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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.