The Cheering Section

Trying to lose weight is often a very lonely journey. One of the reasons that Weight Watchers works so well is that it takes a solitary quest and turns it into a social hour. I wonder if the people who sign up for Weight Watchers online have as much success– I’d imagine not, but that’s pure speculation on my part.

When I decided to make my project a public one there were two reasons. One was to finally own the most vulnerable part of me. If I own that I am fat, no one can make me feel awful about it anymore. For years I carried around a off-hand insult lobbed at me by Mr. Butch, a homeless junkie who was something of a fixture in Boston’s Kenmore Square.

“If you lost 50 pounds you’d look human,” he called out after me as I rushed by. Not that I’d look pretty if I lost 50 pounds, but that I’d look human. (Here’s a picture of Mr. Butch, if you want to truly see how ridiculous the comment was.) I knew it was ridiculous, but that didn’t stop it from stinging. But if I publicly own my weight, no one can say “You’re fat” and have it stick. My stepdaughter’s boyfriend tried it (yes, he’s persona non grata around here) and I just laughed.

The other is that it is my hope that making it public would make the whole thing a bit less lonesome. I figured I could make a regular short column compelling enough for readers. At least I hoped so. Since March, the blog entries have been read more than 7000 times. That’s pitiful by some standards, but I find it frankly amazing that my own journey to reclaim myself can garner that much interest. I hoped that by making it public it would keep me  honest to myself and my readers, and that I would feel that I had to keep going even when I really, really wanted to quit.

And you know what? That worked.

I think I’ve made more progress and better progress and stuck to it much longer because you all gave a damn. This morning when I stepped on the scale, I was down another pound. Now I am just a single pound away from being 30 pounds lighter. (And getting my new mirror!) As an aside I posted this happy news on Facebook, and over the course of the day a dozen people commented with variations on “Atta girl!” and more than three dozen people “liked” it.  This made me beam. I don’t know about you, but it’s a rare post of mine that gets that kind of feedback.

Then there are the regulars, who read this every day, and comment many of the days, and the other bloggers who “like” the posts and the feedback is great. Sometimes I get a little lecture, or a pep talk, or some wonderful compliment and all those things are better than the best dessert. I’d rather have a comment than a Godiva Open Oyster and that’s saying something.

So, thank you. Every ounce lost, every mile walked, every inch shed is a shared victory. You’ve made this possible and I am forever grateful. xoxo

Target Today 71 !  Steps: 2759

Breakfast: yogurt with granola, hard-boiled egg Lunch: half a steak quesadilla Dinner: pork tenderloin (3 ounces) sautéed with Shanghai Bok Choy and ginger. Cup of watermelon. 



Numbers Racket

After a couple of days, I began to wonder if something was awry with the scale.  Months of careful weighing at the same time of day, in the same spot, wearing the same amount of clothes (almost nothing) had rendered a certain consistency. There might be variations of a few ounces here or there, or sometimes no change at all day after day. If I felt puffy and bloated, I might expect to see it fluctuate a pound or so.

Suddenly it was up two or three pounds one day, then down a pound or two the next, then up two more the day after that. This morning, when I got on it the first time, it said I was up six ounces from yesterday. When I stepped on it a second time, suddenly those ounces had increased to six pounds. When I set it on the Persian carpet, which is flat, and hard, it showed that I’d lost 70 pounds in a matter of seconds. Woo-hoo!

Acting on a hunch, I asked my dear husband to bring some triple A batteries upstairs. With the new batteries installed, I put the scale down on the floor again. And stepped on. Three pounds more than yesterday. I stepped off. I stepped on again. Still three pounds more than yesterday. In a kind of quiet frenzy, I weighed myself five times. Always three pounds more than yesterday. Shit.

I know I didn’t gain three pounds since yesterday– who knows when the scale was last accurate? But it does mean that I am not making the progress that I thought I’d made.

Some people advise to weigh less often– once a week, once a month, once a year, not at all. They call it the “tyranny of the scale” and they have a point. Every morning when I step on the platform I hold my breath a little. If the numbers moved in the right direction, my step will be spring-ier, my soul lighter. If they went the other way, well, sometimes it’s hard to shake the blues.

But actual serious weight-loss studies have shown that neurotic “weighers” like myself tend to lose more weight, and have a better chance of keeping it off. To me, that’s worth the anxiety. Plus if you only weighed once a week, God help you if that day happens to be one of your “fat days.”

So, I’ll go on getting on the scale, even if the results weigh on me.

But if you’re talking about the tyranny of numbers, it’s not just the bathroom scale wielding the whip hand.  There is the scale’s t00-skinny friend, the tape measure. Oh, I loathe the tape measure. But on the off-chance that my increased muscle mass is boosting my weight but slimming my butt, well– who would want to miss that? At least I only do that once a month.

Of course, I count all day long too: cups, and fractions of cups, numbers of Oreos, ounces of yogurt or berries or steak. And steps, oh my God, the endless steps. And people don’t understand why I am resistant to adding tracking, where you count every damn thing you put in your mouth, right down to fat grams, carbohydrates, grams of sodium and fiber and sugar and protein and of course, the old favorite, calories. No thanks. I’ve got enough to count already.

When I started this project I set out a list of ten (count ’em, ten) prizes, one to award myself for every ten pounds lost. The first ten netted me a pair of minimalist running shoes, just starting to wear a bit. The second ten a beautiful lined linen dress, which would have been too small when I started, and now is getting to be a bit too big. The prize for losing thirty pounds is a wonderful full-length mirror from IKEA, with a fantastic silver gilt frame. I am worried that IKEA, fickle that they are, will discontinue the mirror before I get there. Yesterday, it was only five more pounds. At one point last week (when the scale was wonky) it appeared to be only two pounds away. Now that my scale has had its reality check, the mirror slips back by eight pounds. Eight pounds. How hard can that be?

The numbers racket even extends to this realm: I count readers. I look at the new month compared to the ones before it. I was shocked to see I’d been doing this for six months already.  Some days I’ll write something that pleases me greatly and sit back and wait for readers that never come. And I will despair. Other days, I just slap something together and people seem to read in droves. I felt great then until I saw a little note from Word Press noting that a service (one I neither knew about nor used) will be discontinued for blogs with fewer than 500,000 “hits” a day. A day.  It’s enough to make a girl crazy.

Target today: 78. Steps 5931

Breakfast: Egg McMuffin. Lunch: grilled chicken breast, rice and vegetables, two small flour tortillas,  6 tortilla chips with salsa. Afternoon snack: yogurt with granola. Dinner: two eggs, a cup of cottage cheese. Two cups of watermelon. Two Oreos. 

Walked around the University campus with Julian. Lots of steps, not much burn. 

In the Chop


One of my great-grandfathers was a butcher. He was a laid-back, easy-going sort of fellow, much beloved by his grandchildren, my father included. After his day at the butcher shop he liked to come home and have a nap on the sofa. My great-grandmother Chloe, who was descended from royalty, and whose day began before her husband’s and ended long after took a dim view of this activity. One day when Grandpa Christ came home from the butcher shop, he found that his wife had taken an axe to the sofa. I suppose he should have been grateful he wasn’t on it at the time.

While I’d always understood this story intellectually, today it seemed to hit home in a more visceral way. Of course, Elmer was on the sofa, and I quite love my sofa, an old-fashioned dark red velvet number from Crate and Barrel. And an axe is so heavy. So I had to be satisfied with threatening my husband with the vacuum cleaner wand. I might have thrown the duster attachment at him, but he can’t prove a thing.

Tomorrow (well, today) a few people are coming over to celebrate our son’s new adventure in university. There was no time for lounging on the sofa. Or anywhere for that matter. “Chop” is a phrase used by sailors to describe short, steep waves moving quickly at an irregular pace. It’s quite challenging to sail through and some boats are much better than others. This is what the day felt like– one steep little wave after another. Just when it seemed we were getting something accomplished, there were nine other things that needed attention– and some people were watching television. On the sofa.

Why is that women help each other, we just do it. We work alongside each other– and though one may say to the other “What would you like me to do now?” a woman would never finish a task and then go sit down and eat bon bons. It just wouldn’t occur to us. With men it’s different. They might do what you ask– eventually. They will only do what you ask, not much freelance inspiration in the trenches. It never occurs to them to vacuum the damn lampshades.

Chop-chop, boys. Not much time left.

Target number 74 (Yes, down 3– it’s testimony to how stressed I am that I don’t even feel overjoyed.) Steps 4602. (Plus more than a 1000 towards Saturday’s count.)

Breakfast: two hard-boiled eggs, yogurt with granola. Lunch: half cup of leftover red bliss potato salad, two scrambled eggs. Two Oreos. Dinner: two tortillas with home-made moo shu chicken (and no the Chinese guy didn’t make it, I made it. lol) Two Oreos. 

A Week Off, Sorta.

Oh I wish my week off looked more like this. 🙂

Two weeks ago I had a great re-ignition of this project after taking a week off. I was going great guns, until I went to South Carolina, and now it seems I’ve taken another week off. While many fitness sites for runners, weight-lifters, body builders and the like recommend that you take the occasional week off, they probably don’t mean that you should take a week off this frequently.

The advantages of taking time off (as in vacation time) are myriad:  generally you give your body a chance to rest and repair, you get your waking and sleep cycles back in order, it helps protect you from injury, it a great stress reducer and for the zealous among us, putting the brakes on any “overtraining” that you might be indulging in (ah, to have such a problem) and it’s a great help for examining and realigning long-term goals.

You’re just supposed to go a little longer than two weeks between the breaks.

I know that last week I did absolute nothing to alleviate stress- if anything I compounded it tenfold. My waking and sleeping cycles are all awry (so again, I’m writing in the middle of the night- I hope to change that in the morning) and if I’ve had a chance to rest and repair I don’t feel it. I just feel tired.

Probably I would have felt better if I’d found someway to exercise, but there are only so many trips you can make around the squalid little Wal-Mart in Newberry, South Carolina. When I was a kid, they had a fantastic public pool there– but that’s been long ago filled in. Apparently the closest public pools are Spartanburg, Anderson and somewhere beyond Columbia. That’s not really good enough. When 40 percent of the population under 18 are also under the federal poverty guideline, you need to give them something to do in the summer to stay cool and have fun.

It was certainly too hot to go outside and even if it hadn’t been, I was there to take care of my mother. Her physiological response to post-surgical medication was too worrisome to allow me to leave her side. Once we got the prescriptions sorted out, her focus sharpened considerably and I was able to come home, leaving my teenage son there for the week helping his grandmother.  As it is I’ll be back there on Friday and will stay through to the following Wednesday. But before I leave Dayton on Friday I am going down to join the YMCA, so that at least on my next trip, I can go to the Y down south and use the treadmill and maybe the pool. Even if I have to drive 19 miles up the road to Clinton to do so.

That should help.

Target number 53. Steps today 4426. Breakfast: two pecan pancakes, two peaches. Lunch: yogurt with granola, two ounces of brie and a coke. Dinner: scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa wrapped in a small tortilla.

Look for a fuller accounting next week, since I’ll be back on schedule.

Happy Monday

Monday’s have traditionally been the day of reckoning here. I had come to dread them, because each Monday meant I had to face up to the fact that I was failing to meet my goals. This is the first Monday of the New Plan, and I feel decidedly more cheerful. I have only demanded 30,000 steps this week because I was a day late in getting started– next week, back to 35,000. I had hoped to have three exercise “events” each week and that proved impossible. So I am going to scale down a bit and try for at least one exercise “event” a week– this way I have room to grow. The changes I’ve made since last week are good ones, though. I’m making progress, and I feel so much better. Even though the steps for yesterday were very low. I think my body just needed a day to rest. After all, I’ve walked more than 200 miles.

(The mural in the photo above is by Tori LaConsay, a Georgia artist. She and her mural are the subject of a rather dramatic David and Goliath story– the retail giant H&M stole the design and copied it onto various items for sale and tried to weasel out paying Tori anything. Guess who prevailed?  You can read about it here.)

The target number for today is 53!  I walked 1143 steps.

Number of pounds to lose this week: 1

Number of pounds lost this week: 3!

Cumulative number to have lost by this point: 29

Actual cumulative number lost: 27

Number of steps to have walked: 30,000

Actual number of steps walked: 26,721

Cumulative number to have walked: 470,000

Cumulative number walked: 576,629 (218 miles!)

Exercise Event(s): Ring Stewarding at Dog Show (1100+ cal.)

Breakfast:  blueberries with yogurt and granola. Lunch: Lean Cuisine Chicken Alfredo (it was a lazy day– wouldn’t recommend this one though) Afternoon snacks: bowl of all natural “lite” popcorn, Planters nut bar, Ritz Crackers with cheese. Iced tea for dinner,

Too Damn Hot to Eat.


This is a fresh start. It’s not starting over, because I never really stopped. It’s just that I’ve become less and less focused– staying with the project, but not really paying attention. It’s quite clear from the static number on the scale and the cruel fact that I did not lose a single inch this month that my body now thinks we are at a set point. It’s quite happy to putter along with that many calories and that level of exercise and only give me variations in weight based on stomach contents or water retention. Lack of progress makes one cranky.

So there are changes afoot. I’ll be writing each morning about the day before instead of staying up late writing about the day that just happened. That should increase the quality of the posts as well as my health and well-being. This morning I woke up at 7:30 and got up at 8. I did not feel stressed out about at all. It felt like a totally natural turn of events. And I am cheerful.

I’m changing the rules and probably moving the finish line. That’s okay, it’s my project, I can change the rules if I want to. The goal for weight loss each week will be one pound instead of two. If I lose two, good for me. I am tired of not meeting the goal and feeling depressed about it. Losing a pound a week still means losing 50 pounds a year. This may mean that Twelve Moons goes on for and extra moon or two or ten, and that’s okay too. I’ll miss the blog when I stop. I am going to set the step requirement at 35,000 and leave it there. If I have an active week, it’s easy to meet and it still gives me room for a day off.

Instead on an ever-increasing step count, I am adding something different. I am going to have three days a week in which I do something energetic. It might be painting a room, playing tennis, riding a bike, showing a dog, going swimming, taking a substantial hike, cleaning out the garage. So three times a week,  I will have serious exercise. Included in some of the day-to-day stuff, though, I want to add just a few minutes of high-intensity work– running, jumping rope,   walking on steep inclines. Surely this should help crank up the old metabolism.

And as far as food goes, I’m cleaning out the fridge today. (I don’t think that qualifies as one of the three exercise events– it’s not that far gone.) When I started the project in March, I had renewed enthusiasm for food, but that has waned. I am once again opening the cupboards looking for something to nosh on, forgetting to ask myself if I might just be bored or thirsty instead. I’m not over-eating, but it’s not conscious eating either. That said, I’ve had three egg-salad sandwiches in the last 24 hours. I made the egg salad, with a dressing instead mayo straight out of the jar, and caramelized Vidalia onions and you know it’s the best damn egg salad I’ve ever had.

I’m going to start eating bread again. I don’t eat much in the way of rice or potatoes or pasta. I’m not addicted to carbs. I can go without bread for long stretches at a time. But good bread is worth eating and since I have access to superb bread– well, it’s ridiculous not to have some. Yesterday I finally ate the chocolate duckling from Easter. It was good. It was probably better six weeks ago. Oh well, live and learn.

Enough about me. Time to go out and face the day.

. . .

Did not weigh yesterday, so no official target number. Did not put on the pedometer, so no clue as to steps, but laid low by Benadryl, so probably no more than 1000.  Consumed: two hard-boiled eggs, yogurt with granola, banana. Lunch: egg salad sandwich. Mid-afternoon: 6 ounces blueberries with yogurt and granola. Dinner: egg salad sandwich, 5 oz of raspberries, 2 oz. chocolate duckling.

Where I Am

Whenever I am down about this process of re-making myself, one or two or ten helpful friends remind me that I am so much further along than I would be if I had never started. And that’s true. Though the scale vacillates stubbornly back and forth two or three pounds, I do seem to have stalled out a bit. I had planned that every 8 weeks, I would take a week-long sabbatical and give myself some breathing room. I wonder if that hasn’t come a little early this time.

The sunburn (I know, I do whine, don’t I?) continues to be something distinctly uncomfortable. When my husband laid his hand on my shoulder yesterday, I nearly came unglued from the pain. It astounds me that he could forget. But apparently he does, so now when he comes near me, I raise my hands to remind him. Today the offended skin erupted in thousands of tiny blisters. I feel vaguely reptilian and a little sick.

We did go out for a walk this afternoon– a mile or so through the forest. It was even too hot there, but we managed. As we walked I thought about where I was in this project and what I would do if I truly did not lose another ounce. At first that thought filled me with despair. But that’s ridiculous, it’s nothing to despair of. I think it is a matter of tricking my metabolism again and see if we can’t get the old Tin Lizzy up and running again.

There are so many things to remember along the way, and so many are forgotten. I think the business of eating enough is probably an essential role that most people miss. We think dieting, and to everyone, that means reduce. Eat less, and especially eat less well. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. A friend who is on a similar journey recently made a concerted effort to concentrate on nutrition, and the results were staggering– first and foremost that she feels so much better.

Me too. Though I am plagued with migraines, they have been well in abatement since I started this. My skin looks better. I have more energy. I am no longer bothered by acid reflux. I do not feel so “draggy.” Though some parts of this are weight-loss and exercise, a huge factor is what I’ve been eating. It’s not perfect all the time, for sure, (today for instance, wasn’t stellar) but across the board I’ve made so many improvements in the way I eat, and what I eat, that I think the benefits will stay with me for a long time.

So even if I never lose another ounce, that’s been a huge saving grace for me. And I will lose more ounces. Probably I will have to buckle down and make a better schedule. Walk with Lori on one day, tennis with Martha on another. Lunch and maybe a quick walk with Gina after a morning doing research at the Library. I need to get back to work on the book. (I have succumbed to summer-itis, where I feel like just loafing around. The 90 degree days contribute to that.) I need to train my puppy. Perhaps I can train the puppy to run alongside the bicycle.  The treadmill beckons.

It feels like I’ve stalled out a bit here. Better to stop kidding myself and start moving forward again.

. . .

Target number 57. Steps today: 6315. Breakfast: two hard-boiled eggs. Half a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Lunch: half a cup of cottage cheese, half a chicken salad sandwich, 4 potato chips, two ounces of Coke, glass of v-8. Dinner: green salad. Yogurt with granola. Two  hard-boiled eggs. 6 ounces of fresh raspberries.