My Other Half

I was thinking about doing a post today about things I missed from when I was overweight, inspired by a similar series atcanyoustayfordinner? When I went back to look over this, though (it was one of the first things I read when I started maintenance and realized I had a whole new struggle ahead of me), I noticed something I hadn’t before: a reader had asked her how she could look back so positively on her fat past.

Most people, I’m guessing, would not be surpised by this question. A lot of people that I see on forums and blogs talk about their past (or, if they are still losing, their future) as though there is a terrible, negative “fat” version of them and a wonderful skinny version. Once skinny, one should just forget about the whole fat part of life, only mention it with the greatest shame, and try to move on.

I am not one of those people. I loved myself when I was heavy, and I love myself now. I am not a completely different person than I was then. “She” is not someone I used to know but it would be embarrassing if people knew that so I hide it. Yes, some aspects of me have changed, but I am the same person. I simply weigh half of what I used to, which is what my blog title refers to. When I say that there were two of me, I don’t mean that there is a past “bad” fat me and new “good” skinny me. I simply mean that I wish that I had that extra half of my body around to like clean my bathroom when I’m lazy or something.

My main point here: there are a lot of things I miss from 110 pounds ago, and this stems from the fact that I was at peace with what I was like then, and I am at peace with what I am like now.

I am not a better person just because I lost 110 pounds. If anything, it is the other way around. I didn’t make positive changes to my character because I became thin; I became thin due to positive changes that I made. And keep in mind that I only feel like I made 2 positive changes: I added physical activity to my life and began eating proper portions of nutritious foods in order to help to solve my health problems. Pretty much nothing else about me changed. Doing these two things, for many people, does not lead to the same amount of massive weight loss that I had. I know plenty of people who do these positive things yet remain slightly overweight. Many of them feel like failures, or feel inadquate, simply because they are “fat,” but I never felt that way, and I hope talking about this can inspire those who do to think more positively of themselves. If you are happy with everything in your life, including your health (and no, unless you have weight associated health problems, as I did, being fat itself does not count!), then what will losing 10-20 pounds fix? Nothing.

So instead of a list of things I miss from 110 pounds ago, here is a list of ways I have not changed due to losing weight, some good, some bad:

  • My favorite food is still pizza. To be fair, this used to be followed by ice cream, but is now followed by Greek yogurt.
  • My favorite color is still pink.
  • I still like the same music. In fact, I’m so stuck on my musical tastes that people have been known to get into my car and remark “I haven’t heard this song since high school!” when I put in a CD I have laying around.
  • I’m still mostly happy with my career choices.
  • I still have the same wonderful family and friends.
  • I’m still a dog person.
  • I still cold all the time (just even colder now).
  • Probably due to my cold nature, I still love curling up in multiple blankets with a cup of tea.
  • I still love to talk, loudly and often.
  • I still love to take long walks with my husband, even if I don’t particularly enjoy running with him.
  • I still love how easy it is to take care of my curly hair.
  • I still love the same clothing. It’s just cheaper and easier to find now.
  • Not that much cheaper, though, because I still have expensive taste.
  • I’m still clumsy, though I’m hoping my coordination improves a bit.
  • I still love sewing.
  • I still love baking.
  • I’m still terrified of driving in inclement weather.
  • I still bite my nails (though I’m doing better).
  • I still need coffee to function.
  • My favorite place to drink coffee is still when I visit home, because everyone in my family buys nicer creamer than I do. My parents and my grandparents on my dad’s side always buy fancy flavored ones (sugar free for me) and my grandpa on my mom’s side always buys it from a local dairy.
  • I still have all of the same memories, happy and sad.

I think I’ll take this list as pretty definitive evidence that I’m still the same person.I’m guessing that more people would describe me as loud and clumsy before they would describe me as skinny. I simply cannot believe that in the face of all of these things that seem to matter so much more on a daily basis, that my weight is the one thing that defines who I am.

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Learning to Need Less Clothing

Here is my obligatory picture of me standing in one leg of my old size 18 jeans.

I promise I have since cleaned up that makeup brush mess!

 

If you go look at my progress pictures, these are the same jeans I am wearing in my official before picture. In those pictures, those jeans were too tight. In an effort to avoid “real” plus sizes (JC Penney carries up to size 18 and sometimes 1X in certain regular brands), I had been squeezing myself into size 18 bottoms and generously cut XL tops. I lost about 40 pounds before they were too big, so it is pretty clear I should have been wearing at least a size or two bigger!

Now I wear somewhere between a 0 and a 6 (usually a 4 on the bottom with small or xsmall tops – I’m just slightly pear shaped). Along the way, I had to get rid of and replenish my entire wardrobe multiple times. And this has taught me a lot about clothing.

I mean, it wasn’t so bad at first – as I said, my old clothes mostly fit until I had lost about 40 pounds, when I had to start buying size 16s. And even then, there were certain clothes (mostly stretchy ones) that I got away with wearing until I was down about 60 pounds. If I really needed something, I would run to Goodwill and buy it. This worked pretty well (as I will elaborate on late) – I once realized I had no slacks and a business casual meeting the next day, and my Goodwill run produced two pairs of Express editor pants for under $10 (these are super nice, btw, and my mother has inherited them rather than being redonated).

I don’t think I bought any real clothes until around black Friday, when my mom took me out and bought me something like 2 pairs of jeans, a pair of slacks, two sweaters and 4 or 5 tees and blouses. I had never realized until that point that it was possible to basically make due on so little clothing. Seriously – I remember once in high school bragging that I had something like 40 hoodies (I have 2 now!!). But I had to make due on it – even with my sale and thrift store shopping (Goodwill is the only decent one at school, but back home there are some other places), I have spent way more money than I ever planned on clothing during this journey, and I was rapidly abandoning what new clothes I did buy. I remember I had lost about 20 more pounds (bringing me down to 80 pounds total) after my mom bought me those new clothes and asking her if she would like them because they were a little loose. She hadn’t really realized how quickly I was losing weight (this was probably in February or March, so only a couple months later) and said something like “but I just bought you all of those! Don’t you like them?” It is just really difficult to fathom how quickly I needed new clothing.

Now that I’ve been stable for awhile and gone through redonating tons of clothes (and unfortunately donating some things new with tags), I’ve been trying to actually replenish my wardrobe, rather than simply buying the barebones and adding in random items as needed. The whole process has been rather illuminating. The main thing that I have learned is quality over quantity.

Remember, I have had to replace EVERYTHING. Well, except socks. I still have some of my socks (the dryer at the others). During my loss, I prioritized jeans and tees for daily wear that at least would not fall off (so often up to 2 sizes too big), things I needed for professional settings, and bras. I have replaced my bras about 500 times, I swear (side note: you are probably wearing the wrong bra size and I suggest checking out this awesome calculator). I noticed, though, that as I bought my $20 maidenform bras, that by the time I needed a new one, they were worn out – after only about 3 months! I had not really noticed in the past because I had a larger stock to pull from, so when I had to throw one out and replace it, I didn’t realize it was so new. Now, to be fair, I usually buy DKNY or Calvin Klein ones at TJ Maxx to save money, this means that  if I bought a $100 bra and it lasted one year, I would be spending the same exact amount of money. Whoa! Now, I know that not everyone can afford that upfront cost (I, too, have been sort of poorish),but if you are on the borderline, remember this lesson. Also, hunt sales (I find $60ish bras at TJ Maxx for about $15-$20).

And remember: you don’t need 1,000 $100 bras (or even 1,000 $20 bras). Most suggestions I have seen have been a minimum of three. I own 5 (three t-shirt and two push-up/plunge), and probably need a 6th (multiway or strapless). Then I will be set! I used to own so many that they didn’t even fit in a dresser drawer! I’ve also greatly reduced the amount of other things I own. I only own four pairs of jeans (skinny blue, skinny black, straight leg blue, boot cut blue), 2 pairs of slacks (light grey and dark grey), and 2 hoodies (one zip up, one pullover). I could probably use some more of some of these things (I had a pair of black slacks, but they are too big now and need replaced), and there are other items I probably went overboard on (I have so many skirts I have 2 hanging from each skirt hanger, but to be fair they were ALL thrifted or purchased on sale for less than $15).

Now, getting back to the benefits of thrifting. I almost NEVER buy anything at full price. My husband and I aren’t poor, but remember – and I can’t stress this enough – I’ve had to replace all of my clothing. Things you forget about – underwear, plain tees, camis, pajamas, coats, and shoes. Who would have guessed I’d lose a shoe size?! I shop for everything except undergarmets and shoes secondhand (I am not against secondhand shoes, they just usually don’t have any in a 7 or 7.5 since everyone else buys them first). Now, I shop for them in regular stores, too, but I wait until they are basically a million percent off. But the best bang for my buck always comes from thrift stores. For example, my best “real” store deal (actually online) was these pumps for about $55 (they are super comfy btw). My best thrift store finds:

  • 100% wool and 100% silk skirts from places like Ann Taylor and Talbots for less than $5 (I got some fully lined wool pants this way, too!)
  • $100+ leather purses for under $15
  • Bajillions of Banana Republic sweaters for like $1
  • Professional looking, fully lined blazers for less than $20

I could have never found deals like that in a real store.

My one final tip on cheap clothing (for those who are now as tiny as me): buy unisex stuff (i.e. hoodies) from the kids section. A women’s medium is about the same as a kid’s extra large, and a women’s small is about the same as a kid’s large. I buy stuff this way and save about 50% off the price all the time.

Random aside: despite my adoration of skirts, I am quite annoyed that all 4 pairs of my jeans are currently drying and I will probably have to wear a skirt today in the 35 degree snowy weather. Here’s to hoping it’s not that snowy and River and I can actually get out for a run later!

The Importance of Planning Ahead

In my last post I mentioned that I have a huge midterm as well as a huge party this weekend, and am therefore hoarding my calories. This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but it was not so obvious to me at first.

When I first started losing weight, I really was afraid that if I didn’t eat basically all of my calories everyday (no more no less), then I wasn’t doing it right. This made it really difficult for me to have any sort of flexibility with my eating. And though I cannot be sure that this happens to others for the same reason, I frequently see them saying things such as:

  • They are afraid of eating out because they do not know the exact amount of calories in their meal, and therefore avoid going out with others at all costs and eat everything at home.
  • They are nervous about going to parties because there will be a lot of pressure to eat too much.

Or, if it goes the other way:

  • They MUST cheat on weekends, because that is when all of the beer and chicken wings are around, and they don’t know what else to do, so weekends just don’t count.

Now, these can be good strategies for individuals (something that you will come to learn is that I strongly believe that every individual is going to have a different relationship between health, food, exercise, and weight). Eating at home saves money, and most people can convince their friends to come over rather than go out; some people may have extreme pressure from friends and family to behave a certain way in social settings; having a cheat day (or 2) could help some  to have a healthier relationship to food.

There are numerous problems with these attitudes for me personally, though. First,I should admit that  my relationship with food is not super healthy. Allowing myself a cheat day or two would lead me away from the path of a lifestyle change back to up and down dieting. Second, inflexibility just seems impossible and undesirable in my life. I’m a busy student that frequently eats at restaurants (including fast food!), travels a lot (more fast food), is still struggling with confronting opinionated family and friends, and once in a while wants to enjoy eating two desserts without the day being a complete “cheat.”

So, what do I do instead? I plan ahead.

Every week, I try to think of things that are going to be going on that might impact my caloric intake:

  • Am I going to have a thousand meetings on Wednesday that keep me from getting in my workout?
  • Am I having a girls’ night that involves pizza and alcohol (two things I like to treat myself to) on Saturday?
  • Even worse – are these types of events falling on the same day?
  • Am I going to be driving 600 miles to see my husband with nothing but fast food and Coke Zero along the way?

After thinking about what is going to be going on, I think a bit about what that means for my eating habits the rest of the week. The most important one to plan is busy days (or just days where working out is difficult) where I know I will be eating a lot, because I have to eat a tiny deficit (say 200-300 calories) a couple of other days to make up for it. Others, I usually know that I can just fit the food in with an extra hard workout – perhaps I run 5 miles the day of the girls’ night and do not snack throughout the day.

I would like to note a couple of things. First, I do try to be somewhat flexible here. If it is the holidays (meaning Thanksgiving – New Year’s), I accept that there are just going to be too many things that I want to let myself enjoy and that I don’t want to be bothering my family on say, Christmas Day, to be like “oh, that peppermint hot chocolate had 700 calories, mom, thanks for ruining everything.” That would just be terrible. So I remind myself that if I count all the normal days and keep myself in check, the worst case scenario is a small gain (I gained 5 lbs last year over the holidays and maintained this year). Even if I have a week where I am over by 500 calories, I’m probably going to have weeks where I am under by 300 calories; in the grand scheme of things, paying attention and making predominately healthy choices is what matters. Second, I would like to note that this idea has become way more important in maintenance than in losing: if I was operating at a 1000 calorie deficit, I could eat 1000 calories extra due to unforeseen circumstances and simply maintain rather than gain or lose. Now that I am maintaining, my maintenance calories are something like that original 1000 calorie deficit was, I burn fewer calories from exercise, and if I fail to plan thoroughly and fall into a pattern of overeating, I will slowly gain back.

The bottom line: being half your size can sometimes be just as difficult as becoming half your size.

First Post!

So, I’ve tried blogging about a million things before, to no avail. I even tried blogging about weight loss maintenance once, but I wasn’t sure what to write about. I think it’s because I tried to write really big, thematic posts all the time rather than what is just on my mind. This time, I’ll try to do better 🙂

So a little bit of more current info. You already know from the about me section that I am working on maintaining my 113 pound weight loss via exercise and calorie counting.

I tend to focus on running for exercise, but lately it’s been sort of cold and icy. I don’t like to run if it’s below 20 degrees F (it just hurts my lungs) and although I bought some of those spiky things for running to use earlier this winter, after my roommate rescued her dog I started training the doggy to run with me, and I’m afraid she will slip and/or pull me down on the ice. So my running goal lately has been to do three days of doing couch to 5k with her and 2 other longer runs per week. So far, this has not been going well due to the weather. Instead, I’ve been doing at home circuit training/HIIT workouts. I’m still trying to figure out the difference. Mostly, I just alternate between cardio and strength. I sometimes do this in one big chunk but mostly do it in 5-10 minute intervals to stay warm throughout the day (now that I’ve lost weight I’m always SOOOOO cold). I’m hoping I can get back to running more soon, as my goal for the year is to run a half-marathon (I still need to find one, though…).

In terms of diet, I’ve been trying to average 1750 (net) calories per day, which seems to maintain my weight, although I am not sure because I don’t have a scale here. I’m trying to focus more on better nutrition, too. I finally went out and bought vitamin D supplements (I became deficient while obese but have been slacking on taking them) and I am trying to focus on eating vegetables at least 2 times a day and taking in over 100g of protein. The protein is easier (perhaps from that statement you can tell why vegetables are harder – I love meat and dairy!). I have a big party at my house this weekend so I’m trying to save my exercise calories until then, because I can’t work out that day – I also have a gigantic take home midterm to do.