories are wrong, my shoes are too comfortable and my makeup is smeared again.

It is?

Curiously enough, I don't often look into mirrors. I can't step outside of myself to view my appearance objectively. Never could. That's why pictures of myself shock me. Really? That's how I look? Gah....

My oldest, kindest friends tell me what I want to hear. Other people search my appearance for somewhere pleasant to rest their eyes. Still others look for faults and focus on them. If I could feel a physical sensation equivalent to what they were doing, it would be as if I were picking a scab that wasn't quite ready to come off. It's not bleeding. Not yet. But it's tender and itch-provoking just before the pain hits.

I hold their gaze but a part of me suddenly sees what they're seeing, as if I'm able to read the thought patterns behind their eyes. Frizzy hair. Bushy eyebrows. Runny mascara. Shiny face. Bare lips. Front tooth harbors an errant raspberry seed husk. Big pores. Ill-fitting top. Tangled necklace. Baggy, wrinkled trousers. Overweight.

And then I realize that I'm projecting my own thoughts onto them. A score of negative images amplified and broadcasted drift unwelcome into my head. Are certain people really thinking all of this?

Of course not. It's not them. It's me. And it's vain of me to believe they spend any time at all thinking of me in such details.