Saturday, April 26, 2014

Losing Sparkle

Sparkle died. She was a beautiful, amazing, and exceptionally intelligent dog. I was going to write that she died today, but I just realized that since it's 12:15, it's already yesterday that she passed.

Sparkle was sick for a long time, but she never let on until a week ago. Late stage cancer. She was already experiencing liver and kidney failure. She probably only had a few days to live, and she was in pain. She declined dramatically in the last two days, and today we made the difficult choice to end her suffering.

She spent today at the vet's office where she was allowed to wander freely, making rounds with the doctors. Everyone who works there took a turn taking her outside. Her two doctors both tried to tempt Ginger with treats and even their own lunches, including pot roast and ham, but she wouldn't eat a thing, not even a french fry. She hadn't eaten in days.

Frank and I have been crying for hours.

I can't sleep.

There's so much I want to say about this dog and why she mattered in the overall May Voirrey narrative. There was a very specific reason I adopted her, and there were plenty of times she was the reason I didn't kill myself.

Sparkle was a good friend. I want to write and write and write, but I really need to try to sleep. I learned a lot from this dog--the only one I've ever shared my life and home with. She was a red and white border collie, with one blue eye and one brown eye. She hated small appliances, squirrels, the lawn mower, and most of all, the UPS truck. She was afraid of water and couldn't swim. She loved tennis balls, frisbees, walks, sitting in the shade, and being groomed. Mostly, she loved Frank.

Even though I'm the one who adopted Sparkle, she was always Frank's girl, from the first week we had her. Oh, she and I were good friends, but she was wholly dedicated to loving Frank and being the love of his life.

Now she's gone. She died surrounded with love and while being hugged and petted. The house feels so quiet and empty. Life here will never be the same.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not to belabor the point, but

What does it mean to have a relationship with food? It seems odd to even articulate that--a relationship with food. Food should be nothing, like air. I don't think about my relationship with air. It's just there, doing what it needs to do without any thought on my part. Why can't it be the same with food?

I'm not a big eater, but I think about food a lot. I don't mean I think about eating, but rather I think about food strategically. What can I eat? What can I absolutely not eat? Is it OK to consume something? Did I earn these calories?

I've lost the ability to enjoy food. My thoughts and strategies around calories are so strong and have been for so long that even when I eat something delicious, any pleasure or appreciation for it is quickly replaced with anxiety and guilt. Did I earn that food? What will I have to do to offset the calories? How much walking is that? How much will I not be able to eat later because I ate this? How many calories did that have? Will it impact my carbohydrate load for this 24-hour period? Why did I eat that?

Regret and anxiety are the two emotions I most closely link to food. That's probably not normal, right?

I have a pretty good idea of what my basal metabolic rate is, so now I obsess over every calorie that goes beyond that. If my body needs only 400 calories a day to maintain basic systems, then I have to engage in activity that will offset every additional calorie I consume to have a net-zero calorie intake. It's exhausting. It's the reason I can't enjoy food. Whenever I eat, all I can think about is the amount of work I'm going to have to do to not store calories and gain weight.

This is a complicated and sad way to live, especially since at the end of it all, I'm still clinically obese with a BMI of 32. I have to lose another 17 pounds just to be merely seriously overweight.

I am in a rage about this. I haven't gone through menopause (despite my many jokes about it), I don't eat badly to begin with, and I move a lot at work. I park far away as a rule. I take the stairs. I drink liters of water every day. I am so angry and frustrated with my body, I feel like starvation or something like it is the only thing that will stop this disgusting turn of events. 

When I was working out so much in 2012-2013, in nine months of KILLING myself at the gym and flaring my fibromyalgia, I only ever lost 6 pounds, and even they kept fluctuating. 

In the end, I want to be like that chick who won The Biggest Loser and end up at 105. I HAVE EARNED IT and I feel cheated.

I will see this through or die trying.

And then it passed

I'm not hungry anymore. I think in the battle of mind over physical sensation, my mind is finally exerting influence as I want it to.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had mysteriously gained weight between November and February. A lot of weight, weight gain for which there was no explanation. It was particularly vexing since not only was my diet already quite healthy and balanced, I was already perpetually hungry. A few years ago, I talked to a specialist about that and she told me to just ignore that particular physiological response. She didn't want me snacking on anything, not even celery or broccoli. She told me to get comfortable with the stomach growling and hunger pangs because if I could ride it out, eventually, they would stop. The hunger never went away, at least, not until now. It has been a constant force I've been pushing against while I filled my head with logic, reminding myself of the calories and nutrients I had consumed were everything my body needed. There was never a physical need to add more, even if the hunger made me a bit nauseated. Just ignore it until it goes away, May.

The recent weight gain added insult to an already difficult and demeaning situation, but I was moved to make renewed effort to stop it because of Laurel's son's Bar Mitzvah. I need to fit in a dress for this special occasion coming up in a couple of weeks, but how does one diet when living on 1200 healthy calories a day does not stave off weight gain?

Enter Bob Harper of Biggest Loser fame and author of the Jumpstart to Skinny plan. It's a three-week, 800-calorie-a-day plan that is supposed to result in a weight loss of about a pound a day. That certainly didn't happen with me, although I was diligent in following the "Skinny Rules." I did lose 10 pounds, but I was hoping for the full 20.

Readers of Harper's book are cautioned not to follow the plan for more than three weeks to avoid shutting down the metabolism. It made me wonder how that works when the metabolic rate of the person involved is already so slow it mimics that of someone who is either dying or starving. So few calories seemed impossible, but there's something to be said for cups and cups of leafy greens and a little lean protein.

Some days, I don't even make it to the full 800 calories. The first week was hard as the hunger and fatigue were fierce, but by the end of the second week, something interesting happened. I wasn't hungry anymore. At last. I finally wasn't hungry anymore.

Food hasn't been interesting to me for weeks now, and I'm OK with that. There are two bags of sugary Popcornopolis popcorn sitting on my desk, along with most of a large collection of lemon petits-four cakes left over from a community outreach event earlier this week. They are inches away from me and each time I come back into my office, my thought isn't, "Damn, I wish I could have that." Instead, my thought is, "Damn, I have to remember to put these out for people in the office to enjoy." This is a milestone.

Frank was worried last night because I've been putting in some brutally long days, and in addition to a heavy work load, I've been working with a personal trainer at the gym. I got home close to 9:00 p.m. and skipped food entirely. Frank is worried I'm going to get sick, but honestly, my body could sustain itself for six months just from the visceral fat in one of my thighs.

I have stopped losing weight far too soon, but I am relieved that I am also no longer gaining weight.

How many people have you ever met who could work a lot, work out, consume 800 low-fat calories a day (that include almost zero complex carbohydrates) and maintain 175 pounds?

That's just one fucked up human body.

I plan to stay on Bob Harper's plan...forever. A near-total abscence of complex carbohydrates, lots of leafy greens, and egg whites every day. I can do this. I'm not hungry. One of two things will happen. Either I will eventually lose more weight, or I will die from malnutrition. I'm OK either way. If I can never be skinny--and I mean ribs-visible skinny, the American ideal--then I really don't want to live. The culture I live in is just too harshly critical of women who aren't waif-like, and I'd rather be dead than continue to be such an abject failure.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dieting again

Between November 2013 and  the end of February, my body mysteriously gained 20 pounds for no apparent reason. I don't feel like I, personally, had any part in this weight gain except to be the recipient of it. Certainly, I didn't start binge eating or drinking too much, or start snacking on sugary, fatty foods. There was no change in exercise. It felt like the weight came out of nowhere. I hadn't weighed myself since Thanksgiving, and when I finally stepped on the scale in February, I was, justifiably, horrified. The only time I had ever experienced something like this was when I was taking Lyrica and gained 50 pounds in three months. I had to stop this before it got worse.

I cut back my calories to a strict 1,000 a day, and then a week later, started on the Bob Harper "Jumpstart to Skinny" plan. It's a short-term austerity plan, but for me, I think it's going to be my forever plan. Participants in Harper's plan consume only 800 calories a day, consisting almost entirely of vegetables and very lean protein.  The plan is supposed to yield weight loss of about a pound a day, but of course that hasn't been my experience.

Some days I eat fewer than 800 calories. The most fat I consume is spray-oil from a can for cooking and a little bit of low fat salad dressing. My consumption of complex carbs consists of a slice of Ezekial bread every few days and about a half-cup of whole-wheat noodles once a week. So much spinach...There is so much spinach on this diet. Gagging.

Exercise, exercise, exercise. Yes, I exercise and as of this week, I started working with a personal trainer.

I've lost almost ten pounds so far, but my clothes don't fit any differently. Once again, I'm experiencing that secret, internal weight loss that nobody can see and that doesn't affect the fit of my clothes.

I need to fit into a party dress in about three weeks. At the moment, I can't get it zipped up. I'm discouraged, but this time, I'm in for the long haul on the 800-calorie plan. It's not that hard for me. Lettuce. The secret is lettuce.

Goal = 105. So, 70 pounds to go.