Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Phenomenal Woman

176.4 lbs. Lowest it’s been in 20 years.


Okay, yeah, so I’m back on HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadatropin. In fact, I found it in Chocolate Mint, I kid you not), but it’s working.

I took a good look at myself in the mirror (and there will be photos later. As I write this, my nose is peeling like I’ve had a sunburn – which I haven’t , I’m in my glasses (which are VERY thick), big floppy long-sleeved Buddha t shirt, sweat pants, fluffy socks and no makeup. No picture right now. Part of the HCG drill is no personal hygiene products with oils or creams and that extends to makeup unless it’s the mineral variety, which I don’t own. Well, not the stuff to put color in my cheeks and on my lashes. Seriously, I’m pale. Not Edgar Winter albino, but close) and stopped to look again.

I watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show every year (GO, MINATURE SCHNAUZERS!!!! WIN IT IN MEMORY OF LILY MARLENE III  AND GREEN MOUNTAIN MAXIMILLIAN AKA MIGHTY MAX THE WONDER DOPE!!!!) and there is a saying: “A good groomer can carve a dog out of a pile of hair.” 9 months of cleaning up my diet (except for a couple of rages, but I may have a solution to that problem), 7 months of faithfully exercising and I realized that I have been carving a woman out of fat.

I see the beginnings of a waist. Not the barrel shape between shoulders and hips that was there, not a straight line from shoulders to hips, but the beginnings of an indentation under the bra line. That hasn’t been there since the 20th century.

I raised my arms and shook them. The upper arm jiggle is noticeably smaller. Huh. Dr. Best got the knots out of my back and shoulders and they are now responding to weight training. And I have collarbones. And a jaw. Not just the shadow of a jawline, I have an actual jawline and my neck looks longer without all the fat hanging around it.

Could it be…

Emboldened, I stood sideways and sucked in my gut. Doing this, it is nearly exactly where I want it to be. I can see where the bottom of my rib cage is (and feel it without pushing in too hard).

This is payoff. This is motivation. This is incentive. I finally feel like I look feminine. I look like the woman that I am (ironic as I am enjoying the beginnings of menopause aka the Hot Flashdance. I don’t need leg warmers, but the torn sweatshirt would be helpful when the internal furnace kicks on) and not some asexual blob with boobs. I’m a phenomenal woman, phenomenally.

I’ve been wearing my size 13 Calvin Klein jeans COMFORTABLY for days. I can pull the size 12 ones up on my ass. I can’t zip them closed, but we’re getting there (they’re boot cut and I really don’t care for boot cut mostly because the makers figure that all plus sizes have fat legs and therefore need boot cut jeans. I’ve been wearing boot cut forever).

If you saw me today, you saw me swinging my hips as I walked. Why? Because I am a woman, goddammit, and that’s just what we do.

I didn’t come to this realization in enough time to pull together a sexy costume for Halloween, but, wow, I can wear a sexy costume for Halloween and not feel ridiculous on some level (I wore sexy in 2003 and was told by someone I no longer trust that I shouldn’t; I was too fat and it was a joke and ridiculous and people were laughing behind my back. Fuck him). But, I can anticipate the next costume party and be sexy-eligible (film themed sexy. I have some time to figure it out).

I left the gym (weight training and elliptical) feeling powerful. Feeling feminine and powerful. This is self-confidence and not just the fa├žade. Attractive guys in my age range (whom I’ve heard gigglingly dismissed as “Silverbacks” by girls who forget they will one day be the same age) are smiling in my direction, giving me a nod. Maybe. Phenomenal woman, phenomenally.

I leave you with Maya Angelou’s poem as this has been running through my head all afternoon.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Maya Angelou

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How Do You Like Them Apples?

179.4 lbs.* Yeah, we’ve been in this neighborhood before. Didn’t stay nearly long enough.

So, It is Day 7 of HGC** Phase 2 aka Reduced Calorie Phase and it IS WORKING.

Hey, like I said, I tried it the “approved” way and weight loss didn’t happen. I do this, I lose weight. I’m sitting here in my Levi’s 501 jeans. Again.  

One of the goals is to be size eligible for the “it” brands of jeans like Lucky or Seven. (Nordstrom Rack). Lucky’s largest women’s size is 12. Yes, it’s superficial, but it’s my landmark. Besides, I took a good look, thought about it and I have a cute ass. A cute ass should have high end jeans.

Unlike the first round of HCG  for me (Jan 31 – Mar 13), I am exercising regularly and eating less beef (I have my diary from the first time). I have expectations of losing more weight this time than I did on the first round (26 lbs.). I’m also planning to revisit the length of time I’m doing this when I get to Day 21 (October 31). If the loss is satisfactory at that point, I’ll shift to Phase 3. If not, I’ll go to 40 days. Since the comments section on this blog has dust on it, I take it that none of my regular readers has an opinion one or the other as to my chosen methodology. (Type now or forever hold your peace. Not that it’s going to change my mind one way or another). I know, I know; the suspense is killer.

One of the features of the HCG protocol is something called “Apple Day.” When weight gets stuck (or one day in 7. I opted for 1 day in 7.), instead of the standard 100 grams of protein, 2 cups of vegetables, 1 fruit and measured Nut Thins, one eats 6 big ass apples over 24 hours and only 6 big ass apples over 24 hours.

Yeah, it’s gimmicky and nowhere near as much fun as a “Steak Day” (those are in the 3 weeks afterwards. 12-14 oz steak and sliced tomatoes. My kind of a diet.), but it works. It’s how I got the jump start for this project.

I am still hitting the gym (not as hard) and while putting in time on the elliptical cross-trainer the other day, one of the ladies from my yoga class got on the machine next to me. I don’t know her name, but she’s a sweet, friendly person and wanted to take a spin on the elliptical for the first time. We worked through figuring out her rhythm (Look, we’re human beings, we dig rhythm in all things and once we figure out a good groove, we stay there. Think about it) and how to program the machine. She hung in there for 20 minutes and then stopped. The next thing she said absolutely floored me: “I stayed on that long because you were doing it, too.”

Me? A role model? For EXERCISE? Am I in a parallel universe? This is the same person that gets all the pontificating from family members, draws the fat comments from shitheaded strangers and I’m a role model? An inspiration? I’m on a protocol that people either love or hate (the acupuncturist and therapist I trust – love. Dr. Oz – hate) and  still people look to me. That’s heady stuff.

Well, my yoga friend, because you stepped up onto the machine and out of your comfort zone, I’ve kept faith with my exercise regimen, even though with HCG, I could skip it altogether (I don’t want to lose ground, so I’ll keep going). Plus, it’s a tough crowd in yoga class: you miss one class and you get grilled by the other students when you return (practically need a doctor’s note. NOT Dr. Oz).

I need to prove 50 isn’t fatal. You are never too old to achieve (although the hot flashes are telling me that kids are out of the question. I’ve long considered adopting a 30 year old the best course of action; you miss diapers, teething, terrible twos, puberty and the cost of a college education). Hefner isn’t going to put me in Playboy, but I may turn a few heads yet (once I get rolling on E Harmony. Those bastards want the entire fee UP FRONT. I should put a Paypal donation link on here). Somewhere out there is a little black dress and a lucky man with my name on them.

*It’s 3 days after I started this post and it’s still 179.4. Annoyed sigh.

**Human chronironic (or something like that) gonadatropin

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Back in the HCG Saddle

183 lbs. Order is being restored.

Okay, so some folks will not like what I’m doing.

Oh, well. I told you guys I had decided I would do another round of HCG and nobody commented, objected, sent email, called, Facebook message, nada.

I do not like myself obese. I do not like myself overweight. I do not like working my ass off (or literally trying to) and not getting anywhere. As my father once memorably told me, when something I was trying to do was not to his liking despite my sweating bullets to get it finished, “Results get rewarded, not efforts.”

Words I live by.

I’m back on the HCG protocol and it is Day 3 of the Reduced Calorie Phase. This means I take the drops, eat 500 calories (well, more on that. And no, I’m not cheating) and go about my life. To me, this is boot camp to re-establish the discipline that got nearly 50 lbs. off of my body (and some of it back, but that’s been served with an eviction notice).

No personal hygiene products containing oil. Alba moisturizer and crystal deodorant. If you’re rinsing the shampoo out of your hair, it’s not a problem (that’s what the doctor who supervised me the first time told me).

The first 2 days of the protocol are the “Glutton Days”.  You stuff yourself with anything and everything high fat (and protein) and caloric. Over the weekend, I got a lot of cravings out of my system: Carl’s Jr. Bacon Avocado (well, not a craving, but I figured it would be high fat) combo, Ben & Jerry’s Coconut Seven Layer in a brownie sundae, Denny’s (there’s one down the street. I figured I owed it to the gluttony), Five Guys (YES! 920 calories for a regular sized bacon cheeseburger), Fab Hot Dogs (Victory and Tampa in Reseda. I’ll stand them next to Pink’s. Wicked good.), Starbucks foo-foo drinks (which were probably part of the reason I was stalling, gaining, stalling. It wasn’t lack of exercise), Chocolate Coconut Haystacks…

Not as much fun as you might think. My system said to me, “Dude, we don’t eat like this.” (Had I thrown up, it would have been “Bitch, we don’t eat like this.” If I’m not pushing the hard line, it’s friendlier). I felt uncomfortable and bloated. However, these are the rules.

Starting on Monday the 10th and for 21 to 40 days (after 21, we’ll see), it’s the Reduced Calorie Phase: 2 meals per day consisting of 100 grams of approved protein (chicken, turkey, lean beef, veal, buffalo (I feel guilty), low-fat cottage cheese and the ones I won’t touch: lobster, crab, eggs).Meats are grilled, broiled or boiled. 2 cups of a single vegetable: tomatoes(veggies on this plan), cucumbers, string beans, spinach, chard, onions, radishes, Brussels Sprouts to name a few. If you cook them up, no oil, no butter, no sweetening, no bacon (no Brussels Sprouts). Go ahead and dump oregano, granulated garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Fruit: apple, half a grapefruit, an orange, 6-8 strawberries, 12 raspberries (Whoever heard of eating just 12 raspberries? That’s preposterous) and a “starch”, your choices being Grissini breadsticks (2-3), Melba toast (2) or 4-6 Blue Diamond Nut Thins, if you wish to dodge gluten (and I do).

Over the past 2 days, I have adhered to this “One From Column A” sort of set up, but exceeded the caloric intake. Today, I’ll work on sticking within the 500 calorie framework and report back.

This “no oil” protocol means no flaxseed oil during this time. The only supplements one is allowed are B Complex, Vitamin C, potassium and magnesium (which is good for your connective tissues). You can have up to 1 tablespoon of milk per day and the juice of one lemon. I’ve begun starting my day with hot water and lemon (lemon juice is a wonderful thing for your liver, your skin, your gums). (I’m pimping a Simon Cowell routine. Who’d a thunk it?).

I’ve cut back on exercise in the senses that while I’m lifting weights, the amount isn’t as much and I’m keeping the cardio down to one hour per day. Still doing yoga twice a week and Pilates once a week.

After the Reduced Calorie protocol, it’s 3 weeks without sugar or starch, but I can increase my caloric intake.

I’ll report back.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Say it Ain't So, Dr. Oz

186 lbs. Fine. Wonderful. Swell. More about this later.

In order to better work the tricep muscles (and say “Buh bye” to the arm flaps), I have been doing pull downs over on the Juice Bar in the free weights section of the gym (Juice Bar because of all the steroid cases grunting and clanging weights over there). So much testosterone in that area that I’m beginning to care about football. It’s cool; nobody hassles me and the unassisted movement of the weight stack is a better workout than the pulley machines. The arm flaps are indeed leaving town.

I’ve begun watching Dr. Oz in the afternoon (and no, I’m not about to become an Ozzie; one of his groupies). I made sure to tune in today because he promised it was his big “anti-aging” show. Hey, I turned 50 a couple of months ago and although AARP hasn’t sent me magazines (yet. Think of it as playing Hide N Seek with lobbyists, stuff starts happening in the body that needs to be addressed. I also don’t think I need to look it (or feel it). He had the audience members remove their makeup and I thought he was going to show them how to detect skin cancer or signs of other more systemic issues that might show up in the skin and should be addressed (age related).

Not so much.

He was talking wrinkles, age spots, dark circles and sagging skin. Get more sleep. Okay, good. Make sure you’re getting adequately hydrated. Excellent, although he didn’t mention a target amount of water one should drink. Go until you slosh with each step, I guess. And then, the products were trotted out. Not just “use a cream that contains THIS” or “avoid things containing THAT” (such as paraben), no, his guests were pimping specific products and procedures. Oh yeah: the wrinkle treatment in which you have blood drawn, it’s spun down to plasma and re-injected into your wrinkles. It’s called a “vampire facial.” I shit you not. Just a mere $250 per session. Why yes, it takes several sessions. Also a laser treatment for sun damage and creams in the $60 range (I took notes). We then proceeded on to “aging hair” and getting to sleep faster: more products. It took until then for me to sit back (well, lean back. I was on the elliptical machine) and realize something: Dr. Oz promotes a lot of specific products on his show. In my mind, the guy’s credibility took  a hit to the point where he’s slightly ahead of Vince the Shamwow (and Slap Chop) guy. You know the guy – looks like an elf on crack, got beaten up by a hooker.

He also talked about lingonberries as the new superfood because of their antioxidant content being off the charts (the German nihilists in “The Big Lebowski” were on to something ordering “ze lingonberry funfkuchen”. I want Brian Setzer tickets, so I’ll be trying to get Mark & Brian to play “Spot the Rocker” based on “The Big Lebowski” and a couple of other movies. Hint: the rockers are among the German Nihilists) and I will happily incorporate them into my diet, but I’m still troubled by the fact that the man was not so much showing health to his audience as shilling beauty products. In fact, one of the guests was from “Prevention” magazine, which had started out (nominally) about improving the reader’s health, but now, when you see the cover, it’s diets and anti-wrinkle. In fact, one of the products being touted today had won their “Anti-Aging” award. What the hell? Where was “eat more green peppers, drink water and almonds are a great source of protein and fiber?” Upcoming shows include “7 Health Scams” (companies using his advice to sell various products and he’s mad. Could be because he’s not getting a cut), Diet to End All Diets and The REAL Cleanse (he tells you what’s wrong with all the other ones out there, but, wouldn’t you know, Dr. Oz has one of his own to recommend).

How do all these threads tie in? The number: 186. I have been at or around that range for a couple of months and I am so sick of seeing the lack of progress that I could go postal. I have been faithful to the “eat less and exercise” edict that is the approved methodology. I measure my food, I avoid certain foods and for 5 months, I have been going to the gym at least 5-6 times per week, working out no less than one hour each time. Over the past two weeks, I have found that I have the time for Monster Burns and Godzilla Burns (weight training followed by either 2 or 3 hours of cardio. Dr. Best says that as long as the knee and back are okay with it, it’s fine by him). Supposedly, by obeying these rules, I should be losing 1-2 lbs. per week, which is acceptable to the “health experts.” Except…

It’s not fucking working.

I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow with 5 lbs. off my ass (which, although I have the gut, is a pretty decent ass, I must say. Never got any complaints), but I do expect to see the numbers decline. Otherwise, although my blood chemistry is improved and I’m stronger/more endurance, about 1/3 of the reason for my working out is failing.

I’m filling out the questionnaires for E Harmony and even though it’s supposed to be emotional/spiritual compatibility, your potential matches want a picture. I’ve done this before; they don’t want the fat girls and now, at 50, it’s even more difficult to match. Yeah it’s all in my head, but I’m undertaking a months/years long exorcism to rid myself of these demons.

That being said, HGC Round 2 coming right up. Oh, I know, I know: that’s an awful way to lose weight and nobody approves of it and you can’t possibly sustain that weight loss and yada and blah blah and “Well, Dr. Oz says….”

Fuck Dr. Oz. Oh, I’ll still watch his show for the ever-decreasing bits and pieces of free and “Hey, look at what you can do with what’s in your kitchen cabinets”, but if there was a way for him to make money from the HCG protocol, I suspect he’d have some of its biggest proponents on the show. I have done this before and it worked. 100 grams of cottage cheese in  the AM? With an orange and cucumber slices? No sweat; let me dump a bunch of granulated garlic and oregano on it (note: the orange is not in the cottage cheese and the cucumber slices work nicely into the herbed cheese). THIS WORKS FOR ME. The accepted methodology does not and I have pretty substantial evidence I’ve been following it faithfully.

Henry David Thoreau (the original hippie about 125 years ahead of schedule) once said, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

Dr. Oz and the health experts hear the Marine Corps band and are happily marching to John Philips Sousa. Me? I’m grooving with Ringo. Or Max Weinberg (Do NOT say “Neil Pert.” Rush makes me want to take a bottle of Ambien. When it wears off and I wake up 20 years later, they’ll still be playing the same damned song).

Something my parents had to learn the hard way: just let me do things my way and things work out.