Sunday, November 27, 2011


It just seems like it's one step forward, two steps backward.  I was into a rhythm of exercise and sleep and BAM, the time changes and the holidays begin.  Well, I'm back on the wagon, had a kettle bell workout yesterday and put the leftover desserts into the freezer.

One day at a time!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Little ol' Me

On Monday I weighed myself and I'm 2 pounds lighter than when I married!   I feel pretty good.  I'm much stronger and have been controlling desserts and other cravable food intake.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rebooting the Program

I haven't been getting the results I want.  I am doing a little trimming, but nothing like what I need to accomplish.  Luckily, Halloween didn't get me off track.  My husband took all the candy to school with him.  It also helps that I learned that most chocolate is produced with child slavery.  This made me lose my appetite for it pretty fast.

Portion control is the name of the game.  I'm especially watching carbohydrate intake.  Eliminating them is a bad idea.  Carbohydrate is important for the immune system and other metabolic function.  The important thing is to keep it to 30-50% of calories.

I heard on NPR that natural sunlight is necessary for normal eye development in children.  Without it, the eye keeps growing and becomes oblong, making the person near-sighted.  nearsightedness has traditionally been pretty rare, but it's becoming very common.  In places where children are almost perpetually in buildings (like school) such as Shanghi, China, the nearsightedness rate is 90%!

So, with all my podcast and NPR listening, this is what I've learned this week.

  1. Most commercially produced chocolate is made with child slavery (where the cocoa is harvested).
  2. Keep carbs lower to help control appetite.  (Ben Greenfield fitness podcast)
  3. Getting out to rake and collect wood, go on bike rides, etc. will help my 2-year-old's vision develop well.   (NPR news)
  4. Eating lots of mini-meals doesn't give my body the opportunity to metabolize body fat.  I'm best off with 3 moderate meals per day.  (Jillian Michaels podcast)
  5. I need to challenge myself at the gym, past what I'd normally think is possible.  (Jillian Michaels podcast)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fit for Duty

Lord, thank you for this part of the Pentagon budget.  I knew that there must be something worth paying for.  Here it is!

"Fit for Duty" is a series of workout videos ranging from a few minutes to an hour in length.  These cardio ones are about 25 minutes long and they will kick your ass!  I learned about this series whilst searching itunes' most popular health and fitness podcasts.  I'm so psyched!  Some days I want to get up early but don't want to add the commuting distance to the gym into my morning schedule.  Then there are snowy days, storms, or Sunday mornings too cold to go for a power walk.  (I'm changing regular walks to a faster-paced power-walk)

Try one!  Go ahead, you paid for this!  Do it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Juicing is fun

I've been having some juice every day to help aide my weight loss efforts.  The juice has a low glycemic load because it's mostly vegetable juice.  I use just enough apple juice to cut the bitterness of the veggies.  I juiced some kale the day I bought it and froze it in ice cube trays so I can add it to other blends.  Today I made a tomato-apple-lime combo that was awesome!  The lime makes it really zippy.  My 2-year-old loves it too.  We've had her on plain milk and water so her taste in juice is unformed.

I came across this Ted Talk and I thought I'd share it with you.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

H.I.T. High Intensity Training

Get Fit Guy
I was listening to Get Fit Guy's podcast this morning and was inspired.  Doing interval training with high intensity bursts followed by lower or more moderate activity burns way more calories than regular exercise.  (The episode called "10 reasons why you are not losing weight")  It was 5:45am and nobody, not even the sun was up.  I decided to go for it.

There was a light pole a little way down the road.
I realized a while back that I had not
actually run anywhere or at any
intensity for YEARS.  I decided to run
flat-out from that pole until the next one.
I did it!  

Then I did it again a little while later!  I added sets of 10 squats every 10 houses or so.  All in all it felt really really good.  I had that beautiful sweaty and cleaned-from-the-inside feeling that is so wonderful about exercise.  It was a really nice experience.  Pair that with the fact that I didn't want to get up this morning to do the walk and I'm pretty proud of myself.  

There was unpleasant flapping of flesh on flesh, but I didn't let it get to me.  All in all, I didn't run for very long or very far, but it was a start.  I'm looking forward to doing it again!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

A revised food pyramid is food for thought.  This thought-provoking documentary is very inspiring.  One must be careful, however.  If you have too much fruit as part of your mix in these juices, you can induce diabetes.  This is NOT a fruit fast, it is a vegetable juice fast.

Purgatory in Massachusetts

Depiction of Purgatory
So, according to Catholic and Orthodox teaching, we get a glorified body at the resurrection.  If we are chronic over-eaters (gluttons) and   if we don't use our bodies' muscles (sloth), then we won't take good care of the glorified version either, won't we?  Purification of the soul and spirit are necessary before we get those glorified bodies.  This is a logical conclusion.  We can therefore deduce that getting rid of excess fat on the body is necessary for entry into heaven.  I have no idea how this is done after death, but right here and right now I'm doing it on my body.

With occasional diets as the exception, my Mom was obese during most of her adult life.  In the end, cancer and chemotherapy claimed her extra weight.  Throughout this process, I feel like I'm walking with Mom.  She's urging me to get healthy now and not go through what she went through.  Either way, the weight is coming off.

This past week I've been a bit lax.  Last weekend we went to an ordination and partied for two big meals.  Those meals weren't a problem because we (my family) didn't do much eating on those days besides the parties.  What it did though was give me a taste for dessert again.  I've been fighting it ever since.  Thank God for the morning walks or I'd be lost.

I've been listening to spiritually and motivationally edifying podcasts and music.  I'm working exercise into my life and getting up more from the couch.  I'm eating whole foods and reading labels.  I'm praying at meals.  Please pray for me.  I really need the help.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Suburban Chickens

My town of Taunton, Massachusetts is considered a "city", but it is the most rural city I've ever been in.  I especially enjoy early morning walks on Sundays because they are so quiet.  Not many people are readying for work and all the people who had a late Saturday night have already gone home.

Nicely kept homes with chickens in the backyard!
This morning is the seventh month anniversary of my mother's falling asleep (death).  I said a rosary for her soul and for the new deacons who were ordained by Cardinal O'Malley yesterday.  I was solemn and began my prayers.  It was slow going.  I had trouble getting into the flow of the prayers.  Then I got onto Dunbar Street.  As I passed a raised ranch, I heard a rooster begin to announce the morning.  Then another rooster answered him a few streets over.  Pretty soon, in the second decade of the rosary, I was accompanied by a chorus of suburban chickens!  I was laughing to myself and praying and a huge grin was spreading on my face.

Imagine the neighbors being woken up at the crack of dawn every day and the patience they are forced to have.  Imagine the communications between neighbors over the roosters.  I laughed a little harder.  Imagine the fun one can have watching the chickens interact with one another, the household dog, and the children.  What a joy to eat the eggs of such chickens!

I've long wanted to follow in the footsteps of my friend who lives in Durham, New Hampshire.  She raises chickens for eggs in her backyard.  Building the coop, fencing the yard, and caring for the chickens would be an endless source of exercise.  My husband doubted that chickens would be allowed in the "city."  Now, after the walk on Dunbar Street, I realize that they are not only allowed, but welcomed.
my mom

My walk gave me a tremendous appreciation for the crisp air, the beautiful sky, and the wholesome food that awaits me for breakfast.  I imagined my mother's spirit urging me on to care for my body with exercise, a touch of laughter, and the enjoyment of simple things.  May her memory be eternal.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Father Robert Baron
Remembering and rehearsing the wrong-doing and sins of others helps us to feel morally superior.  We hug that resentment close to us and it slowly strangles our soul.  I've been angry for a variety of reasons at a variety of people and have truly struggled with the concept of forgiveness in the face of that anger.  Yesterday I heard Father Robert Baron give a homily podcast on anger.  This homily is inspired by the scripture readings of the Roman Catholic Church last Sunday and its coincidence with the 10th Anniversary of September 11.

Forgiveness means that you never give up on a person.  You want what is best for them, you want them redeemed.  You don't have to seethe with hatred and wish for vengance.  I was so stoked by this homily.

Anger and forgiveness have a lot to do with weight loss.  There was a popular self-help book in the 90s called "It's not what you're eating, it's what's eating you."   Spiritual sickness tends to manifest itself on our bodies.  We smoke, drink coffee, have a beer or two, and scream at people on the highway.  Fat people eat!  They eat their anger and suppress it, well at least I have.  I have not thought anger, disappointment, or frustration to be appropriate for "a young lady" or "a Christian," so I've ignored the anger and eaten something to make myself feel better with a  shot of serotonin in the form of something tasty.

The problem with self-help books is that their ideas tend to flame out when we try them.  We try meditation and relaxation for a while, but we go back to old habits.  The cool thing about living the Ancient faith of Orthodoxy is that falling off the wagon is built in.  Confession works hand-in-hand with the rhythm of the liturgical year.  Fasting, feasting, preparing, preparing to prepare preparing, and remembering are all done with food and exercise in mind.  There's even the practice of liturgical squat-thrusts in the form of full metanias during the prayers of Saint Ephraim during Great Lent!  Here is a Canadian monk discussing the prayer.  After each phrase of the prayer, a full prostration is performed.  This prostration is like a very slow squat-thrust (cross yourself, bow to your knees, get on all fours, place forehead on the ground.)  The prayer of Saint Ephraim is said several times in each service during Great Lent.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Food, Faith and Fasting

Rita Madden
I just found a great podcast by an Orthodox Christian woman who is a registered dietitian.  She podcasts through Ancient Faith Radio.  The podcast is called Food, Faith, and Fasting.  Dietitian, Rita Madden structures her 20 minute podcast with spiritual themes.  She begins with information on the topic then a word from the church fathers on the topic.  She ends with "homework" for the listener to implement to help them grow closer to God as they put food in its rightful place.  I'm enjoying this podcast very much.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

So far so good

Whole milk ain't so bad
I've been getting up early and walking.  Sometimes I walk the dogs, sometimes not.  They are a handful in the dark and whine and bark a lot if I walk one and not the other.

I've been watching portions, but had NOT cut out saturated fat.  I'm going with whole milk and full fat, just less of it.  I'm not having many carbs with dinner and nothing after dinner to eat.  I feel better.  My home scale says there is progress, but I don't trust that one.  We'll see if the scale at the gym agrees.

The thought that has gotten me through these two weeks has been something like this...

I know I don't want to do this (eat less, stop eating, exercise, get up early,) but it's not about what I want, it's about what Jesus wants.  He wasn't up there on His cross saying, "Gee, this is great!"  Fighting gluttony and sloth is my cross.  I need to get up there with Him and deal.

Watching the sun rise is really nice
during an early morning walk.
On the flip side, I feel better.  I have more energy, sleep better, and I'm proud of myself.  I also get some prayer time while walking and some quiet time alone.  I get to see the sun rise and have a nice cup of coffee without baby near the stove in the early morning.  These perks were definitely NOT part of Jesus' experience on His cross.  When you really think about it, my cross isn't such a terrible one to bear.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fat Head

I'm watching the rebuttal documentary, Fat Head.  I had never heard of Tom Naughton before, but he's actually quite funny and the documentary is informative.  Here's the trailer.

The food diary for "Fat Head" is here.  Taken with other documentaries like....


I also enjoyed the documentary that pissed off Naughton in the first place.

I also read this book and have been trying to keep my natural foods for my ethnicity and blood type in mind.  
I'm going to try to eat things that occur in natural.  Come to think of it, corn oil doesn't seem to be natural.  I've taken corn off the cob and the juice produced tends to be quite watery.  Processing food is bad.  I'm gonna stick with that.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bariatric Surgery?

Hospital experience:
I have attended sessions at medical centers for people interested in Bariatric Surgery.  There were two tracks for the treatments, one was surgery (covered by insurance) and one was diet and exercise (not covered by insurance.)  I just never felt that either of these approaches from a hospital was enough.  The diets involved liquid crash dieting and really boring exercise in a clinical environment.  I have yet to meet someone who has had the surgery who is really satisfied many years after.  Most of the time they gain the weight back and are really stuck. Now they need to lose weight the old fashioned way but with a really little stomach that pukes a lot.  Some develop keloid scarring that is very painful and impossible to get rid of.

The Easy Way Out?

Ultimately, the surgery makes the weight loss journey more difficult.  It's more difficult to eat the high fiber, high nutrition, high bulk foods that you need to keep full and satisfied and build muscle.  A really tiny stomach rewards small amounts of calorie-dense food.  Calorie dense foods are the problem that lead to the weight gain in the first place!

Bariatric surgery is preferable to cancer for a quick means of weight loss, but I think that's it.  I've had dysentery and that was an ordeal.  I would prefer that to puking all the time!

So let's just say I got the surgery and became really small really quickly.  Would I really use my new body for loads of exercise and eat mostly veggies, beans, whole grains, and lean meats?  Would I eat cakes and cookies because it wouldn't manifest for a few months or years?  Would I really care for the new body correctly?  Honestly I can say I would not.

I don't think there is a viable option besides major lifestyle changes.  I don't know if Ms Powter is right about the human body not being able to lose more than 2 pounds of fat per week, but it's probably not far off the mark.

This woman has gotten the surgery and committed herself to ongoing health.  I can see her points in this post.  This nurse points out that THERE HAVE BEEN NO STUDIES THAT PROVE ANY BENEFIT TO BARIATRIC SURGERY!  I was really shocked by that.  I was sure that the weight loss would result in longer life, lower cancer,etc. but there have been no released studies.  Studies have been done, but the results have not been released!  WOW.
The ECRI report, “Bariatric Surgery for Obesity,” noted that the surgeries can produce significant initial weight loss but “three years after surgery, the typical patient is still obese.” Most importantly, they concluded that based on the quality and strength of the available evidence, claims of improved “quality of life and long-term health impacts are less conclusive.” They found available evidence weak for demonstrating that comorbidities can resolve and “it was also not evident whether bariatric surgery extends survival.”

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Post #4

I just read an article online by a "knockout redhead" who was going off, tea party style, on the gluttony of Americans.  She bemoaned the higher healthcare costs and how repulsive she finds the morbidly obese.  She went on and on about how people need to stop being babies and take responsibility for their health.

I get plenty of this with my own negative self-talk.  I don't need her pointing this out.  She was writing it as though her diatribe would be inspiring to people like me.  People who are obese.  But somehow, I just didn't feel any inspiration at all.  I felt shame and hopelessness.  It's really really tough trying to find encouragement.  People who are not obese have loads of trouble understanding what I'm thinking or what it feels like to be me.  It's how I must be with people who have rage issues or do compulsive shopping, I just can't relate.  I'd say, "just calm down and put things in perspective" or "how can you enjoy shopping?"

We all have our crosses to bear.  It does no good to have someone who never consciously struggled with sin try to help.  I have a friend who is a Unitarian.  She doesn't believe in sin.  She's constantly asking me "what do you think about The Biggest Loser television show."  I guess she thinks that's a subtle hint.  Well, it ain't so subtle the 20th time you ask!

Encouragement in the area of gluttony and sloth (gosh, I need to exercise more!) needs some key elements.

  • An absolute, NOT relativistic approach to the sinful aspect of the gluttony or the sloth
  • Understanding: the advisor needs to not put themselves above the glutton.  If they do, they get really preachy and self-righteous.  That's a sin in and of itself and therefore a turn-off, even if their message would otherwise have been good
  • Factual: A proven idea is better than a wive's tale.  Soda is proven to increase appetite, advise against that.  Ditto for processed foods.  Gluten, chromium, soy, and other fad items or diet supplements have NOT been proven safe and effective
  • Possible:  It's not possible for me to eat only organic, gluten-free, whole foods grown with heirloom seeds within 20 miles of my home.  It's not possible for me to take a year off of work to workout 4 hours a day and hire a personal chef either.  I need workable options.  
I had a video of Susan Powter when I lost weight about 20 years ago.  I really liked her.  Her video was amazing and I loved it.  She has all sizes of people in them, she used to be fat, and she talks with real encouragement during the exercise.  My favorite quote that I remember is "don't wipe your sweat, it looks very pretty."  

Listen to her.  She meets all the above criteria.  You can probably get her stuff on ebay or in the library.  She was big in the 90s.  I find her motivating and encouraging.  
If you see any of her other videos, you'll see that she doesn't get nutrition quite right.  She was a leader of the low fat craze that lead to fat people eating low fat carbs with extra sugar and millions of calories.  Her exercise tips are dead on, not the eating per se.  Her rants however and wicked fun!  I love this woman!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Post #2

We're readying ourselves for Hurricane Irene.  It may be a bit more challenging than the "earthquake", but I don't expect too much drama.  Here's hoping that the Carolinas and Connecticut fare well.  I find that I feel less peckish and hungry when my house is clean and I'm getting things done.  When I'm in parts of the house that I've cleaned, I feel calmer.  Do you find that too?

Found an awesome article on gluttony and the Catholic life.  If you are Orthodox Christian, don't worry, the "filoque" isn't mentioned.  This is one area where both sides of the Adriatic are in full agreement.  The article is here and is titled, "Overcoming Gluttony."  The article has many great tips like limiting soft drinks, getting smaller meals, and saying a daily rosary.

The article says something very controversial, but quite true.
And always remember - It's no one's fault that they are gluttons.  It's only the cross that they have to bear in this life, and overcome; just like homosexuals have to overcome their affinity for same sex attraction, like fornicators have to overcome their love of illicit sexual pleasure, like angry people have to overcome their rage whenever something doesn't go right, etc., if they want to go to heaven when they die.  Eat, drink, and be merry is NOT the Biblical message.

Hummus, tabouleh, baba ganoush, falafel, pita, rice, beans,
grape leaves, and salads are great fasting foods.  Observing
these little fasts help us practice for the Great Fast of Lent.
Isn't that amazing!  It's just my cross to bear.  I like to eat a lot.  Just my thing.  It's not okay for me to eat too much, it's not okay for someone else to have road rage or cheat on a spouse.  Sin is sin.

On the Orthodox side, we have fasting.  No meat (white or red), wine, dairy (including eggs), or fish with bones.  Only vegan plus bugs.  Fortunately these bugs include not only grasshoppers, but sea bugs like crabs and lobsters!  We are in the middle of the fast of the Dormition of the Theotokos.  It's also prime veggie season.  I'm lovin' the sweet corn this year!

Here's a fun video.  If you feel like walking on the wild side or getting in touch with your John The Baptist side, you might wanna try it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The first step

I weigh over 300 pounds and have been tormented by weight loathing my entire adult life.  I know that sin has a major role to play in my body shape.  I also know that there are forces outside of myself that make weight loss more challenging.

Me this week
Why begin now?

Well, I've been beginning weight loss for decades.  This is far from the beginning.  At the very least, this is the middle!  I went to my friend's pool today and made a bit of a confession to her while floating in the water.  We were discussing confession and sin and I told her that I wear my sin for everyone to see.  My fat is like a badge that way.  And not just that, but, if I were to begin to eat perfectly and exercise 3-4 time a week, I would still be wearing the fat for months or years.  The world will still be disgusted by me after months of doing all the right things.  That's what being morbidly obese is.  It is daunting.

Every month or so someone will be rude or disdainful just because they can.  This would still happen if I lost 50 pounds.  It may even happen after 100!  How discouraging that is.  I remember when I lost weight before.  I started at 235 and had lost 25 pounds.  I was looking good and went out for a jog.  Some school kids walking home jeered at me and were really cruel.  I had lost weight, but my body hadn't tightened up yet.  That happened when I got under 200.  It's happened when I've ridden my bike, been out for a walk, and doing almost anything else for exercise.  I know that this will happen this time too.

Jesus is going to be right there with me.  I put on this weight walking away from Him, but I'll take it off with Him by my side.  The jeers and the disdain are part of the penance of my sin.  They are also blessings.  Didn't Jesus say,

"Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."

If I'm exercising and caring for my "temple of the Holy Spirit" then I'm doing something for God.  If someone laughs at me or makes fun, they are persecuting me.  Think about it, making fun of a fat person for exercising is like making fun of a person with cancer for going to chemo.  It's evil!  

My confessor last week suggested that I read Dortheus of Gaza, a great Church Father.  This week, I'm going to concentrate on one of his ideas.  I hope it helps you too.
"I have never known someone to fall who was not trusting his own judgement"

  • I need to trust that fewer calories will be enough
  • I need to trust that I can make it through my weight routine and swimming rosary
  • I need to trust that I can do it if I go one day at a time
  • I need to trust that imperfection is a big part of who I am and that I will fall, but I can get back up!