Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Search for Help

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I’m very much a loner and would never have thought of reaching out to others. It was when I was studying the benefits of individual and group therapy did I wonder if I was at a disadvantaged because I didn’t reach out, especially regarding weight loss. That was when I decided to see various people about my problem (before then I had relied solely on books). First I tried Weight Loss Buddy. I partnered with someone to support and in turn be supported by via email. Well, my weight loss body started emailing me those mass emails, which I hated. But I had a hard time communicating this, so instead I canceled my email account. My second attempt was with the nutritionist at the school. I met with her a couple of times and she re-introduced me to the food pyramid. I lost quite a bit of weight but couldn’t lose anymore. Although I learned to eat my fruits and vegetables, I didn’t learn to cut down on fat. Then I tried the support groups, Overeaters Anonymous (OA), Weight Watchers (WW), and TOPS. All three, I had ran away from as if there was a contagious disease in the room. I went to two OA meetings, which was enough for me to say it wasn’t for me. The tone of the meeting was spiritual, which I find I am not so much, and the meeting lasted forever. TOPS meeting was also too long for my taste, and the meeting place had a strong smell of tobacco smoke, which I didn’t care for. Needless to say I didn’t return after the first one. Then there was WW. I liked the shortness of the meeting, but I didn’t like how commercial it was. All along the walls were items for sale. And I didn’t like the points system. One meeting was enough for me.

Then I tried blogging, which I’m still doing today. All three of the support groups that I sampled were quite large that I never had a chance to share my story. Even if I had stayed there for a year, I felt I wouldn’t have a chance to speak. Blogging, I found my soapbox and I found wonderful support and feedback from my readers (Thank you readers!).

Lastly there’s Spark People (SP). With SP, I was able to keep track of my calories (something which I have struggled with in the past). Also, I was able to meet tons of people quickly. With blogging, searching for active blogs to read was quite challenging. Also with SP, I met someone whom I really would like to see be successful, which have changed my perspective of the weight loss community. In the past, I saw the weight loss community as a group to share my struggles with. Now I see it as a group I would like to support and encourage.

When I was interning at the hospice, a chaplain had said, “What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What matters in this life is helping others win.” I found this to be true with my weight loss journey. When it was only for myself, I lost motivation quickly. Now that I also do this with the hope of encouraging others, I haven’t lost motivation since.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Body Fat Percentage

If you pay attention to my sidebar, you would have noticed that my body fat percentage has increased. And you maybe asking yourself, “How the heck did this girl manage to gain fat as she loses weight?” Well I’ll tell you. It’s because I did the first measurement. When I bought my heart rate monitor it came with a caliper to measure body fat. It promised to be as accurate as a professional, but it was just more misleading information to sell monitors. (It was the instructions of this same monitor that lead me to believe that the fat burning zone was the most effective zone for weight loss. How can the purchase of one object create so much confusion!)

On Tuesday, I went to the gym to have the head trainer measure my fat percentage. I would have had it done last month, but I got side tracked. Last month, when I came up to the head trainer, he advised me to schedule the two free personal training sessions that came with my membership, which included a body fat percentage test among other assessments. I thought, “Why not?” So I scheduled one to only cancel it until this month because I was inundated with school stuff. Well on Monday I telephoned the head trainer to schedule one, and he asked me for my reasons. I told him to measure my body fat and curiosity regarding the other assessments that he had talked about when we first met. He asked me if I was interested in personal training. I said no, so he advised me to instead drop in the next day so that he can measure my body fat. I agreed to it. I figured it wouldn’t be fair to waste their time if I wasn’t looking to buy. Also I don’t want there to be some weird awkwardness between us, when I ask him to measure my body fat every 6 weeks. Well the next day I came in and waved at him as if we were old friends, and he looked at me blankly. I asked him to measure my body fat, reminding him of our telephone conversation. Then he advised me to schedule the free personal training sessions instead. Am I in the Twilight Zone? Am I stuck in some kind of loop? I reminded him more of our telephone conversation and our first meeting. His expression was one of blankness and surprise?, but he agreed to measure my body fat. And he did an excellent job. I’m definitely going to come back to him in a month and a half. He’ll probably tell me to do the free sessions again and I will probably have to remind him that we already did this song and dance. But I like this relationship. And I like this funny guy with the short-term memory.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Made a Few Changes

The first one is that I’m no longer weighing every day. I just fell out of it, since I get bouts of laziness. And it was a lot of trouble. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I can read my scale without having to drag it into good lighting, zooming in on it with my digital camera, and taking several pictures (because the first ones are always blurry). My husband had bought the scale when I had just given birth to my daughter, so that I can kick-start my weight loss efforts as soon as possible. Now I know to never to ask him to buy anything for me again. He never takes thought on what he’s buying, always opting to get the cheapest or most readily available one. Needless to say, I hate it. But I’m not going to buy a new one, until I have enough award money for a new one. The one I have is troublesome, but it works. However, when I do get a new scale, I think once a day is still too much. Maybe twice a week would be good.

Another major change is with my award system. In the past I would award myself by weight milestone. I had wanted little incentives and large ones, but the only large incentives I could think of were weight milestone. I never liked it, because for one I get a big enough high from seeing the number that I don’t think I need anything else to keep my motivation going. For another, weight milestones seemed to be so far and few between. Then I read a blog post talking about weight versus time milestones. The blogger awarded her self every 100 days she’s actively trying to lose weight. I like it. So that will be my new big incentive. Tomorrow will be my 100th day since I started weighing myself, so I decided that the award I would have given myself for my 134-lb milestone will be my 100th day award. I’m also tweaking my little incentives a little, but the differences are nothing worthy to mention and I think I might still want to do some more tweaking.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Last Day of School

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Monday was the last day of school. I walked through campus, doing my familiar things and missing them because it was the last time. The last time I was going to the library, the social work building, the admin building. The last time I was going to eat in the campus cafĂ©. And the last time I was going to use the campus gym. I’m going to miss the familiarity of the machines that faced the mirrors, giving me the perfect view of my belly, reminding me that I still had a ways to go. That day, I noticed that my belly was smaller. I also noticed that I could see my biceps as I did lat pulls and flys, when I couldn’t before. This made me very happy.

Monday also marked the end of my routine as I’ve known it. It may sound strange, but trying to fit exercise without school will be more challenging. With school the kids were mostly with my mother-in-law, and I went to the gym while I was on campus or after internship. Now that I’ll be home for the time being, I will have to jockey for exercise time. The kids will still be seeing my mother-in-law, but for now it will only be twice a week. My kids are wild and they stressed her out. Asking her to watch them for two days seemed too much as it is. But I need time to organize and clean the house. It really fell to the way side while I was in school. Then I need the time to look for work. It would be too challenging to do these things with the kids around (they are wild).

Monday, May 14, 2007

When Cultures Collide

Yesterday was Mother's Day, so I saw a lot of family. I was barraged by comments about my weight loss. My family, especially my grandpa, wanted me to do something about my obese sister Kiki. What they didn't know was that there really isn't anything I can do but be a role model and wait for her to come to me. They just don't understand all the psychological baggage that comes with being fat in this society. It must be different in the Philippines.

These were the other comments they have made...

The funniest comment was being called “sexy” by my dad and aunt. Then my dad proceeded to tell me to “teach your sister to be sexy too.” It seemed really inappropriate coming from my dad, considering that in the American culture “sexy” normally means wearing suggestive clothing and acting in a seductive way. But for my relatives “sexy” was another way of saying “skinny”. My sister Jen and I had a good laugh, since she has often been called “sexy”, despite her flat-chested, stick-like figure covered in conservative clothing.

The most unusual comment came from my grandmother who's struggling with the notion that being overweight was a bad thing. In her day back in the Philippines where poverty and starvation was part of the scenery, it was better to have more weight on you, but her beliefs are in conflict with her weight-related diseases she currently have. Yesterday, her eyes furrowed as she started to express her disapproval but stopped mid-sentence to say "It's okay, but don't lose anymore!" She was practically forcing the words out! Poor Grandma. She's stuck in the past.

The least welcomed comment came from my grandfather-in-law. Back when I was gaining the weight. Before I was ever pregnant. My grandfather-in-law had made fun of me. He would blow up his cheeks and chest and put out his arms to mimic my fatness. Even when I knew there were cultural differences, I was totally hurt. Well yesterday, he complimented me on my weight loss, saying that I had "persevered". Then much to my sister-in-laws' dismay, he talked about how once they were fat and had "persevered" (by the way, they were never "fat"). He blew up his cheeks and chest and put out his arms to make his point (since there was also a language barrier), and I couldn’t help remembering back then when he had made fun of me and my hurt feelings came flooding back, along with my dislike of him. Why can't I forgive him? He wasn't making fun of me. I know there's a cultural barrier. So why? It's so strange.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Exercise When Sick

I was sick a while ago, and I wonder if going on an intense 3-hour hike had been a bad idea at the time. My knee is still feeling “stiff".

I had read this article that talked about exercising when sick. It basically outlined the following.

Don’t exercise when
1. Fever or serious illness
2. Taking medication for symptoms
3. Muscle pain
4. Diarrhea or vomiting
5. Tired, dizzy, or weak
6. Persistant cough or coughing up mucus

Once sickness is gone, start exercising with half the intensity.
7-10 days after recovery you can start new exercise.

Exercise moderately when
1. Have a cold or stuffy nose
2. Cough
3. Nausea
4. Sneezing
5. Watery eyes
6. Sore throat
7. Headache
8. PMS
9. Stomach pain

So basically, I thought I was following this guideline, but after reading it closely for the second time, I realized I wasn’t.

Maybe I should go see my nurse practitioner.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Opinions Expressed...

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Lately I’ve been reading blogs of women whom are in the dating scene. It’s very interesting, fun, and sometimes heartbreaking to read. Being married, I am so glad that I no longer have to subject myself to the dating scene where first impressions and appearances seem so paramount. Recalling that time I remembered that I really wanted some guy to like me, but how would I go about it? Luckily I’ve had the pleasure to know some, so I would listen closely as they detailed what they liked and didn’t like in a woman. I’ve learned a bit, but I’m only going to detail the ones about weight and diet because that’s the whole point of what I’m trying to get at in this post.

What had really got me thinking about appearances was a post by Diet Blog that talked about prejudices people have regarding someone’s weight and eating habits. So I started thinking about my own prejudices, and I started thinking about those that I’ve known. And the opinions that came to the forefront were the opinions of Ly and his group of friends (Trieu, Trung, and Lan), especially the ones I heard when I was an impressionalbe undergrad. Ly and his group of friends are unbelievably frank and have no problem sharing their opinions with everyone. They especially loved to critique the way a girl looked. When I had lost a tremendous amount of weight in undergrad (more than I should have), my now husband had asked his best friend Trieu what he thought about the way I looked. Trieu then sized me up and criticized my arm flab. They actually critiqued me as if I was a painting hanging in the museum! And I was fine with it! I then also remembered that an overweight girl had a crush on Trung. Trieu and Lan would then make fun of her (behind her back, of course), because they thought she was stupid to think she had a chance when she was so fat. Although Ly and Trung didn’t voice this opinion, they didn’t dispute them. All of these observations helped me develop an understanding of the male psyche. Although now that I look at it, they were very unscientific observations. I mean, come on, these idiots can’t represent the common guy. But they did represent the type of guy I was attracted to, since one of them so happened to be Ly. Although I know he doesn’t have the exact same opinions as his friends, I can’t help but think of them as an entity with one brain.

In the end, Ly’s opinion is the only opinion that matters now. And what I do know for sure is that he likes a girl who can eat and enjoy her food. At the same time he’s turned off by a girl whom eats very little and appear to not enjoy her food. This made sense since according to Diet Blog, most people think that women whom ate little and healthily were viewed as feminine, and I know Ly is not attracted to feminine women. However, now that I’m on a diet, I have became one of these girls that he’s supposedly not attracted to. I wondered if he no longer found me attractive because of this, so I asked him. No use assuming what he thinks. He said he was fine with it. I believed him. So... carry on.

It's so strange how, even when married, we are still concerned whether we find ourselves attracted to each other or not. I always assumed that it shouldn’t matter once married. But for me there’s a small fear that I had short changed Ly or that I pulled a “bait and switch.” I remember all the things he liked about me when we were dating and how much I’ve changed since then, and I wonder how he can still be happy with me. But these are just foolish thoughts of someone who needs more self-esteem.

And while we’re on this subject of honesty in a relationship… I came out and told Ly that I still found him attractive no matter what size he was. He said that his decision to go on a diet had nothing to do with our conversation about his BMI. He said that he’s always known he was overweight and was always meaning to lose the weight but was lazy. Seeing me be healthy had motivated him to be healthy also. So, Yay! I’ve got a little bit more company on my journey!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Buffet Strikes Again

This is my last week at my internship. Also it was my supervisor’s last week on the team. So we, along with one of the chaplains, went out to eat Indian Buffet. I totally didn’t feel like putting the effort into figuring out what everything was. Also the chaplain made me feel nervous, so I didn’t bother recording what I ate. I didn’t even bother figuring out if I was full or not. I just ate and ate while my supervisor and the chaplain talked. I went over today, but I can’t tell you what I would have done differently. I didn’t feel like I overate. Maybe I should have stopped eating the naan when I discovered it was burnt. Maybe I should have passed on the Chinese pastry that was offered at the meeting.

I think my motivation to record what I eat is dwindling. It could be because I’m so tired.
I fear no one’s opinion! I am knowledgeable, focused, and efficient. I make this priority and build from experience. I do this for my children and myself. Supported by love, I will persevere.