To Weigh or Not to Weigh?

I am facing kind of a personal dilemma.  I don’t know whether to weigh myself or not.

(Source.)
I know everyone says, “don’t focus on what the scale says!” but for a long long long time, not weighing myself was an exercise in super denial.  I have no idea what I weighed for most of high school and college because a) I didn’t own a scale and b) whenever I was weighed at the doctor’s office I’d squinch my eyes shut.  If I didn’t know, I couldn’t have a problem, right?

So, when I started losing weight, I weighed myself a lot.  Like five times a day.  Obviously too much.  I went from one end of the spectrum to the other–totally unaware to hyper-aware.

Now I’m at a point where I don’t know what to do.  I don’t really want to weigh myself, and I’m not sure if it’s because a) I just don’t care because I’m fine where I am or b) I’m in denial because I’ve gained a bit since my lowest weight.

The thing is, I am happy.  I can still wear the same jeans I could wear at my lowest weight.  The trainer at the running store referred to me as appearing to be at a healthy weight for my height.  Tim told me I looked skinny the other day.   I like what I see when I look in the mirror.  Even though I’ve gained a little weight, it’s boobs-and-booty weight, not gut-and-double chin weight.   I feel sexy and womanly and strong.

So I haven’t weighed myself more than twice in 2010.  I’m hanging out in the low 160s, it appears, which I don’t really feel one way or the other about.  I see the scale and think “Eh, don’t wanna.”  But when I’m NOT weighing myself regularly, I can’t help but think I might slip back into that state of denial that paralyzed me in my obesity for so long.

So I can’t decide.  Should I weigh myself?  How frequently?  Should I finally chuck my scale in the closet for good?  Go back to the every-day-weigh?

Weigh in (ha) in the comments, please.  Lurkers too.  I know you’re there!

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The weird things that happen when you get in shape

Having been formerly obese, and having observed a major change in my body, I thought I would point out a few interesting things that have happened since getting my arse in gear.

Here’s what happened, oddly, between this:

and

  • Obviously, I lost clothing sizes.  I went from a 16/18 in pants to an 8/10 (depending on the store), a 16 to a 6 in dresses (I have to have bigger pants than dresses because of my monstroquads), and a L/XL to S/M in shirts.  But never in a million years did I expect that my SHOE SIZE would go down. I used to wear a 9.5 or 10, and now I wear an 8.5 or 9.  AND my feet are two different sizes now.  WEIRD.  I guess I had some chub on my feet that was accounting for the fit, but I am still hanging on to several pairs of old shoes that are SO CUTE that I can’t bear to part with.  Because when you’re overweight, shoes are the one thing that you can wear just like any other small woman.
  • I never get sick anymore. When I was out of shape and sedentary, I probably got 2 or 3 colds a winter, plus regular sinus infections and the occasional flu.  Now…I don’t remember the last time I had a cold.  I occasionally feel vaguely sick, like I’m coming down with something, but I guess my immune system is in high gear now.  If I do get sick, it’s usually during a rest week away from the gym!  Weird.
  • I am much colder. Last winter, I was amazed at how many more layers I needed to add to my wardrobe.  I’ve always prided myself on being a wintry panda, but I guess I’ve shed my natural insulator and now I need to pile on the artificial ones.
  • I don’t get sore from everyday activities.  My feet don’t hurt after a day of shopping.  My back doesn’t hurt from hauling around a large set of girls.
  • Jewelry changes! A ring my mother gave me is way too large now, and my necklaces have miraculously gotten an inch or so longer.
  • I’m not as tired. I used to nap every day at some point or another–when I got home from class (ah, the benefits of being a student) usually.  When I work out, the energy boost keeps me going through my afternoon/evening slump.  I’ve always had a weird circadian rhythm–I function well in the morning and at night, but I’m sluggish and unfocused between 2 and 5 p.m.  Exercise pulls me through now!
  • I’m less of a dishrag. I don’t let people walk all over me like I used to and I stand up for myself and speak my mind more.  I think working out, especially running, has taught me that I CAN do things and be successful and I shouldn’t just let myself sink back into a corner
  • But not all of my problems went away. Weight loss ISN’T a magic bullet.  I still cry when I’m stressed.  Ketchup still makes me panic.  My thighs are still big in relation to the rest of my body.  Sometimes, pants still don’t fit me.  But it’s okay.

For those of you who have lost weight…what’s happened to you that you didn’t expect?

Flashback Friday, Vol. III: How I got skinny the stupid way

So, last week we flashed back to what made me start changing in the first place.  This week, I’m going to explain how I lost 50 pounds in 6 months and all the stupid things I did to get there.

Like I said, I started losing weight in June 2009, and before I found anything online…I probably was losing weight the best way for my body.  For the first three weeks or so, I practiced what I now know is called “intutive eating.”  I was simply a bit lazy and not to into the whole weight loss idea yet, so I told myself I wouldn’t eat unless I was truly hungry, I’d eat smaller portions, get more fruits and veggies, and attempt some kind of exercise.  This was a very low stress way of doing things, and I think my first month I lost about four pounds.  I was tracking on FitDay off and on, and eating between 1700-1800 calories a day.

Then, in July, I found Sparkpeople.  Let me be clear: I like this website, and I think their general outlook is good, but I think there are some flaws in their system that can really screw people up if they’re not knowledgeable about finess.  Sparkpeople recommended I eat 1200-1500 calories a day.  I immediately freaked out and thought, “ohmygod, I’ve been totally pigging out before!  No wonder I’ve only lost four pounds in a month.”  Naturally, I decided 1200 calories was much better than 1500, and never, ever let myself eat more than 1250 calories a day.  At this point, I was working out six days a week, for an hour a day.  I obsessed over every tiny nibble.  Did I lose weight?  Oh, yeah.  Tons of it.  Fast.  This is me, in August 2008:

In September of 2008, I challenged myself to not take a single rest day for the entire month.  (facepalm)  Rest was bad!  I was lazy if I rested!  I achieved this awful goal and worked out every single day, either a workout DVD or running.  Sparkpeople adjusted my calorie intake up a little slightly to account for the increased exercise, but I was still eating maybe 1400 calories a day, maximum.  At this point, I was probably about 170 pounds and burning 600 calories/day through exercise, leaving my body a measly 800 calories to subsist on every day.  The calories I was getting at this point were largely processed–Special K for breakfast, Lean Cuisine and HFCS-infested yogurt for lunch–and I was eating mostly simple carbs.

This is October 2008, probably pretty close to the peak of my weight obsession:

I was addicted to two things at this point: the scale and the compliments.  Tim, I think, was a little worried about me, because I weighed myself obsessively.  Confession: Tim, you thought I only weighed myself every morning, but I was doing it probably six times a day.   Just about every time I went to the bathroom, I’d strip down and weigh myself.  The tiniest fluctuations would freak me out.  In October, he started hiding the scale from me and only letting me have it every few days, because we talked and I told him how I was feeling.

Another confession: when he was hiding the scale from me, I still weighed myself at the gym.

I was also addicted to the compliments and positive attention.  When you go from 200 pounds to 150 pounds in 6 months, people notice.  I’m a big old attention hog, which is partially why I have this blog, but I LOVED it.  I was obsessed with the idea of seeing my family for the first time at Thanksgiving and doing a “big reveal.”  I did, and everyone was impressed, and I got positive reinforcement for my unhealthy habits.  By Thanksgiving, I was running 6-7 miles a day on the treadmill, 6-7 days a week.  I didn’t cross train, I didn’t lift weights, and I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing.  I did it because I had to or, ohmygosh, I’d get fat again.  I may not be the most enthusiastic exerciser all the time now, but I do what sounds at least somewhat fun to me and I focus on the health benefits of it now rather than what burns the most calories.

Finally, and thankfully, in December of 2008 two things happened that really changed how I thought about myself.  First, I got a stress fracture in my foot from all that compulsive running, and second, I discovered and read The New Rules of Lifting for Women.  I’ll talk about how these changed my outlook on fitness on the next Flashback Friday–maybe not next week, because of Christmas, but soon.

In sum, here are the things I did wrong and I wish I’d learned at the beginning:

  • Somewhat paradoxically, your body needs food to lose weight the healthy way.  Eating too few calories for my activity level made me weak, anxious, and probably unpleasant, and led to injury.  Eating too little can stall weight loss because your body thinks it’s starving.  Sometimes, you need to eat more to lose more.  A car with no fuel won’t move, and a body with no fuel will remain similarly stagnant.
  • Weight is secondary to health.  I weigh 162-ish pounds now, but I’m stronger, happier, and healthier than I was as a 150 pound person who didn’t lift, restricted calories too much, and used exercise as punishment.  Focus on being healthy–your weight will follow.
  • Weigh yourself once a week, once every two weeks, but don’t get in the every day habit.  I thought I could handle it, but it was really, really mentally taxing.
  • Rest is just as important as exercise. Rest days are when your body builds muscle and repairs the damage exercise does.  If you just keep tearing your muscles and bones down day after day after day, you’re going to get injured.
  • Nobody’s perfect.
  • Focus on learning what your body wants and is telling you it needs rather than calorie intake in the long run.  In the beginning, yeah, I needed to count calories because my body was telling me it needed all sorts of crap it doesn’t need.  But now that I’m healthier, if my body says, “Bananas, please,” I say “Okay, body,” but if it also sometimes says  “I would very much like some pie,” I give it some, too.

What’s your “I wish I knew then what I knew now” thing?

Flashback Friday, Volume II

Last week I flashed back to June 2008, when Tim and I were on the verge of being flooded out of our homes

This week, let’s flash back to that same time, more or less–June 2008.  (Hmm.  Big month for me, apparently.  I also turned 24 that month.)  This is actually surprisingly hard for me to blog about and I’m getting kind of choked up about the whole thing because god, those were some pretty awful moments.  I still look back at how horribly I treated my body and how in denial I was with a lot of shame.  I feel so terrible that I just ignored this for years, but I suppose I wouldn’t be the way I am now without those years.  So, onward and upward.

Before all that flooding went down I went home to Chicago for the weekend for two purposes: 1) my annual visit to the vag doctor for a pap smear and 2) my good friend and now bridesmaid’s bridal shower.  Interestingly enough, both of these events played a crucial role in my consequent weight loss and lifestyle changes.  Weird, huh?  You never really think gynecologist+bridal shower=drastic life changes, but there you go.

Anyway, I went to the doctor for my visit.  Usually, when I would get weighed at the doctor’s office, I’d conveniently not look at the number or squeeze my eyes shut.  If I didn’t know what I weighed, I couldn’t be held responsible for the decisions that got me there.  But, this time, there was no escaping it, as the nurse cheerfully announced, “200 pounds!” to me. 

What?  200 pounds?  Seriously?  I was in total and utter shock.  It was the 2– number that threw me off–I honestly think that if the scale had said 197, I wouldn’t have done anything.  200+, in my mind, was fat territory.  And holy crud, I was there.  I felt terrible.  I knew I’d been quietly buying larger and larger jeans, but I pretty much wrote it off as the sizes getting smaller, not me getting larger.

I went home and cried.  And then I dusted myself off and looked in the mirror and said, “Brie, you’re the common denominator here.  Change something for REAL this time.”  I had no idea what I was doing, yet, but I was going to try.  I e-mailed Tim from my phone because I figured if I told someone, I’d feel accountable.  He immediately told me that he’d be with me every step of the way (and, of course, he was).

The next day was my best friend’s bridal shower.  I remember it very clearly.  The lunch I had that day was the first attempt I made at intuitive eating–a concept I still struggle with.  I didn’t really like the food anyway, so it wasn’t a big struggle, but I consciously limited myself to one piece of bread from the bread basket, only ate about half the entree, and took a few bites of dessert.  I also remember having to drive back to Iowa afterwards and needing a snack–and I got apple slices at the drive through instead of fries.  Little steps, I know, but I was so proud of myself. 

And, I’ll be honest–the fact that this was a bridal shower had a lot to do with me changing.  At this point, I’d been with Tim for a year.  We had both known pretty early in our relationship (maybe three months in or so) we were going to get married.  I knew that pretty soon, I’d be the one having showers and weddings and wearing a pretty dress, and like my header says–I didn’t want to cringe when I looked at the pictures.  My turn was coming, and I wanted to be ready.

The next day I got these pictures back.  I looked at them and was so ashamed, but then I remember telling Tim, “It’s okay.  I’m never going to look like this again.”  These are the fated pictures:

Once I saw these, I just kind of knew that this was going to happen and I was going to fight my way out of it, no matter how long it took and how hard it was.  I won’t say I’m perfect, but I like to think I’m treating my body a damn sight better than I was then…and that I feel a million times better.  (And I think I look pretty good too!)

What inspired you to change?

Blue Friday

Guys, I’m feeling blue today.  And so I have to be very honest and venty and maybe some good will come of it.


For one day in my recent memory, I weighed below 150 pounds.  I was violently ill all night long and weighed in the next morning at 149.8 pounds.  Never again have I seen 14_ on the scale.


Now, let me pause to say that I do not put as much stock in the scale as most dieters.  I actively TRIED to gain muscle earlier this year and felt successful even though the scale went up.  I get that.  But there is a certain point where it’s not good weight gain, and it’s not the result of healthy habits.


This morning, the scale weighed me in at 164.8 pounds, putting me in as up fifteen pounds from my lowest weight.  And I flipped.  I have been feeling awful all day.


A little bit of research reveals that my new asthma medication may have weight gain as a side effect, and my heart just sunk.  It’s like a never-ending cycle of suck: I exercise to stay in shape/lose weight.  Exercise triggers my asthma.  I take asthma medications…which cause me to gain weight again.  I just feel hopeless.


But the thing is, I can’t blame medication.  This is my fault.  I cannot work out for an hour a day six days a week like I did when I was actively losing weight this time last year, and I do not want to restrict myself to the 1300 calories/day anymore.  I just don’t think I can without feeling cranky, and weak, and hating my life.


But I don’t know what to do.  I just feel weary.  I don’t want to track calories.  (I stopped earlier this year, in May.)  I’m tired of having to analyze everything that goes into my mouth.  I can’t work out any longer without fainting from hunger and missing my family because I never see them.  I feel like a failure, because I have never figured out how to just eat correctly for my body without relying on computer programs and scales and heart rate monitors.  Left to my own devices, I would balloon back up to 200 pounds again, and I don’t want to.


And so, my confession: I do not know how to make my body lose weight without becoming a miserable, unhealthy crazy lady.  I lost most of my weight eating 1200 calories a day and working myself out until I got a stress fracture.  I don’t know how to lose weight and keep it off in a happy, sustainable way.  I know I am healthy and strong now, which is something I didn’t have before, but that does not stop last year’s jeans from begging for mercy when I try to zip them up.  I know the theory.  I know how BMR works, and deficits.  But what I don’t know is how to put it into practice, for me, in a way that I can keep up.
Part of what I was wailing about to T this morning was, “I’m such a hypocrite.  I blog about fitness and staying in shape and I’m gaining and gaining and I just can’t stop myself.”   I have a wedding dress that will not fit if this continues.  And I want to learn how to make this my lifestyle.


So, readers, I promise you I will not give up on this.  Bear with me.  I’m still in shape, I just need to tame the bad habits that have cropped up lately.  From now on, for accountability’s sake, I am going to weigh in on the blog every Friday.  Just know that I am human, and I’m doing my best.


Anyway, since I was feeling so bad, I did something that never fails to cheer me up and make me feel better: post an Operation Beautiful note (it’s so pretty because I had a few minutes to kill at the end of the workday and I wanted to play with my fun-colored highlighters):


ob 003
I’ve been into quotes lately.  I cannot pick artwork out for the life of me, so I decided to decorate my office with words.  I bought these today:



(Photos courtesy of fridgedoor.com)


They’re purty and I hope they get here soon.  They make me happy.


And then I arrived home to find T had bought me a surprise!


ob 004
I’ve had a hankering for some Scrabble since I’ve seen Leah and her fiance playing it.  I mentioned it to him and he remembered and bought it for me!  So, I know what our fun Friday will include….


Anyway, sorry if this post was a bit of a downer.  We all have bad days and I know I’ll get through this!

Past, present, future

Hi, blog world.  Call me B.

I’ve blogged before in various capacities and on various sites, but I’ve never had my very own actual blog, so here I am.

First of all: why I’m here.  I want to blog about getting, and staying, in shape and being healthy.  I want to talk about my wedding, which I think is going to be pretty neat.  That’s about it for now.

A little bit about me: I’m in my mid-twenties and live in the Midwest.  In May of 2007 I met, and started dating, my fiance, T.  I was so madly in love I stopped working out and ate out far more than was advisable.  I gained about 30 pounds, putting my already overweight frame at an even 200 pounds on June 6, 2008.  Shocked, I immediately started losing weight by simply cutting calories and working out (mostly cardio exercise, like running).

By December 2008, I was down to 150 pounds.  Since I’m 5’6″, it looked pretty good on me.  However, I wanted to get stronger and more in shape, so I began lifting weights.  I bought the book “The New Rules of Lifting for Women” and did the program religiously from December to May 2009, when I graduated from law school and moved to a totally new state with my fiance.  (I was almost finished, but didn’t quite get there.)  While weightlifting, I added about 5 pounds of pure muscle and was 155 pounds, lean and mean, and really happy with my body.

From May 2009 to now, I’ve been dealing with living in a new, unfamiliar town with no friends, studying for the bar exam, and unemployment.  Oh, and planning a wedding.   All the stress made me put on about 7 pounds (and not good muscle ones)!  I took about 4 weeks off the gym at the end of July/beginning of August to study for the bar, take the bar, and go on a vacation.  I’m about 162ish pounds right now, and my jeans are a little snug for my liking.

Now I’m back in the gym, and determined to get in the best shape of my life thus far for my wedding day.  I’m not quite sure how I’ll do it, but I will.  (I suspect the solution will involve a healthy combination of cardio I enjoy, heavy weightlifting, and eating lots of healthy food.)

For the record, I don’t believe in low-calorie diets.  I eat 1800 calories a day, minimum, and much more if I’m working out hard.  My philosophy is that my body is a machine, and it needs good fuel to run well.  I’m not perfect–I usually eat at least one really indulgent meal a week.  I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup and trans fats, but I’m not going to panic over a little white pasta now and then.  I work out hard and I’m not afraid of gigantic barbells and the weight room.

Wedding-wise, we’re planning a 200 person wedding in the Chicago area in May of next spring.   We’re going for a very spring-y feel, with our main color scheme being pinks, aqua blue, and champagne gold.  I’ll have several posts getting you up to speed on everything we’ve planned so far!

I’ll hopefully have a good mix of wedding-related and fitness-related posts, with a little bit of random stuff here and there.  I don’t plan to post pictures of my food every single day, because I eat the same breakfast pretty much every day and will often eat the same lunch several days in a row, too.  But if there’s anything worthwhile, I’ll let you know!

So, anyway, welcome.  Nice to meet you!