This will be an uncomfortable blog. I will share more about myself than I’m used to. It won’t be pretty.
I adore comfort, don’t you? I like to be warm, bedded into softness, my feet safely tucked under blankets. I like to be fed, the cravings vanquished, the night song of satiated stomach lolling without a worry of when the next bite of food need come. I like to sleep and wake up refreshed. I like my caffeine jolt in the morning. I like my day to start so slowly that I don’t even feel it. It’s the luxurious stuff of vacation time. I strive for this.
When my children were young I did as every good mother does and made sure they had everything they needed. My husband and I worked hard to provide warmth, safety, comfort, food, love. I hurt when they hurt, was happy when they were happy. I believe my parents were the same with me. I started young in my constant quest for comfort. Not everyone in the world is so fortunate, but that’s another blog. Because this blog is about me, not starving children and puppies in India, it is about me. Comfort and nicety is boring. I hope you have guessed by now that this isn’t about comfort and nicety and so eventually it won’t be so boring, but just in case you’ve about given up and read ahead, I won’t fault you. It’s okay to skip to the juicy bits.
Now that my children are grown and capable and productive adults. Now, my everyday life is about me and I like comfort. As I believe the majority of mankind does. So I’m no different from anyone else. That’s why I think it’s important to talk about it.
That’s right. I’m talking about comfort. Getting it, and losing it.
Because my comfort-level has just been given a left hook out of nowhere, a blow to the crotch, a serious set-back of epic proportions. In other words I can no longer afford to search for comfort all the time. I have to get serious and now I will explain why.
Here’s the juicy bits, the stuff I don’t tell just anyone until now. Now I’m telling you (feel special). I am fifty-six years old. I am five foot, two inches tall and weigh a hundred and forty-two pounds. No surprise to me. I knew that. In fact, I’ve been meaning (and trying) to lose twenty pounds for donkey’s years. With no success. Mind you, part of the reason for lack of success is that I hate diets, and exercise because – you guessed it – it isn’t comfortable. Not only is diet and exercise uncomfortable, it is boring. Not that I haven’t tried diets. I have. I’ve done the Butter Buster’s diet, the Adkins diet, been a vegetarian, cut back on portions, and “left a little on the plate.” All that and I’ve hardly maintained my weight but rather, I’ve gained weight. Bummer! I’ve packed on five pounds every year for ten years starting at forty, until this past six years where I’ve managed to maintain or only put on a pound a year. Isn’t that funny? Not only is my body’s ability to lose slowed, even my gaining has reached a “snail’s pace”. But no matter what I do, it won’t quit.
I joined the YMCA of Downtown Houston about two years ago. The old 1910 building’s inside air stank, especially if there were enough people (read that as men) working out at the same time. I figured the outside air downtown wasn’t the best quality anyway so being at the gym to work out was much like taking a good long walk around my neighborhood.
This year they opened the new Downtown YMCA. I adore it. It smells good. The pool is a comfortable temperature (yes, comfortable) and the weight machines are new and clean. Airy, bright, every machine hooked up to a computer program that logs on exactly what weights I use and how many pounds I lift. This place rocks! This past Saturday I logged thirty-seven minutes on a treadmill and lifted an impressive 7, 640 pounds.
Okay, now that you’ve not been impressed by my boasting, let me explain. If I lift ten pounds, ten times, that’s a hundred pounds. I do three sets of ten lifts on each machine in my workout. If I walk around and use enough machines I can rack up some astounding poundage. Believe me, it isn’t that impressive. To give a better picture, I’m still in the yellow zone after two years. Like a yellow belt in Karate, I’m a beginner.
So this past week I went to get my body “composition” measurements done. I know I’ve got fat around the middle, the dangerous fat, the kind that holds the insulin and tricks the body into believing it doesn’t have enough insulin, so more insulin is produced thus adding to the fat and not helping a bit. It is also the fat that contributes to heart disease, high cholesterol and a ton of other bad stuff. I know that. I’ve read up on it. Reading up on it doesn’t make it go away. I thought exercise would help. So, on this day, I go to get my body composition stats done so that they will be added into the computer program that my weight lifting and cardio workouts are on.
The young lady takes my height and my weight and enters them into the computer. There’s a chart that pops up. I can see it from across the room. Green, yellow, red. She looks at it, her finger trailing across the range of numbers that look much like the chart on the back of the pantyhose box. She says, “You’re in the normal range.”
“Wow,” I say. “You’re kidding!”
“Nope. Now let’s measure your fat.”
Another young lady enters the room. She will enter the numbers while the first girl measures. I have to take off some layers of clothing, all the way to my T-shirt. It was cold outside. I don’t like cold. It isn’t comfortable.
She takes out a calibration thingy that looks like a cross between a pair of pliers and a drafting compass. She uses a measuring tape to measure an exact distance between my shoulder and elbow. She kneads the fat part at the back of my upper arm, yes, the part that “flaps”, and she pinched it and measured it with the thingy. She said, “Thirty.”
The other girl in the room tapped the computer keyboard.
Girl number one has me roll up my gym pants. She measure from my hip bone to my knee and punches my thigh right in the middle, where the muscle is. I’m proud of that muscle. “Flex!” she says.
“I am,” I say.
She pinches my fat in the thingy. “Forty,” she says.
She lifts my shirt so that my FAT shows. “This is where it’s embarrassing,” I remark.
She doesn’t say anything. She pinches the fat. There’s lots of it. She says, “Forty-two.”
I think – that’s all?
Then, and this is even worse than the fat-omometer. She uses a tape measure. “Chest, thirty-eight, waist, thirty-eight (AACH!) hips, forty-four.”
Oh, now that’s going too far. I can’t be that bad off.
Girl One bends over the computer while Girl Two presses buttons. Girl One straightens up, looks me in the eye and says, “You’re obese.”
“I’m sorry. What? I thought I heard you say ‘obese’.” I chuckle.
“You’re obese. Sorry. It’s what the chart says.”
I’m shocked. “You mean I went from normal to obese? What happened to fat?”
“It’s the chart. Are you exercising?”
“Then you’re doing the right thing. What about your diet?”
“Well, I do like butter and cream.” (fatty meat, gristle, turkey necks, caramel ice cream and any other comfort food out there.)
“Well, you need to think about a diet. Exercise alone isn’t working.”
I’m flabbergasted. “I see,” I say. I don’t like this. I’m not happy. I’m obese. I begin to re-dress in a daze.
Girl One says, “Aren’t you going to stay and exercise?”
“Uh, no, I have something I have to do.” Yeah, like go home and weep.
And eat something.
I need chips.
Girl One says, “If you need anything I’m studying to be a dietitian. I’m here to help. Just ask.”
She’s cute this girl, with her perky nose and gorgeous hair. I hate her. With a pleasant controlled voice, I say, “Um, that’s great. Thank you so much.”
I leave and drive home and sit in a fug of despair for a while. Kimberly calls. I tell her I’m obese. She laughs. “Who told you this thing?” She does great impressions and cheers me up no end.
“The girls at the Y.”
“No, seriously. I’m obese. My fat – it’s taking over.”
“Well, they still lie.”
I’m in a better mood. I decide to hit the library and look at diet books. I get one about the South Beach Diet. I’d heard it was good. I haven’t done that one.
But because I’m a little obsessive and a whole lot research-oriented. I pull book after book from the shelf and check them all out. Ah ha! (throw in evil-genius heinous laugh) I will conquer this obesity by reading about a diet and doing a diet and sticking to a diet. That’s the trouble – I don’t stick to it when I go on a diet. Got to change, I repeat this over and over in my head. Got to change. Got to stick to it.
One of the books I checked out was written by that energetic, exercise guru on “The Biggest Loser” Jillian Michaels. I hate her. Don’t you hate her? She is pretty, and perky, and can afford to be on TV telling people how to lose weight. Ugh! But I know I am insulin resistant, and that has to do with how I metabolize food, so I’ll read a little about what she says. Ugh!
The first few pages are all about her. Oh right, you were a fat kid. Yeah, and I studied to be an astroNOT. But I kept reading. Hmmm. Okay, so this makes sense. It isn’t so much about the amount you eat but WHAT you eat. Duh. But some of this stuff about hormones and estrogen and thyroid and all this is making a lot of sense all of a sudden because I’ve been struggling with hair loss and splotchy, flaky, sallow skin, and weight really since about the age of thirty-four. About two years after my daughter was born. I slowly fell apart physically. By the time I was forty-two I had poly cystic disease of the ovaries and endrometriosis. The pain and such got so bad that I had to have a hysterectomy. And I’ve tried the creams to boost my progesterone and boost my testosterone and taken pills that reek made from the adrenal glands of a pig . . .
And then I read this (quoting from Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels):
NORMAL WEIGHT OBESITY – DO YOU HAVE IT?
Even if you’re not officially overweight, you could be overfat – and that excess fat makes you more susceptible to insulin resistance. Recent Mayo Clinic research show that many normal-weight adults actually have high body fat – greater than 20 percent of men and 30 percent for women – as well as heart and metabolic disturbances. Researchers found this “normal-body-weight obesity” (what I call “skinny fat”) in more than half of the patients with a normal BMI. They also tended to have altered blood lipids (high cholesterol), high leptin (a hormone found in fat that is involved in appetite regulation), and higher rates of metabolic syndrome. Body composition is what really counts, not weight.
Okay, I no longer hate her. I love her. She’s wonderful. She’s nailed it. I’ve got to read this book cover to cover. I’ve got to have this book on my shelf! I’ve got to get control of my body fat. Because right this minute, my body fat is controlling how I feel, what I think, and my comfort level, to the point that it will kill me. And I’d rather not die of fat.
This moment I’m taking medicine for my insulin resistance, my low thyroid, and my high cholesterol. I want to get off some of my medications. I want to get rid of the middle fat that is contributing to my high blood-sugar, and cholesterol and according to this book my low thyroid.
So I’m going to be blogging about this for one hundred days. This is day ninety-seven because for three days I have been eating zero processed sugar (yes, I crave it), and low-fat, high protein stuff.
My breath stinks and I’m tired.
There are lists to be studied of foods that contribute to hormone imbalance such as soy and many processed foods which contain soy which raise estrogen levels in the body. Estrogen contributes to the fat cycle, inhabiting the waist-fat cells and instructing those cells to be fruitful and multiply.
It isn’t about calories and non-fat and non-sugared foods. It’s about processed food that contain unnatural amounts of chemicals that work against weight-loss. It’s about eating healthy foods in healthy quantities. Yes, I must stay away from sugar and fat, but those won’t kill me if they pass through my body without “sticking”. So cheating isn’t an issue. It’s about getting rid of things from my pantry that don’t help. It’s about adding things to the pantry that will help.
So I’m not going to comfortable doing this. I’m going to complain. I’m likely going to be boring. But I will be honest. I will tell about failure.
Note: I”m weak. Heavy emphasis on weak.
Especially about comfort, which I like, just like you do. And ultimately I hope that by being honest, reporting failure when I fail, and success when I succeed, that you will find encouragement to join me.
- Belly Fat: A Danger to Your Health (everydayhealth.com)