Monday, June 28, 2010

Spinach salads: simple weekend meals

A hardy Sunday supper: spinach, grape tomatoes, a couple tablespoons of leftover arroz con papas and Russian bean salad, and a few pimento-stuffed manzanillo olives.

This is the perfect meal to cap off a hot and humid midsummer day: Fresh organic spinach with grape tomatoes, crumbled feta and a squeeze of lemon, with Russian bean salad and a half-sour pickle on the side.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Out of the jungle and into the blog

I don’t remember what I expected to come of this blog when I started, although I did establish some sort of mission at the outset I suppose. As I continue to phase through my journey of self-conocimiento I can’t help but realize that I am transforming into something different than I'd never known or thought I could be, into a thing that has been tucked away, pent up in some jungle cell of juventud and immaturity for far too long. I’m coming out of the jungle, paso a paso, and I'm coming to understand others as I come to understand a mi mismo. So I hope if I did have a mission, this is part of that. Because it's creating an amazing sensation, and I sure as hell ain't going back to old sensations any time soon.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wasted worry about eating disorders?

I'm not sure what to make of this, but for the past week or so I've been having random thoughts, like "is the feeling of hunger supposed to bother me?", and "I wonder if I'm developing a new eating disorder?"

When I first changed my diet I would get hungry late at night, too, and to combat the feeling I would eat some sugar free jello or something. Actually I would binge in it, eating four or five cups of the stuff so I wouldn't feel my stomach growl.

Back then I was counting calories and watching everything I ate, both to make sure I stayed under my allotted 1800 calories a day and also to make sure I didn't dip below 1700 calories - because eating too few calories would actually trigger my metabolism to slow down. So if I'd reached my limit by 7 p.m. I knew the hunger pains were caused by a mental hunger rather than an actual physical one. So the Jello was enough to do the trick.

Now that I'm not on Nutrisystem anymore I'm not being so strict with counting calories. I sort of feel my way through food during the day. I stick to the basic concepts and find myself satisfied throughout the day. But in the evening I'm no longer snacking after 7 p.m. like I used to. I just drink some water and ignore the rumblings in my stomach. To be honest, I kind of get off on the feeling of hunger at night. I know I can survive without that extra snack. And I know my mental fortitude will pay off when I step on the scale in the morning. So why bother?

This worries me though, because it sort of feels to me that I'm getting off on the hunger feeling in much the same way I used to get off on binging on Reese's Cups, Twizzlers and Gatorade whenever I'd get the urge late at night before falling asleep. I suppose I'm just concerned that I might be trading one eating disorder (a food addiction or impulse disorder of some sort) for another one (some sort of food deprivation game that could be a gateway to anorexia).

The only thing that keeps me from starving myself now is that I conciously know that it's unhealthy for me. I see food as a fuel, which I think is a pretty healthy way of looking at it. I need those calories, and I need the wonderfully diverse and healthy fresh diet I've been following in order to fuel my muscle-building activities in the gym.

If anyone reading this has some insight for me, or some comment in general, please feel to leave post it for me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Subconsciously slipping into super obesity

As I lose weight and approach the 300 pound mark, I’m reminded of the fact that I’ve never been cognizant of the approach to 300 pounds (or 400 pounds for that matter) while gaining. I first topped 300 in my mid-20s. Things were tough for me as I struggled to define myself as an adult. I dropped out school the summer Jerry Garcia died on my birthday in 1995 - when I weighed somewhere in the high 200s - and by the time I bothered to weigh myself in January of 1996 I weighed 310 pounds.

By the coming summer I’d lost nearly 70 pounds. I'm glad that I caught myself before doing more damage than I did. But concerned that my weight gain was caused by the problems that were all around me, I packed my lingering discontent in the trunk of my 1989 Ford Taurus and hit the road.

I was on a mission to change my life. And when my car broke down in South Florida I decided there was no better place for me to make my change. It was in South Beach that I began exercising as part of my lifestyle, walking as a primary means of transportation and Rollerblading to and from work. I taught myself Spanish during my initial eight-month stint here, returned to school to finish my degree, and quickly as I could I returned to Miami to begin my career as a journalist.

As I advanced in my career, I shifted focus from fitness to finances, and pounds started to creep back on slowly. I never bothered to step on a scale as I ate my way through Latin America. And then by the time 9/11 stopped me in my tracks I was well on my way to ballooning past 300 once again.

In 2004, I finally weighed myself once again. 330. I almost died. For the second time in my life, I never saw that coming.

I began to work out for about a month, but when a budding relationship started to sour I once again sought food as my refuge and turned a blind eye to my exponentially expanding body. And so I lost track of time as well as pounds for another few years.

In 2008, though, I found myself curious about my weight once again after looking at a picture someone had taken of me at an unflattering angle. I tried to weigh myself on that friend’s scale, but, to my horror, I was too fat. So I went to the doctor for a checkup, and even his scale only went to 350, which I easily exceeded. So, one day, while on my way to visit my Dad to celebrate my 36th birthday, I slipped a quarter into the slot of one of those novelty scales you find in the bathroom of rest stops along the interstate. The scale read 417 pounds.

Oh my friggin’ god! You’ve got to be kidding! It’s one thing to not notice when I topped 300, I thought, but how could I not realize I’d surpassed 400 pounds? People are shocked to this day when I tell them with all honesty – I simply did not notice that 100-plus-pound weight gain. In my eyes, I looked the same at 417 as I did at 290.

I was on my way to meet family members to celebrate my birthday on the day of the 417-pound weigh-in, and we took a photo together, which will forever be my reminder of how bad things got. I look at that picture every day now to keep things in perspective. And as I’m going down, reaching that 300 mark once again, you better believe that I’m going to notice – my eyes are fixed on reality for the first time in more than a decade. And I pray they will stay this way.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Today's snapshot: diet, exercise, goals

It's been a while since I last posted, so here's the latest:

Weigh-in: As of this morning I'm at 307 pounds. So far I've lost a total of 109 pounds from my high of 417.

Diet: I'm no longer doing Nutrisystem - as of about a month. Things got a bit tight moneywise recently, so I opted to try to do what I could to use Nutrisystem concepts while shopping on my own at the local grocery. However, I've also started to work a crazy schedule, commuting 45 minutes each way and working from 9 a.m. to after 10 p.m. four days a week, so I have had to find a simple solution. So I'm basically I'm preparing all of my own food on the weekends (with the exception of eating out with friends once in a while), and during the week I'm cooking my breakfasts and eating at Subway for lunch and dinner. I usually get a footlong turkey sub and ask for half the cheese and less meet, then load it up with veggies and top it with red wine vinegar. I also remove the top portion of the wheat roll so I don't overload on carbs during the day. At lunch I even have the Baked Lays a couple times a week. I'm still snacking on lowfat Greek yogurt and fruit in the mid-mornings and late afternoons.

Exercise: I'm working out five days a week at a gym in Fort Lauderdale. I have a regular workout partner and we keep each other motivated. I'm seeing some nice results with the routines we're doing. I'm not really doing cardio at this point, because I've only been going to the gym for a month now and I don't want to do something that's going to make me hate it. This coming month, though, I'm going to start adding about 10 minutes of cardio prior to our workouts. But I just really HATE treadmills and stationary bikes.

One option I'm considering is joining the YMCA. I'm already paying for a gym - I love where I work out now, and that's where my work out partner goes, so I can't cancel that. But the Y near my house has two lap pools and an extremely motivating morning swim program called Master Swim. It meets at 5:30 a.m. two mornings per week and at 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays. The people involved in this program are highly motivated - a few are tri-athletes apparently - but the coach and group are supposed to be incredibly friendly and welcoming. At least that's what the staff trying to sell me on a membership tell me. I've requested that the Y waive the $100 start-up fee fir me (I had seen an ad hanging in Starbucks yesterday advertising a temporary waiver). But then membership is $43 per month, plus $25 for the Master Swimming class. Ugh! We'll see. I'm going back in to talk to the director tomorrow. Honestly, I hope this works out because I grew up in the Y: I was in Leader's Club, worked for the summer camp, was an assistant pre-school teacher, and basically co-ran the before- and after-school day care program for several months right out of high school. So I know how amazing it is to be part of a community like the Y.

The people I spoke to yesterday are incredibly nice, so, "finger's crossed".

Weight goal: My current short term goal is to reach 290 by the end of July (and maybe 280 by my birthday in August). I'm hoping to take a short trip home in July for my 20th class reunion. But I'm not sure that will happen. If not, I'm definitely going to take a weekend trip somewhere at the end of August. I can't wait to see the difference in how I fit in the airplane seats. The last time I flew it was to Acapulco in 2008, and I kept my seat belt extender as a souvenir. I remember how embarrassed I was and nervous that I'd offend someone or even be forced to buy two seats. That never happened, thank goodness, although I'm sure there were some snickers and stares that I chose to ignore.

Well, more later, but the gym awaits. *hugs*