Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How things work out

It's funny how things work out with weight loss. Or any big challenge, I guess. You are working really hard and not getting results and someone suggests you stop trying so hard. That's really an infuriating suggestion because of the thought "If I don't continue to try hard, I will not succeed." It's a Bodhi tree like mystery which your busy brain rejects loudly. But then, like a geometry problem you step away from, the answer arrives at your door - all unassuming - and smacks you over the head with a sort of sweet, "how the heck did you miss that?"

I started working with Brooke Castillo, weight loss coach, in April 2007. I had a 1-year-old baby and had not lost most of the 85 lbs. I gained while pregnant. In 8 months, from April to November, I lost over 70 lbs. with Brooke, going from 296 (!) to about 220. My goal was to be 149 lbs by December 2009. In December 2007, stepped up my work outs often working out twice a day and burning upwards of 1500 calories a day! And I was committed to losing weight by eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was full. I never counted a calorie. But once increased my exercise, I stopped losing weight.

All that exercise made me hungry! I worked out through the holidays but I probably ate too much. Then I got pneumonia and bronchitis, but I kept working out. I completed 3 triathlons. I was more fit than ever and while I stopped losing weight, I did drop another dress size to a size 16. I was told by my trainer I was gaining muscle and not to worry.

I went to a weight loss retreat and realized, all my muscle wasn't the problem. I was simply eating too much. Brooke coached me about planning joy eats and only having one small serving of high fat food a day. IMPOSSIBLE I proclaimed. We had done this "plan your joy" routine before. There was simply no way for me to plan to eat a brownie and that that was going to stop me from eating a cookie if someone brought them into the office.

And then we did an exercise where I saw clearly that the problem was my incapacity to try harder. The story I told my self was I was working harder than anyone could work. And I had a lot of evidence this was true. And if this wasn't enough, then I quit.

And so I did. From November 07 to July 08 I maintained 220 lbs. But when I got back from the retreat, I quit. Six months later, I ballooned back up to 290! Little by little the pounds piled back on but my attitude remained strong. This was a conscious life choice and not the result of negative thinking. It was the result of thinking. Period. And the thought was this, "I would rather be fat than work this hard."

And low and behold that reality was created! (My thoughts are powerful that way.)

There was magic in that decision. A magic to create my own destiny. A magic to create my own body. A magic to chose my future. But it's not a 1-way magic.

So now I find myself wanting another baby.

My divorce is still in process. I am flat broke. I can live in this fat body, but it has a really big downside. It won't ovulate. Which means I can't make another baby. With no money for fertility treatments and no legal possibility of adoption until the divorce is final, the only way for me to make a baby is with known donor sperm (got it!) and working ovaries.

I've got to lose 50 lbs to get my ovaries in order. I'd like to lose more than that. And the clock is ticking. I'm 36.

So I asked myself a question that Brooke asked me once: "What can you do?"

Weight loss surgery.
- Not covered by insurance

Jenny Craig.
- Ditto on the money

Starve myself.
- Never happen

Plan healthy meals?
.... hmmm.... I COULD do this one.

And so for the past 2 weeks I have been planning my meals, logging my food, exercising (of course!) and losing weight - down 8 lbs so far.

This process of packaging a weeks worth of meals and snacks on Sunday has made it as easy to stick to my own plan as it was to stick to Jenny Craig (but it's a lot cheaper.) Still until today I felt like I was on a diet. Lose enough weight to have a baby and then deal with life as a fat person again.

But today something hit me. Back when I was plateaued at 220 lbs., my biggest problem was eating too much. I said I was eating 1800 calories but that's what my target was. I actually never measured calories and I stopped journaling my food. In retrospect I was probably eating more than 1800 calories and I was eating a lot of non-fuel foods. What I never really did, was take full responsibility for what I ate. In fact, I claimed (thought, believed, decided) what I ate was out of my control. I took control of exercise, but I wanted the food piece of the equasion to come together on its own. Our accountant having chocolate in his office and our new CEO having lunch catered every day was interfering with my plan.

The secret to losing weight, it turns out, isn't eating less and exercising more. The secret is asking yourself: "What CAN I do to take care of myself despite the obstacles life is guaranteed to throw my way?" The answer always leads to eating less and exercising more, but it won't feel like a chore. It will feel like Christmas.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Enough is Enough - STARVE-A-THON

I'm sick of watching this genocide in Darfur year after year and doing nothing about it. An estimated 2.7 million people have been displaced and more than 400,000 have been killed since 2003. Not since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of displacement, starvation, rape and mass slaughter. Recently, most of the humanitarian aid groups were expelled and Sudanese aid organizations forcibly closed. This has created increasingly precarious conditions for the internally-displaced camp dwellers.

That's why I'm going on a hunger strike.

I am joining Richard Branson, Mia Farrow, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and 4.7 million Darfuris who are fasting without option. I'll fast 1 day for every $500 I raise to Save Darfur. You can contribute on your own at (and forward me the receipt).

If you have any questions about why I am doing this - ask me - or visit I also think you'll find Richard Branson's video about his fast enlightening.

Thanks for your support,

p.s. I think one of the most powerful ways to truly understand what it is like to be Darfuri in the face of possible attack by Janjaweed militias is to play the VIDEO GAME Darfur is Dying.