eat, move, think, feel


September 2010

Lifetime: It’s A Long Time

Last weekend we had a special meeting for Lifetime Members at our Weight Watchers center. Lifetime members are people who reached their goal weight then maintained it for a minimum of six weeks. Many Lifetime members have been at their goal weight for YEARS (one woman there has been at goal for 17 yrs!!!!!!!) and others for shorter amounts of time.  It was an awesome meeting. We talked about how exciting it can be to lose, and then, when you hit goal weight and maintenance, it’s: gain a pound. Lose a pound. Gain a pound. Repeat. You don’t get the same sense of celebration as “losers” do.

That is one reason that I jumped onto WW staff the second (and I mean the SECOND) I reached Lifetime. I knew it would be super challenging to maintain my weight loss. I knew I had to do it. And for me, to be on staff has been more rewarding and amazing than I ever could have imagined. I have gained an incredible community of friends who share the same healthy goals. I have the resources of this amazing organization. I am constantly learning new things: about health, and about myself.

People talked about feeling “invisible” in the mass of people who are primarily at WW to lose weight. On one hand, I know what they mean. But at the same time, I have to say that every single topic that we discuss in the meetings are JUST as relevant for maintainers as for people who are trying to lose. I personally reflect on every topic that we have, and each one is meaningful because they are all about living healthy lives. For good.

Another thing we talked about is this idea of maintaining being “hard.” Is it harder than losing? Yes and no. I think it’s hard when we realize that reaching a goal weight does not mean Immunity. Ha ha ha ha. You just have to keep doing what you’re doing, and do more of it, like, forever. I think it’s easy when we’re generally feeling better and healthier than we ever have. So it’s both.

I’ve made a personal vow to make sure the Lifetime members in my meetings feel just as welcomed and celebrated and honored as anyone else. They are inspirational! and awesome for what they have accomplished. And it also made me think hard about how important it is to constantly work to keep myself motivated. I have to keep changing it up.

On Sunday, we had the WW Awards event which was super amazingly awesome. It’s sort of like the Oscars of the WW world. I was proud to be part of some great accomplishments this year, especially for the Alameda Center. We also heard that the Northern California region, which was #14 in the country (for weight loss/maintenance accomplishments) last year – fantastic- has jumped to NUMBER TWO this year! Woo hoo! Go Northern California Weight Watchers!

I’m doing a bunch of things to change things up recently. To keep it fresh. I’ve made a new commitment to fresh produce. I’m going to go to the Farmers’ Market at least once a week (if not more). I’m going to keep reading new things and thinking about my health in new ways. Because there is no such thing as Immunity.

10k Race Recap, and “Feedback, Not Failure”

What a bizarro week it’s been. I think I can safely say that the motto of the week is “Feedback, not failure.” (a WW favorite) I think it pretty much applied to everything I did and experienced. I got a lot of feedback. But I don’t feel like I failed.

First, the food. See details here. At the beginning of the week I was in a bit of a cocky state, crowing “I can eat cookies! I can eat pizza!” because at first, my weight just went up a teensy bit. Then like 3 days later, it went up a LOT. Okay. So I can’t eat “everything.” Especially not all in one week. It has now settled back into my regular range, so that’s good, but it was, I suppose, a bit of an eye opener. I did learn a few things from my week of Indulgence though:

  1. A lot of people avoid sugar because they feel like it will be like a Gateway drug into more and more and more sugar. This was not my experience at all. I ate cookies for a couple of days, and my response was, I WANT VEGETABLES. Same thing with the fried chicken and pizza. They made me crave greens and vegetables and “clean” food like nobody’s business. So that was kind of illuminating, and also a relief. I feel like I don’t need to see another chocolate chip cookie for a long time. Or pizza, for that matter.
  2. It took like 72 hours for the food to “settle” onto my body.
  3. But it also went away pretty quickly. Most of it. Not all of it.
  4. It’s just really, really hard to stay in a good range when one eats out a lot. Which I really did this week. So. Lesson learned.
  5. I’m not about beating myself up or feeling “guilty” or like I blew it. I don’t think I blew it. I think I learned stuff. Yay for that.

Now, to my 10k race this morning. Haha ha ha! Let me just say that until I was actually on the course, I never really believed I was going to run a 10k today. If I had, maybe I would’ve, like, TRAINED for it? Ha ha again.

Back up. I found out that this race was happening in a park very close to my house. Which got me all excited. It’s a beautiful park in the redwoods. I vaguely remembered seeing people doing this very race (or maybe it was a different one) a few years back, and what I remembered was a few people running, and a bunch of Sierra Club-ish septegenarians with hiking boots and walking sticks. And their website says “hikers welcome,” meaning you don’t have to run it. So this WHOLE TIME I was thinking, I’m gonna hike this baby. Easy peasy.

But several elements transpired to transform this thing from an easy 6.5 mile hike into a crazy, grueling, up-and-down hills 10k RUN. First, I got to the registration place. I did not see a single 75 year old with a walking stick. Not a one. Instead what I saw was shirtless people with 2% body fat. I immediately felt faint, and like, UH OH. Then I ran into my friends: one of my Team Penguin buddies (surprise! yay! he was doing the 20k, ooh!) and my friend Sarah from solo performance workshop, and a WW buddy.

They herded us into different groups: 10k, 20K, 30K, 40K and FIFTY KILOMETERS. Holy mackerel. The woman with the megaphone referred to the 10k as a “lollipop run” to which Sarah took offense (“What are we, babies?”) but then I pointed out I think that was the SHAPE of our course, not our level of difficulty. I nervously noted that MOST of the herd was in the 2ok and up crowd, and the 10k bunch was relatively small (50? 70?).

They counted down (about 20 minutes late) and then were off. The trail was really narrow so it was pretty much single file. People were passing me like crazy, including a woman with one leg and one spring. That was impressive. After a while the course thinned out incredibly and I was in the company of this guy who looked Not At All Like A Runner, wearing snowboard pants and a wool cap. And carrying a loose water bottle in his hand. This other guy, who was Most Definitely A Runner, kept running up ahead at great speed, then coming back to check on the snowboard dude. I later learned they were brothers. I am not sure if Snowboarder was grateful or wanted to kill his marathoner brother.

Anyway, I ran the first half-mile or so then it started going uphill. Then REALLY uphill. Like a ladder. And my ankle, in spite of its sturdy brace, began experiencing major stabbing pains. It just DOES NOT like inclines. Or declines. Or anything other than pure flat terrain. My missing toenail, on the other hand, did not bother me at all.

The trail was really beautiful. It looked mostly like this.

Very pretty. People kept passing me. Eventually Snowboard Guy, who was behind me for a mile or two, passed me. These two women, who were behind me, passed me. Finally I was all alone. It occurred to me that chances were VERY HIGH that I was the Very Last Person in the 10k pack. And I had to do some serious talking to myself. I felt sorry for myself. I felt like a loser. I felt stupid for not training more, and for not really checking out what this race was truly like.

Then I remembered this guy from this video I saw last night.

And I started crying. I was like, Guy, if you can do what you did, I can get through this 10k. And I also thought, even though I am probably the END of this pack of athletes, I am HERE. I am doing this. And how many people are not doing any 10K at all, OR a 5k or even a 1k. And then I felt a little better.

Running is such a psychological experience!

I had a few periods of what I call “gazelle running” – when I was truly running fast, LEAPING over logs and just flying. For me. But then other times I was trudging up steep inclines. And my ankle was crying. And then a few times I got all dizzy and nauseated and my hands went numb and I knew I was getting dehydrated. It turns out that they do not have aid stations every mile or so, like regular big runs, but instead EVERY TEN KILOMETERS. In other words, when my race was over. And I was not carrying any water. Duh. When will I learn? (Today, Jesus, today!!!!!!!!!)

I did have a KIND bar which I think helped me with hypoglycemia. So I got through it. I eventually finished. I felt like both crying and throwing up when I finished, but I did neither. I had to rush off to pick up my daughter from crew practice, because Mr. McBody (um, Dr. McBody) was on call and could not do it. So that also helped me hustle my little tushie through the woods in a timely manner. For ME, I ran my ass off, and it was still really really hard.

My final time was 1 hour and 50 minutes. This was not stellar. I was, I think the last person in. The first finishers finished a full hour before me. But you know? I feel good about it. And sort of dumb. I wish I’d realized I was going to RUN this thing. If I had, well, I either would have dropped out ahead of time, or I would have prepared better.

Live and learn, right? For now I am feeling pretty proud that I did this thing.

I (heart) Frank Bruni: A Book Review

I just finished reading Frank Bruni’s memoir, Born Round. When I got to the last page I was a little choked up, feeling like I’d found a real kindred spirit. He’s like another Foodie McBody! Someone who loves and appreciates food, AND who wants to be healthy and fit. I know so many fit people who truly seem unmoved by food, or who see it purely as fuel (and not so much as a source of pleasure) OR as the Enemy. Anybody who knows me knows that I am constantly striving to find ways to have my (cup)cake and eat it too. And of course I also know the foodies who turn a blind eye to fitness or health. Please, can’t I have both?

Enter Frank! OMG. For the first (more than?) half of the book, we follow him through his childhood, where he is a ravenous toddler, and then a huge eater at family feasts orchestrated by his mother and grandmother. The descriptions of the incredible food-a-paloozas were enough to make me faint. Pasta! Italian food! Roast turkey! Frites! (fried stuffed yummy things)

And there’s Frank, simultaneously loving all the food and mortified by his plumpness. And I’m nodding like one of those dashboard bobblehead doggies with its head on a spring. Sigh.

I followed, completely rapt, while Frank joins the swim team and slims down, then joins up with his mother on endless diets (Atkins! I did that one with my dad, back in the 70s), back and forth, back and forth. Ultimately it gets into some pretty dark territory, of bulimia and then bingeing.

It’s a classic tale of Too Much of a Good Thing, when something turns and then doesn’t feel so good anymore. And I feel like I am constantly trying to find that balance. I still want food to be a Good Thing. And it is, until it isn’t. I don’t ever want to fear food or not enjoy it. So it was kind of awe-inspiring and very happy making to read about Frank’s ultimate challenge and job: to be the food critic for the New York Times. How could he manage to eat out 7-8 times a week, at amazing multi-star restaurants, and stay fit and healthy?

Exercise. Of course. Lots of exercise. And portion control. Right? Of course that’s the key. Calories in, calories out. I loved reading about Frank’s bootcampish trainer, Aaron, who sounds like a much meaner version of my own trainer. I was intrigued by his description of Pilates. It was fun following Frank on his transformation from couch-potato-dom to athlete.

The writing in this book is fantastic. Funny, poignant, honest, real. I laughed out loud a LOT, and also cringed and wiped a tear or two. And there was a crazy moment of recognition, much like when I read Kate Moses’ Cakewalk and remembered that I ALSO bit the toes off of rubber alligators from Disneyland (WHAT??? Really!). Maybe not quite as bizarre, but like Frank Bruni, I also had a mad love for cold noodles with sesame paste, something I’d long forgotten (I can’t find this stuff in San Francisco). I used to be obsessssssssssed with those cold noodles when I lived in New York, and my favorite spot was this teeny tiny hole-in-the-wall called OMei in NY’s Chinatown. My friend used to bring me those as a special treat after I moved away. It’s been so many years since I’ve had those noodles, and… sigh. Reading this book brought it all back. (Frank! if you or anybody else knows where I can find these noodles in San Francisco, pleeeeeeeeeease tell me!)

Anyway. Back to the book. I loved it. For someone who loves both Top Chef AND The Biggest Loser, it really spoke to my heart (and my taste buds?).  It made me feel like I had company, in the best way. And after I read it, Frank Bruni joined the ranks of my invisible fit-foodie-community. I finished the book on Monday and in the evening, I was contemplating going out to the cemetery to work out. But it was a Holiday. And I was tired. Suddenly, the voice of Frank’s trainer Aaron popped into my head. “Don’t be a wimpy quitter!” I went out there and did 3.5 miles, and added on 50 pushups and 480 stairs. Then I came home and looked for something really, reallllllllly good to eat.

Vacation: Holding the Moon

We had a fantastic vacation last week, an extended family reunion (21!) in Yellowstone National Park. Wow what an amazing place. I’d driven through there about 30 years ago for maybe a day or so, but never really took the time to explore it all. Of course, not even in a week could we explore even a fraction of its awesomeness. But we were able to do a significant amount in a week. It was humbling and great to see the bison and elk just roaming about. My kids even saw a grizzly bear (I missed it). There was a lot of hiking, there was absolutely NO internet or cell phone or texting or even room-to-room phones! So if we wanted to make a dinner plan, we had to trek around to 6 other cabins which were spread all over, and do it like I guess they did in the Way Olden Days.

The food situation was less than ideal: either a 7-11 type store, a high school cafeteria-ish place, or a fancy expensive restaurant. Except for the fancy restaurant it was very very low on fresh produce. Ugh. I ate a lot of meat and other stuff that I had not touched in years (bologna! M & Ms!)

Meanwhile, we hiked miles and miles, and saw some beautiful terrain. I was very curious about how it was all going to turn out. I had decided I’d be okay with gained a couple of pounds, which I usually do on vacation, and that I’d settle back down.

But it was the same! (my weight) Imagine my surprise. And it was another little period of exhalation, of really understand that I have this down, pretty much. It’s internalized. I make good choices. I stay active. I relaxed. It’s all good. As a vacation should be. Wheeeewwwwwwww.

Here’s a couple fun shots.

ma, it's a bison!
bull elk
a little close
boiling blue water
rainbow over Lower Falls

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