I missed class this week because I was attending a gathering of UU Ministers at a local retreat center. What a joy and a challenge it was! It is always a joy to gather with beloved friends and colleagues – those I have known for years and others that I just met this week. The program was excellent and included a lot of prayerful singing – singing is something I don’t do well, but that doesn’t stop me from loving it. I particularly enjoyed some of the conversations I had with the newer ministers and seminarians. They hold the hope for the future, not only for our faith, but for the world.
No one understands a minister better than another minister. While resting in the embrace of that mutual understanding, there were also challenges. We are human and part of the larger culture and are not unaffected by the wider systems of power and privilege that bring such harm to those who are trying to survive on the margins. I had to do my “Jeremiah” thing during a discussion of white supremacy where I witnessed a few “micro-aggressions.” It is so important to at least name those when they happen.
I am also realizing that I am completely out of patience with the “hurt feelings” of those who feel victimized when someone names the harm they have caused to others. No one expects perfection. If you blow it, when you make a mistake (and you will), apologize, and then SHUT THE F___ up and move on. No one you have harmed wants to hear about how guilty you feel about it or how your intentions were pure. Process those emotions with others who have similar identities to yours if you need to do so, but don’t redirect the attention of a larger group to your emotional distress. Don’t make it about you. This is work, very hard work indeed, that really needs to be done, again for our faith and for the world. The blessing I felt is that everyone there at least wants to do the work, even we bumble and stumble along that journey toward justice making and beloved community where all are truly welcomed in the fullness of who they are.
The other challenge, for me at least, was the food. (This is my weight management blog after all.) The retreat center served very healthy, and mainly organic, food, so it was much easier than it might have been. It was also super tasty. I stressed some though, as I was not able to weigh or measure anything and I had to guess at the calories. The lunches were vegetarian, so protein was harder to find and manage with no lean meat available. It was also hard to pass by the awesome desserts and say to no to the social hour wine. I stayed strong on those last two, however, and next week’s weigh-in will tell me how well I did on estimating calories. This was my Tuesday night dinner plate:
Baked chicken with pesto sauce, roasted cauliflower, and a smidgeon of salad. The salads were all pre-dressed, so I was careful with them. My guess was around 340 calories.
I am also thinking about taking the test in the next few weeks that will tell me about my metabolism – how many calories I burn just breathing. Knowing that number will help me calculate with more precision just how many calories I should be eating each day. It is not good to go too low because too few calories can slow your metabolism permanently and make long term weight loss more difficult. Too many calories, and you don’t lose any weight. The program includes one free metabolism test, and subsequent ones cost $50. The recommendation is to wait and do the test when your weight loss slows, but I want to do it before then. If it turns out I need another one later, I can just pay for it. Given the investment I am making already – in money, time, and attention, I am not going to quibble over an extra 50 bucks if it will help.
There are maybe a couple of weeks left of swim season, before we need to close the pool for the winter. I hope to catch up on my exercise goals this week.
(My stats for the last week – down ? pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 240 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 57.6 pounds.)
Now that I have fully transitioned back onto real food, I am going to recycle this gross shaker. It is not like I didn’t rinse it after each use and wash it with soap, but the residue from the shakes simply did not come out. When I used the dishwater, the gunk got baked on.
It makes me wonder what the inside of my stomach looks like. Kind of creepy, but the program worked, so I am not complaining. I have lost a significant amount of weight and am primed to continue losing until I reach a weight that works for me and keeps me healthier. The Kaiser recommendation is to continue to use 3 products a day for the rest of my life. I have decided to ignore that. Once I finish my last 3 shakes I am done. The shakes are too gross to me at this point and the bars, while handy in a pinch, don’t seem necessary for every day. Costco also sells protein bars for half the cost of the Optimist products. Eating every 3 hours or so makes sense to keep hunger at bay, but I think I can do that eating somewhat more natural food. (Are low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks real food? They are a handy protein though. Hummus, fruit, all of those type of choices can work just fine.) I certainly don’t want to discourage others who might make different choices about the products, but this is what feels right to me.
This week I have been pondering how my body feels. It is smaller. I have more muscle and less fat. I am stronger. My skin even feels smoother. My ankles are no longer swollen and the lipodermatosclerosis in my legs is way less painful. I can open the solar pool cover all by myself, something that wasn’t possible 2 months ago. I will need to buy some new clothes soon as most of my old ones are way too big. I actually feel thin. I am not thin, however, and anyone else, looking at me, would still see me as fat. But I FEEL thin. When I last worked for the federal government, there was a lot of talk about reinventing it. We also talked about “right-sizing” rather than “down-sizing.” I never understood the differences as we went through round after round of hiring freezes which caused service declines, but the term of “right-sizing” makes some sense in my current situation. I want to get to a size and a weight that feels healthy. If I feel good, I don’t really give a damn what other people think. I am too old and have been through too much in my life to start worrying about other people’s opinions now. We talked about goals this week in class. We got the always important reminder that we are the most important person in our lives and that we need to continuing prioritizing our own well-being if we want to be able to help others. My motivation remains that of improving my health.
I took a class in seminary where we were assigned the task of doing a theological reflection about a core life issue. We got extra points for tying the reflection to a scripture from a religious tradition of our choice. Working on that assignment, I realized that the story of the prophet Jeremiah really spoke to me. He was one of the dudes who kept speaking truth to power, calling the wealthy to help the poor, etc. They kept throwing him down a well, but he never shut up. Speaking the truth is important, even if those in power don’t listen and don’t care. Even in the bottom of a well, you can create ripples that can change things several millennia down the road. The walls of the wells that confine us will eventually crumble. Speak your truth. Never give up. Rock on Jeremiah. Rock on Anita Hill. Rock on Christine Blasey Ford.
(My stats for the last week – down 4.3 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 330 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 57.6 pounds.)
This last week, I ate out for the first time in almost 6 months. Twice! It is the facilitator’s fault. She passed out menus from fast food restaurants last week and asked us to try and find healthy choices. I did better, I think, with Thai food (chicken/cabbage/red curry) and the grilled kanpachi with veggies I had at a decent fish restaurant.
I forgot to take a picture of my actual meal, but it was pretty much like the above, except the cauliflower was roasted not creamed. I did have the chimichurri sauce which had olive oil. It is impossible to figure out the actual calories when you eat out, but I did try and be smart about it. No rice or bread, and I avoided heavy sauces.
I think I stayed within my calorie budget, but I only lost .3 pounds last week. That is OK. Any loss is better than a gain, which is kind of the opposite of the rest of life.
We did nutrition this week in class, macro mainly, carbs, fat and protein. I have been watching my carbs for years, to keep my blood sugar from spiking, so that is routine for me by now. We need carbohydrates of course, and I am trying to get most of mine from the complex range, vegetables and a few whole grains. Life is complex, but white bread and potatoes not so much. I yearn sometimes for a simpler life, but it is not what my body needs when it comes to food.
I am also starting to thinking about going completely off the Optimist products. (They recommend using 3 a day for the rest of our live!) I hate Nestle, the evil corporation that makes it, and the products are far from healthy natural food. I think I can do better with snacks of string cheese, hard boiled eggs, fruit, veggies and other brands of protein bars in a pinch. I am still in the thinking stage on that, but I have never been one for eating a lot of processed or packaged foods. The Optifast products are definitely in that category.
This week has been hard emotionally. I have been very triggered by the US Supreme Court nominee and the Republican defense of sexual assault. I wrote the following poem this morning.
A Holy Rage
I remember this feeling
Tightness in my chest
The day my father was baptized
Was the day I stopped
It took me 30 years
To go back.
They knew what he was like
But it did not matter
I did not matter
They never asked me
They never cared enough.
Another drunken abuser
Is about to stagger into more power
Where he will no doubt
Abuse us all.
Where is our sacrament?
Where is our blessing?
Where is the salvation,
For the victims,
For the survivors?
I tell you this:
I am no longer a child
I know the truth
I will remember
And I will not forgive.
My rage is holy now.
May all our rage be Holy. May we do what is good for ourselves and for each other. May we be tender with the (so many) wounded among us.
(My stats for the last week – down .3 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 300 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 53.3 pounds.)
I was very moved a few days ago by an article published on-line by my denomination. You can read it (Here). The series of short articles is called Braver/Wiser: “Life is full of hard edges and complicated choices. Braver/Wiser gives you weekly messages of courage and compassion for life as it is. Every Wednesday we deliver an original written reflection by a contemporary religious leader, and brief prayer, grounded in Unitarian Universalism.” How we need both courage and compassion in these times! In the relatively near future, I will be honored by having some words of my own included.
But, oh my! The Reverend Misha Sanders in her article reports an elderly woman, a stranger, saying to her in a store, “You have beautiful hair. If you slim down, Honey, you’ll have to fight off the men.” I’ll let you read the article to find out how she responded, but it made me cry. Read it please.
Her article also made me reflect on some of my own way of being in the world.
Some straight women say they want to be thin in order to be more attractive to men. This objectifies the female body in unhealthy ways, and if a fat women becomes thin and “finds a man” she will always wonder if he would have loved her if she had stayed fat. God, I hate that idea. Fat people are every bit as lovable as thin ones, and to deny that fact is part of the patriarchal rape culture. In that culture, men see women as created for their pleasure, to use, so they can just be “boys being boys.” So many of my sisters are filled with rage right now as rape is being defended by Republicans so desperate to control the Supreme Court that they don’t mind adding (another) sexual predator to that lofty bench.
That rage is almost all-consuming as I listen to as much of the hearings as I can stand. But I am going to try to think of something else for a moment. I have never been a serial dieter. I can laugh that I lost the same 20 pounds twice, but others I know have done the yo-yo thing their whole lives. I never wanted to be thinner in order to attract men, because, as a lesbian, my sense of other women is that they are attracted to the spirit of the person, the personality, not just the surface appearance. I certainly did not want men, “fighting over me.” Why does that phrase remind me of dogs fighting over a bone? Bones have no agency. Meat. It is a frightening and disgusting concept that a woman would want that.
I obviously can’t change the subject today. I can’t even think, because, yes, #metoo, and all survivors are triggered by what is happening. I am stunned, but not surprised, by the callousness of the old white men sitting in judgement today, not really caring. And I am awed by the courage of a woman brave enough to speak the truth.
(My stats for the last week – down 1.2 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 330 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 53 pounds.)
I have been seriously pissed off since the news of the attempted rape by the current nominee for the Supreme Court. Why am I not surprised that the “groper in chief” would nominate another privileged and entitled white male who thinks the world and women were created for his use and pleasure? Class and race issues abound here as well. Our prisons are full of poor people and people of color who made a mistake when they were young, but this dude is unlikely to be held even marginally accountable. Punk he was then and punk he still is.
Anger and stress are not necessarily great for staying on program, but last night we learned about “eustress” a stress that is experienced as beneficial, for example a challenge that can invigorate an person to engage in meeting and overcoming an obstacle. For a problem to generate eustress, there needs, I think, to be some sense that we have the power within us to meet the challenge. This is why the phrases, “you’ve got this” and “you can do it” are so helpful in support groups and frankly, in parenting. No one makes progress when they are in despair. I am sticking to the program, and to the Resistance, simply because I have to do so. Keeping hope alive is an essential part of living well and fully.
There was a bump in the road this week when I read the following article:
So much was excellent about the article.
The comments about the medical profession rang true:
“Ask almost any fat person about her interactions with the health care system and you will hear a story, sometimes three,…. rolled eyes, skeptical questions, treatments denied or delayed or revoked. Doctors are supposed to be trusted authorities, a patient’s primary gateway to healing. But for fat people, they are a source of unique and persistent trauma. No matter what you go in for or how much you’re hurting, the first thing you will be told is that it would all get better if you could just put down the Cheetos.”
And that may be all you are told. If you are fat, your actual medical condition which may need immediate treatment, is often overlooked and dismissed. It has happened to me.
The article also did a good job of describing the harmful impacts of fat shaming.
“Paradoxically, as the number of larger Americans has risen, the biases against them have become more severe. More than 40 percent of Americans classified as obese now say they experience stigma on a daily basis, a rate far higher than any other minority group.”
The part that threw me off for awhile, however, was this:
“For 60 years, doctors and researchers have known two things that could have improved, or even saved, millions of lives. The first is that diets do not work. Not just paleo or Atkins or Weight Watchers or Goop, but all diets. Since 1959, research has shown that 95 to 98 percent of attempts to lose weight fail and that two-thirds of dieters gain back more than they lost. The reasons are biological and irreversible. As early as 1969, research showed that losing just 3 percent of your body weight resulted in a 17 percent slowdown in your metabolism—a body-wide starvation response that blasts you with hunger hormones and drops your internal temperature until you rise back to your highest weight. Keeping weight off means fighting your body’s energy-regulation system and battling hunger all day, every day, for the rest of your life.”
This isn’t something I wanted to hear while I am in the middle of a weight management program that seems to be working. I really question the statistics in the highlighted sentence, however, especially since no reference was given and I could not find that statistic on-line. The last sentence also doesn’t ring true. I have not felt hunger while on this program, cravings for certain foods, yes, but not actual hunger. I really don’t expect to be battling hunger for the rest of my life. Paying attention, yes, being careful about what and how much I eat, yes, prioritizing exercise, yes, but I am now seeing significant improvements in my health as a result of the weight I have already lost. That is a incredible motivator as is the awesome support of the other members of my group.
And this week I made another milestone – over 50 pounds down! I can see the changes when I look in the mirror, but even better, I can feel the changes when I need to climb some stairs.
May 16 September 19
(My stats for the last week – down 3.1 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 310 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 51.8 pounds.)
This scale is my friend. The other one is just OK, although we were told last night that weighing ourselves daily isn’t a bad idea. It will get us used to daily fluctuations and ultimately reduce our stress levels about weight loss or gain. The weekly weight losses are slowing down now, and while that is OK and to be expected, it can be a bit depressing.
This program is so much harder now with real food. At 1250-1350 calories I am still not hungry, so that part isn’t hard. But it is so complicated! I try to get enough protein and not too much, and to keep drinking water which will help protect my kidneys with this relatively high protein diet. And vitamins and minerals matter too. Weighing and measuring everything takes time and concentration. How did I survive simply eating all those years and I never got scurvy or any other vitamin deficiency disease? It must have been a miracle, or maybe it was because I ate a lot of almost everything, and some empty calories don’t matter if you are eating a lot. So, protein, veggies, a lot of water, and a few slices a week of a whole grain bread is what I am doing now to try and stay healthy. I am sometimes find it hard enough to eat enough to keep my metabolism humming along and out of starvation mode. I haven’t really dieted much in the past so hopefully I haven’t slowed my metabolism over the years the way frequent dieters seem to do. Another reason to stick with the program. It just gets harder every time you try,
We learned some simple strength-building exercises to go along with more aerobic ones a few weeks ago, and I am trying to do at least 15 minutes of them daily. Ever hear of wall push-ups? Sort of easy, and sort of not. The wall doesn’t move, but my arms get a good workout. As the weather gets cooler, I won’t be able to swim every day so it will be time to hop on the exercise bike again.
Some folks have dropped out of the program recently. I hate that. Another thing I hate is listening to people who have never weighed more than 140 pounds talk about their struggles with weight. Give it a rest, please. You really don’t understand. Just be supportive.
We also talked about lapses, relapses, and drifting this week. The definitions are kind of complicated. Lapses are to be expected, and planned ones are in fact just fine. There will be times that I get to eat cake. Relapses are when you eat cake for several days in a row. Drifting is when you think eating cake everyday will not cause you to gain weight again. It doesn’t have to be cake. It can be wine, a martini, or pasta. It can be forgetting to exercise for a month. Get back on the bike!
Like I said, this stuff is hard.
(My stats for the last week – down .5 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 330 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 48.7 pounds.)
(My stats for the last week – down .9 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 290 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 48.2 pounds.)
Dinner! This last week I had 3 square (real food) meals each day. It is rather fun and a little crazy making at the same time. I even got to eat actual dinner with my wife. It is starting to work, but still hard. Planning and cooking is something I got out of the habit of doing. Then there is the weighing, measuring, and counting everything I eat. I have an app on my phone that I can use to record everything which is much easier than pen and ink, plus it does the math for me. I used to be great at math, but as I age, I seem to make a few more mistakes when adding. I am still compulsive. I bake several large pans of veggies, one of cauliflower and two of zucchini. I let Anne eat some of them, but I get jealous if she eats too much as I want them to last for several days. Fighting over veggies rather than potstickers, oh my. Slowly and surely I am getting into a routine, 3 real meals and 3 product snacks. One challenge this week was been the temptation to snack. We had some family over on Sunday and although I had hummus and red bell peppers out for me, they brought salami, cheese and crackers. The cheese and crackers did not tempt me, but the salami was another matter. I ate 3-4 slices, not horrible, just fine really, and I counted the calories, but it was really hard to stop with those few slices. Better not to start.
It is definitely more stressful trying to manage my calorie intake while getting a good balance of nutrients. The meal replacements did all that and I did not have to think while on them. I am grumpy and short-tempered (more than usual!) and my dear wife puts up with a lot. If anything would make me want to quit the program, being impossible to live with would be it. Hopefully my emotions will even out once I have this meal thing figured out better.
This week in class, we did some simple strength building exercises. I will try them on days I can’t swim. The air quality hasn’t been great with all the fires and the smoke drifting into the bay area, and that has kept me indoors more.
We did go to Tiburon for a few hours last week and I put this pic up on Facebook. Folks commented that I am looking good. One even said I am melting! Maybe so, maybe so,
(My stats for the last week – down 4.6 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 220 minutes – I definitely made up for my 1.5 gain last week. My total weight loss so far is 47.3 pounds.)
This real food thing is getting better I think. My lunches this last week have been almost yummy. I had shrimp/spinach salad for the first 3 days with red bell peppers and cucumbers @250 calories. I switched to yogurt, blueberries or raspberries, peppered turkey, and cherry tomatoes for breakfast for 227 which is less boring than the hard boiled eggs and tomatoes I had last week. Had an omelet for lunch one day.
What is really weird, however, is that I am struggling to get the right amount of calories in without overdoing the protein. I added some whole grain bread to compensate for that. I can only eat so many vegetables and they don’t give me the calories I need before I get full. Last week I ranged from 1242-1317 calories, up from the 1200 per day I was doing while on 100% meal replacements. That was the recommended increase. Balance, it is all about balance, a very hard thing to accomplish. We so easily tilt off, one way or the other. I am also learning that the compulsiveness that I had about staying faithful to the meal replacement portion of this program may just help me carry on now that I am eating real food again.
What was weird this week was that I had a small weight gain (1.5 pounds) for the first time since I started this program. It happens; it certainly has happened to others in my group. Some of it was due to my body adjusting to real food again and some was likely due to the lack of exercise this week. The smoky skies and my sore leg meant I did much less swimming the usual.
There are some physical changes, however, as I have been going along. And that feels good.
(My stats for the last week – up 1.5 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for a only 155 minutes – there was a lot going on this week and I have a weird muscle pain in one leg. My total weight loss so far is 42.7 pounds.)
Breakfast and lunch both this week! It feels like way too much work all of a sudden. After almost 4 months of no thinking and no cooking, I now have to think about and prepare 2 meals everyday. Hah! I have gotten lazy I suppose. Even peeling hard boiled eggs and weighing a few tomatoes for breakfast felt like too much effort last week. I did all that the night before, but it was still a pain. It is hard to imagine how folks who are working or have kids they need to care for cope with this amount of change. We really are a food-focused culture, but maybe all cultures all. In that sense, the program has been very counter-cultural so far, with food becoming simply fuel.
Maybe I can use the metaphor of a plug-in hybrid automobile. Most of the time, you run it on electric, but sometimes you need a little gas. After our CRV was totaled at the end of June, we bought a Honda Clarity. In a month and a half, we haven’t used any gas at all and the gas tank still reads full. We are learning what the car needs, how often we have to plug it in so we can minimize our use of fossil fuels. Now I will need to learn what my body needs to be both efficient and healthy: how much protein, how many calories, what vitamins, and how much exercise.
This week I am going to try yogurt with a few blueberries for breakfast and a shrimp and spinach salad for lunch. As always, we will see how it goes. But in terms of the ever necessary need for self-motivation and confidence, I need to say, “I’ve got this!” Zoom, zoom.
(My stats for the last week – down 2.2 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 280 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 44.2 pounds.)