Posted by: Sara S. | March 22, 2010

New goal: 10 lbs. in 8 weeks

If you have been paying any attention to the Food Journal, you might have noticed that I went completely off the rails during the past 3 weeks. As a result, I gained some weight back. Which makes sense.

But now, it’s time to get serious. (SERIOUS!) I have not arbitrarily picked 8 weeks–no, no, my birthday is in 8 weeks. And since there will be birthday festivities, there will be cute dresses. I would like to be at my goal weight by that date, and I think I can manage it. I am hoping that a pound or 2 of the weight is salt/water/grossness and that I can average about 1 lb. a week and be done. And, you know, still have 5 months to gain it all back before Jenna’s wedding!

Posted by: Sara S. | March 4, 2010

This, but then the total opposite of this.

As far as I can see, dieting has two dueling principles. (This is something I realized last night after pouring 3 c. of uncooked pasta into a pot of boiling water–whoops!) And in order to diet successfully, you must to buy into these  equally important but seemingly contradictory principles.

Principle 1: If you set dieting rules for yourself–no carbs, low sugar, no processed foods, etc.–then you should believe that every successive day you follows these rules, the more likely you are to continue following them and eventually reach your goal. For example, if I am faced with a decision of whether to eat a bowl of cereal at 11 o’clock at night, I can choose to follow my rules and fight the craving, or I can be a weakling and give in. In an effort to resist, I must make myself believe that this one decision is not irrelevant and will contribute directly to my weight loss. Because if I don’t, then I will start eating junk food left and right, telling myself, “Hey, it’s just this once.” I need to believe that no, it’s not just this once, and in fact will be twice and three and four times if you give in. This is how you build a new lifestyle, not just fad diet.

Principle 2: To prevent complete implosion of the dieting, you must also believe that one lapse, one late-night order of French fries, one binge–that’s not the end of the world, and should definitely not spell the end of your diet. If last night was a fat night, then you must convince yourself that it’s a unique incident and can be undone with other, better decisions. That rhetoric you tried to use to convince yourself out of eating like a porker–it will begin a death spiral, this spells the end of any future weight loss ever–yes, rhetoric failed. And now you need to pretend that those threats aren’t actually true and you need to rebound.

If you can figure out how to manage those 2 branches of dieting and apply each when where appropriate, then I trust you can be a good dieter. As far as I am concerned, some days are better than others.

Posted by: Sara S. | February 10, 2010

Might be 5 o’clock somewhere, but it’s always 9am here.

Despite what some of my friends–those who haven’t gone out with me lately or don’t know about the diet–think, I am not pregnant. Just because I have put drinking on pause, that doesn’t mean there’s a tiny person growing inside me. For the time being, I am holding off on the alcohol for several reasons: partially the dieting and the calories, partially to settle an angry stomach that isn’t particularly used to this food regiment.

To begin with, I was never much of a drinker. Whether they call it the chug or the gulp, my friends are familiar with my patented booze move: consume none of my alcoholic beverage during dinner, then drink all of it down right before we’re heading out of the restaurant. Sometimes, I’m so fast, they don’t even realize how the glass was miraculously drained. The cause for such ludicrous behavior? I am not one to mix food and alcohol. It doesn’t please me.

I do not dispute that a glass of red wine most days, or even every day, is good for your health. It’s good for my health, too, but I don’t like to drink it all that much. I have always been more partial to things like mojitos or extra dirty martinis (yes, probably made with vodka because I am a mere fraction of a man) or something with an umbrella in it. So it has not been a hard transition to give up drinking almost entirely. Plus, at this point even a thimbleful of booze would probably land me right on my butt.

No one asked for an explanation as to why wine or vodka never makes an appearance in the Food Journal, but I thought I’d share anyway. Perhaps it was on my mind because a former coworker recently asked if my drinking abstention was pregnancy-related (pretty sure she was pulling my leg on that one) and also because I’m cooking dinner tonight, with wine as an accompaniment. As unrelated to pregnancy as anything could possibly be, I will say this in closing: If I can keep my dried apricots and peanut butter, I am pleased as pie to sacrifice booze to the dieting gods.

(Ooo, pie…)

Posted by: Sara S. | February 9, 2010

Tell me a tale about 135 lbs.

The world was my oyster; I could have picked any weight that made me into a less fat bridesmaid. So how did I arrive at 135 pounds?

Well, it’s not a short story or a long one–but it’s anecdotal and worth telling if you’re into that sort of thing.

The last time I gave dieting a somewhat committed  go, I was 20 and it was the summer before my junior year in college. As Jenna can tell you, I became obsessed with yogurt and oatmeal. Do not ask me why. I was working out every day, running for more than 10 minutes at a time and pumping much iron in my building’s gym. The weight that sticks in my mind is 136 lbs. I remember getting on the scale at some point that fateful summer and it told me I weighed 136 pounds. Weight-wise, that’s all I remember. (Apparently, I have dieter’s amnesia.)

But why? Why was I dieting in the first place?

Because I was leaving for Italy in September, for my semester abroad. And do you know what Italy has? Very good-looking men. And these very-good looking Italian men probably preferred a svelte bridesmaid to a fat one. Hence the running and the yogurt. I wanted to go to Italy and be the best American I could be! And that meant being a hot American.

Since 136 lbs. is my lowest weight in recent memory, why not go for gold (hello Olympics!) and sneak in just a pound below that? Et, voila: 135 pounds. Obviously, 135 is also a reasonable weight for a person of my build and height. But, gee, wasn’t that vignette much cuter than just saying the BMI told me to?

Posted by: Sara S. | February 5, 2010

Please explain this concept of “moderation.”

I remember the breaking point of the quasi-diet I was on freshman year of college. In an attempt to stick to my “rules,” which allowed both apples and peanut butter but no sweets, I finished an entire balanced meal and then proceeded to eat about a 1/2 cup of peanut butter because I was still feeling empty. It became a big peanuty rock in my gut. I think my roommate had to roll me to our dorm room. Hey: technically I didn’t break my rules! And that’s when you know. When you hear yourself justifying complete overindulge because it “didn’t break rules,” you know it’s time to reexamine some things.

Today, because it was a coworker’s birthday, my office was flush with cupcakes. Big, be-sprinkled Crumbs cupcakes the size of my fist. It took absolutely no thought whatsoever to abstain from those confections. And if I not had abstained, I’d be writing this post from my hospital bed after the doctors revived me from a sugar coma–after they pried the remaining 5 cupcakes in the box from my dead, cold hands.

So instead of stuffing my face with cupcake this afternoon, I came home and stuffed my face with some Kashi cereal after my less-than-satisfying buckwheat soba noodle dinner. Yes, sure, I ate some of the cereal at a nice pace in front of the TV. The 2nd bowl I ate standing over my kitchen counter; one might have called it “scarfing.” Let me tell you about that cereal. It’s probably been around a while and it probably tastes similar to cardboard. It was not like the cereal was calling out, tempting me with its fresh, crunchy goodness. No, more like it was between the cereal and more apricots to satisfy my sweet tooth, and if I’d gone with apricots, I would have paid for it later.

Now, if I watched myself accumulate enough nights of Kashi noshes and apricot splurges, I’d begin to wonder if I’d hit the same breaking point from 6 years ago. Would my diet back then have stayed on track if I’d just snuck myself a piece of cheesecake–rules or no rules–and then continued on my merry way? At some point, must one dispense with the rules and resume life as a normal person who can have a sliver of cupcake without turning into a maniac? Well, yes, of course. Ok: but when? And this, this is a valid and very difficult question. When does a dieter know when to let go? It’s like you told yourself to hang tight to a life raft to prevent sinking. And now you’ve arrived safely on land and can’t bear parting with the damn raft because it was your safety line for so long. Unfortunately, every dieter is too familiar with the terrifying idea of the backslide. The rebound. The regain. The rules provided an easy way of living because there were rules. And now, there are cupcakes. Big, fat, creamy cupcakes the size of my fist!

Luckily, since I am not finished dieting, it’s not my responsibility to answer my own questions yet! That will have to wait until the final 8 pounds are gone. And when they are, I will be happy to explore the post-diet experience with you. I will be more than happy to explain how I will now manage the literal and metaphorical cupcakes in life. Because, unlike before the diet and unlike during the diet, I’ve got to figure out how to live in a cupcake world without tilting to extremes.

Posted by: Sara S. | February 4, 2010

The little engine that never even tried

It would sound downright idiotic to say that I don’t count attending college, getting my Master’s or securing a job as noteworthy achievements. I do, of course, count them because I am not an idiot. But these things were always going to be parts of my life experience; in some ways, I’d been preparing for them since the womb. Still, I don’t recall expending directed energy every day of my life to ensure that I was accepted to school or worked at a publishing house. I never sat down one Monday and said to myself, “Self, today is the first day you will start getting into Swarthmore.” (That was more like the day I made the decision to take AP Latin. Stupid.)

People set goals for themselves all the time–specific, reachable goals that they chip away at slowly or act swiftly to attain. What goals have I set for myself in the past 25 years? Well, other than the major stuff, I don’t know that I have. Maybe there were little goal-lets: a tennis match here, a term paper there. But until this dang diet, I have never campaigned for a life change so strongly. It’s not as if I have written a book or committed to being a better person (though I could use that) or even managed to survive all of Lent. Now, though, I know what it feels like to want something so bad that you overhaul your entire existence to make it happen. And although you may think me no Gandhi–and I think me no Gandhi either–trust me when I say that it really is overhauling. You try getting up early to go to the gym. You try resisting cheeseburgers and Snickers bars. YOU try abstaining from free party buffets because there’s not a veggie in sight. Obviously, many of you have done these things and more; you know what I’m talking about. It’s a different way of thinking and eating and living. It’s a commitment, a new direction, a break from years of ingrained habit. It is a huge pain in my ass.

And yet.

And yet, this has been worth it in a serious way. I’ve done the thing I set out to do. I said I’d do it and I did it. Yay me. No one should underestimate the difficulty of losing weight, and no one should underestimate the satisfaction. It is a beautiful thing to decide you are going to diet and then actually follow through. It might not be a college acceptance or a job offer. But for me, at times, it has felt better than that. Not because losing weight is nearly as important as those other achievements, but because, for once, I have put my head down, shut up and put up. Not without complaint or tirades or whining, I grant you. With a promise to myself and my friends and my family that I’d come out on the other side as a less fat bridesmaid. And so far I have done that. It’s probably my biggest Biggest Loser moment yet, and yes I am going to go there: I am proud of myself. Anyone who does something like this deserves to be proud. It isn’t a small accomplishment. It isn’t small at all.

Posted by: Sara S. | January 25, 2010

Crazy .Eights

I don’t understand physics, chemistry or science of any kind. I especially don’t understand the physics, chemistry or science-of-any-kind related to technology. Therefore, I cannot rule out any technological glitch causing my scale to read out weights that only end in .8. Maybe it’s the tilt of my bedroom floor or my 21st-floor altitude or (mis)wiring issues. Or, maybe, my body only loses weight in even amounts because it knows I am number-dumb. It does make my job easier since, in addition to science, I also don’t do math. I started at 159.8 pounds so the subtraction is quite easy every week when I weigh in at this-.8 or that-.8. And, yes, this week it was 143.8 lbs. I don’t know what it is about being below 145, but seeing that three was magical. No doubt, I will be waking up my neighbors with yelps at 6:45am on the morning I dip below 140. It’s coming, it’s coming… But of course, when it comes, it won’t be 139.0, it’ll be 139.8.

Posted by: Sara S. | January 22, 2010

If I wasn’t dieting…

…I would go to McDonald’s right now and order 2 Egg McMuffins and a large hot chocolate and at least 2 of those greasy little hash browns that leak grease through the paper wrapping in about 5 seconds. (Feeling very crave-y after reading this article about French Laundry and McD’s.)

Posted by: Sara S. | January 21, 2010

An apology grossly overdue

To any friend, family member or coworker who has ever tried to diet in my presence:

I am sorry. I am sorry for constantly trying to derail your dream. I am sorry for pressuring you into letting us get lunch at Five Guys or convincing you to split the brownie sundae for dessert. I am sorry for being that devil on your shoulder with a pitchfork made of Twinkies. I realize now that the little voice inside your head shouting, “You can only eat broccoli and celery!” had a difficult fight with the voice outside your head–namely, mine–shouting, “Don’t be a pansy, order the damn side of fries!” Deep, deep apologies.

For so long I was a coercer, an enabler, a bad influence. I shoved people off their dieting horses and smacked the horse in the ass to make it gallop away so they couldn’t get back on. No, I do not think this was some perverse effort to get other people to gain weight with me; I just liked the idea of a feast shared with friends. Friends who, at my urging, disposed of their resolve and shoved their faces in an apple pie. My bad…

Now that I am atop my own dieting horse, I see how annoying a figure like myself would be. Someone who is not content to order 3 courses alone, but wants you to join in too! Lucky for me, all of my friends, family members and coworkers have been exceptionally supportive and keep me away from the sweets. I imagine it’s much better to surround yourself with people like that instead of going out to dinner with a rogue forager such as (former) myself who needles and needles until, lo and behold, the waiter’s been instructed to bring 2 more baskets of bread.

Now, all I can offer is my sympathy and my regret for past behavior.



Posted by: Sara S. | January 20, 2010

Hit 9-week mark; commenced Deep Thoughts.

This morning at the gym, I was bored on the stupid tricep machine (die, stupid tricep machine) when I began checking out a woman checking herself out. She was riding the stationary bike, which is conveniently located right next to the room’s mirrored walls. I watched as she gave herself a good long look, scoping out her own  face, her arms and her little legs working in feverish circles on the bike. I wondered what she was thinking and whether, if  she was in the process of losing weight, she was trying to notice a difference in her shrinking body. And I use shrinking in a purposeful, pointed way because that is how I have been feeling lately. I’ve felt myself shrinking. Oh boy, it’s weird.

On this diet and undergoing this process of weight loss, I have noticed the same sensation I get when on antibiotics or when I take Excedrin. It’s that feeling of shock, like, “My body is not immune to the seductive entreaties of medications and drugs. I thought I was better than pharmacology.” I don’t know what I was thinking when I began this process, but I don’t remember thinking how it would feel to look in the mirror and see less of myself. Just like that girl on the bike, sometimes I can’t help but stare. There is simply less Sara. Cerebrally, I knew what would happen: fewer calories ingested + more calories burned=a less fat bridesmaid. Still, I get on that scale every Monday or I fit into old clothes again or I see that little fat roll under my ass getting littler and littler–and there’s that persistent sense of disbelief. Maybe I am conflating disbelief with a sense of accomplishment, but damned if I can tell the difference.

Older Posts »