Sunday, November 29, 2009

Admitted: I Have Food Issues

I woke up today in an utterly gloomy, black mood. Part of it has to do with the long weekend ending, and the other part I suspect has been percolating for a few months: my returned depression.

I have a really rough family history with mental illness. My mother has crippling bipolar disorder and has been unable to hold a job for the last 20 years. My father has chronic depressive symptoms and has become a moderate alcoholic in the last 10 years. My brother has severe panic disorder, and at 21 years old, he still hasn't graduated from high school.

As I mentioned in my introductory post, I've faced some serious depression in the past. I gained around 60 pounds in college when depression set in and my life spiraled out of control. Fortunately, I found that once I got my life in order again, I didn't feel like I needed the Prozac anymore. For the past three years, I've managed my depression my keeping to a more active lifestyle and a normal work schedule.

But it hasn't been working lately. I've been completely unable to focus at work and my performance has slipped. I sometimes fight back tears all morning for no reason at all. I constantly sabotage my weight loss efforts because I'm unable to maintain that stride.

I have a mental health assessment scheduled for Tuesday morning, and to be honest, I'm desperate for help. I just don't feel like myself. All day today, my boyfriend has tried to get my out of my black cloud. He suggested we decorate the Christmas tree--I refused. He checked in on me as I slept all day and hid from the world. He went out to get pizza for lunch and made us big salads to go with it. He took a walk with me, though I didn't speak much the entire time.

I've never associated myself with the idea of emotional eating. I spend too much time blaming my weight issues on family history, discounting my very real issues with food. Here's a list of what I've eaten today:
  • Large bowl of Fiber One cereal with skim milk
  • String cheese
  • 260 calories of rice pudding
  • 3 large slices of extra cheese pizza
  • Dinner roll
  • Large salad with light dressing
  • Several bites pumpkin pie
  • Low-fat carrot cake cupcake
  • Piece of pumpkin bread
  • Several large marshmallows
  • 2 large pieces Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark chocolate
  • Another string cheese
And that's just everything I can remember. I've been eating around once an hour all day, and then sleeping after every snack. Jeff (my boyfriend) has been trying to keep me in check. He insisted the restaurant only give us two rolls instead of a whole bag, even though I protested because I wanted to gorge myself on rolls. He made us big salads to fill up on before we dug into the pizza. He went on a walk with me and suggested I do some yoga. He put up our beautiful Christmas tree and asked me to decorate it with him while listening to Christmas music--a healthy, positive activity that doesn't include food.

I insisted on sitting in my cloud, denying that I was using food to soothe myself. Until I realized I'd been eating constantly all day. It doesn't feel emotionally-charged when I'm doing it. But then I looked at my day today: gloomy, depressed, didn't stop eating all day. There has to be a connection there.

Even writing this post tonight was a step in the right direction. When I'm off the wagon I just want to hide. Admitting to my action today and putting there out there took a lot of guts for me. I like to pretend these days don't exist, then turn around and bellyache about not being able to lose weight. Well it's time to break the cycle. I will NOT think of myself as a victim to some weight-loss-preventing demon that I can't name. I am overweight for a reason, and hopefully after my appointment on Tuesday, I'll have some perspective on the depression that seems to be at the root of these issues.

Now I'm going to make a light dinner, do that yoga and put up the Christmas tree--this day doesn't have to end the same way it started.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Healthy Living Blogs: Inspirational or Confusing?

In the past two years, I've become a passionate follower of many weight loss/healthy living blogs, such as Roni's Weigh, Lynn's Weigh, Escape from Obesity, MizFit, Diet Girl, A Merry Life, Fat Bridesmaid, Questions for Dessert, Mama's Weeds, Joania's Journey, Pasta Queen, Healthy Tipping Point...really, the list could go on and on!

I find all these women amazing and inspirational, however I often fall into the trap of comparing myself to them. I know, I know--comparing yourself to others is usually a horrible idea. But as someone trying to figure out what sort of healthy lifestyle will work best for, for someone trying to get to it again, it's sort of unavoidable. These blogs offer a wealth of information and better yet, they offer the personal perspective of a real, live person that has likely gone through many things I have.

I typically divide these bloggers in my mind--the ones I can relate to and feel inspired by, and the ones that generally leave me feeling bad about myself. For example, I completely relate to Roni from Roni's Weigh, Lyn from Escape from Obesity, Mary from A Merry Life, Miranda from Fat Bridesmaid, Shauna from DietGirl and Jennette from Pasta Queen. These women seem to approach healthy living in way that feels attainable for me. They live busy, normal lives. They enjoy treats often and in moderation. And they slip up frequently, but always get right back on the horse. These women have shown me that it's completely possible to lose and maintain weight by balancing everything and never stopping. They inspire and motivate me.

Then there are the group of bloggers that keep to lifestyles that sound really rigid. I completely support these women and absolutely respect their decision to choose the lifestyle that works best for them. But personally, it sounds impossible. Bloggers like Lynn from Lynn's Weigh and Joania from Joania's Journey seem to have willpower of STEEL. They very, very rarely deviate from their food plans, almost never miss a workout, and make no excuses about their decision to live their lives this way. I find it AWESOME and completely empowering that these women have taken complete control over "calories in and calories out." All the bloggers I follow have most certainly claimed completely control of their lives and are very strong women, but the second group seem to exhibit a level of self control to their diets and exercise regimes that seems almost fanatical. I say this completely from my own perspective, as it's up to every single person to determine what works best for themselves.

The problem I run into is constant self doubt. One the one hand, it feels more comfortable to take a moderate approach to my healthy living journey. I'm trying to make small challenges that add up over time. I let life intervene--a lot, I'll admit. I skip the workout if I'm exhausted or sick. I grab takeout if I've cooked all week and need a break. I have more than one glass of wine if I feel like and the rest of my day has been good.

But then I read these blogs of other people with enviable progress. I begin to wonder if the super slow approach will even get me anywhere. I contemplate getting up at 5 a.m. to exercise every day. I ponder cutting my calories down to less than 1000 a day and quitting coffee and tea. I feel guilty I don't use more organic products. I watch The Biggest Loser and constantly say to my boyfriend, "How can that woman lose 12 pounds in a week and I haven't lost that in a year??"

On the one hand, maybe I should set a program and just stick to it, never giving it another thought. But doesn't that limit the potential benefits of all this blog exposure? Isn't blogging essentially an attempt to connect with and learn from anyone out there who can relate to what you're going through? However, can't it be detrimental to your overall progress to constantly doubt your efforts and consider switching to another plan altogether?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Under Pressure

I just got back from a doctor's appointment. Apparently I have a terrible bladder infection, causing intense lower back and abdominal pain. Fun stuff! Hopefully the strong antibiotic she prescribed me will clear it up in no time.

Anyone who's carried even a little extra weight knows how emotionally taxing it can be to see the doctor. Doctors' scales are highly accurate and can certainly be a wake-up call if you haven't weighed yourself recently. I remember weighing in at 236 one winter morning two years ago. I hadn't weighed myself in several months, but knew I'd put on quite a few pounds as I literally had to wear sweat pants every single day. I felt and looked terrible, but I was in denial about my overall weight gain; seeing that number was a serious punch in the stomach. As soon I got back to my car in the parking lots, I burst into tears and cried for hours. This was after begging the doctor to prescribe me Adipex or another appetite suppressant. He refused, and I felt completely hopeless. At that time, I really didn't think I could lose any weight without the help of medication.

Thankfully, I'm much lighter today and knew what to expect from the evil doctor's scale. My scale this morning read 202.4, so seeing 205.6 was no surprise in full clothing after two meals.

No, the number that somewhat startled me today was my blood pressure. I'm certainly genetically prone to higher blood pressure thanks to my family history, so I'm always a bit concerned about it. Last time I measured it, it was 126/81. Today it was 140/90.

Granted, the last time I took it was at a machine in a pharmacy, so that could account for some of the difference. Plus, I tend to start having a mini anxiety attack as soon as I step in the doctor's door, so stress could certainly be a factor. But these are all just excuses.

140/90 isn't classified as high according to this index, but it's absolutely borderline high. It's borderline high blood pressure. And I'm 25 years old.

I recently had my cholesterol measured, since I have a godawful family history there as well. It was 198, just two points shy of being high. My mom once had cholesterol of over 1000--literally so high she should have been dead. There's so way she could eat enough fat for it to be that, so clearly there was something wrong with her body. I'm sure I'll have issues with it someday--we seem to have the same physical characteristics for almost everything. So it's something to be concerned about, for sure.

Okay, so I'm borderline high pressure and almost borderline high cholesterol. It sounds to me like I'm dangerously close to developing metabolic syndrome. All I need to now is insulin resistance (pre-Diabetes) and I've never been tested for that, so I could have it already.

Most of the time I feel healthy. I'm overweight but active, and I never feel my weight holds me back (except emotionally). But despite feeling healthy, I'm NOT. I'm borderline everything, in terms of my health, and that's not a place I want to be at my age.

It's time to stop living a borderline life. It's time to be as healthy and happy as I can possibly be.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sounds Like a Plan (and Mini Meatloaf)

Many thanks to Roni for her encouraging comment. :) It got me thinking about my plan for this blog and where I should be focusing my energies. I think I'm going to post a quick recap of daily calories and exercise, but only to observe my weight's overall patterns. I feel like a common pattern of mine is to count calories for a week or so, see a moderate loss, slack off on carefully tracking the next week, see a less significant loss, then give up because "no matter what I do, I can't lose weight, so it's not worth the effort." This logic is flawed in so many ways. Carefully tracking what I'm eating, combined with getting in more intense exercise, will result in slow, steady weight loss for me. I need to stop dieting for two days, weighing myself and feeling disappointed, then giving up.

For these past three years, I've been scoffing at .5-1.5 weekly losses. If I'd never given up, I'd have slowly and steadily lost these extra 50 pounds! So that's the plan. Track calories and exercise to learn more about how my body works, but give up the scale obsession. And more importantly, I need to focus on really, truly loving myself without make my weight the criteria by which I measure my happiness.

I want to use this space to mainly focus on living my best possible life. In that vein, I want to share a delicious recipe I made for my boyfriend and me! :)

Mini Meatloaf

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes


  • 1 pound of extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 slice whole grain bread as breadcrumbs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup tomato ketchup


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a nonstick or silicone muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Crumble ground beef into a large bowl. Add shredded carrots and zucchini, and chopped onion and green pepper. Add chili powder, Worcestershire sauce and breadcrumbs. Stir with a fork. Add egg whites and knead until well blended.

Spoon mixture into prepared muffin pan and top each cup with ketchup. Bake for 25 minutes, making sure that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Makes 6 mini meatloaves.

I served it with steamed broccoli to look something like this:

Delicious and just the right size!

Calories today: 1620

Activity: 20 minute walk around my office building

Feeling: Exhausted but happy :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Millionth Monday

While I'm not looking to offer an elaborate manifesto, it would seem an introduction is in order. :)

A quick rundown: My name is Lauren. I'm a 25-year-old Indianapolis native currently navigating the Boston area with my boyfriend of five years, Jeff, and our miniature schnauzer, Sydney. Here's a recent picture of the three of us:

By day I'm a public relations executive for an agency specializing in high-tech clients and social media, so I'm no stranger to the blogosphere from a professional perspective.

Personally, I'm in a rut. I've struggled with weight and depression for years. I weighed around 170 for most of high school, and while I was a bit chunky for 5'6", I generally felt okay about myself. I've always thought of myself as "pretty, but I need to lose 3o pounds." In fact, that sentence basically sums up my internal monologue regarding my looks. And I should really work on that.

Anyway, I fluctuated in college and found I felt really comfortable around 160. I wasn't skinny, but I looked great! I've always been larger chested, and looking back on pictures from that time, I can't believe how fantastic I looked. But inside I was still horribly insecure, reeling from several terrible relationships and depressed parents.

In 2004 I began dating my current (amazing) boyfriend, Jeff; I was 19 and weighed around 170. I felt confident, sexy--he made me feel great about myself and my body. Slowly, though, we began retreating into our own little relationship world. We began skipping class and ditching friends to hide away at his apartment. We loved each other, but we had no idea how to balance our obligations with this fantasy "love nest" we'd created. My depression spiraled out of control; my friendships began to crumble; my grades plummeted. Of course, one thing managed to go up: my weight.

Jeff and I awoke from our love como a year and half later to find we'd both gained 60 pounds and nearly failed out of college. I was shocked to learn at the doctor's office that I weighed nearly 240 pounds. I didn't recognize the person I'd become.

As we began to get back on track with school and our lives, the weight started coming off, too. We did Weight Watchers in fall 2006, each losing around 30 pounds. And we also both successfully finished college, GPAs still relatively intact.

But there I've been, hovering around 203, for over three years now. I suppose I should include the quintessential unflattering before pic. Here you go, for all to see...

Anyway, Jeff topped out at 230 and gradually made his way down to 169. It's hard not to compare myself to the infamous Man Standard. They're like, "Hey, I have no issues staying on my plan--I just do it. Man, I've dropped ten pounds in the last two weeks, and I haven't even been working out!"

I've been putting together a lot of the pieces of the weight loss puzzle, but they just haven't been creating a consistent picture. I cook lots of healthy meals, exercise regularly, drinks lots of water, take the stairs--all the things they tell you should help you lose weight. If there are fat skinny people, as is thin people that are actually really out of shape and unhealthy, then I'm a skinny fat person.

Well, here I am, hoping to figure out the reason my pieces haven't yet fit together. In a nation with a food industry dedicated to creating the fattiest, most irresistible concoctions ever known to mankind, the issue of extra weight is hardly uncommon. But I've found so much enjoyment from reading the stories of other healthy living bloggers, and I'm hoping I can get a taste of the encouragement I've been so willing to offer others. Maybe I can deflect some in my own direction, as well.

I leave you with my signature toast and this blog's namesake:

"Here's to it, and to it again. If you ever get to it, do it, because you may never get to it to do it again."