Saturday, July 30, 2011

Week 23: Losing That Last Five Pounds

The dreaded weigh-in table

It is a bit surreal, but I am now that person who can say, "I'm trying to lose five pounds" and not sound delusional. It does sound pretentious, which isn't better, but it's true.

I am within five pounds of my goal of 160. I'm down 70 since I started on Weight Watchers 24 weeks ago.

At this week's meeting the subject of maintenance was front and center. We have several life members in our group, and they all say that as tough as it is to lose it's at least as tough to stay at a given weight.

Lifers at WW only have to weigh in once a month -- not weekly -- to retain their status (which includes the fantastic benefit of not having to pay for meetings) and need to stay within two pounds of their goal weight. That is two pounds up or down, btw: a means of ensuring that you don't declare higher than you intend to lose and cheat the organization out of dues.

My trip has been pretty rapid, and I have not really entirely come to grips with the fact of my loss. I may yet lower my goal again, because I am trying to be in that BMI range which is considered medically "normal", and at 160 I'd still be above that slightly. And, of course, there is the full-length mirror test which does not lie.

If you can remain determined and focused and motivated losing weight becomes a personal challenge that is difficult to compromise with at those moments when one is weakest. But what about when one has to actually begin eating more again, when judgement day is as many at 30 away, not 7?

That will be unchartered territory and, to listen to the lifers, an entirely new challenge.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 22: What Goes Up Must Come Down

It was a good run, but every good run must come to an end: After losing something every week since I joined Weight Watchers one Feb 19, I gained weight last week.

It felt good.

I spoke up at my Saturday meeting -- during the "scale and non-scale victories" portion at the end -- and got a nice reaction. "You're one of us!" one of the lifetime members kidded me. "Do you think it's bloating?" joked another lifer, who reached her goal after losing 187 pounds -- 87 with WW after she hit a wall dropping 100 on her own.

Our leader asked how I felt about it. My first reaction was, "Damn, I lost a week!" I replied. But then, I told her I had realized, "I lost a week from what?"

I confess, the losing pace has been a game for me. I have wanted to lose something — anything — in an unrelenting race to a finish line that I have moved further away once and will push away again. Along the way, I've come to many new understandings with myself. I have grown indifferent to some foods that were once staples for me, no longer equate quantity with satisfaction, and now realize that (Patton and mathematics notwithstanding) the shortest distance between two points isn't necessarily a straight line.

The ability to veer from the straight and narrow and then recover is one of life's most important all-purpose skills. The ability to leverage a lapse or a even a failure into an opportunity is the point. Education is at least as much about learning to learn as it is knowing how to diagram a sentence or what was wrong with the Articles of Confederation.

As weeks go, this was a good one to end my run. I had a birthday on Tuesday, and had cake (homemade vegan orange) and Soy Delicious Turtle ice cream. I have also worked out every morning, and incorporated a new exercise: taking the stairs at work (14 flights) at least twice a day, both directions.

It's possible that some of the 3.8 pounds I put back on were in part muscle weight -- booster and friend and GeekMom Jenny Williams has encouraged me to believe this, and I am inclined to agree, for what it's worth, since I have only introduced regular cardio and weight training in the past couple of weeks.

It has also been extremely hot, and our leader suggested that we are all retaining a bit more water because of that (Hey: I AM bloated!)

But none of the explanations matter, because the gain doesn't matter, this week, next week or in the grand scheme of things.

I had another blowout day Saturday, the day my family celebrated my birthday. We went to Jolo's Kitchen, I had two (2!) more servings of the cake and ice cream back at home, I snacked on pop chips.

And then, today, and tomorrow, it's back on the horse.

No regrets.

PS: After an incalculable amount of food Saturday, and my morning workout, and no breakfast yet, I was another pound up Sunday morning -- which is less than my typical gain on a Sunday. So a) go figure and b) this is a great way to begin Week 23.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 21: A New Decade

Twenty-one weeks on Weight Watchers is no particular milestone, but for me it's huge: I cracked through the 170-pounds barrier, and am now in a new "decade."

My official weigh-in was 166.4, and I partied a little on Saturday (that means an extra veggie burger, three servings of chips and enough sugary desert to fit in the palm of my hand) so my weight is up today. But in the 160s I will stay.

I continue to obsessively weigh myself, a bit of advice that isn't for everyone (number 4 in this post) but which is, if you can stand it, the best way to keep on top of things and not become depressed as you get in touch with how your body gains and losses inexplicably during the course of the week.

My personal trajectory has been extremely fortuitous. I have lost weight every week, 21 in a row, for my official Saturday morning Weight Watchers meeting weigh-in. Seemingly no matter what I do the rest of Saturday, I will have "gained" by Sunday. I "lose" 2-3 pounds after a morning spin (see number five in this post). I am generally above my previous registered weight as late in the week as Thursday. But I've lost at least 0.4 pounds every week, and am averaging 3.3 still. Two weeks ago, close enough to my goal that I expect only incremental losses, I dropped 7.6 pounds in seven days -- probably because I significantly increased the proportion of protein on my diet and had my first unbroken string of high-impact mornings cardio workouts.

I don't know when I was last in the 160s. My current target weight is 160, but I am seeing how that will still not be as good as I can get, without even trying to be an ironman triathlete. "Correct" weight is difficult to guage, but if you look at yourself in the mirror you know it when you see it.

My plan is to crash through 160 in the next 2-3 weeks and get an annual physical that will include a clinical BMI assessment for the first time. Consumer-grade scales report BMI, but I have no idea how accurate mine is. So with a properly-assessed number I can gauge at least progress and trends at home, and shoot for that number which is the best indicator of correct weight.