Monday, October 5, 2015

Still stuck on the weight thing

Back in July, I was enrolled into a healthy lifestyle makeover program with the American Heart Association. It's part of the Go Red for Women campaign that culminates in lots of public education and heart-health awareness in February.

I enrolled in this program because I wanted to get healthier and address some of my dietary habits that could cause arterial plaque.

Well, after getting lots of blood work done at the outset, it turns out my numbers were already pretty great. It also turns out I did not lose any height as I initially wrote in my last post, so hooray for that. Even though I was already in a good place cardiovascular-wise, I've been doing everything the Heart Association has asked.

My mid-course blood work was stellar. My total cholesterol is 164, and at 90, my triglycerides are practically nonexistent. I'm not celebrating. Not at all. Going into this thing I naively thought I'd lose weight. I did lose a few pounds in the first three weeks, but since then, I've had no weight loss. In fact, I've gained back two pounds.

You know, my body is a stupid body. It's a stubborn body. It does little of what I ask of it. I mean, I'm glad I'm healthy and my cholesterol is 164 and my blood pressure is 110/60. That's awesome. But, I'm always battling generalized pain, I don't sleep, I'm so uncoordinated I frequently hurt myself when I exercise, and despite my efforts to correct the biggest problem of all, I am significantly obese. I hate my body so much. Clothes look like crap on me, and I'm always, always, always embarrassed by myself.

The thing is, and I can't stress this enough, I couldn't care less what anyone else weighs or looks like. I just can't stand myself, my lumbering obesity, my inability to be, if not skinny, maybe able to wear a single-digit clothing size. Maybe getting to a clothing size where the "X" is the first character on the label and not the second would be a start.

Last week after a workout. I'm second from left, all in black.
On this Heart Association program, my blood work has been outstanding, but working out 3-4 times a week--and these are brutally hard workouts, no exaggeration--while also walking several miles a week, and living on a strict low-carb, low-fat, 1400-calorie a day diet (I stopped eating cheese entirely. The diet is closely monitored weekly by a registered dietitian from the AHA and Quest Labs) has yielded me nothing more than an improvement in what was already really great blood work. Ugh. I've lost a negligible amount of weight, but when you have nearly 100 pounds to lose, a tiny loss is meaningless.

And, I'll tell you, nothing makes me rage harder than people who shrug and say it's a matter of calories in vs. calories out, because I've been logging a 300-500 calorie deficit every damn day for MONTHS and I have NOTHING to show for it.

The AHA keeps asking us to think about what we've learned during the program. The main thing I learned is that it's possible to eat perfectly, exercise hard and regularly, have really incredible blood/blood pressure numbers and still be a bit fat fatty McFat fat. That's what I've learned.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Can we talk about my weight?

I'm fat. Really, really fat. I recently had a blood draw, and while I was at the lab, they weighed and measured me.

I lost a half-inch of height in the last two years. I really had no vertical dimension to spare, given my body shape and weight. Still, that's gone, and my weight, well, at 61 inches, I'm within less than 10 pounds of hitting 200. Let that sink in. That's a special kind of obesity. Well, I mean, it's still not fat enough to qualify for bariatric surgery, but definitely so fat that I'm officially socially unacceptable in the USA.

I live in a culture where more than 50 percent of adults are overweight, yet being fat is considered a sign of exceptional personal failure. That message is everywhere and I can't get past it.

I've struggled with my weight my entire life. As a teenager, my siblings were embarrassed by me and were merciless in their bullying. My sister couldn't tell me enough how I was ugly, fat, and weird. My mother kept trying to get me to diet and even enrolled me in a program when I was 15. My brothers were relentless in chanting it at me: Fat, fat, fat. The shame of it was crushing to my spirit and I lost any confidence or positive self-image that I may have built up as a child. I weighed 135 pounds throughout high school. Yes, 135. The horror. My family would have rewarded me had I become anorexic, but I didn't have the discipline.

I really had no idea what actual obesity was at that point. I probably would have killed myself at 17 if I knew what I would allow myself to become as an adult.

For me, my weight represents the very essence of all of my failures and squandered potential. Certainly, I have accomplished some things as I've gone along. I've always worked, I got a college degree that Ipaid for by myself, and then, at 41, a master's degree. My MA GPA was 3.99 and it feels like a failure because I know I got what I deserved, much like I have the body I deserve due to my own mental deficiencies. The blame is squarely on me. It should have been a 4.0 and the fact that it wasn't was entirely because of my inability to do what needed to be done to make that happen, much like getting thin (or not). The shame of this is never far from my mind whenever I even need to mention I have a master's degree.

What I eat, whether or not I exercise, the ability to control myself, starve myself, get myself to a skinny place, I've just failed. It doesn't matter that I help people build better lives. It's irrelevant that I've mentored others on their path. There's no merit in being highly competent in my work, or that I learned to fly a hot air balloon or that I started and still run a nonprofit business in addition to my other responsibilities. I've worked my ass off my whole adult life, but nobody sees that. They can't get past the fat. Maybe most wouldn't say it to my face, but I know that in my family, in my American world, being fat cancels out any personal accomplishment.

At 54, my weight shouldn't matter, right? I've reached the age of cultural invisibility. Women essentially disappear from advertising, from media, from being taken seriously once they cross the threshold of 50. Still, it matters to me because I know how hard it is to buy clothes, to look nicely dressed, to fit comfortably anywhere, to be judged. And I do assume that the silent judgment is never-ending but I can't stay sequestered in my house, so I'm subjected to that judgment every day.

Of course I know that changing this is in my control, but it's so hard. It's hard to be hungry. It's hard to say no every time I'm offered something. It's hard to exercise when my body is always in pain. I should push myself, but I lack the drive. I have yet to find an exercise activity I enjoy--and I have tried many. Exercise in all its forms is profoundly boring. I have been known to wander off mid-workout or to simply start crying from the effort and tedium.

My eating habits aren't terrible, but they aren't great, either. I don't drink soda or anything carbonated (my four beverages: one cup of coffee daily, unsweetened iced tea with lunch on the weekends, wine daily, and 64 ounces of water a day. No juice, no soda, no energy drinks, no Starbucks, no milk). I love cheese. I have a serious cheese habit. Frank cooks very carb-laden meals, and I don't complain because I'm too lazy to do the cooking myself. I like to drink. I drink a lot, in fact. Typically, my red wine consumption comes in at about 12-14 ounces a day. That's a crapload of empty calories. But I'm as taken with the after-work/dinnertime wine-drinking ritual as I am with the calming effect that liquor has on me.

Maybe that's what's at the core of my problem: I find cheese and wine to be comforting in a way nothing else is. Exercise has never done anything for my mood or sense of well-being. Salad is unappealing to me and something I must force myself to eat. It's cold and wet and there's nothing satisfying about it. Ditto for fruit.

My weight problem is the biggest, most important failure of my life. If I can never get it together to weigh 105 (yes, that's the appropriate weight for my height and bone structure--look it up), then it really doesn't matter what else I do with my time, skills, and talents. I'll never get hired for a different job. I'll never get any kind of social approval. The fat and how I did it to myself are really the only things. I conceded defeat at some point. I gave up the calorie counting, I stopped going to the gym months ago, I stopped ordering takeout salads that I hated, and I gave up. I gave up because putting in a lot of effort still turned out to be not enough effort and I don't think I have the energy to live on 800 calories a day and work out four to six hours a day. I mention that because that's what the contestants do on the television programs The Biggest Loser and Extreme Weight Loss. On the show "My 600-lb Life," the patients get 1,000 calories a day, no carbs.

I wish my brain could get in this game and I could learn to love life on 800 no-carb calories and six hours of daily exercise. Maybe then I'd have more money (because I could get hired into a better job), I'd have more friends (because everyone loves a thin person), I wouldn't be so exhausted all the time (I work a minimum of 60 hours a week and sleep about 5 hours a night, but I know it's the fat that's wearing me out), and maybe I'd get a little more respect in my day-to-day life.

For now, I am BMI 135, the biggest failure I could ever have brought on myself. In America, if you're not thin, you have failed everything by default. How can I ever be seen as worthy of anything if I'm fat?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Too sad

I'm too sad to blog. Seriously, I'm so overwhelmed with despair, I can't even work up the enthusiasm to write.

That being said, I made it four days without crying.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I forgot

I forgot to wish myself a happy birthday on my blog this year. I don't think I've ever missed doing that.

Unlike previous years when I said acknowledging my birthday was disingenuous because I'd wished I'd never been born, I didn't feel that way this time. This year I felt more like, hey, I made it through another one and no one is more surprised about that than me.

Sometimes I wonder if the people who know me are actually taking bets and gambling on the likelihood/inevitability of my quitting life. I suspect they are. I wonder who has the closest date in the pool. Who will win? will it be you? How much have you bet? You can tell me.

I can tell you it won't be this year. I have three things I need to do in 2015, not the least of which is divest myself of at least 50 percent of the physical possessions in my home. That task is going to take some time and real thought. I would never intentionally leave Frank with all of the clutter that has accumulated because of me. This situation must be undone. Yard sale, donations, gifts, giveaways. Despite the sheer volume, there is essentially no trash or actual junk among so much stuff.

Anyway, I made it to my birthday. Nobody cared. Nobody, not one person, thought to say, I'm glad you were born and I'm glad you're still here. My world is better with you in it.

The truth is, despite my best efforts, I've not been able to make myself have any value in this world. As a worker I have and as a helper, but not as a person. Maybe in my next life I'll get that right.

Happy birthday to me, though. I stuck it out another year and probably made at least one person lose a bet.

Friday, April 24, 2015

This. This. This.

OMG, this article. Spalding Gray. Suicide. Neurology. Frontal Lobe. Depression. Rumination. This, this, this.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No change

Still sad. Still obsessing over every word I say and desperately hoping I've not offended anyone. Still trying to figure out  what the appropriate facial expressions and responses should be when interacting with others.

Still sad. No change.

I want... Why can't I just keel over, boom? Why?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New here?

If you're new to my blog, welcome. Here's some advice for tooling around:

Most people come for the information about shingles but stay for the witty banter. I'm not an expert on shingles; I just know a lot about it from doing intensive research while I was laid up for a month. I never did try the medical marijuana, so I still can't give an opinion on that.

45 Mercy Street: That post is not an academic analysis; it's only my take on the poem. My blog post will not, I repeat, will not help you with your academic coursework. Sorry.

My posts from 2012 on aren't that great because I wasn't focused on writing so much as I became immersed in Facebook and Twitter. That being said, there's some good reading prior to that (at least, I like to think so). I'd say your best bet is to go back to 2008 and work your way forward from there. There's a lot about the nature of hope, friends who betray or abandon friends and mourning the end of relationships, why I think a lot of adults with ADHD get misdiagnosed (really misdiagnosed), and lots of my thoughts on what the world of medicine and doctors can and can't accomplish for mere mortals who ask a lot of questions.

I somewhat neglected my blog for a long time, but I'm back and should be for a while. I'm going through some stuff and this is where I come to hash it all out. It's like having one of those therapists who doesn't talk and makes you do all the work to reach your own conclusions, except Blogger is free.

Also, I'm reasonably sure I'm on the path toward a major coronary event, so I want to keep writing so there's some documentation of my condition leading up to that. I've been really good at predicting things I was told were unlikely to happen. Doctors don't listen to me enough which is why I only go to them if I'm in agony or there's a compelling risk of death or disability on the horizon.

Also, I talk about suicide a lot. It doesn't mean anything; I currently have no imminent plans to take my own life, but I still contend it's the ultimate human right and I'm entitled to it if I get to that point.

Go ahead--snoop around the old posts. They're not too bad.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I'm nothing if not consistent

I've been re-reading the 2013 portion of this blog. I've made no progress. Still accurate. Feeling this one in particular:

Monday, April 13, 2015

If I don't know, how can anyone else?

I can't tell if I'm losing my mind or reclaiming it.

It could just be menopause. At least, that's what I keep reading. Except...I take hormones, so that's not supposed to happen.

Here's what I do know: When I am depressed, I can't keep up, physically or intellectually.  I hang back, I'm slow, I wander, I don't grasp conversations, and I can't keep track of what people expect from me. I just can't connect the dots. I can't follow the rules because I can' rmember what I'm supposed to say or how I'm supposed to interact.

Do you have any idea how frustrating that is?

It makes me even more of a dory dork than I am under the best of conditions. Ugh.

Let's review

Here is a post from 2008 that sounds an awful lot like my current situation. It's uncanny, actually. I do know myself, that's for sure.

I found that picture on a Bing search, which is where my MS clipart now defaults. I don't  know whom to credit, so there's this:

A song in my head

I was going to post the lyrics, but they're pretty clear. Fun fact: I still have this album on vinyl.

Because we can't call in sad

Ikon Images/Corbis via NPR
A few days ago, NPR ran a story about how people who are depressed usually don't or simply can't take off from work. I've never missed a day of work from feeling depressed, although my productivity has been known to take a significant hit.

It's a good story and worth the time to listen. There's a recap on the web page, but I'd recommend you listen to this one in its entirety.

Click here to go to the NPR story:

Working Through Depression: Many Stay On The Job, Despite Mental Illness