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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.