Tag Archives: weight

Packing It In

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Two things about travel that I think I’ll never cure myself of:

Packing too much.

Eating too much.

My suitcase was ten pounds too heavy on the way over to Croatia. This was largely due to a big blue file box that held all the Level Two lesson material, which weighed about ten pounds by itself. Now that box is gone, safely stowed in the house of my missionary friends. However, my suitcase in inexplicably just and heavy as it was two weeks ago. I’ve not added more than one bag of very light souvenirs. Other than that, I’ve used up the soap and other sundries that I brought with me. Why my suitcase is so heavy is a mystery to me.

However, there is no mystery as to why I am heavier than I was on the flight over. Croatian food is carb-heavy, fat-heavy, low on vegetables, plentiful, and irresistible. This is a hard combination for a foodie with no self-control. My friends wonder why I’m a salad addict. The reason is simple—if I eat anything else, I won’t stop.

As a result, staying in a country mysteriously void of vegetables has left my clothes hanging a little differently on me by the end of two weeks. Even my face looks bigger. Looks like I have a few weeks of salad for breakfast ahead of me—at least until I assume some shape other than that of a hippopotamus.

Running next Wednesday is going to be utter torture.

So as I pack my clothes and toiletries and try not to think about the sheer quantity of food I’ve consumed in the past two weeks, I have to remind myself that trips like this only happen once or maybe twice in a lifetime—and a few extra pounds are probably worth the price. I’ll shed the weight, but the memories will last a good long while. 

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‘Tis the Season to be Flabby

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Autumn through winter has got to be the worst time period for anybody trying to maintain a healthy weight. In October there’s Halloween candy, followed by the pumpkin pie and pumpkin everything else in November. Then there’s December, and the Christmas excuses start to roll in.

“It’s exam week. The stress will burn off the calories from this homemade chocolate chip cookie.”

“C’mon, how fattening can a candy cane be? It’s just solidified peppermint. Right?”

“It’s cold outside. Hot chocolate is a necessity. Besides, it doesn’t count because it’s a liquid.”

“Oh, what’s one more handful of white-chocolate covered Chex Mix? Chex Mix is healthy. Yeah.”

“This is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has healthy antioxidants that help maintain heart and brain health. I need to eat this.”

“My grandmother made these. She’ll ask if I liked them. I need to eat them to avoid a family feud.”

If you’re laughing, it’s because you know exactly what I’m talking about.

There’s something about this wonderful time of year that makes everyone feel especially generous. This generosity usually manifests itself in the form of food. I’m not talking goody bags of veggies and ranch dressing, either. I’m talking bagfuls of cookies, pretzels, chocolate-covered this and that, hot cocoa packets, homemade delights that make your mouth water.

 And then you tell yourself, “Hey, Christmas comes but once a year. Why not?” With those two magic words, the whole “everything in moderation” concept goes flitting out the window.

It’s only when your jeans don’t sit where they used to do you realize that perhaps applying the You Only Live Once mentality to Christmas food was a bad idea.

‘Tis the season to be flabby

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Like a massive ginger tabby

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Cookies, truffles, Candy ca-anes

Fa la la, la la la, la la la

Lead to all our winter ga-ains,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

This Is the Story of How I Got Fat

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Once upon a time, my family discovered the joys of organic food. Through careful research we found that organic food lacked preservatives and antibiotics that contribute to things like chronic weight gain, unsheddable pounds and the inability to process antibiotics when one actually needs them. As a result, we became a 90% organic-eating family. I exercised regularly, and with the help of Weight Watchers, I lost 20 pounds and reached my ideal weight of 145. Life was good.

Then, college happened.

There is food everywhere. Non-organic food. Preservative-laden food. Fried food. Sugary food. What’s worse, readily available food. Even if you gauge yourself at dinner, there will be someone in the dorm who shoves a slice of pie under your nose and tells you to eat it. Maintaining one’s healthy weight is a struggle. Losing weight is an impossibility, unless you manage not to eat at all.

This is especially a problem on Fridays, where there is an added layer of mentality that says, “It’s Friday. You deserve it.”

First world problems, I know. Regardless, I’m going to go running tomorrow instead of sleeping in. My waistline will thank me.  

Freshman Fifteen, Meet Sophomore Negative Ten

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There are love-my-body days, hate-my-body days, feel-blah-about-my-body days…and then there are what-on-earth-is-my-body-doing days.

Today was one of the latter.

School is not usually kind to my figure. I spend a lot of time sitting and very little time moving. My brain burns more calories on a given day than the rest of me burns. I also stress a little, which means I eat a lot, usually comfort food. Every year I fluctuate between 150-155 pounds, occasionally dropping to 149 or going up to 157 or so. It’s an ok weight range for my height and bone mass. Not ideal, but ok. Trouble is, that range has me straddling the fence between two dress sizes, so I have a closet of 50% size 8 and 50% size 10 with a few stray size 12 items hovering in the corners that I save for exam week.

As of two weeks ago, thanks to the holiday carb festival, I weighed about 157 pounds, which meant my jeans were snugger than usual and I felt more or less disgusting. Thankfully, because of all the running I had done the previous summer and during the semester, most of that was still muscle. But not enough to keep things tucked in.

But that was two weeks ago. My eating has gotten more erratic in the past few weeks. I’ve been sticking with carbs and protein; anything that will fill me fast. Food has become more fuel than fun for me, especially with the options UU offers. I thought for sure that from the way I was eating and the way my clothes were fitting that I had either stayed the same weight or gained a pound or two.

Out of curiosity, I stepped on a scale today. The tally: 147 pounds.

I did a double take. One hundred and forty-seven pounds? I haven’t weighed that little since I was sixteen. I lost ten whole pounds in two weeks?

What’s strange is that I didn’t even try to lose the weight. I have never managed to lose weight without trying. I have the metabolism of an elephant with a thyroid problem; I eat half a lettuce leaf and gain a pound. If I’m not careful about what I eat, I inflate like a balloon at the Rose Parade. The last time I weighed that little, I was living on salad and canned soup and running two miles four days a week. How on earth did I manage to lose ten whole pounds, a feat that usually takes me a whole summer of starving myself, simply by being in college for two weeks?

This initial dumbfoundedness was followed by a wave of irritation. I spent my whole summer swearing off bread and potatoes and running around in circles and still only weighed 154 pounds in August. After all that trying, no results. And now no trying, and I’m almost back to my ideal weight of 145.

I talked to my roommate who’s a health/fitness/recreation major. She’s my usual source for health advice. She told me that a combination of poor sleep (check) plus stress (check) can lead to a diminished appetite (also check). You eat less, you lose weight. Made sense to me.

Still, I suddenly feel unhealthy. Like there may be something wrong with me. I know I’m a healthy weight, but what if I have come by this healthy weight by an unhealthy means?

I suddenly found myself  ravenously hungry. So I went by a Jack-in-the-Box on the way home from church and ordered a cheeseburger with curly fries. It seemed, for whatever reason, to be the most logical course of action.

Dedication, Thy Name is Mud

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Of all the New Year’s resolutions, probably the one that everyone makes at some point in their lives is a resolution to lose bucket loads of weight, get back into their college jeans, and be ready to hit the beaches unabashedly come July.

That’s wonderful. Really, it is. Because if some of us Americans don’t give it a go, at the rate things are going, eventually the whole country will sink into the ocean. (No snide comments from the European peanut gallery, if you please.)

However, comma, there is a downside to the upswing in regulars at the gym. That is, simply, that there is no room left in the inn for the regulars.

Until the near-religious fervor surrounding these usually half-hearted resolutions dies down, you can forget getting ahold of a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, a stationary bike, or even a 1-pound dumbbell. They will all be taken, because inevitably these newbies get off work at least thirty minutes before you do.

Prepare yourself to see a lot of spandex on a lot of otherwise reasonable adults who really should know better.

Thankfully this problem resolves itself fairly quickly. Usually somewhere around January 7th.

Putting the “Ruben” in “Rubenesque”

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It’s amazing what a trip to the art gallery can do to change one’s perspective.

The gallery in question is a large collection of religious art. Saints and apostles and a thousand-and-one depictions of Mary line the walls of a building that rambles on longer than I do. There’s art from every era, from Gothic to Renaissance, each a reverent portrayal of the goodies and baddies of the Bible. A glittering queen of Sheba bows to Solomon. Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well. Michael slays the devil. It’s an impressive collection, and I always feel blessed to have been there to see it.

But the one thing that stands out to me every time—

I know this will sound shallow. I know this will sound uncultured. I should be talking about the development of chiaroscuro in the early Baroque period as evidenced in such-and-such a painting, or the predominance of symbolism in religious art, or something equally brainy. But if I am to be honest, the one thing that stands out to me the most—

Is how huge the women are.

The St. Cecilia’s and St. Lucy’s round faces beam from their gilt frames. The Queen of Sheba fills out her billowing robes to the max. Most of the Mary’s I see—Magdalene or otherwise—look like they’ve been tucking into way too much unleavened bread, if you know what I’m saying.

And do you know why they look like that? Because at the time these rubenesque ladies were painted, big was beautiful. Curves were in. Painters hunted high and low for pudgy ladies to serve as models for their Rachel’s and Sarah’s—only the highest beauty standard for the portrayal of the Saints. Any one of them would take a look at one of today’s not-so-super-models and turn up his nose, writing her off as “too bony.”

So the next time I see a little slip of a thing slinking along in a pencil skirt, or watch a 21st century version of Twiggy lap me multiple times on the track, I will not let her damage my self-esteem. I will not be discouraged. I look at myself in the mirror, examine my less-then-Twiggy-ish figure, stick out my chin, and proudly declare to myself that I am not fat.

I am simply old-fashioned.

Self-defeating

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It’s pretty much a given that once school starts back up again, your health and fitness level will sink faster than an elephant in quick sand. Suddenly all of the time you could commit to running and doing sit-ups is converted to study/work/sleep/classes/running around like a chicken with its head cut off (which bursts more blood vessels than it burns calories). Hence the common “freshman fifteen” phenomenon: start school, gain weight, or at least lose muscle. I deliberately buy skirts a size or so too large, knowing that by the end of the year they’ll fit just fine.

But so far this year, by some miracle I can’t define, I’ve managed to maintain a healthy eating regimen and even go running. Granted, I’m eating more carbs than my sugar-starved body is used to. I start the day with peanut-butter infused oatmeal (gasp! grains), and lunch and dinner are salads, but I add yummy things like apples to satisfy my sweet teeth. (Most people have a sweet tooth. I have sweet teeth.) I’ve only had time to go running once, but hey, that’s something. Last year it was two whole months before I had that kind of time. But, low and behold and glory hallelujah, last night I had time to run two miles. I’m eating right, I’m staying healthy, I’m getting decent sleep, and I drink about a gallon of water a day. Feelin’ good.

Then came tonight. Tonight, one of my fellow society officers brought a bag of peanut-butter-rice-crispy-m-and-m bars.

I ate two.

Looks like it’s salad for breakfast tomorrow.

Hush Up and Pass the Almonds

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I’m on a diet.

Oh no, says the World, not another female blogger who spends all her time griping about her exercise regimen and empty stomach.

Hang on, World. Hear me out.

My friends will tell you that I don’t need to lose weight. I look fine, they tell me. I know they’re right. I look just fine. But I still feel the compulsion to trim down. Maybe I just have a stigma left over from being “that chubby girl” in junior high. Maybe I’m insecure. Maybe I’d just like to feel as fine as I look.

Yeah, let’s go with that last one.

Every summer since I was 15 years old, my mother and I have spent our weekday mornings and/or afternoons sweating away at the women’s fitness center at UU. Her torture of choice: the elliptical trainer. Mine: running, usually a mile or two. Then we both hit the weight machines, chanting Proverbs 31:17 over and over to ourselves (“A wise woman strengtheneth her arms, a wise woman strengtheneth her arms, a wise woman….”). We guzzled water like camels in the Sahara. Breakfast was cereal with half a cup of 2%. Lunch was Weight Watchers canned soup. So was dinner. If we had been good girls, we’d allow ourselves a small serving of diet ice cream.

This year, my mother had a revolutionary idea: counting carbs.

All the meat you want. All the cheese you could ask for. Fresh veggies. All the coffee your heart desires. High protein. Muscles burn the fat off for you. Stop counting calories. Strength building. Mum had been on the diet for a month and had trimmed down noticeably. She had to go shopping for new clothes. (She’s kept up with it and looks fabulous, I might add.)

So at the beginning of the summer I stepped on the scale: 150.4 pounds. For my height and bone mass, not bad. If could be as disciplined as my mum, I could get down to a comfy 145 lbs. Determined and optimistic, I tied on my running shoes and got going.

Stage 1: I swore off bread. Nuts were a no-no. Diet ice cream, forget it. Fruit—dream on. Only 20 carbs a day, and none of it could be processed sugar, or even natural sugar. No problem, I thought. I can handle this. My endurance increased exponentially: I went from barely being able to run half a mile to going for two without killing myself. I grew stronger, felt better, and looked forward to the increased eating privileges that Atkins offers in later weeks of the regimen.

Stage 2: I may now eat strawberries and cantaloupe. Almonds are the highest recommended low-carb snack. I buy them by the truckload and munch away. Bread is still a temptation, but I faithfully deny myself. I run. I sweat. I stretch. I lift weights. I reach for the can of almonds. I get up to 30 carbs a day. I still miss carby foods, though. Don’t think I’m desperate, but I’ve discovered that almonds, feta cheese, and coleslaw, when properly combined, taste a lot like cheddar cheese puffs. (Look, a girl’s got to indulge where she can.)

I’ve kept up with this loyally all summer long. Recently I mustered the courage to step on the scale. Surely, after all my hard work and self-denial, I should be nearer to my goal.

150.4 pounds.

I’m fine. I look fine. I’m healthy. My BMI is great. I can run for longer than ever before. I’m a wise woman strengthening my arms. That’s it. I’m just trying to be wise. Yeah. What’s a number? It’s just four little digits. Four lousy little…

Sigh.

Pass the almonds.