The losing battle, Week 16: It had to happen sometime

This was not unexpected after more than 3 straight months of weight loss. I was up 1.8 pounds on the scale this morning.

I’m still down nearly 34 pounds since January, but I’m still scrolling through the old food diary to figure out what might have led to this first reversal since I started. According to my records, I never went above 100 grams of carbohydrates over the past week, but that might have been bad logging on my part at one or two points – namely Friday, when I went ahead and had several squares of regular pizza for the first time in forever. I’ve had a piece here and there since I went low-carb, but not “several.” (But it was still a lot less than I used to eat in one sitting.) Also, I’m not limited in calories – just carbs – but I did go significantly over the MyFitnessPal app’s prescribed calorie limit (like, by 600+ calories) a couple of days. My snacking has also been a bit more frequent and fatty or high-carb (I really have to lay off the peanuts and pork rinds), and I haven’t logged as much water as I had been.

Perhaps just as significantly, I had a lot of nights of poor sleep, at one point logging barely 4 hours. Plus I logged one Pilates class, and maybe one day above 3,000 steps. I could get off my ass a little more (and my painful lower back and hips would likely be grateful).

I’m not too upset about this. It was inevitable. At least I have an idea of how to move forward: A bit more sleep, a bit more water, a bit more movement. Onward.

There’s a nice bit of writing in the Washington Post accompanying a recipe for pandesal, the classic bread roll of the Philippines:

“To eat like a Filipino means eating multiple times a day, not just three square meals. Many will have a pandesal in the morning and then a sizable breakfast, called almusal, later with eggs, meats and, of course, rice. It’s not a meal without rice.”

This is what I grew up with. This is also why going low-carb in January was as seismic a shift as I imagined it would be.

The losing battle, Week 15: Same old, same old

Another week, another 2.4 pounds lost. Now at 247.4 pounds. That’s a 12.6 percent loss since I started all this in January. At least another 70 pounds to go.

I’m not as blasé about this as I might sound. But I just realized that I forgot to post my update yesterday; this time, I didn’t delay it because I wanted to get a decent weight to log here. I just plain forgot. Maybe I can blame that on post-vaccine brain fog.

Meanwhile, I think I’m largely past the COVID-19 vaccine side effects now. C, however, is dealing with the same kind of hit-by-a-truck aftereffects that I woke up with Saturday. On top of that, he has a 101-degree fever.

I’ve always been envious of C’s good health and fully expected him to lord a lack of side effects over me. I didn’t want him to go through this, especially since it seems like he’s got it worse than I did over the weekend.

Remember abdominal cramping? I do.

The chronic pain I’ve experienced in recent years has subsided considerably over the past few months. I chalk it up to the habits I’ve learned through physical therapy (deep breathing, stretches) and especially the weight loss.

But the pain has returned in recent days; it’s clearly stress-related. My physical therapist said last fall that just as some people clench shoulder muscles while tense, others tighten their abdominal muscles – or in my case, my pelvic floor – under duress. I was convinced of this after looking back on the past few years, and the past week or so has further convinced me.

Just knowing doesn’t make the pain go away; the deep breathing and stretches (and Extra Strength Tylenol, “rapid release” variety) do. But understanding where the pain is coming from makes a world of difference with my peace of mind. Grateful for medical professionals like my urogynecologist and physical therapist who pointed me in the right direction.

The losing battle, Week 14: Tired, but doing okay

It’s only Monday, and I’m already completely fried by work, so I’ll cut to the chase.

I managed to drop 2 pounds and end up at 249.8, which is my first time in forever under 250 pounds. Clothes are fitting better, and I was able to walk maybe 2 miles during a zoo visit with family that didn’t leave me with severe back pain and winded. (I still needed to sit down with some pain, but I was far less weary than I used to be.)

Now if only the weight loss would be noticeable to people I haven’t seen in months, that’d be great. That hasn’t been the case in recent weeks; I’m guessing that when you’re as large as I am, a 33-pound loss doesn’t look like much. It’s disappointing when it’s not obvious, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pull the plug on this.

I should be happier than I am at how much weight I’ve dropped. Right now, I’m too exhausted to celebrate much of anything.

My biggest worry now is that recent work-related stress, non-work stress, and work-related loss of sleep will throw a wrench into the weight loss process. Both stress and lack of sleep, as I’ve mentioned in passing repeatedly in this space, can complicate things.

I will not use this or any other public space to talk about my work, except to say that I’m exceedingly happy to be past the point in my life (when I was in my 20s and 30s and early 40s) where my identity was wrapped tightly in my career. I look at the ambitious younger folk at the office and thank God I’ve left that drive behind.

My health is far more important now than my job, whatever it is, will ever be. And I am still learning to manage the stress that accompanies what I do now for a living. Prioritizing my health and the rest of my life will help that.

The losing battle, Week 13: A wee bit of cheating

Quick update, because it’s 10:40 p.m. Central time as I write this, and I’m already more than a day late in my reporting: I’m down 0.4 pound to 251.8 pounds, or 31.2 pounds since I started all this in January.

I’m posting a weight loss update on a Tuesday, rather than the usual Monday, because I was feeling bloated and heavy yesterday. My initial weigh-in yesterday confirmed this. I could have just logged a gain and moved on with my life, I know. But I was feeling marginally better today, and I ended up down very slightly.

So, yeah, I cheated a little to log another loss, however slight.

Still, I’m making progress. My wedding ring slipped off overnight the other day, and I had to use a backup ring that was more secure. My face looks slightly less puffy these days. And I was able to walk around a museum over the weekend without back spasms.

Pounds aren’t the only measure of success.

The losing battle, Week 12: Something's working, but I'm not sure what

I don’t know how it happened, but I dropped another 3.6 pounds this past week. Forgetting to eat half the time, with minimal eating on Good Friday, may have helped.

It was an odd week, as I was off Monday and Friday running around happily with F, with three very stressful work days in between. I had a few more sugared sweets than usual (what with Easter and spending time with F and whatnot), though I was careful to stay within my carb limits. I was short on sleep a few days, too. I assumed this would be the first week with a gain, but nope.

So, I’m down a total of 30.8 pounds since January 11, weighing in at 252.2 pounds. Another 70+ pounds to go.

The losing battle, Week 11: Defying stress and snacking

Posting my weight update a little late in the day. I took a PTO day today to start F’s spring break week; I had considered canceling the day off because work has gone haywire with the project load, but ultimately I decided that getting F’s week off started well was more important.

(We had breakfast out at a diner that is handling COVID-19 restrictions well; afterward, we hit a craft store and splurged on a bunch of craft paints to decorate Easter ornaments for the little not-just-Christmas holiday tree we’ve kept up since December. Spent the afternoon painting pieces of wood to hang on the tree, and then picked up cones at a local ice cream place. All in all, it was a day off work well spent with my kid.)

Before F and I had breakfast, I weighed myself and had surprisingly good news: I’m now down another 1.4 pound to 255.8 pounds. (I’m 27.2 pounds lighter since January 11.) I didn’t feel terribly diligent with my eating this past week, even though my food diary entries indicate I went over my carb count only once: on F’s birthday, when I had a small piece of cake to celebrate.

Birthday cake aside, I hit my biggest calorie overage, around 335, twice during the week. I grazed on relatively low-carb snacks more than I should have some afternoons. Work stress worried me. (Stress and the cortisol levels it unleashes, along with poor sleep quality, can hinder weight loss.) And I continued to be lax with exercise. So, I wasn’t optimistic on this past week’s numbers.

I did work on improving my sleep quality with some success. And I generally tried to be diligent with my meds and keeping the carb count low. (I went over the 100-gram carb limit – by one gram – only once.) So, there was that. I guess it was enough.

The losing battle, Week 10: Making the numbers clear

Another week, another 2.2 pounds gone. I’m not quite sure how that happened, frankly. I haven’t worked out much, and my sleep was generally off. I’ve been a little low on carbs here and there; maybe that was it?

Anyway, this means I’m officially – wait for it – 257.2 pounds. This is down 25.8 pounds from my starting weight in January, which was 283 pounds.

I’ve been cagey about my weight online. It’s been shame, I guess. Or maybe it’s the whole idea of a lady never telling her age – or, I suppose, her weight. Screw that.

I’m 55 years old and 257.2 pounds. Deal with it, people.

This means I have a while to go – even more so now that I’m officially moving the goalposts. At 5’5.5” tall, I need to be about 170 pounds to get out of the “obese” category into “overweight,” according to the CDC charts regarding BMI. This means my original weight loss target of 80 pounds established January 11, which would get me at 203 pounds, won’t cut it.

So, as of today, I need to lose another 87.2 pounds.

I could be discouraged. Or I could keep going.

I’ll keep going.

(But no, I’m not posting a photo, MyFitnessPal.)

My Fitbit tells me how well I sleep, and even provides a “sleep score” to rate my quality of sleep. Each night, my sleep varies from “good” to, usually, “fair.” Last night was so bad (I logged 5 hours and 45 minutes, detected within that time as fully awake once and restless 12 times), I didn’t even rate a score.

There are several factors involved here:

  • Revenge bedtime procrastination.” (This is on me, and I’m trying to replace scrolling with deep breathing, with limited success so far.)
  • My once- or twice-nightly need to pee. (Thanks, bariatric doctor-prescribed diuretic.)
  • The spouse’s buzzsaw-level snoring.
  • The aging dog’s need to go downstairs to pee or drink by (usually) 5:30 a.m. or so.

My bariatric doctor says quality sleep is important to my weight loss effort. So, I’m especially and acutely interested these days in ensuring I sleep well. And it’s clear that my sleep quality, mitigating factors notwithstanding, is purely my responsibility.

I added a melatonin/herbal blend supplement to this weekend’s Target pickup order. Desperate to get some decent sleep through the night.

You would think this drawing alone would have nudged me to get serious about losing weight.

The losing battle, Week 9: Another week, another pound

Down another pound, despite a day or two of inadvertently going over my 100-gram carb limit. This means a grand total, so far, of 23.6 pounds lost since January 11. That’s 8.3 percent lost. Feel free to do the math.

Losing a whole person’s worth of weight takes time. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Off kefir in the mornings for a while; I found myself queasy and feeling loaded down after having my usual breakfast smoothie. Opting for almond milk with the other smoothie ingredients instead, plus a boiled egg chaser for the protein. Feeling no discomfort as a result.

I also need to figure out how to recalibrate the Fitbit. The past couple of days, I logged nearly 4,000 steps daily – not much for most people, but a lot for me – and I know I wasn’t quite that active.

Still feeling unsettled. Can’t decide if it’s because I took my meds later in the day than usual. Grazing more than I usually do, albeit with slightly healthier things (cheese stick, avocado and milk, boiled egg) than I might have eaten three months ago.

Finally got around to registering for a COVID-19 vaccination after I read this Washington Post article about obesity qualifying some folks for the vaccine. Turns out I’m eligible now for vaccination here in Illinois by virtue of my fatness. Yay, I guess?

The fact that obesity is a COVID-19 comorbidity factor is a big reason I’ve placed myself under a bariatric doctor’s care now, so I’m certainly grateful for qualifying. (Really, it was the tipping point for me in my decision.) That said, I’m also fine with waiting in line — at least I have the relative luxury of being able to work from home and self-isolate more than most — while others who need it more get the vaccine.

A particularly stressful day at work yesterday had me thinking about whether stress affects weight loss. If this article is any indication, the answer is yes.

So, rather than stay up late for work last night, I went to bed at my usual time. Got the best sleep I’ve had in days. Hope I don’t regret it as the work day begins.

The losing battle, Week 8: Birthday splurge appears harmless -- for now

Despite indulging last night in Jollibee fried chicken and a peach mango pie in a pre-birthday feast, I still managed to weigh in 3.2 pounds down from last week.

Went out for a birthday breakfast at a local diner (masks and plexiglass partitions everywhere), and C speculated that maybe my body is so used to my eating patterns now that it can accommodate a variance like last night without my weight going haywire. On the other hand, I’m wondering, since that splurge was just last night, maybe some weight gain will surface later.

I might have another peach mango pie (which has a whopping 49 grams of carbohydrate) tonight; otherwise, I don’t anticipate veering off track again for a while. (I celebrated this morning with a feta and spinach omelet, decaf, and a fruit cup; no toast, pancakes, or hash browns.) I may get bored with these eating habits periodically, but I’ve reached a comfort level with them now.

The losing battle, Week 7: Surprising, slow, and steady

Another 1.1 pound lost. This makes for a total of 19.4 pounds lost since January 11.

I’m kind of surprised, given some intestinal issues the past few days. Been dealing with several mornings of mild nausea, queasiness, and constipation. (TMI, I know.) Except for Saturday – when I had some extremely comforting matzo ball soup plus half a cabbage-based Reuben salad – it’s meant a bunch of middays of minimal, if any, eating.

I felt mildly well enough by lunchtime today to have a little something (two cheese sticks, some turkey cold cuts, and the rest of my Reuben salad). Left out the Amazing Grass superfood powder in the morning kefir smoothie to see if debulkifying breakfast might help ease the discomfort. (But I did have an Amazing Grass effervescent tablet in some water, and I’ll probably have some of the chocolate superfood powder in almond milk for dessert tonight.) I also realized that I’d been drinking slightly less water recently, so I’m trying to step up my water intake.

Also, the old Fitbit died over the weekend. Got a new one, and it seems to be a little too generous with my step count. Meanwhile, I was too queasy and uncomfortable to work out at all since Thursday or Friday. I have some catching up to do.

A low-carb rut? Paging Dr. Google

Rough day yesterday on the eating front. Second straight day of intestinal discomfort that seemed to stem from my morning kefir smoothie, leading to minimal appetite at midday. By dinner, I’d be in major hangry mode. Thursday was unpleasant, and Friday was even worse, because I had to be meatless. I find having to plan meals and pick foods annoying.

I wish I hadn’t hit a wall just five or six weeks into this, but it’s official: I’m already bored with low-carb eating.

As with so many things, I’ve turned to Dr. Google to figure out how to climb out of this rut. (I stayed away from keto-specific links because, frankly, keto is a cult and I’m sick of hearing about it.) Linking to some worthwhile advice below.

“Hangry” is not a good thing to be during Lent. Especially when you’re missing breaded fish and French fries and macaroni and cheese on Fridays BECAUSE YOU’RE LIVING A LOW-CARB “LIFESTYLE” NOW.

Having a cheese stick while I was hungry and crampy was NOT a good idea.

Happy to see that Pepto Bismol, so far as I can tell, has no carbs.

The losing battle, Week 6: “You’ve got this!”

Checked in with the bariatric doctor today. I’m now down another 2.5 pounds, making the total weight loss at 18.3 pounds since January 11.

The doctor was pleased and encouraging: “You’ve got this!” he told me. He also got me to change pharmacies for the phentermine after I told him how much I had to pay out of pocket for it last month. Ended up paying less than half the price tag from last month.

Then he gave me a few tips on YouTube exercise videos, told me to get some sun once things warm up, and sent me on my way.

So, I’ll keep going the way I’ve been going and see him again in May.

Putting the “Fat,” kind of, in Fat Tuesday

Final Fat Tuesday carb count: 148 grams of carbs. I’m supposed to consume less than 100 grams each day, as prescribed by my doctor.

(But I was under my protein, fat, and caloric limits, as prescribed by the MyFitnessPal app.)

This carb overload marked only the second or third day in more than a month that I’ve gone over my limit. It was by far the most carbs I’ve consumed in a single day since I saw the bariatric doctor last month.

Splurged on 1.75 paczki — that’s 0.75 more paczki than I planned to eat. Plus I had sips of Chris’ frozen hurricane and bottled mojito.

But I still opted for half a plate of steamed veggies, a “stick” of chicken satay, and a couple of spoonfuls of basil chicken — which included a generous amount of green beans — at dinner. I was short about 2 servings of vegetables (not counting the greens powder in the morning smoothie), but I still avoided the brown rice and noodle dishes.

Frankly, I didn’t want to eat the rice and noodles; I’ve gotten used to the healthier, carb-free eating, plus the dinner I had was much more satisfying (and guilt-free). And I’m delighted that I have a decent strategy now for our local Thai takeout place.

The grease spots make Paczki Day official. The spots also tell me that Fat Tuesday means I can throw carb counts to the wind today. (And just today.)

The losing battle, Week 5.1: A corrective measure

As I suspected, the enormous weight loss logged yesterday was wrong. As of this morning, I’m only down 2 pounds. That makes a lot more sense, given how I haven’t done anything drastically different with my eating and activity habits.

The trajectory is still downward – I’m now down 15.8 pounds, or 5.6 percent of my weight when I began all this – so I’m fine with even the smaller loss. A 10-pound drop within a week at this point was alarming.

(I thought about deleting the post with the errant reading, but I’ll leave it. Doesn’t hurt to keep a record of oddities like that, and there’s an update on it, anyway.)

I may well blow any readings out of the water today, as it’s Fat Tuesday and I’ve already logged the calories and carbs for anticipated paczki consumption. Just having one half of two different packzis; the total will account for nearly half my carbs today.

But then tomorrow being Ash Wednesday, I’ll be minimal and meatless with any food intake a day later. Maybe it’ll all even out, God willing.

Welp, a quickie look at the scale this afternoon said I’m closer to last week’s weight after all. I’ll check it again tomorrow morning; if it turns out I’m vastly different than where I allegedly was earlier today, I’ll tweak the weight progress in my app.