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.)
Food, glorious food! Breakfast = 215 calories.
I was so excited to eat some real food, but, wow, it was disappointing. The hard boiled eggs were good enough and so were the baby heirloom tomatoes. The sugar snap peas were tough and stringy, however, and they got stuck in my teeth. The carrots were boring and a little slimy after being too long in the fridge.
Before I began this program, I tried to stop eating foods unless I liked them. I was reasonably successful at that. Slimy carrots (even when washed very well) never made the cut. Stringy snap peas would be left on my plate. I would not bother with bread if it wasn’t soft and tasty. Stale chips were’t appealing. The meal replacements I survived on for the last 16 weeks required a different approach. They taste OK I guess, but I think of them more as medicine or fuel than as actual food. I would not say I “liked” them. As I transition to eating real food again, I need to figure out what my new relationship to it will be. Will food be merely fuel or will taste matter? I still don’t see the point of eating food I don’t like when there are other options available. For breakfast tomorrow and the rest of the week, I am going to have the eggs, increase the tomatoes, and forget the stuff that did not taste good to me. We will see how it all goes.
Last night we spent some time talking about what we do (or can do) when we are getting close to what we call the F___ -it moment, those times when we are tempted to hit the chips, the cookies, or the cheeseburgers; and throw moderation to the winds. Some of the stories were moving and others were hilarious. What I do, sometimes, when it is hard, is to think of someone I know who has done these kind of programs multiple times and then always goes back to old habits. I am NOT going to be like “X” I say to myself. It helps that “X” has many other qualities that I also don’t want to emulate.
I remembered a song this morning, which will also help me I think. Woody Guthrie’s Union Maid has long been a favorite of mine. Below is a video of the song, with Woody’s son Arlo, talking about when and why it was written.
With apologies to Woody and Arlo and stalwart union members everywhere, here’s my new theme song:
I’m sticking to the program, I’m sticking to the program.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the program,
I’m sticking to the program ’til the day I die.
Of chips and dips and her sometimes slips, and the refrigerator she wanted to raid.
She went to the Kaiser hall when a meeting it was called,
And when temptation come ’round
She always stood her ground.
I’m sticking to the program, I’m sticking to the program.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the program,
I’m sticking to the program ’til the day I die.
(My stats for the last week – down 3.2 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 210 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 42 pounds.)
We are beginning our last week of full meal replacements. 15 weeks is a long time to go without any real food. My body is starting to rebel I think, or maybe I am just compensating for the anxiety I feel about this phase of the program coming to an end.
It is a finish line and it isn’t. This is a marathon and it isn’t. Maybe it is a triathlon. The first part “products” only, the second “transition” adding real food slowly over several weeks, one meal at a time, and the third is what they label “lifestyle” which is for the rest of our lives, 6 small meals everyday, with 3 “products’ recommended. Maybe the line “until death do you part” applies. I am resistant to including these Optifast products in my diet for the rest of my life. There are too many weird chemicals and Nestle really is an “evil corporation.” I’ll try to keep a (relatively) open mind though. I need to make this work. Ignoring my health is no longer an option for me, so I will do whatever it takes. I will ditch the picture of the products starting with next week’s blog, however, as one small act of resistance.
I only lost .3 pounds last week, my smallest weekly weight loss since I started the program. I felt kind of bloated all week, so it did not surprise me much. I also didn’t get much exercise in last week as I had a cut on my arm that swimming wasn’t helping heal, so I skipped several days. Life always happens. We do the best we can.
(My stats for the last week – down .3 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 210 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 40.7 pounds.)
Just two more weeks without any real food. It is so tempting to start a little bit early. But I have been 100% on plan the entire time and this is the home stretch. Except of course it isn’t. Even eating real food, I will need to plan and stick with that plan. For next week, we are supposed to come up with the one real food meal we will eat for breakfast each morning. Plan A for me will be 2 hard boiled eggs and 2 ounces each of carrots, tomatoes and snap peas for a total of 200 calories. Our facilitator said that, just in case our plan A doesn’t work for some reason, we should have a Plan B (still legal, at least with the current Supreme Court). My Plan B will be 2 3/4 ounces of turkey breast and 3 ounces of spinach and 5 ounces of mushrooms salted/steamed in 1 teaspoon of butter, with a dash of garlic powder, for a total of 234 calories. I hope plan A works, as I don’t want to cook every morning. Luckily, one of my sons loaned me his scale, so I can weigh the food and be super-accurate about calories.
The whole idea stresses me. It is so much more complicated, and I have appreciated the ease of not having any choices with the meal replacements. Then again, we make choices every single day of our lives, and not just about food. I have always tried to make good choices, just not always about food. It is time to ramp up my skills.
Some of you have enjoyed my nostaligia pics. Here is one more:
This photo is from 1968 0r 1969 in the UC Berkeley dorm room of a friend. I am the one sitting on the bed, cigarette in hand, ashtray by my knees. Part of my weight gains over the years were due to the multiple times I quit smoking. At least I managed to do that before it killed me.
(My stats for the last week – down 2.3 pounds, drank 7 1/2 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 360. My total weight loss so far is 40.4 pounds.)
Less than a month to go before I can taste real food again! August 9th is the day and it will only be one (small) meal each day for that first week. We will start slow and continue on plan, being very careful of calories, increasing them just enough to keep our bodies out of starvation mode, but low enough that we will continue to lose weight. It is kind of scary. As hard as the full meal replacements have been, the joy has been not to have to think about it. Our facilitator said that was the goal for when we are back on real food. Do enough planning, measuring, etc. so that we will continue to be able to function around food and healthy eating will become a new routine. She likes to call it the “new normal” but that always reminds me of the slogan “This is NOT normal.” You know where that comes from.
Speaking of treason, it hit me in class that I was one of very few (2 maybe 3) people in the class that have stayed completely on plan for all 13 weeks. That freaks me out some. Is it going to be harder for me when I get my first taste of, say, an actual egg? Eggs are a good choice, it was said, for our first non-product breakfast.
The other thing we talked about was how to avoid falling into old patterns of gaining back the lost weight. One of my issues has been not continuing to pay attention and to assuming that any weight gain would be VERY slow. I can’t do that again. One thing that will help, I think, is that I am now much more aware of my body. There is a favorite hymn of mine that has the line, “body and spirit united once more”. (Gather The Spirit by Jim Scott)
Much of my life, however, I have lived in my head and my heart, and my body was a mere vehicle for getting things done. My weight gain over the years has been like a slow motion car crash. I need to keep my eyes on the road and my hands on the wheel: of my body, of my life. I also need to look out for those hit and run drivers, running red lights, bringing bagels.
In other news, I figured out that swimming with my snorkel set was easier on my neck than my usual modified, head-out-of-the water dog paddle.
Once the whiplash is completely healed, I’ll likely go back to my noodle.
But the only donuts I will play with will be inflatable.
(My stats for the last week – down 3.2 pounds, drank 7 1/2 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 340 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 38.1 pounds.)
I have a new theory: exercising too much can slow weight loss! Probably not true, but because of whip lash from my car accident last week, I wasn’t able to exercise much and lost more weight than usual. Most of class this week was hearing from someone who has been doing this for over a year. She is still paying very close attention to what she eats, this isn’t a one-time, quick-fix program. I found her story moving and interesting, but did miss skipping the group check in.
Today is a day to mark the passage of time. The first photo is from May 16, about a month after I started the program. The second is from July 10, roughly 2 months later.
I can see the difference.
Today is also the 5 year anniversary of our legal marriage. Below is a photo from that day and one from 1975 shortly after we first became a couple.
I can see the difference there as well.
Ah, how times flies.
And, ah, life always brings change and challenges. Today, I worry about a new Supreme Court that may invalidate our marriage. I also have a deeper fear that putting immigrant children in cages is only the beginning of more and increasingly abhorant crimes against humanity. The White Supremacist Patriarchal Culture that is in ascendence, seeks to destroy all diversity. Almost all of us are at risk if they succeed. I need to get healthier so that I can continue to resist. The ups and downs, the aches and pains, are frustrating, but life is so precious. I will continue to fight for it.
(My stats for the last 9 days – down 3.2 pounds, drank 9 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 105 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 34.9 pounds.)
Whose body is this?
Smaller than it was
The muscles firmer
The skin looser
But so much the same
Every ache and pain
The bruises and the scars
No miracle this
Just a change.
Is the same
I pray it will continue
To carry me
As best it can.
What a week it has been, and it hasn’t even been a week. We met on Monday night this week because this Wednesday, our regular day, is a holiday.
Having class on Monday was difficult, and they even moved us to a different room. Change is hard, and I find myself so much less flexible than I have been in the past. I joke about it, but it is true. Following this program requires paying close attention, having a meal replacement every 2 1/2 hours, drinking enough water, avoiding food-centered situations, and planning time to exercise. This increased lack of flexibility and attention to detail should serve me well, however, when we go back to eating real food.
Most of class was talking about why we regained weight after previous diets. The discussion was moving as people shared their personal stories. There were so many themes that resonated with me. My weight gain over the years was fairly gradual, and I was thin until my early 30’s. Twice, I took Kaiser’s weight management class and lost about 20 pounds each time, but then my weight crept back up because I relaxed and assumed that regaining it would take decades. Magical thinking is so common. “Broken cookies don’t count because the calories have all fallen out.” “I am still 25 years old, have a fast metabolism, and can eat whatever I want.” “Finish your food, don’t waste it.” “If it is free, eat up.” That last one comes from growing up working class, and going to college on a full but barely sufficient scholarship. It has always been hard for me to turn down anything free.
This time is going to be different. Life will still happen, and there will be challenges, but I am learning that this is a lifelong commitment and that I will always need to pay attention to exercise and to what and how much I eat.
Life definitely happened this last week.
On Thursday, I learned that Wendi Winters was one of the victims of the shooting at the Capitol Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. I knew Wendi when I served my ministerial internship there in 2006-2007. She was a fierce, brave, quirky, and compassionate woman. She was an active church member, volunteering with the youth of the local church and the district. What a loss. It is reported that she was moving toward the shooter when she was killed, trying to protect her co-workers. That was so Wendi. Tears came often this week. This is the first time that someone I know has died because of a shooting rampage. Unfortunately, it will likely happen again.
Baltimore Sun article about Wendi.
On Saturday, I attended a rally with over 1000 of my closest friends at the West County Detention Center to protest the current immigration policy and demand that ICE be abolished. It wasn’t a march, so I brought my camp chair. It felt good to be able to sit down and be counted. The images of small children, ripped from the arms of their parents, have tugged so strongly at my heart. Love has no borders; we are ALL children of God.
Monday I got a cortisone shot in my shoulder which I hope helps, but when I drove home from our evening meeting, my car was hit in the right rear end by someone who ran a red light. As my car spun around in the intersection, the other driver sped off onto the freeway. I was stunned and shaken, but relatively unhurt. I have aches and pains today, but that isn’t all that unusual given the arthritis I have in multiple joints. I am not so sure about the car. The side airbags went off, and the right rear wheel was at not-normal angle. I did a police report and the car was towed. We have insurance and are waiting on the adjuster. Hopefully it won’t be totaled as it is a great car, if an older one. It felt weird that it was a hit and run, that the guy did not even stop to see if I was OK. But it also felt very good that three witnesses stopped and checked on me, two gave me their contact info, and one called the police, moved my car out of the intersection, and waited with me until the police came. Look for the helpers, as Mr. Rodgers advised. I was lucky they were there and very lucky that I was not seriously hurt or even killed. Even if the car is totaled, it is only a car. Life is so precious.
(My stats for the last 5 days – down 2 pounds, drank 5 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 280 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 31.7 pounds.)
Whew! Our regular facilitator was back this week and we greeted her warmly. I flashed on the old TV show, “Welcome Back, Kotter.” We did behave rather like the “sweat-hogs” while she was gone, but who cares? (And no, I don’t want a Melania Trump jacket. I care about families and children, Muslims, black and brown people, people with disabilities, fat people, and my GLBT siblings. I don’t, however, care much about decorum). Johanna got us back on focus really quickly and all was well. Well that is except for her use of the phrase “New Normal.” She meant our permanent lifestyle changes, but I flashed on the “This is not normal” refrain of the resistance.
I was also very heartened with the warmth that the group welcomed me back after my week away. I love these people. We have grown so close in these few weeks as we try to live into this challenging lifestyle change. Our individual lives are very different, but whether they are crying or laughing, my heart is with them.
My week away at General Assembly was, as always, a way to reaffirm my faith in Unitarian Universalism as a tradition of justice and hope. This year was particularly moving as we confronted white supremacy both within our movement and in the wider world. Listen to the Ware Lecture with Brittany Packet, Sunday Morning Worship, or the Service of the Living Tradition, all of which were particularly moving, inspiring, and challenging. Ours is not a casual faith.
It was also wonderful to see so many old friends. And it was a little awkward mixing up my shakes in the plenary hall or a workshop. I did a lot of explaining of the program, and although virtually everyone I spoke to about it was supportive, I still felt self conscious at times. The plane rides were stressful, and it was hard to drink enough water on the travel days. My CPAP machine didn’t work (I stupidly did not bring the humidifier attachment and this new machine doesn’t work without it) so I did not sleep at all well. I attended a buffet luncheon/meeting, sat in the hotel bar sipping a sparkling water, and I stayed completely on plan. Hurray for me!
So hard to focus on myself, on my own health, when our country and our world is slipping into so much horror. I wonder if my marriage will stay valid, and I wonder if my friends will even survive. I weep for the parents and children who have been cruelly separated. Saturday, I will go to the Richmond Detention Center for a protest rally. Since it isn’t a march, I can bring a chair and sit while bearing witness. I must do what I can, but I also need to stay strong in my focus on my own body and health. It will be good practice for working to bring our country into a healthier place.
(My stats for the last 2 weeks – down 5.3 pounds, drank I am not sure how much water and exercised for only a total of 280 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 29.5 pounds. I am now under 300 pounds, a milestone for me in this journey. Huzzah!)
No class for me this week as I am in Kansas City attending the General Assembly (GA) of the Unitarian Universalist Association. I am sorry to have missed class but the content of the denominational meetings are giving me hope in a world with so much pain and despair. We are an activist faith and we are trying to deal and provide remedies to the white supremacy culture both in the wider world and within our faith. It has also been wonderful seeing old friends.
I am staying on plan despite the awkwardness and complications of flying. It is hard to drink enough water, but I am trying. I am also skipping the afternoon workshops in order to check out the hotel pool and get some exercise in. I hate to miss anything, but after years of attending GA, I have attended versions of most of the workshops before. It is the plenaries, the business meetings, the voting and exercise of our democratic principles that most engage me these days. And I really do need to exercise.
I have refused lunch and dinner invitations because I don’t need that challenge, but last night I did sit in the hotel bar drinking a sparkling water with lime as my friends had gin and tonics while we talked. Life is good. The very fact of life is good.
(No stats this week)