My new friend, Phen

I have been trying to lose weight as long as I can remember. I mean, it’s almost as if I was born and then said, yep – time to skip that breast milk, gotta shed a few. Oh wait, I wasn’t breastfed.  Can I blame my heavy weight on that? Or my family genetics? Bone density? Environment? The fast food industry? Probably a combination of multiple factors, but best not to dwell on that at the moment.

As an adult, I’d say it’s fair to say that I’ve hit all the major diet programs at one point or another – Jenny Craig, Nutri System, Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc. But I have never really been one for the extreme diets with miracle testimonials — eat all the grapefruit you want for 2 weeks (yeah, sounds fun) or eat according to your blood type (???huh?) or just take this pill once a day and watch the weight dissolve (can’t pull the wool over my eyes). I was indoctrinated to believe you watch the calories that go in and work on the energy you expend. The basics, right? Now of course, the fitness industry is much more complicated and has all kinds of directions and details that frankly, I don’t really care about. I just want to see results.

As part of my Weight Loss 101, I learned like a good little student that the safest and best way to lose weight is to watch what you eat and exercise. It’s up to you to make the difference and any drugs or surgeries like gastric bypass shouldn’t be considered, unless you are an extreme case. (And that definitely wasn’t going to be me.) So I’ve meandered on for years, doing it on my own, with the occasional help of diet programs and trainers and periods of success followed by a trip back up the scale.

Imagine my gasp of horror when my Endocrinologist recently said she wanted to put me on a weight loss drug. What?!? I wanted to look over my shoulder and see if there was someone else in the room. You’re talking to me? Umm…think again! I don’t need a drug. In fact, since January I’ve been working the program. Have a trainer and dietician. I am shedding weight slowly but reasonably. I am making progress, so how dare she suggest a weight loss drug! Given my future plans to bring forth life, my doctor wants me to be 15 pounds lighter before I get pregnant. Ok, I agree and that was my goal as well. Even though I haven’t been progressing as quickly as planned, all my recent blood work is showing great signs of progress and healthiness. She runs me through the drug, Phentermine. Describes how it used to be part of the dreaded duo Phen-Phen, but the other Phen was the bad one, causing all those nasty heart murmurs. Hmm. It’s always bad when you don’t have the right partner. I agree to do a trial run for a month.

First day, boom! Didn’t think it was possible, but my energy level definitely shifted up a whole notch. Not to jitteriness, but a noticeable difference with more focus. Also completely lost my appetite — like it currently doesn’t exist; Like I have to ask myself, ‘Have I eaten in the last 2 hours?’ and force myself to eat when not hungry – ALL the time. Oh, and a bit of an issue with restless sleep at night. My dietician was concerned. At our session, we looked up the drug. Yep, lots of great amphetamines in Phentermine (is that why they sound so similar?). No wonder I’m feeling more…vibrant. (Sounds better than gassed up or high or on speed.) The question is how much this can impact my thyroid or throw it out of whack, but my dietician agreed we give it a chance  – if I remembered the importance of eating regularly and maintaining healthy nutrition. OK, deal.

So I’m just about two weeks in now. Headed to the gym today. Hopped on the scale. I’ve officially lost 18 pounds since late January! 2-3 pounds in the last week. The slow going of one pound a week seems to have been sped up by my friend, Phen. Of course, I’m feeling elated and trying not to feel like a cheater by using the drug. It’s not all a bed of roses. It is weird to never have an appetite or have your stomach grumble. When I start to feel the slightest bit hungry it actually catches me by surprise and I’ve never had the problem of having to REMEMBER to eat. Who would have thought? But there is no miracle cure and my friendship with Phen is short-lived. If I want to succeed after that, I have to be eating right. Complete lifestyle change. Yada, yada, yada.

Oh happy day! I’m still going to celebrate. 18 pounds in 14 weeks is not too shabby. It’s funny because in the past people have sometimes said, “oh, you look good. You look like you lost weight.’ When I haven’t done a damn thing and I’ve probably gained weight versus lost it. And now that I have actually lost some decent weight, nobody has really noticed, except for me. Oh, and my friend Carol. But it’s all good. Progress, slow and steady.

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For the Love of #$!%…Pet Peeves

So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about writing my blog, but doing very little actual writing. Hmmmph. In the meantime, I started a list of the #$@! that just bugs the crap out of me, otherwise known as my pet peeves. Who knew there could be so many? But when you actually start to jot them down – it may surprise you.

1) People who sing in public places. Ok, so you think you’ve got talent. Or you just feel the urge and absolutely just can’t stop the noise from coming out of your mouth. Whatever your reason – if I wanted to hear you sing, I would’ve asked you or gone to your concert. So shut the $%#! up. Get to a choir practice, lock yourself up in your room or your car, belt it out in the shower, but keep it to yourself. You’re not really as good as you think anyway and I’m not in the mood for mediocre entertainment!

2) Girls who wear gym shorts that could double as bikini bottoms. Two points here. Number 1: yes, your body rocks and I am jealous as hell, but number 2: are you going swimming or lifting weights? Make up your mind. Either way, I don’t need to see your ass.

3) Flip flops on lazy people. Just because you have on less of a shoe doesn’t mean you can drag it around. Pick up your damn foot and stop slopping around. It’s annoying. If it’s really that much work, I suggest you go barefoot.

4) Changing rooms in stores with a 6 item clothing limit. For the love of God, do you want me to shop or do you want me to SHOP? I’m not a thief and I’m a much bigger spender when I have lots of options to try on and choose from. You are cramping my style!

5) Crotch sniffing dogs. A literal pet peeve. Get your snout out of my crotch. It’s none of your damn business and you are making me feel like I’ve got something to worry about down there!

6) Bad song remakes. Listen, if you are going to copy someone else’s work, you’d better make it good and put your own spin on it. If you can’t be creative, don’t bother.

7) Commercials at the movie theatre. This is just plain wrong. Previews = movies and commercials = TV. I paid a good $10 to avoid them, not to mention whatever I paid for a few snacks. If I wanted commercials I would have waited for the TV release. Have a little respect for your audience.

8) Committing to do something & then as it gets closer, not wanting to do it. Big problem for me lately. Things sound great in the beginning, but then later it’s really just a drag and I want out. Can anyone say attitude adjustment?

9) Technology in general. The constant reminder of why it would be so helpful to have a man in my life. I’m a late adopter and would rather have someone else figure it all out first.

10) The songs (especially the sloppy romantic ones) that remind you of your youth & days gone by.  Making you want to re-live your those carefree days of no responsibility and a full life ahead. They suck and only succeed at making one feel sad, old and pathetic.

11) Improper steam room attire. Umm..excuse me, you are no longer working out. You are in the steam room. Sneakers and full workout gear not required. Towels and nakedness will suffice. Get a grip. If you are too shy to show a little skin in the steam room, you don’t deserve to be there.

12) Fitness instructors or trainers who lie about how much work is left for you to do. Nothing will piss me off more than a fitness instructor who tells you ‘ok, 8 more. let’s go. Push it.’ You kill yourself, sweating your balls off knowing it’s the last few reps and then she springs this on ya – “Ha. Just kidding. We’re not done. Keep going,” and proceeds to take you down 8 more rounds of 8 reps each. Listen, bitch I just busted my ass for you and gave you the last bit of gas in my engine. Play fair. This is soooo not motivational.

13) Celebrity magazines that talk about how much weight women have just lost after a baby. For one thing, most women have a tendency to lose the baby weight. It’s not so miraculous. Secondly, I don’t think half of those women really even had a baby. They faked it with a surrogate, so of course they still look fabulous.

14) TV shows that start mid-season or have 12-18 month hiatus between seasons or claim 6 shows as a season. Really? You are losing me here.

15) Flight Control App. That stupid game is highly addicting and I can’t ever beat my highest score. Son of a bitch.

16) Manicures. For me, they only last like 3-4 days max before the chipping begins. A big waste of money and time. On the plus side, I’ve just discovered Shellach. I swear it’s the newest and greatest invention since the IPOD! This stuff is magic. My manicure lasted 3 1/2 weeks and my nails grew a ton with no breakage. Love it!

What’s your pet peeve? Share away!

Weight is THE Number, But Not the Only Number

The downside of the forty plus decade age is that you start to notice your body does not quite operate the way it used to or the way you think it should. In my younger days, I heard those ‘older’ folks complain and frankly, I could not relate. I had no sense or worry that this would ever happen to me. Ah, the joys of being young and ignorant! But whether you have something sagging in one area, creaks in another, aches and pains that never used to exist, less energy, performance issues (I’m just saying..it can happen) or you are staring at a mid-life crisis, the 40+ decade seems to have some pitfalls around health. And if you aren’t paying attention, they sneak up on you and attack like a bat out of hell!

I’ve never been skinny. I have struggled with my weight most of my life actually, so maybe it shouldn’t have come as a big surprise to me when some lab results in January proclaimed problems with my cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides and thyroid. The previous six months I hadn’t been working out and was  living under very stressful work conditions (ok, who are we kidding – that was true for the last 18 months really!). I didn’t feel excessively tired or sickly. I felt ok. I was getting by. I was surviving. Quitting my job late last year was one step in the right direction for change and I began to enjoy some well-deserved relaxation.  But lab results like these and the term ‘pre-diabetic’ jolted me back into a different sort of action. This combined with the fact that it’s difficult to get pregnant with a high thyroid and all that other stuff creates a not-so-swell baby environment. It has been nothing if not a challenge to bring the baby dream into reality (insert groan here).

So I was off like a firecracker with the P90X and weight watchers.  Lost about 10 pounds in 7 weeks, but felt myself plateauing. And for those of you that can relate to emotional eating….well, if I’m not losing and seeing a difference then ‘what the hell am I doing all this for??  Might as well enjoy that beer or those M&Ms after all.’ I am well-versed with this pitfall, so I signed up with a dietician and a trainer for some serious one-on-one behavior change therapy. And this was just what I needed even though I have developed strong, unkindly feelings of dislike towards my dietician. My dietician, Janelle, is the nicest person, but she is also in the position to tell me things that I don’t want to hear  and often, don’t want to do. (Lucky gal!) I don’t protest to her face (that would be rude after all…gotta suck it up), but after our sessions I’m usually cussing her out under my breathe or to my trainer (where not surprisingly, I get NO sympathy). I have learned that it takes me a couple of days to process her comments and suggestions. And don’t get me wrong, she’s not an ogre. She is just doing her job. So every week she reviews my food journal and comments, tweaks, sighs and offers advice. Last week she talked about starting to wean off processed foods. Say what? Sounds bloody impossible. And I always have homework for the next week, which usually involves doing something else I don’t like, i.e. cutting out something else from my diet.  And so it goes.

After 3 weeks with my dietician and my trainer, I was complaining bitterly that I had not lost a single pound. Instead the scale seemed to go up and back down again. Utter frustration. I resisted covering my ears with my hands as they counseled about how it takes time for a body to adjust and change, and weight is not the only number in play here; its about changes on multiple fronts. I tried to remember why I was really doing all this and keeping up the effort of 6 days a week, sweat your balls off, workouts – searching deep down for the motivation. Yeah, blah, blah, blah. Ultimately, I have come to realize how fixated I can be on the number. You know, THE number – my weight. It has become such a focus for me. For most of my life, my weight has often determined how I felt on a certain day. Talk about giving up your power to some non-existing entity. Geez! So, as you can imagine, it was driving me crazy not to see a result. Then, I noticed I was pulling my belt tighter another notch and I felt a little more energized.  Hmm…this is interesting. Next I got some new lab results which showed my thyroid had returned to normal levels (thank you drugs), sugars had decreased and my blood pressure was also normal.Of course I had to refrain from running to the scale to see what THE number had to say. I lasted a week. But, hey, that’s good for me 🙂 When I finally jumped on, I had only lost one additional pound from my previous plateau. I had an instance of feeling disappointed, but then I thought NO! I’m not going to let this tamper with my day. I’m doing good! So I mentally patted myself on the back and went on my way.  Maybe some of what my dietician and trainer are preaching is finally getting through. I do have a thick skull and a real bitch of a voice inside my head. I feel I have made some progress, even though it’s all happening much slower than I would like. But what do I expect after 25+ years of dieting and poor eating habits and yo-yo weight gain; that’s it’s all going to change in a matter of months? Yes, I’m impatient. But now I’m also committed. The hardest part may be marrying the two so that I can make the difference in myself that I want to make. Ugh! (insert another groan)

Ladies, Strut Your Stuff!

I recently joined a gym. It’s one of those fancy, smchmancy, offer everything kind of gyms  that is absolutely huge. This includes the locker rooms which are enormous with formidable size lockers, showers, steam, sauna, hair dryers, towels, etc. But I noticed the oddest thing today. At the end of each row of lockers is a little changing room with a door. At first, I didn’t even know it was there until someone came walking out and my curiosity had me peering into this little niche in the corner.  So it got me thinking. Someone could really do a fascinating study about women and their bodies from the depths of these ‘behind the curtain’ places.

Now, I’ve never been a skinny minny, but I also haven’t been shy about my body. Maybe that’s instilled self-esteem from my parents (high five to the folks!). When you are in a locker room, you change, shower, put on some lotion, apply the make-up, fix the hair, etc. and at times this can mean being naked or walking around naked or showing some nakedness. There is a wide range of approaches to nakedness in a women’s locker room. You have the women who seem to be so shy that they take their full set of clothes to the toilets or these little changing rooms to change. Don’t want to show a lick of skin. (These are also the same women who appear totally clothed – shoes and all – in the steam and sauna rooms. It’s a little shocking.) Or you have the women who try to change completely under a towel. Which honestly, I think is a bit ridiculous when you have these tiny little bath towels. (OK, well maybe not so small for the skinny girls, but I think it looks funny anyway). There are the women who just turn away and face their breasts to the nearest wall as they quickly shift clothing. God forbid, anyone gets a glimpse of the knockers. Then you have the half-naked chicks who will walk around with a towel around their waist; adopting the male technique. Finally, there are the full nudists who will walk to and fro, naked as a jaybird with no concern.

Personally, I don’t mind the nudity. Every woman’s body is different and I think you should take pride in what you have. Granted there is a place and time for nudity in the outside world, but why do women feel it’s necessary to hide their bodies in the confines of a changing area from other women? And what drives this behavior? Yeah, yeah, I know — culture, societal expectations, your family environment, peers, self-esteem, prudishness. But I say to hell with that! No matter your size, in the privacy of a women’s locker room you should not feel the need to run and hide. I watched a young girl about 12-13 years as she was furtively glancing around and seemed a bit shocked by the naked bodies in her immediate vicinity. Then she quickly grabbed her clothes and made a beeline for the toilets. And I thought, what are we teaching her? She clearly feels ashamed to show her body in front of other women or girls. I actually felt sorry for her, as I stood there in my underwear. But what has always really made me chuckle is watching those women who (in my opinion) have great physiques, are well-toned, with no obvious fat as they struggle to hide their bodies while trying to change covertly. I can’t help but think, what are they trying to hide, really? Someone going to stare at the goodies? Your va-jay-jay not up to snuff? Too much flab? If you look like that and can’t be proud…well, it’s time for a serious check up on your self-esteem. Because if I looked like that, I’d be strutting around naked all the time. Honestly! I could show them a roll or two….or three…that are probably better left covered up, but my mantra is what the hell? My body is my body. I certainly don’t love it all the time, but it’s what I’ve got to work with and I’m not going to be ashamed of it while changing in a locker room. Feel free to check me out sister!

I don’t think this something you grow into. I really think a lot of it comes down to how you were raised and the beliefs you were taught about yourself and your body, by your family. Don’t get me wrong – I have plenty of body issues that I could go on about for days, but I do think my parents were a bit free on the ‘being nude’ issue. Not that we ever walked around naked or anything, but there was never criticism about being naked, I saw them naked as a kid, and it wasn’t something that I was taught was a no-no or taboo. I hope I can do the same with my kids one day because I think it’s sad to be ashamed of your body. Be proud and strut your stuff! It’s all good.

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