Monday, July 30, 2007

Confessions of a Fat Lady

Like others who have posted on this topic, I used to be skinny. I kept my weight between 110 and 125 pounds for many years. And I ate whatever I wanted. The sad thing is, I didn't think I was skinny. I would look down at my thighs and think, "Oh how gross! Thunder thighs!" I would look in the mirror and wish that I were as skinny as my reflection. I would watch other women and wish I were as lean as they were. I wasted all of my skinny years thinking I was overweight. I probably would have been anorexic, but I like to eat too much!

After my second daughter was born, at first I lost all my baby weight, but then, inexplicably started gaining weight. Because we didn't have much money, I went several years without seeing a doctor, until finally about twelve years ago I made an appointment- but not because of my weight. I went because after a blood test at my gynecologist's office my thyroid levels came back low. So I went to see my family doctor about my thyroid.

After a multitude of tests and discussion, we discovered that my thyroid gland was completely non-functional. The working theory is that when I was pregnant with my younger daughter, I caught some kind of virus that killed my thyroid gland. Everyone around me was strangely happy when I was diagnosed because they assumed that once I went on the thyroid medication, my weight would drop.

Sadly, it didn't work that way. My weight problems may have started because of a thyroid problem, but I exacerbated them by developing bad eating habits. See, the thing is, when I'm depressed, I eat. And I was depressed because I gained weight no matter what I did. I remember when the Rotation Diet came out. My husband and I went on the diet and followed it to the letter. In three weeks he had lost about 20 pounds. In three weeks I GAINED five pounds. So I adopted the philosophy of, if I'm going to gain weight anyway, I might as well enjoy myself. It was an excuse, and I know it. But there's a difference between knowing something rationally and being able to deal with it emotionally.

So even though I was on thyroid medication, I didn't lose weight because I wasn't changing my eating habits. I comforted myself with the thought that even though I was overweight, I was physically fit-- and I was. I walked regularly, lifted weights, did flexibility exercises, and maintained a hectic work schedule at a job that required me to be on my feet and dashing from one spot to another most of the day.

Then a few years ago I was diagnosed with chronic depression and panic attacks. At first the medication I was given made me nauseous, so that was kind of nice because I didn't feel like eating. But after a while my body adapted. One thing about anti-depressants, they cause one to gain weight.

About two years after I was diagnosed with depression, I found out that I have Type II Diabetes. For many people when they receive this diagnosis it acts as a wake up call. They go on the diabetic diet and lose lots of weight. I lost about 40 pounds when I was first diagnosed. I was still very overweight, but there was some progress.

Sadly in the last year and a half, I've gained back all the weight I lost. There are a lot of reasons-- I lost my job and was off work for more than a year- which caused my depression to get worse. My new job is largely a "sit at my desk" job so I am not as physically active as I used to be. And I have fallen back into some bad eating habits.

So that is where I am at right now. I am obese. When push comes to shove, I know that it is up to me to find the time to exercise and to improve my eating habits. I would love to come back in a year and announce to everyone that I have lost 100 pounds. Realistically, I hope I can once again lose the 40 pounds I lost when my diabetes was first diagnosed. And, realistically, I hope I can work on my physical fitness again.

So as far as advice on losing weight, I really don't have any. But I do have advice about accepting yourself. I wasted ten years of my life thinking I was overweight when I wasn't. If you are overweight, don't let it consume your life. You are so much more than your body. The more you obsess about your weight, the harder it will be for you to develop healthy eating habits. If you are, for whatever reason, unable to lose weight at this point in your life, find other ways to take care of yourself. Take a little walk every day, even if it's only for 5 minutes. Develop good grooming habits so you will look nice. Get a nice haircut. Wear comfortable shoes. Buy nice clothes that FIT (not clothes a size or two too small so you'll be able to wear them when you lose weight.) Smile. Smile a lot. Accept that you may never lose the weight, and move on. Life is too short to waste time worrying about your fat cells. The more time you spend worrying about them, the more likely you are to create more of the pesky little buggers.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Upcoming Topics

Below you'll fnd out upcoming topics. Make sure to tell your friends to pass by and leave their own comments. Afterall, the Branches of Life applies to everyone.

  • August: adding a young dog to a family with a senior dog
  • September: back to school
  • October: the magic of Halloween: down memory lane
  • November: NaNoWriMo

Looking forward to everyone's participation.

This month we're still continuing with Losing Weight After the Age of Forty

Lea Schizas

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Hate Dieting, but... sister told me about this book: You on a Diet: The Owner's Manuel for Waist Management. She says it's not only a fun read, but she is learning so much about how our bodies interact with food and how to figure out how her body interacts with food. So, if you're tired of yo-yo diets and quick fixes and would like to learn how to work with your body and not against it, I highly recommend this book.

Perilously yours,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Weighing in on diets and fads

Just like everyone else, I've been battling the bulge in my over 20's years. I'd like to share something I've recently learned - there is no one diet for everyone - each person has a unique chemical make up and what works for one won't necessarily, work for another.

As a kid I was thin. So thin in fact, my uncle used to refer to me as a skeleton with skin. In my 20's I gained some muscle and fat, but I was never over weight. I was a figure skater, and a coach, which indeed helped keep the weight off. I'm also certain that my busy schedule, which in turn interrupted my eating pattern to the point where I'd forget to eat, played an important role.

Then I moved away, got married and had a child. I continued to skate, until my pregnant belly was too big and threw me off balance. After my daughter was born, I decided to take one last shot at a skating competition. However, I was over weight and out of shape. I had months of hard work ahead if I wanted to try. And so I did. I trained hard on the ice and watched me diet. I ate mostly veggies and proteins, and limited my starch intake. I lost 40 lbs. and was thinner than I had been in years. That was in 2000.

After that I went back to my evil eating ways. The weight poured on. Two years ago, I tried to get those stubborn pounds off again. But this time I had one big problem. I was diagnosed with Osteo arthritis in my knees and was told I couldn't skate any longer and doing so would add damage to my knees. My exercise would be limited. So instead I focused on eating and joined Weight Watchers. After three months, I hadn't lost but one pound. I was eating healthy in general ( I always do), but the program just didn't work for me.

I started working out at a gym, determined to shed the excess weight. I ate healthy and worked out three days a week. Again, nothing. My trainer said, "Be patient, it takes time." I already knew that, but after three months, I would have thought something should have happened. So, I changed my routine and hit the gym five days a week. The weight slowly peeled off, but not much, only 10 pounds. And now I had an even bigger issue - I was fit, very fit. The problem with that was I had to work even harder to get my pulse rate up to a working level to burn fat!

I'd given up. I couldn't figure out what the problem was. So, I've been sitting with excess baggage clinging to my body. Until recently. That was when it dawned on me. When I dropped all that weight in 2000, it wasn't the skating alone which did it. It was my diet.

I recently started a low Glycemic index diet. Which means, I eat a ton of veggies, proteins and limit my starches. This diet is recommended for people who have Diabetes or heart problems. While I have neither, it appears to be the correct diet for me. I've watched the scale as the numbers are slowly getting smaller. It will take time, but all proper diets do.

There are other diets which eliminate carbohydrates, but they are fads. Your body needs carbohydrates, just not the sugary, refined type. Rather, specific types to give your body proper nutrition. I suggest when you decide to diet you look carefully and select one that is balanced and teaches proper nutrition. What good is a diet if after you stop, you gain the weight back? Find a diet that you can live with - meaning something that you can stick with and continue even after you lose the weight.

Happy dieting!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Martial arts and weight

Obesity is one of the biggest health factors facing America today. For the first time ever, life expectancy is actually falling--because obesity is causing death faster than medical science solves other causes of death. But there's so much temptation. We don't have to hunt for food, painstakingly gather seeds and nuts. Instead, there's all sorts of wonderful food at the neighborhood fast food restaurant or even in our cupboards. I've certainly learned I don't have the will power to leave sweet things in the house. If there's ice cream, for example, I eat it until it's gone.

While I'm not thin, I truly believe that exercise is essential to permanent weight loss. Diets can help you lose weight, but it'll come back on unless you change your lifestyle--and who wants to spend the rest of your life eating cabbage? I used to lift weights as exercise--it really is a perfect workout--except it's boring. After a while, I just couldn't face it any more. So, I looked around for an exercise program where:
1. I felt I could be learning something
2. I'd get support from other people (my home weight bench quickly became a laundry bench)
3. The skills I learn could help me if I needed them--and would assist me in my writing as well
4. Would have a definite set of hours--so I couldn't do the old 'I'll skip today and make up tomorrow' self-sabotage.

For me, studying the martial arts met these criteria. I write action stories, so the fighting aspects of the martial arts come in handy. I hope never to get into actual fights, but the skills I've learned will help protect me if I need them. There's always something to learn so it's never boring. And the exercise is intense--both from a cardio perspective and from a strength perspective.

There are a wide spectrum of martial arts to choose from. Anything from intense grappling (jujitsu/judo), to hard striking arts (karate/tae kwon do) to more calm but still valuable arts like t'ai chi (which is especially great for older people whose bones might not stand up to the intensity of the high-contact martial arts). Any of these give you a chance to make friends, learn a skill, have fun, and burn a whole lot of calories.

Rob Preece

Heartfelt Comments

There is nothing more motivational than to read other people's comments. To read the trials and tribulations they went through and what their impressions on maintaining and losing weight is truly a push in the right direction.

Although I bite my tongue whenever I hear the words I am about to say, "I don't have time to go to the gym.", I really don't have time, not at this point, at least. But I do exercise at home. I have a bike, weights, an elliptical machine (okay, my daughter's but I get exhausted watching her), and stairs to go UP and DOWN.

My biggest problem in how I gained my weight- used to be 140 pounds since high school and now 185- and this may be something many don't understand and perhaps my post may help them see the wrong they are doing to their bodies, is that I didn't eat. I could go with one piece of toast a day, that's it.

How wrong, as my husband pointed it out. What I succeeded in doing was placing my body in starvation mode since it wasn't taking in the right amount of calorie/vitamin and whatever else needed, a day and everything I did put in my body it kept it as fat storage.

What happens when people go on these yo-yo diets is they place their bodies awhack, out of its regular system and you need to bring it back. You need to watch what you eat, when you eat, how often you eat, the portions you eat, and then slowly you'll bring your body back to its right state and the 'starvation mode' should, more or less, be eliminated.

So an update: lost 1 pound since I last posted which isn't much but then again, I haven't been dieting but watching my food intake. I also joined Sparks, which one of the readers commented and offered the link in her posting. Don't have it on hand right now but if you go to my previous posting and check the comments, you'll note the link to Sparks, a FREE membership where you can get the help you need to begin a healthier lifestyle.

Lea Schizas

Monday, July 9, 2007

Losing Weight After 40?

In a weight and age obsessed society weight gain as I aged felt like a double wammy. Being attractive in Western culture is almost a commandment. Even thought I’d been thin all my life, as my metabolism changed I found myself putting on a pound year, then two or three. Thank heaven, by 45 or so my vision changed and anything within two feet blurred or disappeared all together. Just give me a good pair of reading glasses. When I saw photos of me using those glasses, I saw I looked far different from what I felt. My first reaction was shrieking, “Where the hell did all those wrinkles come from?” Putting on makeup became impossible without a 7x mirror and finding something fashionable to wear, impossible. Then one day I realized, “OMG, I’m wearing all elastic waist pants! I’ve turned into my mother.” Aging makes you incredibly unfashionable and weight gain is only part of the picture.

There was one major benefit to reaching 40: I’d developed into a self-accepting person. I have faced myself in the deepest recesses of my mind and I understand and accept that I am not a perfect person. I have not always been a good daughter, a good parent, a good friend, or even a good person. I have weaknesses both moral, mental and physical. I’ve done some things of which I am ashamed. I also learned there are things that make a decent person, and that the only person I needed to worry about judging me (unless I land in a courtroom) is myself over my own actions. At 29 I faced death on a very personal level and had a brief, pre-death chat with God. Then I had another incident at 48. Death is closer to all of us than what you may think. So now I face the future knowing the important thing is how I live my life. What's on the outside shouldn't be discounted, but it isn't all that counts.

Luckily, I am not seriously overweight; if I were I’d take dieting seriously. At this point, I'm trying not to obsess about my weight. Instead, I've pledge to become more observant of what I eat, how much I exercise and walk, and to take better care of my general health as a total lifestyle change. I’m going to wear clothes that are comfortable and put on the outside what matches the person I am on the inside, not some designer’s seasonal dictates. (Don't worry, I still try to be color and style coordinated)

Luckily, that saves a lot of money for theater tickets and other fun side trips. In my social crowd, your thinness isn't all that important.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Waistline Retrieval After 40

by Mary Andrews

Let’s set parameters of where I’m coming from here.

At 53 years old, I am afflicted by type II diabetes, asthma, somewhat raised cholesterol, as well as whatever caused me to have to have a heart stint installed a few years ago, menopause, and a severe case of poverty.

What does this mean? Well, for starters, Even under medication, I have trouble breathing when I over exert/exercise, almost everything I need to eat is likely to conflict with one of my ailments, and EVERYTHING costs too much.


Isometric exercises can be done in a chair. Basically they involve pitting muscle against muscle for short periods of time- repetitively.

Belly dance isolation movements target and control individual muscles, even sitting in a chair you can do a belly roll-- first in one direction and then back. If your knees aren’t too bad, take a class in it. (Note: most all of this dance is done with the knees bent.) If you do have bad knees, it’s still worth your time to take a class or learn the basics through DVDs, because you can belly dance to any music out there, and we all have a radio.

Also, I’ve heard Tai Chi helps lower blood sugar as well as provide isometric and isostatic exercise for people of any age.

Walk the dog. Walk the mall. Walk with a buddy.

When I was younger, I used to do sit ups in bed before I would get up. I’d just throw the blankets down over my feet and do them. I started with as many as I could stand, then I’d do one more and quit. Great way to wake up and get the blood pumping. Each day I would add five more.

I also used to come home from work and turn on the radio. For the duration of 3-5 songs I grabbed up a little weight and exercised to the music, then took my shower and did house-stuff. It was actually very energizing too.


Drink more water. I heard of one lady, who every time she wanted to eat something, she would drink a glass of water. If she still wanted it after that, she would try not to each much of it.

Oprah did a show about the French diet. She says that they eat all kinds of rich foods, but they have smaller, often tiny, portions. Makes sense to me.

Lose the cokes—even diet ones.

Eat more vegetables and salads, lose the carbs as much as possible, cut/cook the fat off your beef, eat more fish/turkey/chicken, give up anything with flavor, etc etc etc.

All of the above will help you out, but the biggest thing you need, is to decide what you do or do not want, and why.

Do you overeat to feel better, or is it in defiance of the universe?

I haven’t had cable TV in a couple of decades, so I’ve ended up watching way too many God awful exercise programs and advertisements. At first they really just pissed me off. Scantily clad, rib-showing sweet young things who don’t even have the decency to break a sweat are telling me how to lose weight and spend money I don’t have. Yeah, right.

Fact is, they inspired me to jump up and snack on something, even if I didn’t want it. So take that! (Not my brightest move, but what’s a poor, old, fat girl gonna do?) But before I realized it, each time they came on I actually started to get hungry (stupid Pavlov). So when I finally realized it, I started drinking a glass of water whenever I see the evil stick girls taunting me verily from the tube.

Defiance eating is a misguided form of reclaiming control over your life. As body parts start to fall off with age, and even the ugly guys/gals at the club won’t dance with you, and you find yourself training the people you work for, and everybody everywhere seems to have more say in your life than you do, that last bastion of power that only you control is THE RIGHT TO BE WRONG. Much akin to your misery, nobody but you can change it.

And as we age, we must work within whatever parameters we are given.
Good luck

30 pounds or 30,000 words--it's all good!

I didn't gain my weight at 40--it hit me at 35. We moved to Virginia and in six months, I gained 30 pounds, not changing my eating habits or my exercise level. My doctor told me I was getting old. I'm blaming Virginia.

At any rate, neither diagnosis is helping me lose the weight, so recently, I've tried to implement a routine of daily walking. However, as a very busy writer and homeschooling mom, I don't have time or opportunity to wander my neighborhoods aimlessly. Besides, I find that deadly dull. Instead, I set up the ironing board in our bedroom, put the laptop on it, and march as I type. I march while blogging (yes, like now), doing e-mails or while on chats. Usually, I pick times when typos are not as serious because, let's face it, typing on a computer perched on an ironing board while the knees are lifting and at least one arm is pumping isn't the time for accuracy.

People thought I was nuts, but it's been working...slowly. However, I've found my inspiration:

I want his set-up! Once we move to Minot, I'll be looking for a machine I can attach my laptop to; or I may see what the gym on base has to offer.

Now all I need is a T-shirt that says 30 pounds or 30,000 words--it's all good!

PS--Check out my virtual book tour this August. Forty stops in 31 days and none of it is fattening! for details

Karina Fabian

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Losing Weight

Diets! I hate the word. Afterall look at the first three letters. I don't diet. I'm in the process of losing the last 35 pounds. I have gotten rid of 25 pounds, but I did it by changing my attitude toward food. If I take the route of, of no, that's a bad food. I can't have it---well you know how that goes..nothing in the world is going to appease me until I have that food. So I don't forbid myself anything. If I want it I eat it....but just a bit of it. I tried subsitutions...didn't work...ended up eating it anyway, plus what I'd tried to sub for it.

What I find that works for me is upping my activity level. I don't weigh myself often, that scale drives me crazy. Oh, and I'm beyond the 50 mark by 5 years.

You know what drives me crazy, where the extra weight heads to now, it used to be my hips and butt, notw every extra ounce heads right to my stomach and waist. I hate that extra roll right above the old jean's waist that wants to be apart of me for the rest of my life.

I tried that much talked about program where they send you the food, Yes, I lost weight on it for about two weeks because I couldn't stand to eat the food. Everything tasted like green bell peppers. I don't care for bell peppers, but if you like them, then you would like the their food also.

Like Lea I'll let you all know how things are going at the end of the month, my goal is to be another 10 pounds lighter.

Oh, and don't forget about that muscle your gaining. It weighs more than fat. So take your measurements and rely on that more than that darn scale!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

July's topic: Losing Weight After the Age of 40

In January I'll be hitting fifty and I vowed to get to the 140 pounds I used to be, the level I feel comfortable at. Right now I'm 40 pounds over that limit and I feel the weight. Although I'm tall and carry the weight spread out equally, the notion that 'it's there' bothers me.

I remember when I was in my early twenties, a friend of the family told me that once you hit thirty you feel a change in your body. As soon as you hit forty you'll see your metabolism slow down; foods that you ate at a younger age will now begin storing in your fat compartment. Boy was she right.

Personally, I don't like diets. Just the thought that I'll go on a diet causes me to be hungry. I have, however, learned over the years to be careful what I eat and not to eat past 8 o'clock.

I'll still have my spagetti with sauce but might have only a half slice of bread. For snacks, I'll eat carrots, celery, broccoli, or cauliflower dipped in tzatziki. Don't misunderstand, I still have my vinegar chips or chocolate ice cream, but sparingly, maybe once a week instead of the daily habit I found myself in.

I also have found that eating breakfast has helped me lose weight because I don't get these hunger pangs like before and chewed on about everything in my cupboards or fridge.

I used to go to the gym and did love it but I tried something at home which I found has helped me. I use things around the house, for example, various sizes of cans used as weights, using the back of my chair for side leg raises, using the wall to do stand up push-ups, popping in exercise videos and following that gorgeous bodied gal and wishing it was me in that video.

Although the gym is an important connection to a healthier you, if you don't have the time then taking 15 minute spread into 4 parts throughout the day, will give you some benefit instead of nothing.

As I wrote, I am now 180 pounds and will report at the end of the month to tell you how much I've lost using the methods I mention above.

I'd love to hear back on what everyone is doing to lose weight and what the outcome has been.

Lea Schizas