Growing Pains

Plastic drinking straws

Image via Wikipedia

Last week I reached a new and sobering milestone: I’m too fat for my fat pants.

I know, I know. I’m not fat. But I weigh more than I did a month ago and right now trying to put on any but yoga or fleece pants is like trying to shove a fistful of sausage into a drinking straw. It just doesn’t work. This is very depressing, not to mention potentially costly.

On Easter Sunday I attempted to squeeze myself into pair after pair of Capri pants. I watched in shock and shame as a pile of rejects grew on the bed before I finally settled on the new FP’s I’d bought a couple of weeks before. They were tight, but what choice did I have?

The amount of quad-burn I experienced after Sunday’s 5.5-mile hike didn’t do a whole lot to boost my self-confidence, either. I generally experience some stiffness and a few sore muscles after a hike, but Monday morning when I put my feet on the floor and stood up, wildfire raced through my legs with such intensity that I had to lay back down. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it into work that day. (I did.)

It’s time to get serious, especially if I want to salvage my spring wardrobe. I like to think of myself as a healthy person; a statement that seems almost laughable when one considers I’ve been up and down on the Graves disease yo-yo for the last five years, yet is not entirely false. It’s true that I’m not the athlete I was five years ago, but I’m still fairly active. I walk every day, I go through weeks-long and sometimes months-long spurts of lifting weights and I am always stretching. I adore stretching and yoga.

Furthermore, healthy eating is almost a mania for me. (I guess that’s a bad hyperbole to use in light of the newly named eating disorder, orthorexia.)

So, then, what’s the problem? Well, it’s obviously not me or anything I’ve done, so I’ve carefully analyzed the situation and come up with my top three nemeses:

  1. Time.

Trying to cram more activity into my day is a lot like trying to stuff a fistful of sausage into a drinking straw. Oh, wait. We’ve already done that. Okay, how about this? Trying to carve out time for exercise in my day is a lot like trying to make a notch in granite with a cotton ball. It’s almost impossible. What do I cut out?

Work? Uh, sure. I’d love to, but both T and I are on my insurance policy. And with our health issues, forget it. Less coverage is not an option.

Meal preparation? Absolutely! We’ll eat McDonald’s every night. Except that might counter-balance the benefits of working out. I’m not sure or anything – just speculating here.

Walking the dog? Um. Isn’t that exercise?

Oh, I know! Doctor’s appointments! I’d love to. Believe me, I’d love to. But impractical.

That pretty much leaves blogging. kthxbai!

Just kidding. Not really willing to give that one up, either.

I’m running out of options here, so let’s move on to the next nemesis.

  1. My husband.

My husband has the world’s worst sweet tooth. He doesn’t and has never: smoked, drank alcohol, done drugs or drank coffee. However, take all the cravings a person would have if they did do any or all of those things and super-concentrate them into one massive yearning for sweets. That’s my husband.

Two of the Top Five Most-Used Phrases in our house include:

Do we have any dessert?

and

Can we make lava cakes tonight?

lava cakes

Lava Cakes

And I never say either of those.

The other three, in case you were wondering, are:

No!

But I want lava cakes.

and

Okay. Then make them yourself.

Despite being the food-Nazi in our house, when T is around I wind up eating dessert about five times more frequently than I normally would otherwise. Clearly this is all his fault.

  1. Graves disease.

Or more specifically, the hypothyroid condition which resulted from the thyroid-blocking medication used to treat my Graves disease and which my endocrinologist insists is fine for me. This is the same condition that produces the anxiety that is the theoretical reason I end up with headaches at least two nights a week; that has me so exhausted I barely have energy to make dinner in the evenings, never mind work out; that inspires me to eat chia seeds like they are going out of style rather than coming in, just so I can take a poop; and that charitably helped me gain the weight I’m trying to lose in the first darn place!

All that being said, I realize that the ball is in my court. Even if none of this were my fault, which of course it isn’t, I still need to shorten up the reins a bit before I’m wearing skirts or sweatpants to work. And let’s face it: I would never wear a skirt to work. Sweatpants, maybe. But a skirt? Oh, heck no.

Even if I can’t revamp my schedule to include large blocks of workout time the way I would like, there are still a lot of little changes I can make. So, I sat down with a bowl of chocolate coconut ice cream and came up with the following list:

  1. Walk the dog (at least twice a day). Yes, I already walk the dog, but I do it less since T’s been home. It’s so easy when I feel tired to let him do it.
  2. Eat dessert (no more than twice a week). I tried to make this rule a while back and T and I got it down to three times a week, but never twice. I need to show a little will power here and let him eat dessert a few nights a week without me. Darn. That means I need something other than a food reward for a crappy day. Any suggestions?
  3. Define dessert. Does fruit count as dessert? I’m thinking if I eat smaller portions at dinner, a fruit-based dessert (such as a few dates or chia pudding with fruit) might be okay. Hm. I’ll have to think about that. I’m leaning towards no and cup of tea instead (which incidentally does wonders to curb the craving for sweets).
  4. Eat out (no more than once a week). My husband likes to go out to eat. I do, too, but I get tired of it quickly. Most of the time I’d much prefer to eat at home where I can prepare a meal that I know is healthy. I also like knowing what’s in my food. Call me crazy. However, T doesn’t cook. He also doesn’t eat cold food (except for the occasional Subway sandwich). So, if I don’t feel like cooking or am too tired, his solution is to automatically parrot, “Let’s go out to eat.” No, Polly. I don’t want to!
  5. Stop eating peanut butter.
  1. Eat more vegetables. Brilliant, right? But it’s not what you think. See, I estimate that I already get between six and eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The problem is that I’m not too creative with my snacks. When I’m at work, a snack is fruit and some form of nuts (unsalted cashews or peanut butter). If I replaced this with vegetables and bean or avocado dip, I could cut out a chunk of sugar (fructose) and a bunch of calories.
  2. Stop eating like an athlete. When I was running five days a week I ate whatever I wanted – not junk, but portion-wise. I don’t run anymore, but I’ve not really adjusted my food consumption so well.
  3. Take the stairs (at least nine times a week). I work on the fifth floor and usually take the stairs, but a few more times a week wouldn’t hurt. Nine seems like a good number considering I’m only in the office three days a week. It would be a good break from sitting at my desk.
  4. Stretch at work (once an hour). This includes anytime I’m sitting in front of the computer. It’s amazing how fast an hour can go by, but getting up to do a few stretches makes a huge difference in how I feel by the end of the day.
  5. Use resistance bands (twice a day). My chiropractor recommended that I do several sets of rows daily with the bands. I’m not great at remembering this at home, so I brought a band to work and have it tied around a post in my cubicle. Yeah, I get some funny looks, but oh well. It only takes about a minute to do a set or two.
  6. Use the far-away kitchen. We have two kitchens on my floor at work. I could use the one on the opposite side of the building. Hey, every little bit helps, right?
  7. Strength train (at least three times per week). I’m going to give myself a break here and define this real loosely. Considering my schedule and energy levels, even if I do Pilates, yoga or just ten minutes with weights or resistance bands, I’m going to count it. Normally I wouldn’t, but I think in this case, I need to start here. Otherwise I’ll get discouraged and say, well…something not very nice.
  8. Hike (at least twice a month). Nothing burns more calories than backpacking. Nothing. Besides, I love it.

I’m sure I’ll be adding, revising and reassessing as I go, but this is my starting point.

How about you? What little changes do you make to improve your health or lose weight? I’m all ears! (Actually, right now I’m all butt, thighs and stomach but please share anyway.)

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8 responses to “Growing Pains

  1. LOL! Yes, clearly it’s all T’s fault! But that lava cake looks really good! I’m glad to hear that you did some brainstorming with the chocolate coconut ic cream though (and that also sounds amazing….). Your Grave’s disease is wreaking havoc with your body and your mind. I can’t imagine what it must be like going through what you are going through. It’s so much easier for the doctor to feel content with a patient’s situation, than it often is for the patient. And just because things are relatively stable, medically speaking, doesn’t mean that the condition isn’t causing chaos on some level for the patient. I think this is the bit that nobody can really understand, unless you’re going through it at the time. Hope you get some resolution there, that will get you out of your (tiny) fat pants, and reduce the anxiety a bit. And allow you more guiltless ice cream…..

    I like your idea to “count it” even if you only find time for 10 minutes of strength training. We tend to give up too quickly on most things, and I think it’s through setting expectations that are too high. As much as I despised using them, I found kettle bells to be a great form of strength & cardio training when I was at the height of it all a couple of years ago. If you’ve never swung one – try swinging a 10-15lb one for a minute or so, and you’ll be delighted to make it count!

    • Aw, thanks so much for the support, Nicky! It’s pretty easy to beat myself up over this so a little encouragement goes a long way. To an extent I have to beat myself up (motivation), but sometimes enough is enough! And thank you for calling my fat pants tiny. xoxo

      Kettle bells sound like a lot of fun. I also wanted to try those weighted balls at the gym, but alas, my PF membership is more like a monthly ddonation. I hate the gym! Maybe I could hire you on as my personal trainer!

  2. I think you know what I want to say… ok I will….bite me skinny .. but that lava cake looks wicked good. I think that could be a huge problem in my house! I just gained 5 lbs looking at the picture and thinking about asking for the recipe.

  3. You can post the lava cake. Not my favorite. It looks like undercooked cake. But I know lots of people love it. My husband eats LOTS of desserts. I have started putting frozen fruit (no sugar) in a blender with yogurt (not sure if you can have dairy, but find something) and then put in freezer for 30 minutes and you think you have ice cream. Nuts are great, but TONS of calories. Our house is a “no nut” zone because of allergies, but need to be careful when I have candy orders with nuts. Stop sitting in front of the TV. Only crap on and do something else. I think eating and sitting is your downfall. But I wish I was your “fat”. I am with you, no dresses or skirts at work. We sit all day.

  4. Eh, 5 lbs is 5 lbs, whether it’s the last 5 lbs or 5 lbs in 50 lbs you need to lose. It still comes off the same, well, I guess those last 5 lbs are harder to lose, so I’ve been told. Writing down everything that goes into my mouth for a week (or longer) really helps. Every morsel. I’m a calorie counter, but I like counting things so counting calories seems like a pretty natural obsession for me. And for dessert I second the idea Gabby has of frozen fruit, just not with yogurt (cuz I hate yogurt). Frozen anything always feels like a treat for me. I normally have frozen grapes hiding in my freezer or a bag of frozen fruit from some giant warehouse store. I had to laugh when I saw ‘Stop eating peanut butter’ crossed out. I thought I ate a lot of peanut butter until OccDoc left. I ran out of peanut butter after 2 weeks and just never remembered to pick more up…for 7 months. OccDoc is my downfall and a terrible influence – I think it’s a common issue in marriage.

  5. I adore your use of metaphor. :)

    I’m a counter too. Being detailed about everything I eat helps me to pay better attention to it. I have an app for my phone that makes food tracking super easy, so that helps too.

  6. It sounds like you have a great start to your list going. I changed my portion sizes, got moving and just watched my choices more. That not going out to eat thing works wonders, for the budget and your middle! Good luck to you!

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