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Friday, November 27, 2009

Ponytail = Horse's Ass

My hair is in a ponytail.

Allow that to sink in for a moment.

My hair. Is in. A ponytail.

What? That's not an earth-shattering statement to you?

Well, sister, it is to me.

Here's the thing... my hair was in a ponytail for 12-years (minus a short-lived experiment in a bob cut that made me look like a deranged cocker spaniel in 6th grade, because my naturally curly hair had not yet been tamed by time and maturity).

My hair was in a ponytail throughout the fattest years of my life. The years when I started off fat in January, got fatter all year long, and closed out December with a big holiday bang and ten more pounds on the scale.

I went to a dietician once in early high school. I think I probably weighed about 300 pounds in my freshman year. She looked at my records and told me that I had gained about ten pounds a year for the last several years. That didn't sound bad, did it? And then she told me, but think about it, if that continues, you'll weigh 400 pounds in ten more years.

That wasn't helpful.

Do you know what would have been helpful? If she had told me that I could lose ten pounds a year instead of gaining it by cutting a mere 100 calories per day from my diet.

And, hell, let's get crazy and cut 200 calories per day and lose 20 pounds. Get thin TWICE AS FAST as I got fat. Now that's progress.

But, she didn't give me those helpful words of wisdom. Instead, she used psychology and buzzwords like "FOCUS" to try and get me thinking how I should be thinking. She told me to "FOCUS" so many times over the course of our meetings that I automatically unfocused and zoned out when she said it.

"FOCUS on good foods. What do you eat for lunch at school?"

My high school schedule was busy and the hot lunch line was often really long and slow, so I ate from the a la carte line instead. I usually got a pack of crackers (you know, those six packs of Cheddar Cheese crackers or Captain's Wafers) and a can of juice and maybe something sweet - I honestly don't remember.

But it wasn't much, it didn't SEEM like much.

When I told the dietician about what I usually ate for lunch, she vetoed it outright, without explanation, and said "Drink water. Eat whole fruit. Try to have vegetables instead."

Sound advice, I admit, but I was very scientifically minded back then (and still am), and I didn't appreciate being told what to do without an explanation as to why. WHY was I not allowed to eat the exact same thing that lots of other kids at my high school were eating (and they often ate worse - burgers and fries or pizza from the other lunch line) without ever gaining an ounce.

Where was that disconnect? What was wrong with me? I was already different than everyone else because I was the biggest person at my school - did I also have to stick out at lunch time, too?

Navigating through high school life as someone 'abnormal' is very much like balancing on the edge of a sword. A sword surrounded by a sea of hungry piranhas. One single misstep and you are as good as chum. Eat too much "bad" food at lunch, everyone says, "Yeah, fattie, eat more, get fatter." Eat too much "good" food, you get razzed on for "dieting," which clearly isn't working since you're still fat. Teenagers don't understand (or don't care) that eating salad for one day doesn't make you drop 150-pounds the next time you take a shit.

In general, ponytail time was a very turbulent time in my life. When I escaped the ponytail in college, I grew up a little more.

Ever since I put my hair back into its ponytail (the first time it's been long enough to pull back in 9 years or so), I have been fighting those old feelings. Shame, inadequacy, hunger... where are the Captain's Wafers in Japan, damn it?!

Strange how everything is so connected. Brain, stomach, mouth... hair.

An elastic band around my hair should not make me feel like I'm 17 again (and not in that good, Zeffron yay-I'm-so-young! kind of way; more like the oh-god-I-never-ever-ever-wanted-to-be-17-again kind of way).

And yet, it does. I have been fighting it for a while now - 3 weeks, maybe? With my hair in a ponytail, I have been behaving exactly like a horse's ass (you know, that thing that you find beneath every ponytail in the barn).

I maxed out at 133.8kg (294.98lbs) yesterday morning.

And finally, I feel in control. I'm in control of my hair and I'm in control of my life. I lost 2kg (4.4lbs) overnight.

I had a good day yesterday and I am having a good day today. I am saying it, and that makes it so.

Happy Thanksgiving, USA readers. Mix a bit of your cranberry sauce with some mashed potatoes and a bite of stuffing. Do it for me.

Seriously, it's a flavor party that you don't want to miss.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Today, I had a good day.

The first good day in such a long time, I can't even tell you. (No, really, it's not that I don't want to tell you when the last time I ate under my calories was... I just honestly cannot remember.)

I am watching last week's Biggest Loser and for the first time this season, I feel emotionally connected to the show. Shay and Daniel are both incredible competitors and I want that kind of positivity, that motivation, the absolutely amazing reactions from people who have not seen me in ages.

One day of food being under control. One more day tomorrow. It's time to get some exercise back into my life, too. I don't sleep as well since I stopped exercising. One more of those little things that make healthy living worth doing.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I don't know about you, but that glass looks half-empty to me.

I am not an optimistic person by nature. I can "fake it 'til I make it" if I have to, but really, I'd rather not perpetuate that one big lie that everything will be all right. Because sometimes, it's not.

So many weight loss blogs are run by dieting newbs - or re-re-re-re-re-re-re-newbs who have started and stopped so many times that they've lost count. When you are new to a plan and focused on eating right and getting heatlhy, it's really easy to be optimistic about everything.

How could anything possibly go wrong when you have a week's supply of salad and shriveled up chicken breasts at your disposal? Add to that a shiny new bike/treadmill/exercise DVD just waiting to help you melt the pounds and you have a golden ticket to Weight Loss Paradise.

Aww, that's nice that you have a sparkly new lifestyle plan, sweetie. I'm happy you're excited for it. Just don't pee on the carpet. You come and see me again in a year and we'll talk about it, mm'kay?

A year later, a lot of us are exactly the same size we've always been, give or take 10-pounds in either direction.

What happened?

Maybe a birthday party came along and that one piece of icinged chocolate doom sent her screaming over the edge and plunging into a vat of caramel.

Maybe she never fully recovered from the triple whammy of Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas, a triumvirate of dieting disasters, just waiting to happen.

Maybe life happened.

When this shit piles up and life, friends, family, work, etc. all seem far too much to focus on and still have time to dedicate to the thing we should be most dedicated to - ourselves - it's time to look around and check out all of those half-empty glasses (and soda bottles... and chip bags... and cookie boxes... oh, no, I never have half-empty cookie boxes... those get eaten in their entirity).

Everyone who has ever cracked open a magazine, bent the spine of a diet book, logged into a health website knows the benefits of losing weight. But is anyone ever completely aware of the negatives of not losing weight? We're all aware of the big three...

Heart disease
Cancer (maybe, they're still working on that one)

But, focusing on stuff that's so huge, so monumental, so life-altering, can be really difficult to handle sometimes. I know that I don't want to add the stress of thinking about my impending doom every time I glance sideways at a piece of cake, because you know what that kind of stress makes me want to do? Eat some freaking cake, that's what.

I would rather think about that little crap that gets us all down from time to time. Whoever said "Don't sweat the small stuff" was totally full of shit. Here are the little cons from my Pros and Cons to Eating Healthily List...

Skin - Eating crap and not drinking enough water wreaks havoc on my skin. I haven't been this broken out and/or flakey since the chocolate-crisco-dorito facial fiasco of '98).

Stairs - Guess what, dummy? Climbing stairs is a lot more difficult carrying 10 extra pounds up with you.

Clothes - Squeezing into formerly loose clothes is always a great confidence killer. Would you like a little butter on that super sized muffin top, chubbo?

Confidence - There's a noticeable difference in how I walk when I know I've lost 10-pounds vs. when I know I've gained 10-pounds... and it's not because that 10-pounds makes it harder for me to stand upright physically, but it does pull a number on the brain.

Self-Talk - It's easier to use positive self-talk in order to "fake it 'til I make it" when I'm not actually faking it. Telling myself "You can do it!" isn't faking it when I actually AM doing it.

Social Life - Working up the desire to be social and spend time with people is a lot easier when I suspect they may say something like, "Hey, wow, you've lost weight!" as opposed to thinking, "Well, she let herself go even MORE, didn't she?"

All of those things are immediate (and crucial) elements in my daily life. They are things that affect me NOW - who I am, what I do, how I live. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are these amorphous, horrific ideas that float out there in the void, occasionally taunting me with their blobby tentacles, but never really making an impact on my life as it is today.

As for me, I'm going to sweat the small stuff - today, and every day that I need a reminder of why I am constantly striving for calories in to be less than calories out.

Friday, November 6, 2009


There is definitely something negative to be said about comfort.

Comfort supersedes change.

When I get comfortable, change stops.

Right now, I am comfortable. It's odd to say that I feel mostly comfortable with my body hovering around/just under 290 pounds, but let's be honest - that's 40 pounds lighter than I spent a good amount of time being.

Anyone would feel comfortable with 40 fewer pounds to tote around on a daily basis, wouldn't they?

There are still moments of discomfort - mostly imposed on me by the society in which I choose to live, Japan.

Public transportation seats, theater seats, arena seats are small. Smaller than any US seat would be these days. I still can't take the bus to Tokyo for fear of utter mortification - especially since they retro-fitted every bus with seatbelt seats, which seem to be about 3-inches narrower than the old seats were. Never mind that there's no way I could possibly wrap the seat belt around my girth.

These kinds of moments are brief. They're too brief to let the discomfort settle in. I need to broadcast them, relive them, deal with the mental strain of them as often as possible to get and stay on the proper track.

Today (and tomorrow), I am going to spend several hours milling about in the company of thousands of small Japanese girls who look much better in a pleated skirt than I could ever hope to at this weight.

Let the discomfort begin.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I keep turning the key in the ignition of this wagon thing, but it's not going anywhere. It just goes "rawr-rawr-rawr-rawr-putt-putt-die" over and over again.

Every now and then, the clutch will catch, the wagon will lurch forward in a burst of speed and accomplishment, and then it just dies again.

This is all quite frustrating.

However, I have more or less kept the thing from rolling backward. In the past, when the wagon wouldn't start, it seemed as though I would roll it to the top of the nearest hill and let it coast down in reverse until it was going too fast to stop. Finally, it would crash into Fat Me. Fat Me, sitting like a lump at the bottom of that hill, looking up the slope and wondering how in the HELL I was ever going to get to the top with a broken-ass wagon.

I need to look at this stalled out moment from a new perspective. Not one of failure and misery, but of mild success in preventing a full-on reversal of what weight I have lost. Though I have been hovering around the same weights for quite a while, now, they are (on average) about 10-pounds lighter than my stalling point weights of the past. I have dipped into the 280s before, but I have never LIVED in them, which is what I am doing right now.

As soon as I can kick this bitch into gear again, I will be well on my way to the 270s and closer to fitting into the jeans hanging on my bedroom wall than I ever have been before.

Let's kick the tires and light the fires, people.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Canned Motivation

129.0kg (284.4lbs)

"Have you lost weight?"

"You look great!"

"Wow, what have you been doing?!"

Canned phrases. Cliche chatter. Obligatory small talk.

Maximum motivation.

I went to a meeting yesterday with people I see very rarely (3-4 times a year) and several of them made a point of mentioning my weight loss.

As with any job-well-done, recognition and praise is a major factor in keeping up the same level of performance. Our meeting could not have come at a better time for me. It was nice to be amongst a group of people who were not afraid to offer up so much canned motivation without fear of embarrassing themselves or causing me embarrassment. The general Japanese feeling about mentioning someone's weight changing, either positively or negatively, revolves around that embarrassment and they generally will not do it. I remember when I went back to Kashiwazaki a couple of years ago (I had lost weight compared to the size I'd been when I'd left) and a math teacher who I'd always gotten along with said he'd been really surprised when he saw me walk into the school... and a female teacher smacked him and called him rude. As if!

When someone has obviously been working so hard to better themselves, let us know that you noticed!

This past week, for the first time that I can remember (of the hundreds of times I have started living a 'healthy lifestyle'), I suffered withdrawal symptoms. I don't know what was different... maybe it's just the fact that I am edging ever closer to 30 and my body is going to start doing things differently... but it was hell.

Physically, I suffered headaches, excessive fatigue, and occasional stomach pains. Mentally, I was in a bad place - depression, anger....

It was hard. It was hard to stick with it for the first three days. It's gotten easier. I've gotten my groove back (and just in time for the holiday season).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vanishing Act

When someone in the fat blogosphere disappears for a while, it is almost certainly because they have fallen off the proverbial wagon.

I fell off, ran behind it for a while trying to catch up, and then just tossed a Molotov cocktail at the fucker and danced naked around it while it burned.

This is usually how I operate. Whatever I do, whenever I do it, I do it to excess.

My very first time on a plane was from Newark to Rome. Eight hours as a first flight? Sure, why not.

My very first earthquake was the largest one in this part of Japan in 40 years. 7+ magnitude? Thanks.

EVERY time I decide to eat well, I aim for perfection (an inevitable downfall). I ate an M&M this morning, may as well eat a pile of fried food since the day is screwed.

EVERY time I decide to say screw it, I eat mini Kit-Kats by the bag full. And whole loaves of bread (a loaf is less bread in Japan than in the US, at least). And any pre-cooked (fried) food that is on sale at the supermarket.

When I got on the scale this morning, I was still under 290lbs. I was shocked that it wasn't much worse, though it was a pleasant surprise. And yet, I am thinking that it is more likely muscle atrophy than self-restraint when faced with white flour and sugar and salt and grease.

Jealousy and resentment are huge obstacles in my continuing effort to lose this 100 pounds. My Facebook status for the past 12 hours has been "Angela is tired of failing where so many others succeed with seemingly so little effort."

It's horrible, but it's true. I honestly cannot stand the number of people I know (especially in Japan) who know absolutely nothing about healthy eating, who actually hate vegetables, who don't exercise, who put in little to no effort compared to what I do.... who have lost significant amounts of weight.

It doesn't help that they can lose 20 pounds and it's immediately noticeable and amazing. No one noticed anything on me until I lost 50. And even then, I'm still huge. I honestly cannot even fathom keeping up the kind of effort I put in for another year. Or two years. And you know what? I know that it gets harder.

I know that as I lose weight, I will burn fewer calories when I exercise.

I know that my daily calorie allotment will get smaller.

I know too much to be even remotely hopeful or positive in this process.

Maybe if I knew as little as everyone else who seems to be successful, I would be successful too.

This is not as insightful as I usually try to make these posts, but I can't be deep all the time.

I'm working on being back on track today, but I have been working on that for days without success.

I hope that I can be more positive soon. Both for my sake and you readers.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fashion Show for One

You know what I'm talking about.

When you're feeling particularly slim (or particularly masochistic), you drag out all the clothes that you haven't worn in a while (or couldn't wear before) and you shake, shimmy, and squeeze into them, then parade yourself in front of your mirror, wearing mismatched outfits, sometimes only a top or only a bottom.

You tug. Pull. Cinch. Appraise.

Is this half a centimeter bigger than it was when I wore it last time? Is that because it got stretched out in the washing machine?

Did this fit this snugly last year? How the hell did I wear that in public? Oh, right, I wore a cardigan over it every time I wore it. No one needs to see the Michelin man living on my back. Guess we'll be continuing that tradition for the foreseeable future.

Yeah, you know.

I am putting a pair of pants into rotation this weekend that I bought during my trip home last Christmas. They were a little too small for public consumption when I bought them, but they're ok, now. (YAY!)

Today, I went prowling on the Lands' End website (they will ship to Japan! nowhere else, but Japan is ok.... ?!?!). Truth be told, I'm looking for something akin to a school uniform... both for Halloween and for the next fan club event that GACKT will be holding.

In the column of "the weird way that my body insists on losing weight" - my waist measures a women's (plus) size 18. My hips, however, measure out to be a 26. Thank you, proportions. You rock. So, I'm going to order a 22 and just.... hope for the best.

At any rate, I feel at least moderately successful in my one-woman fashion show - having discovered a pair of formerly un-wearable pants in the depths!!

This weekend is a weekend away. Here's hoping I keep myself in check.

(130.0kg, 286.6lbs - yes, another 3.5 pounds gone)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Brighter Days

131.6kg, 290.1lbs

No, you don't need glasses. I am posting a four pound loss in a 24-hour period.

That's what happens when I get my shit together and stop eating everything within reach all day long and stuffing my face full of refined carbs and chocolate before bed.

When I woke up at 5:30 this morning (honestly, 45-minutes later than I want to be waking up for this whole 'healthy lifestyle' thing), I decided to forego my hit of downloaded trash TV (the new 90210...) and made a big pot of brothy vegetable soup, instead. I worked it out and the entire pot is under 1,000 calories... and I'm getting about 5 servings out of it, which is ridiculous and awesome. I just hope it's tasty, too.

Angela's Kimchee (Korean Spicy Pickled Cabbage) Soup

- 2 bags kimchee nabe base (maybe available in Asian supermarkets, but a pot of water with a container of kimchee tossed into it and boiled will do the same... and you can just leave the kimchee in the broth); total liquid is probably 2 liters or so?
- Sweet potato (I had 2 skinny ones; ~150g), sliced if they're skinny potatoes, chopped/diced if they're not
- Carrots (2 small-medium sized ones; ~250g), chopped
- Daikon (Mine was 1/4 cut; ~200g), quatered & sliced
- 1 block tofu (I use 400g blocks), cut into small cubes
- Mushrooms (shiitakes work well, of course; ~100g), sliced or diced
- 1 can black beans (rinsed/drained)
- Chinese cabbage (1/4 head; ~200g), cut into ribbons

You can add ANY kinds of veggies you like to this, really. I had some other stuff I'd thought of adding, too, but it was starting to overwhelm the broth! Toss everything into the boiling broth and let it cook/simmer together for a while for the flavors to mingle and the harder veggies to soften up. (Use common sense when adding your veg! Put the harder stuff in first so it cooks longer while you're chopping up the softer ones! I've tried to list them in a good order for you.)

So, yeah, for one serving of this soup (5 in my pot - they're big servings) it's about 190 calories, 4g fat, 30g carbs, 9g fiber, and 14g protien. I really couldn't ask for better stats on it.

Hopefully I'll be able to share other recipes with you as this thing progresses!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Deep End

133.4kg, 294.1lbs

I'm afraid of dying.

I stepped on my scale this morning, absolutely terrified of what it was going to tell me, but fully aware that I needed to hear it.

In essence, I put on approximately 20 pounds in six weeks.

The excuses are pounding on the doors of my brain to be let out - today is literally the day before my period, 5 pounds of that MUST be water; September is the first month back at school/working full time, it's been too stressful to keep up a healthy lifestyle; I can probably safely assume that half of that is phantom weight from bloating and a lack of fiber....

Yeah, right, whatever.

The honest truth is that I've been locked in a cycle of self-sabotage. I almost hit 275 over the summer and as exciting as that was, it was also terrifying.

Losing weight is a kind of suicide. Just as much as being fat is a form of incredibly slow, but sure, death by my own hand, so is losing weight.

Fat is who I am. It is what I am. It is who I have been since I was a wee lass with a bad bowl cut, missing teeth under my pillow for the tooth fairy, and purple corduroy overalls.

I have no idea who I am if I'm not fat.

A lot of people I know GOT fat when they got old (ok, 28 isn't OLD, but... it totally is). They know what they look like when they aren't fat. They know how people treat them when they aren't fat. They know how life acts... when they aren't fat.

I don't.

Change is scary. Change is terrifying.

I am quite afraid of Fat Me dying. Even if it comes with the promise of rebirth as Skinny Me.

Who the fuck is that? NO ONE KNOWS.

I'm almost certain that I dove head first into butter bread with jam and entire bags of mini Kit-Kats because it was reaching a point where it was obvious that what I was doing to lose weight was succeeding. People would notice. Sometimes they would comment.

How is a person supposed to deal with that?

How am I supposed to handle the new attention, the continued (neverending) ridicule, the fear of becoming someone I have never met, and the exhaustion I mentioned in the previous post?

How does one person handle that?

I wish I had a support system here. The internet is great, but outside of these bits and bytes, where the problems are real - even the ones that are just in my head... they are real - I have little in the way of support.

Other (smaller) people tend to foist their leftovers off onto my plate: "Oh, I couldn't possibly finish this, will you?"

They influence my supermarket purchases: "This cake is on sale, want one?"

They whine in restaurants: "Am I the only one getting dessert? Come on, get something, I don't want to eat alone."

Once more, I fish for excuses in the sea of fat and easily catch my limit.

It's time to stop getting drunk by myself (because I am always by myself) on the fishing boat and get back to training for crew.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Can I Take a Nap?

Thinking, rather than doing, is probably one of the worst things a person can do when it comes to weight loss.


Well, quite simply, when you think about all of the things you have to do to create, maintain, and succeed at having a healthy lifestyle, you will inevitably end up positively exhausted.

For me, this list includes, but is certainly not limited to:

1. Not drinking alcohol. Ever. (It tends to make me think I have a free pass to eat things from boxes and foil packets and plastic bags.)

2. Weighing, measuring, and recording every single bite of every single thing I eat. Or making a reasonable estimate of it if I've eaten out.

3. Cooking every day, usually twice a day.

4. Keeping up with the dishes that cooking twice daily entails.

5. Waking up before sunrise if I hope to get my jogging in before work.

6. Walking to work instead of taking the bus, even if the weather is crap.

7. Recording every single bite of every single thing I eat... most likely for the rest of my life. Maintenance, they say, is even harder than loss.

8. Being in bed between 9-10 P.M. six nights a week.

9. Avoiding sodium like the plague.

10. Feeling tremendous guilt when I fail to do any of the above.

Can I take a nap, now?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Things I tire of:

- Skinny people complaining that they're fat. And let's face it, pretty much everyone is skinny compared to me.

- Stories about people who have done the impossible and eaten two... TWO... desserts after having a meal. And the subsequent agreement of everyone around about how truly implausible that is. Screw you, I could eat two meals and three desserts in one go if it's the right time of the month.

- People saying that they would have liked to offer me a ride, but their car is just so small. I drove a roller skate with an engine for two years in Japan and I am an expert at contorting and compacting myself into the smallest fat ball possible. Don't you worry about me fitting into your Pinto, bitch.

- Anyone selling anything who says, "It's good for diet!!" I know more about what's "good for diet" than 80% of the Japanese population combined. It's just that knowing and doing/succeeding are two totally different, unrelated states of being.

- Failure.

Ok, so that last one there is all on me. I get into these funks where I don't want to eat anything that requires any sort of work/preparation. Basically, if it comes out of a plastic bag or a cardboard box and doesn't require a utensil, it's game.

Some people go on drinking binges and wake up with their liver lying beside them in the morning, crying. I wake up with my pancreas beside me in the middle of a soliloquy about what it will do when it finally has diabetes.

Clearly, this cycle, this self-sabbotage, this whatever it is, has to end. The thing is, by this point, it's like starting over from the beginning again. Oh, I'm not back up to starting weight, I'm not even back up over 290, but I don't want to let that happen, either.

My body, however, would beg to differ. It is sluggish, unresponsive, tired most of the time. It WANTS the bags of chips and cheese curls and crackers and cheese. It does NOT want to stand in front of the stove and wait for chicken to cook, pasta to boil, eggs to solidify.

Thus, this is war.

Body vs. Brain.

Want vs. Will.

Celebrity death match. Ding.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Pit and the Pendulum

My main man Poe may as well have been thinking about diets and weight loss when he went all "Pit and the Pendulum".

Let's talk about the Pit.

It's my stomach.

And the pendulum?

To diet or not to diet, that is the question.

I realize I'm mixing literary references. Deal with it.

Recently, I haven't been doing that well. I've been on a downswing (which means an upswing in the scale) and I don't know why. As far as I can tell, life is fine. My new computer arrived safely and I did not get deported for the contraband DayQuil hidden in the packing peanuts. My usual budgetary worries are a little less immediate this month than usual because my paycheck was larger than usual and I've been working on raking in a profit by buying Japanese crap for people who want it but don't live here. Even hell school hasn't been too bad this month. I've seen glances and heard whispers, but none of the usual "ZOMG THERE'S AN ELEPHANT IN OUR MIDST" from before summer vacation.

So... why has breakfast turned into three slices of buttered or peanut buttered or strawberry jammed toast and a giant glass of milk? All Bran has served me well up to this point. What happened?

Eating poorly makes me sleep poorly. Being tired means I don't want to exercise. Being tired means I oversleep and don't have time to put together anything healthy for in my lunch bag. Being tired means I don't have the energy to cook anything healthy in the evenings.

See how this one thing makes everything else fall apart? Incredible.

The scale hasn't given me too much of a shock just yet. Maybe that's what it'll take to get myself back on track.

But I really don't have time to wait. Waiting to balloon up again as motivation to lose the same 10 pounds is... well... idiotic. Or perhaps... insane?

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

Who am I to argue?

Tomorrow is a new day, as they say. I have plans tonight to make my kitchen useable again this evening (I can actually trace this lapse back to the last cockroach I saw - and failed to kill - in my kitchen... which makes me not want to be in it. EVER.). There are dishes to be done and some reorganizing that I need to do, so with that on the agenda, hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Game

Planning. Strategy. Mental acuity.

Forethought. Being three steps ahead.

Controlling. Every. Move.

Man, this weight loss thing, it ain't easy. Who ever said it was?

I think the general response to a statement like that is, "If it were easy, obesity wouldn't be an 'epidemic,' now would it?"

Losing weight is largely a mental game. Basically, it's like playing chess with yourself... when you've never played it before in real life and have only clicked the mouse randomly on the spaces that light up telling you that yes, the knight can move to that square.

Really, it's like going up against a grand master in an international tournament... and being 99% assured of falling flat on your face in 2 moves.

A lot of people lose this game. Far more than ever win it. It takes some serious, serious dedication to figure out the things you need to know to win.

I've been on a losing streak for a while, now. I have the usual to say about it: "Life got in the way," "I've had a lot of stress in my life recently," excuse, excuse, excuse, etc. A lot of people may not have the wherewithal to win the game, but they sure do have a lot of "the dog ate my homework"s to explain away the failures. I point no fingers, I am no different at times like this.

But really, how hard SHOULD it be?

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Oh, Michael Pollan, how you tease me with your overly simple mantra.

I tend to be most successful when I can stick to a kind of 90/10 strategy - be "on" and perfect 90% of the time, while giving myself a little break to have "off" meals or days the other 10%.

Do you know how hard that is? Who wins 90% of every game they ever play? Who?

Doesn't that just make you want to go and bury your head in a vat of fudge?

Time to try it again.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Does This Make Me Look Stupid?

This is going to be short, not so sweet, but right to the damn point.

I absolutely hate... hate... seeing fat people (ok, girls) constantly worrying themselves with phrases like "Does this make me look fat?"

No, no IT does not make you look fat. FAT makes us look fat. I look fat every.single.day. There are ways to make illusions of being slimmer (waist nipped tops in dark colors, wearing dark colors in general, etc) and there are ways to make the illusion of yes, being fatter... (plaids and paisleys and don't get me started on the all-the-same-couch-print-from-the-70's skirt and top sets that Lane Bryant likes to sell). But let's face it... we're fat.

Maybe what you mean to say is, "Does this haircut make me look fatter?" "Do these jeans make my ass appear even bigger than it usually is?" There are some clothes that, when you put them on, it's a side-mirror in reverse. CAUTION: Objects in these pants may appear larger than they actually are.

I'm fat. I know I'm fat. I live in the land of the svelte and my brain and eyes have been re-trained as to what I think is fat or thin. I will never achieve this new definition of thin. I'm ok with that. Just because I have a definition of thin, that doesn't mean it's what I'm trying to accomplish.

And the only way to be fat and NOT want to drown yourself in a vat of caramel on a weekly (if not daily) basis, is to own it.

Fess up.

Take a photo of yourself in a swimsuit.

On second thought, don't do that. I did and my thighs haven't seen daylight in almost five years.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Moo Method

I'm a grazer. I graze. I float through my day, going from food to food to snack to snack.... Mooooooo....

It works for me. I like the idea of the Primal Blueprint and keeping in mind that our long-ago ancestors didn't sit down to three squares a day. More likely, they wandered around and ate whatever produce they came across and whatever they managed to kill as the day progressed. Grazing, more or less.

Maybe people don't like the fact that when I'm in the staff rooms of my schools, I am eating something at my desk every hour or so. It's possible that they cock an eyebrow in my direction, humming "Fattie Fattie bo battie, banana fanna fo Fattie..." in their heads (or at least, the Japanese equivalent).

But you know what? The system works for me. And everyone else? Can go screw.

Btw, regarding the ShamWOW... I've lost six pounds, so far... and my weigh-in day isn't until tomorrow. Let's see if I can make it eight.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Return to Sender

I have a friend in Pennsylvania who delights in regaling me with stories of finding fat in new, jigglier places. She says that she must be finding what I have lost.

She must have marked a few of those pounds "Return to Sender" when they arrived on her doorstep, because I seem to have gotten them back. Postage due. That bitch.

I haven't updated in so long, not because of this dietary slip, but because I have been a) incredibly busy during the summer holiday and b) burdened with a crippled computer at home (the a and k keys have stopped working, so I have to copy/paste those letters whenever I need them).

So, yes... very busy summer. I went away for a few weeks, was out and about, did my thing. I am a food diary keeper. This is my weight loss method. I use http://www.calorieking.com/ to track every bit, bite, morsel, and drop that goes into my mouth. While I was away, however, I didn't really have regular or easy access to my logging system. So I just kind of played it by ear (by mouth? Oh, that just sounds bad...). When I was finally home for long enough to get on my scale a few times and own up to the unlogged abyss, I was shocked to find that I had blown straight through the 280s and landed firmly in the realm of the 270s. About 276 pounds, to be precise.

Then... oh how it went to hell in a handbasket. Or was it a basket of fried chicken?

I had been SO busy during the summer, I'd had no time for myself. So, once I was finally free of all my plans, I took to heart the idea of using a vacation for rest and relaxation and did just that.... although my hand kept moving to my mouth. No rest for ol' righty OR the incisors. Even cooking was far too much work to contemplate during my precious down time. I ate convenience store food more often than any human being should. (And convenience store food in Japan is GOOD. Not good FOR you, but good in a salty, greasy, and fresh way that US convenience store tends not to be... three year old hot dogs on the rollers, anyone?)

I have excuses - I couldn't cook because all of my dishes were dirty; all of my dishes were dirty because I couldn't wash them; I couldn't wash them because a rogue sparkler blew off half of my thumb and it took two weeks for it to heal over enough that the idea of submerging it in soapy water didn't fill me with terror. (This is completely true, though no real excuse.... I guess I could have taped the crap out of it and just cringed through scrubbing a few plates, but... it really, REALLY hurt. A lot.)

Anyway... when I finally faced the music and stepped on the scale again, I found that I had jumped back up to 289. In 10 days. Yes, 13 pounds in 10 days. Another friend calls me the Titanic, because I just keep taking on water until I finally go down. You won't catch me tossing a giant diamond off the port bow, though. I'd pawn that sucker. (And probably buy food.... fail.)

The good thing is, I know that the majority of the weight is water. I'm guessing 8-10 pounds of it. Yes, my body holds on to that much liquid. I'm a camel. I'm a cactus. I'm a walking Sigg bottle. I'm a fricken ChamWOW. Take me to a third world country and wring me out over a dusty well, the community will have water for a week. Three pounds have come off again already in as many days, this week is period week (sorry, boys, fact of life), and my sodium intake will go WAY DOWN once I finish off that huge jar of dastardly delicious dill pickles I got from CostCo. I fully expect to lose five pounds this week (maybe more) without even really trying that hard.

All out of my bladder, uterus, and arm pits.

Fun times.

Back in the saddle again. Ride, Sally, ride.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Success Begets Success

Anyone who says that the first month, two months, three months... or the first 20 pounds, 30 pounds, 40 pounds.... isn't all about willpower, pain, and forcing your way through the hell of changing an unhealthy lifestyle into a healthy one.... has never done it.

This morning was another scale-butt-kicking kind of morning. Imagine my surprise when I stepped on the thing and it spat back 128.6kg (283.5lbs). Less than four pounds away from the 270s. I probably haven't been under 280 since junior high school. No joke.

Seeing a success like that... pushed me on my intervals this morning and I managed to go a few more feet than usual. Not that much, but enough that I noticed.

I've always heard that you have to have money to make money. I'm going to say that you have to have success to succeed. When I'm doing badly, when the scale shows a terrible number, all I want to do is eat crap. Against all logical thought, gaining a pound makes me want to eat the caloric equivalent of five pounds.

However, a success, small or large, pushes me to work more, eat less.

But, getting started at all is kind of a miracle.

Anyone who has overcome the intial hurdle of willing a change, forcing healthy habits in to force out unhealthy ones... Kudos. If it's any consolation... it's happened to us all.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Veni, Vidi, Vici! Angela - 1, Tokyo - 0

I beat you, Tokyo. You big, scary city of temptation, you.

On Saturday morning, as I was prepping to head out for a work meeting in Niigata City (the capital of my prefecture and a 3-hour train ride away), I weighed in. I was back at my lowest weight on record since I've been recording my weights in Japan - 130.2kg (or about 287 pounds).

I was actually a bit devastated because I thought, "Oh, woe! I am going to Tokyo where they have Krispy Kreme and TGI Friday's and Outback and Denny's and Hard Rock Cafe... bye-bye 130.2!! Guess I won't be seeing the 120s..."

You know what?


This morning, I tipped the scales at 129.6kg (285.7 pounds). We ate at Denny's....TWICE - I got the most sensible things on the menu - bean salad, light chicken plate, brothy veggie soup... a one-scoop ice cream cone. We ate at TGI Friday's - I got the Key West Tilapia and a glass of white wine... which my friends seemed to like better than their own orders of typical Friday's fare after we all tasted around and tried each other's food. The bus ride back yesterday was full of carbs and I was too tired after my adult evening class to cook, so I bought some pre-cooked (fried) garlic potstickers that were on sale at the grocery store instead of making real food when I got home. And yet... I still won. And after the water I was retaining from said bus ride and carb/sodium overload drops, I will probably find that I won even bigger than I initially thought. I feel like Rocky. I feel like the entire team of Mighty Ducks. I feel like every underdog-come-out-on-top there has even been in the history of competition.

It feels amazing. And motivating.

Onward and downward, keep on keeping on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

GACKT Eats My Money, or How A Japanese Rock Star Is Making Me Thinner)

Though I am not being directly effected by the recession in my job or my salary, I have found myself facing budget crunches to rival those of far too many Americans getting hit with downsizing and pay reductions.

I wish I could say I didn't know how/why this happened, but I do. I wish I could say that my company is suffering the ill effects of the economy's slow suffocation, and this is why I suffer. It's not.

It's a rock star. He eats my money. And that's okay, because when he eats my money, I don't eat cake. It's a kind of symbiotic relationship, you see? I buy tour goods and pay extravagant transportation fees to follow him to venues all over Japan.... and then I can't buy cakes or Oreos or chips or pizzas or anything 'extra' in my food budget, and it all works out for the best.

Things that I have in my apartment that I am using, now, because I can't really buy more food (this list is more for my own reference than your information... still, have a gander and toss some recipes my way if you have any!!):

- wild rice
- whole wheat pasta (and jars of sauce for said pasta)
- quinoa
- pearled barley
- oatmeal
- brown rice
- frozen veggies
- fresh veggies & fruits (lemons, avocado, leek, onions, potatoes)
- canned black beans & tomatoes
- frozen chicken and frozen white fish

See, my apartment is fully stocked for living a healthy lifestyle. It has been for a long time. I just haven't put forth the effort to live that lifestyle.... most of the time.

Now that I have no choice in the matter, let's see how things progress, shall we?

Today's grocery list:
- All Bran (although if I would prep oatmeal daily, this would ultimately be an unnecessary expense) - 400 yen
- bananas - 200 yen
- milk - 250 yen
- tofu - 100 yen

Ideally, these purchases will get me almost entirely through until next Thursday (with what I already have at home).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Going Green... Not That Way

I am a bit of a treehugger, these days. It's true. I do what I can to 'go green' in my daily life. I even put money toward a Carbon offset for my flight home last Christmas.

Still... I go green the other way far too often.


If my skin acted as a mood ring for all the world to see just how I was feeling at any given moment of the day, it would probably be green more often than most.

See, here's the way it goes:

- I can't buy clothes in Japan. Sometimes I can squeeze my rolls into mens' shirts, but only if they're stretchy and a bit oversized to begin with. I couldn't buy pants (and certainly not jeans), even if my life depended on it. When I go shopping with friends, I like shopping with them, but I can't help feeling envious of them.

- When I go to a restaurant, I painstakingly scour the menu, comparing both prices and calorie counts. The "healthiest" options are often also the most expensive and I am living my life on a strict budget recently. I usually try to choose something in the middle of the road for both calories and yen. My dining companions, on the other hand, flip blithely through menus, looking at pictures of deliciously fried, sauced, sweetened, honeyed, and any other manner of unhealthily prepared foods. They choose what looks tasty. The food that their eyes and their tongue say that they want. What does it feel like to go to a restaurant without suffering from menu anxiety, I wonder? Do tell.

- I have missed out on any number of opportunities in my life because of my embarrassment about my size. KODO (internationally famous taiko drumming group) came to one of my schools to give a performance and people were offered a chance to play with them. I didn't do it because I didn't want to be banging on a drum with hot taiko men in front of my 300 students with my arm flab swaying in the breeze. I have burned too many internet-built bridges with contacts in Japan (boys, yes) because the prospect of meeting them in real life is just too terrifying and depressing. I won't even dream of trying to go on a fan club trip with GACKT until I am half the woman I am now. No. Freaking. Way.

- I can't eat anything in public without near-crippling guilt and shame descending on me. Today, on the way home, I had a bowl of cut up watermelon from the grocery store. Watermelon. I ate it in the waiting room at the train station and knew, simply knew that everyone else in the waiting room was mentally berating the fat girl for eating anything - even something relatively harmless like watermelon. Friends can eat ice cream, French fries, crepes, frothy 500 calorie Starbucks ambrosia... and not think twice about it or about what other people are thinking. Admittedly, I have gotten better about this particular phobia over the past few years. When going out for dinner with friends four or five years ago, I would pre-eat before getting to the restaurant, so that I would eat less in public than I would have had I not pre-eaten. I've gotten over that.

Hopefully, my current budget crunch will help to keep things in perspective (and crap out of my kitchen) and I can kill this crazy green-eyed monster that makes life so miserable some days.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Psychological Warfare

There's a war going on. It's a big one.

What? You want proof?

You want weapons of mass destruction? You got it.

- The public
- Public transportation
- The three fat chick clothing stores out there (variety? pshaw, have a muumuu!)
- Floor boards

..........whut? I know, I know, floor boards threw you for a loop there, eh? Well, listen to a tale of woe.

On Saturday morning, after having not gone to bed until 1AM (or a little after), my alarm blared at 5, and I slapped it off so as not to disturb my houseguests (two friends stayed over). Exhausted and dragging, I filled up my water bottle and drank nearly a liter pre-run. I went out for my C25K run (still doing week 2, not comfortable moving on yet), came back, made breakfast, and we set out for the day's adventures.

After taking care with my lunch restaurant choices and recording the calorie counts from the menu, we went to a beach for sunset watching and Mario Party playing and then to an open front beach bar that I hadn't been to in years. It was nearly empty and the owners are very laid-back and cool and have (or had in the past) good relationships with the local foreigners, so they may have recognized me.

We ordered a couple of small things, a drink or two, and just chilled. The owners switched the music over to Michael Jackson and we seriously rocked out. We played ping pong. Here is where it goes bad.

Ping-pong is decent fun and I'm actually not bad at it (I'm not bad at most sports, actually... I'm just too fat to keep up with everyone else who's playing them). I went off chasing a rogue ball several times until one time when I stepped on a floor board... and went straight through it in my socks and landed on the bare ground below the bar.

How many 90 pound Japanese people have walked across that floor board? They could tap dance on a Faberge egg and the fucker wouldn't crack. It could have been either of the two girls I was hanging out with. It could have been one of the bar owners. But no, it was me, the 300 pound monstrosity chasing a damned ping-pong ball.

Everyone says, "Oh, the wood must have been rotten," "It could have been anyone, just a matter of time before it broke through," etc. The fact is that it was me, and I already feel fat enough on a daily basis in this country of walking bean poles without breaking through floors. Everyone was worried about me when it happened, thinking that I must surely have broken my ankle or something like that, but really, the look of horror on my face a mixture of humiliation and wanting to get my foot out of that hole as quickly as possible because I had no idea what was living down there. Visions of pre-historical insects crawling up my pants leg filled my head and I yanked myself out of the darkness immediately.

Anyway, we decided it was probably time to go after I broke the building and I left with as much dignity as I could muster.

I even managed to hold onto it at Mister Donuts and ordered the lowest calorie donut on the menu and drank my coffee straight and black.

At karaoke is when I lost it. I dove head first into the food menu and kept pestering my (not really hungry) companions to order something. Eventually, we ordered too much (pizza, fries, a cheese/cracker plate, edamame) and I ended up downing half of the pizza (3 slices), half of the fries, and a decent amount of the cheese. Two slices of pizza were left on the plate when it was time for us to vacate and I really, REALLY had to fight the urge I had to pick them up and jam them in my mouth. Not only is leaving food you've ordered a waste, it's also like lighting money on fire just to watch it burn. I hate doing it. But I did. A small victory, to say the least.

On Sunday, I made pancakes for everyone and had my own with butter and honey... I finished off the batter and refridgerated the two pancakes it made as leftovers. We went out for yaki-niku (generally translated as Korean BBQ... cook your own meat over hot coals at your table) and ate until we were all a little stuffed. After my houseguests went their merry way, I helped myself to those leftover pancakes that were just hanging out in my fridge.

SO, back to the psychological warfare of being fat... all it takes is one little nudge and I tend to run, screaming, back toward the comfort of comfort foods and the satisfyingly warm embrace of my glowing TV. Kids being assholes, falling through floor boards, being faced with a store full of ugly clothing - but the only clothing that fits, tensing every muscle in my body and squeezing myself into as small an area as possible on a reserved bus seat and still having the guy in the seat next to me complain to the driver so that he could change seats... being passed over by men again and again and again and again and again.

Dieting is like running through a field full of land mines while wearing clown shoes. Except in my case, it would be a food court full of hair-trigger activated pedastals holding greasy food and pastries.

This weight loss thing is hard. It's even harder when you're the fattest person for miles and miles around. Harder still when those miles are anything but friendly.

Anyway, I have a date with a Japanese rock star (well, a ticket to his concert, but he doesn't need to know I'll be undressing him with my eyes the whole time) this coming weekend, so I'm going to be on my best behavior. Maybe I can drop a few before I get there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Body, Myself

There comes a time in every dieting fat girl's life when she starts experiencing changes.

New muscles, shifting body mass, the discovery that there actually ARE bones in her wrist, not just Jell-O Jigglers and whipped cream....

For me, that time is now.

Basically, I'm going through the adolescence of diet and exercise... and it's no less painful, awkward, or annoying than puberty originally was. At least my muscles and slowly de-fatting bones aren't getting zits (yet).

If I bend my wrist at just the right angle (not a right angle, but at the right angle), there's this pointy pokey bone thing that sticks out at the side. On both wrists. Huh. Go figure.

When I stretched my leg up toward the ceiling while lying on my back the other day, I felt the back my thigh and wondered what the hell it was since it was a bit solid. Muscles? There are muscles there? I thought they were gigantic, squidgy corn dogs! My god, why didn't anyone tell me before? I knew my high school failed me by not offering an anatomy class.

And let's talk about my arm, from shoulder to elbow, looking more like an 8 as opposed to a 0. That's new and different. Oh, it's still big. But it's a big 8, which I'll take over a big 0 any day.

I have collar bones, too. I don't know if I can handle this much skeletal exposure. Nothing but turtlenecks for the entire summer.

I fear for my life if I ever find out where the pelvic bone is.

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Open Letter

Dear Body,

While I appreciate how much you have been cooperating with me the past few weeks (that little bloating/water retention issue aside), it would really, REALLY help me out if you would start pulling fat from the areas of my body where there are FAR larger reserves, as opposed to whittling my abdomen and waist. I'm all for abdomen shaping and waist whittling, don't get me wrong... however, as it gets smaller (and nothing else does), everything else looks LARGER by proportion.

You see, my hips now look like they're actually BIGGER than they used to be (even though this is not the case), because by the numbers, I've lost a far larger percentage of girth from my waist than from anywhere else.

This is not helpful. In fact, this is a breeding ground for MORE children acting like assholes. Whereas I can look in the mirror and see my waist as significantly smaller, THEY see me coming down the street and see, well, a bowling pin. With feet.

So, once again, it is of paramount importance for you to see the error of your fat-burning ways and put to rights this duck-butt waddling tragedy-in-the-making.

Sincerely yours,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Here It Goes Again...

If I were posting from somewhere that I could access YouTube, I would put the OKGo treadmill video up for your viewing enjoyment. However, since school/work is lame and uses the most annoying web-filtering program ever, it's impossible. So, please pause for about 4 minutes, hum the song, and picture four nerdy hipster dudes doing a well-coordinated treadmill dance.

Done? Good.

Weight this morning? 289.7 pounds

Finally back in the 280s. I was there before I went home over Christmas, but being at home over the holidays (for the first time in five years), would probably be enough to screw up even the most diligent of healthy lifestylers.

So, with that HUGE success on the scale this morning, I had to push my way through my daily routine and drag myself kicking and screaming out the door to come to my own personal hell. It's over an hour commute to get to this school and there are five other high schools in the area, all with a hefty supply of rowdy teenagers just STARVING for some victim to chew on. I had one group of nattering girls on the train discussing my size and wondering if they could manage to get a photo... and a boy staring and saying "WHOA HUGE!" in Japanese pretty much as loudly as he could.

My 0.3 pounds under 290 success was no match.

Still, I carry on. I fight the good fight in my head and I'll fight it tomorrow morning on the pavement when I go out to continue week two of C25k (www.c25k.com). Cardio is where the calorie and fat burn is, but I'm going to have to work on strength training, too, to up that resting metabolism.

Within the next month or so, I will probably add in one or two or all three of the following programs:
One Hundred Push-Ups - www.hundredpushups.com
Two Hundred Sit-Ups - www.twohundredsitups.com
Two Hundred Squats - www.twohundredsquats.com

I'd completed about a month of the One Hundred Push-Ups program... before I went home for Christmas. Needless to say, everything about healthy living fell apart, there, after the first week or so.

I've also started to add in the dreaded "Pink Yoga Bitch" (so nicknamed because of the pink leotard Jennifer Kries is wearing on the cover) video to my weekly routine, at least once or twice a week (three would be optimal, but I think that's pushing it, really). I absolutely love it, as does anyone else I've ever done it with. It's hard to find, now, but you might be able to get it on Amazon or eBay with a little searching - The Method: Target Specifics with Jennifer Kries.

And because I like books, here's my review of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food:

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read The Omnivore's Dilemma just last year, a lot of the information in In Defense of Food was more like a pared down review than groundbreaking journalism for me.

However, that didn't make the information any less shocking or effective.

If Omnivore's Dilemma is too daunting a book for you to consider picking up, then this compact version may do the trick.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That's not so hard, is it? I think we all instinctually recognize these three key points of the eater's manifesto as common sensical... but sometimes common sense isn't enough to convince the refined carb addict (or grain-fed beef addict or low-fat-chemical-food-stuff addict, etc) that the three principles should be followed.

That's how three simple instructions pan out into a 200-page journalistic exploration - answering the WHY. Why should we eat food? Don't we already eat food? (No, we don't.) Why not too much? (Duh?) Why mostly plants? (People aren't meant to live on vitamin supplements, but rather vitamins. Found in? Plants!)

Read it. Appreciate it. Follow the basic tenants, but take a few things with a grain of salt (it's really just a long persuasion paper, so the cited sources were handpicked to serve a persuasive purpose, not to present a balanced look at both sides of the story).

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.


View all my reviews.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Food vs. Ph00d

My official "weigh-in" days are Saturdays. So, it stands to reason that Saturday usually shows my crappiest number on the scale during a whole week of post-pee scale-standing.

That's mostly irrelevant to what I'm planning to say today, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway as a general reminder that what the scale says on one arbritrarily chosen weigh-in day is not necessarily an accurate representation of overall performance.

That being said, let's talk about ph00d. Ph00d is my word. My own horrible, netspeak, 1337-bastardizing word. I'm currently reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I read The Omnivore's Dilemma last year and it really struck a chord with me and helped to propel me down one of the longest stretches of weight loss I've had in over a decade. So, with my motivation coming and going more often than the tides, these days, I thought it was time to spend some more hours devoted to Mr. Pollan and his engaging journalism.

Food, as Pollan points out, is basically in the minority of the stuff we stick in our mouths. We eat chemicals. We eat thoroughly refined and factory updated sugars and carbohydrates. We eat antibiotics disguised as cows, pigs, and chickens. Ph00d. Chemical representations of classic comforts created by the latest technology, for your chewing pleasure (but is it, really?).

I'm going to do my best from now on to get things back to basics. To food as it used to be, as opposed to ph00d as it is. My goal over the next few days, weeks, and months is to eliminate the ingredient lists from my life. I'm keeping a few of my processed babies - you can pry my All Bran from my cold, dead, not-constipated hands; the occasional mini Kit-Kat as a post-lunch treat; icy, fruity popcicles in the summer - but for the most part, I'm going to try and stick with what my body can actually recognize as food.

Meats, fruits, vegetables, and the following REAL items, in moderation - sugar, butter, peanut butter... when you're eating like this, it doesn't leave a lot of room for screw ups, does it?

1) Did it grow in the ground? OR Did it come from an animal?
2) Were there Terminator-esque machines of Matrix-y proportions involved in its creation?

If your answers are 1) Yes and 2) No, then you're good to go.

Sayonara, ph00d. Don't let the door hit ya where the scientists split ya.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Screw em, Angus!

Did anyone else watch that awesomely fantastic movie about the super fat kid in high school with the lisp? Angus. One of the best movies ever... and no one has seen it.

"I'm a fat kid, of course I know what bulimia is. I tried it once, but when I stuck my finger down my throat, I was still hungry and almost ate my arm." - Angus

"Screw em, Angus!" - Angus' grandpa

You think you know what eating disorders are, don't you? Already skinny girls, obsessed with getting skinnier. They eat enough to feed a small country and then barf it all up or they just stop eating entirely. Their hair falls out, they lose muscle mass, they become nothing but skin and bones and still aren't thin enough.

But what about the one where food is the obsession you can't stop putting in your mouth? I do well for a while, but there's no KrispyKreme patch to wean me off of the food addiction. It's all or nothing. Cold turkey (with a side of cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole, plzkthx?).

I was doing well for a while. My bubble is a happy place. When I live alone, stay in my apartment as much as possible, and block out the rest of the world with deafening pop-punk from my headphones when I want to walk anywhere, life is good.

The moment I open myself up to outside influences - social situations, opinions-stares-glares-whispers-snickers from the 'diverse and accepting society' in which I have chosen to live (*gag* man, almost swallowed my tongue on that one), any restaurant outing - things tend to fall apart.

In the past two weeks, I've experienced the following:

- HS students exlclaiming the equivalent of "Thassa huge bitch!" in Japanese.

- HS students taking photos of me on their cell phones... in order to do god knows what with them later.

- Elementary kids running to catch up to their mates to have them turn around and check out the fattie and snickering.

- Students in my classroom guesstimating the width of my ass by holding their arms as far apart as possible and having a good chuckle about it.

And then? A lapse into a depression so deep that only ice cream and Kit-Kats could possibly repair it. Or so my brain thinks.

And so, a thank you to the people of the world for upholding at least one universal truth - kids are assholes.

I'm allowing myself this one last day to continue wallowing in my own misery, Jabba-esque in all my sluggish finery (without the slave girls on chains), and then we'll see where we are tomorrow.

Don't wait until tomorrow, just start now!

Don't worry about what other people think! The only thing that matters is how you feel!!

If ____________ can do it, so can you!

If you've ever uttered any of those phrases to anyone, you've never been where I am right now. So don't even try it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Health" habits of the Japanese

Whoever wrote that book about Japanese women not getting old or fat was just trying to sell a book. It's BS. Let me see if I can channel the minds of any and all western people who have never been to Japan and express the things that they think apply to the Japanese healthy lifestyle.

Japanese people are some of the healthiest in the world. They don't eat fast food and they eat grilled fish, sushi, and rice everyday. Obviously, since so many of them live so long, there must not be any problems with diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, or lung cancer (meaning they must not smoke or drink too much, either, wow!). If I lived in Japan, I would be so healthy and lose so much weight.........

I would laugh derisively right now... if I hadn't thought the exact same things before I came here five years ago. Let me tell you what I've learned since August 2004.

- I don't know an actual statistic, but it sure does seem like a good bit more than 50% of the adult population smokes. Being the majority, completely non-smoking facilities are few and far between. Restaurants, cafes, and most certainly bars are usually so smoky that, even though I am not a smoker, I feel like my taste buds have been sandpapered off with tar and nicotine. Only recently have all the rapid trains in Japan become entirely non-smoking. I've been stuck in the non-reserved smoking car a few times since I've been here and those moments rank as some of the worst experiences of my life.

- Cup Noodle was invented here. You know, the stuff that is all dehydrated fat and carbohydrates soaked in salt and napalm? Several of my (male) coworkers eat it every.single.day. The Sodium content is measured in GRAMS as opposed to the usual miligrams. I have one coworker who, without fail, either turns the heat down/off in the winter or turns the fans on high and opens all the windows in any other season within 20 minutes of finishing his liquid Sodium because his blood pressure skyrockets so high that he gets really, really hot. I imagine his heart will just explode one of these days.

- McDonald's and KFC are both wildly popular here. Burger King is making a comeback. Krispy Kreme has established a presence. Starbucks is as prolific in Japan as it is in the states and most people don't have the guts to ask for customizations (not even kidding), so they all drink full fat lattes and frappuccinos with mounds of full fat whipped cream on top. Subway? It's here, but rare, and they only offer three different kinds of bread, only one of which is wheat.

- All carbohydrates you will find to eat in Japan are refined. If you want something that's even remotely brown, you're going to have to special order it and probably pay out the arse. I get whole wheat pasta at the import foods store (an hour away), I special order oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat flour, getting bread that looks and tastes like anything but styrofoam is but a dream - unless you pay for frozen shipping from the online hippie store.

- The working population likes to binge. There are work parties called "enkai" where you pay a flat fee (anywhere from $30 - $100+ US) for two hours of a set menu food course and all you can drink beer, shochu (a clear liquor, kind of like vodka), and sake. If you don't drink, it's a waste of money. If you are watching what you eat, it will kill your caloric intake for the day. If you don't attend, they won't like you next week. There might be a second party, where they go to a karaoke bar, pay for another all you can drink two hours, and pound back more liquor. It's "culture."

- Most Japanese drink every night. You will often get alcohol as a present and they will say, "You can have it every day after work!" And you think, but I live alone, that's unhealthy, drinking alone everyday. But then you nod, thank them, take it home and put it in the back of your cupboard with all the other bottles that you were supposed to use to become Japan's special brand of I'm-not-an-alcoholic alcoholic.

And yet, Japanese DO stay svelte, for the most part. I am horrified, almost daily, by what I see pawned off as nutrition advice or something new and fad-y that my female coworkers are trying to drop those three pounds that they put on in the last year...

Anyone who says that this battle for health and weight control is not at least partially an issue of genetics is sorely mistaken.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Story So Far...

I'm fat. Not as fat as I was, but still fat.

I know it, I'm aware of it. Painfully aware, at times.

I got up to somewhere in the 330s or 340s by the time I graduated from high school. I was the queen of extracurriculars, yet did very little in the way of actual activity. I made the yearbook (with the help of only two or three other people), I volunteered through Key Club, I did homework, I used the computer... I ate (a lot). I slept. That was about it.

Then, in my first year of college, instead of finding the Freshman 15, I lost the Freshman 30. Suddenly, I had daily activity. I worked in the dish room of the cafeteria and I had to haul ass all over campus to get to where I was going. It was more exercise in my first month than I had gotten in all four years of high school.

Sometime at the end of freshman year (who am I kidding? I know exactly when it was...) I ended up with my first ever boyfriend. Over the next year, I got to the lowest weight I had seen on a scale since middle school - the 280s.

Since then (that was 2001, if you want to keep track), I have regained and lost those same 40-ish pounds dozens of times. I've stopped telling people when I get under 300 again, because it's just not news anymore.

Oh, yeah, I moved to Japan in 2004 and have been here ever since. You'd think it'd be easy to lose the pudge in the land of the waif, wouldn't you? Yeah, it's not. Every week there's white rice, white bread, tempura-ed everything, fried tofu, full-fat high-calorie bars marketed as health foods....

And then, just as many idiotic fad diets as there are in America - the apple diet, the banana diet, the cookie diet, the 35 calorie dehydrated soup diet (seriously, you eat that three times a day and subsist on 105 calories a day plus water for a week). The country as a whole has no idea what "healthy" is. Whole grains are a mystery. People are horrified when I tell them that I eat brown rice, convinced that it is actually bad for your digestive system.

The nearest gym is an hour's drive away (and I don't have a car).

The nearest pool is a school pool populated by miniscule pre-adolescents who would enjoy nothing more than staring at the super fat foreigner with big boobs (huge, by Japanese standards) in a bathing suit.

Yet, against all odds, I'm approaching that magical scale decade of the 280s again. People seem to do well when they log what they're doing and put it out there for the world to see. This is my dedication.

I'm Big in Japan, baby.