Wednesday, November 03, 2010


The first time I ever thought maybe I had a weight problem was in college. I think it was the summer between my junior and senior years, so probably 1991. Though I was still in college, I was working for an internet company (pre-startup). I had photoshopped a copy of my student ID and had emailed a copy to a colleague in Wisconsin who I'd (and to this day) never met in person. We were talking on the phone and he made some crack about always picturing me as skinnier.

Things, as they always do, morph over time. Seeing your own face every day, you don't notice it, it literally happens right under (and all around) your nose without you even being too aware of it. But it was a long time coming. In high school, the car opened up a new world to me. I could go where I want. I was still pretty frugal, but now I could go to the store and buy something if I wanted. Then there was a job slinging pizzas in high school and college. In high school, I burned off enough calories to stay on the slimmer side but by my senior year, my diet consisted of poptarts and multiple Jolt colas (I hadn't discovered coffee yet. Though I miss Jolt cola.) to try to stay awake in class. Even in college, I only dabbled a little bit in coffee. My first job out of college was at an internet startup. By then, I was living on mountain dew and Barber's Chicken Cordon Bleus. And the soda was free at work. I had discovered Starbucks, but only as the occasional Sunday afternoon treat - I would go to the one in Encino, get a Maple Oat Nut Scone and a Caramel Macciato Grande in "for here" servings and go out and put my feet up on the edge of the fountain and read through a few Variety's and Hollywood Reporters while the traffic passed on my left up and down Ventura Blvd. Those were heady days. Still, I was spending Saturdays rollerblading up and down the Santa Monica Blvd. That would include a mid-day break where I'd grab a 2-liter of Sunkist Orange and drink it while walking through Santa Monica Place and the Third Street Promenade before returning to the boardwalk for more rollerblading. Dinner would be a six-inch Cold Cut Combo from Subway and two movies from Blockbuster.

And then marriage, forced to eat more disciplined, regularly scheduled, balanced meals. With secretive trips to the grocery store. I remember a time sitting in the underground parking lot outside of Ralphs in Glendale with a Starbucks Frappucino and a pack of Hostess Cupcakes and something else and just eating them all in my car until I didn't feel good.

And then pregnancy (not me, but a license to eat differently) and the baby and the upheaval. Lack of steady employment, less expensive (and less healthy) food at home, and then the new job, which came with doughnuts every Friday (so many that we could each eat a few before the end of the day). A secret project also saw me stopping at a post office box every Friday, so it was only natural that I drive across the street to the Starbucks in South Pasadena every Friday as well. I had graduated at this point to an even more unhealthy Marble Mocha Macciato Grande Extra Hot Not Fat (No Whip). (It's off-menu, but you can ask for it at any Starbucks - at 450 calories or so, it is so worth it. Unless you're counting calories.)

By the time we moved up here, I was a little more interested in losing weight. There was a walking trail around the office building and my first summer here, I went from 190 to 163 (with a goal of 160) and then gave up. I'm not sure why I stopped... end of summer? Start of the unhealthy holiday season? Anyhow, put it all back on and then some, seeming to have a resting weight of 192-196. I tried a number of things, even getting a Wii Fit. But over time, it became difficult to find time to do anything more than 90 minutes of freestep (which I still do daily) - but wasn't doing any yoga or balance or strength exercises.

I had flirted with designing my own methods over the years and I thought I had something (public accountability + level rewards + the notion that "there will always be more cake.") but it was difficult to keep up - having to find a website and report my food, to remember what my weight was, to make sure I exercised, etc. It hadn't all worked.

And then this year, I accidentally started jogging. Now that the weather's turned, I've stopped again and I really miss it. A great iPhone app called RunKeeper tracked my progress, making a neat little map and showing my pace/speed. I also added an application on the iPhone called Lose-It. My friends had recommended it weeks earlier, but I hadn't bothered to. But I saw the progress they were making and was envious and so I added it. Before I added it, I had managed to drop about 14 pounds or so, promising myself a Dairy Queen Blizzard, but it took most of the summer and I seemed to be stuck again.

So I added Lose-It and it seemed like a useful app, but it was driving Lori crazy me constantly asking her what the calories were for each meal she was serving. Until fortune smiled on me - the same friends who had recommended Lose-It gave Lori an old iPhone. In setting it up, all of the apps I had on mine were copied to hers and now she had the app sitting there in front of her. She pulled it up and was immediately hooked. She then discovered Spark Recipes where you could plug in a recipe and it would give you the calorie counts. So we've both been actively using it now religiously, tracking everything.

So I started with Lose-It on Sunday, Sept. 5 at 178 and have just watched the pounds drop off. In two months' time, I'm now down to 159.6, having blown through several goals without even stopping to pick up the rewards I'd given myself and having to continually change my goal.

When I entered my weight today, it still had my goal at 160 so it flipped me into "maintenance mode" and upped my daily calorie goal by 800. To be honest, I think that would now be a little difficult to fill that many. I'd have to stop exercising and eat more. But after two months of watching my calories and over a year of doing freestep and several years of walking at work and several months of occasional jogging, those are habits I'm not interested in breaking.

So, I aimed my sights at 155. From now on, I am going to try to maintain between 155 and 160. But, I've earned several rewards: a trip to Zoopa, a trip to Men's Wearhouse for a new pair of tailored pants, and probably some Starbucks and Menchies. And I've decided for 155, a trip to Pac Island Grill. It's been too long and since we're now catching up on Hawaii Five-O, I'm really wanting some more of... oooh... yikes... I just tried to abbreviate that. They should have thought of that. It will also probably be time to get rid of some of the clothes in my closet - stuff doesn't fit so well now. Too baggy, too loose, and annoyingly, have to wear a belt with everything except a pair of sweat pants that I didn't use to fit into. (And men should never ever ever wear sweat pants in public punishable by public execution -- Washington does have an open-carry law -- for crimes against fashion.)

So, yeah, yay to the new thinner me.
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