Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From WW to WTF

My blog buddies, KatieO, Crabby McSlacker, and ThickChick have fabulous fitness/weight-loss/health blogs that I read daily and use as inspiration in my quest to lose weight. I soak up their advice and great ideas and funny stories, and even steal recipes and awesome workout playlists, and I use these things to my advantage. But I never pay them back, except for with the occasional witty comment. (if I do say so myself) So, while my blog is not based on fitness and weight-loss, I am going to attempt to return the favor with a health-related post of my own. Except that this post probably won’t be that helpful or inspiring. And I definitely don’t have any advice. And I can’t promise funny either, so don’t go getting your hopes up or anything. Basically, I’m just going to bitch a little bit and hope that you all understand. Then I will direct you to their real fitness blogs for something that is actually helpful and motivating.

For those who read fairly frequently, you know that I gained forty pounds last year. Yeah, four-OH! And this may be a big shocker, but I’m not happy about it at all. At over six feet tall, I have never been petite, and have always considered myself somewhat athletically built. I’ve always had hip and thigh meat, and my calves are a little bit on the manly side, all of this completely contrasting with my tiny, tiny nearly-A chest. The smallest I have ever been is a size ten, and that is when everyone told me I was “too skinny.” I am currently a size 16, but I am very happy with my body, and will even venture out in a bathing suit at a size 14. I’m built to be a larger girl, just not quite this large. One pants size away seems so close, but when you are very tall, it takes a lot of pounds to change your pants-size. That is why I never noticed that anything was amiss on the way up. The way back down is proving to be much more difficult, and I am definitely noticing.

My goal is to remove this forty pounds from my jeans and return it to from whence it came, in this case to the place where they make really good cheeseburgers. And beer. And wine. Since it is not actually possible to just drive around and drop off your unwanted pounds where you got them, at the local greasy spoon, the bar, or the ice cream aisle of the grocery store, I realized it was time to get real.

Five weeks ago, I joined Weight Watchers online. I did not join the in-person version of WW, because I do not like the meetings. I am not knocking them; I realize that for some people, the meetings are the most important part of the program and what makes it work; like AA for alcoholics. However, when I tried WW four years ago, just to lose ten pounds with a friend, I got sort of annoyed at the meetings. Everyone was talking about food. One woman asked “It says a half a cup of carrots is zero points, but what if I want to eat a whole cup of carrots? Is that still zero points?”

I was sitting there thinking (and biting my tongue to keep from saying) “Uh, lady? I’m pretty sure that overdosing on carrots is not the reason any of us are here”

I also didn’t like the weigh-ins at the meetings. Maybe I am weird in the fact that I don’t really like to be cheered on about my personal issues. When I ran a triathlon last year, I looked up as I was on the homestretch of the run to see three friends standing on the sidelines, friends whom I completely did not expect to be there, and I was ecstatic; it made my day and pushed me that much harder. But when a lady I don’t know said “Great job, Cara” (pronouncing my name wrong) and then tried to hug me after I showed a half a pound loss at a weigh-in, I just wasn’t down with that. It felt like such an invasion. I didn’t want to sit there in a group of people talking about my weight, and what I ate, and how much I exercised, which back then was very little. I didn’t want anyone to clap for me when I was down one pound. I didn’t want them to flash me a smile, which may have been genuine, but which I perceived to be a portrayal of fake joy at my trivial weight loss. Even when Mike makes a comment regarding my improvement, I feel the urge to ask him to please hold his compliments until the end, when I will feel as if I am deserving of them. Losing weight is a really private battle for me. Which is why I am babbling about it on my blog where I tend to air all of the other weird, personal shit I go through. The answer is yes, and the question is “Is nothing sacred anymore?”

The online version of Weight Watchers is pretty handy. You can track all of your “points” right on the computer with access to the vast database of food values. You can still have a drink or two if you want, and lightning does not strike you if you eat a Girl Scout Cookie. Plus, my favorite part is that you can log your workouts to earn additional points for more stuff to eat. It’s sort of like online banking. You know how much you have, and as you spend, your balance goes down, but you can also make deposits by going to the gym. I like the system, and I have done pretty well.

I was meticulous for the first three weeks until President’s Day weekend hit, and I found myself splurging for most of it. I didn’t track my points all weekend, in effect kind of taking a little break from the plan. It turned out ok, though. Tuesday morning, when I weighed in, I was down another two pounds for a total of a twelve-pound loss. Nice. Even with a little bad behavior, I still got the reward. Not so this time. This week, I was perfect all week, worked out four times, and even went skiing, which earns you some major points. This morning when I weighed in, I was up a pound. SERIOUSLY???

When I sadly logged in my increase into the system, it said something like this:

“Sometimes a gain is a normal part of the overall weight-loss process”

It was the virtual version of the lady at the meeting offering me a hug and a fake-ish smile, only this time, she was patting me on the back, saying “It’s ok, Car-uh, you’ll get ‘em next week”

I know, I know. I understand health and fitness, and I know that you sometimes have to gain to lose, but I am still a little bit pissed. I am a big eater, and I have been hungry fairly consistently for the past month, but losing five and then ten pounds made me forget about it. I don’t want to let this increase get me down. I do not want to throw in the towel. In fact, I have been really careful all day, but I also can’t help but think whenever I feel a tiny little hunger pang, that my scale went UP this week. UP! And here I am eating a cup of carrots.

KatieO and ThickChick always seem to be so positive with themselves if they happen to show an increase for the week, or if their jeans are a little snug. I am going to try to follow in their footsteps and keep on trucking. But still, the damn thing went UP! ARRRRRGGH!

In my annoyance, I will share with you some lessons I have learned on my weight-loss journey thus far:

Under no circumstances is it a good idea to save up all of your WW points for alcoholic beverages. After two drinks, you will be tipsy and starving, begging someone to drive-you-thru the nearest Wendy’s, whilst rocking back and forth and clutching dollar bills in your sweaty fists.

Being hungry is very similar to being PMS, or quitting smoking. You have the potential to get just a tiny bit snotty over insignificant things. They should make a t-shirt you can wear stating that you are slightly unstable and prone to lashing out due to being on a restrictive diet. This might really help with your co-workers and loved ones.

Weight-loss begins at the edges of your body and then works its way in. Just because your face and ankles are beginning to look super-slender, and your ring is loose, it does not mean that you will automatically fit into last year’s jeans.

When you try on last year’s jeans, and they still do not go over your ample hips, it is not ok to throw a tantrum. People think a pants-less thirty-something woman kicking, screaming and crying on the floor is just plain weird. At least that is what I’ve heard.

No male person will understand what you are going through. Men who try to explain the intricacies of weight-loss to you, including a paragraph on what works for them, should be incarcerated until you reach your goal weight. You do not need that kind of crap right now.

And finally. The number of pounds you need to lose in order to receive an appraising look and a “Hey, cutie!” from a fast-moving, 20-year old snowboarder wearing pants with flames on them is equal to however many I was down on Sunday. Seriously, if you are out there, kid, I would like to thank you for keeping me going on my quest. I am way too old for you, and taken, but damn I needed that!

Back to the weight-loss blogs, and more on this subject when I’m back into those jeans.


carla said...

I really enjoyed this post as it made me laugh, empathize and LAUGH.

(Im too tired to come up with a better word...though I know as a writer I should. chortle? gfaww (which I cant spell)? giggle?)

thanks for that---


Sarah said...

“Uh, lady? I’m pretty sure that overdosing on carrots is not the reason any of us are here”

When I took a 'trial run' of the WW website there were ridiculous posts like this in the forum. You might want to avoid those forums.

Bex said...

Ah, yes...Weight Watchers. I've done it all, Atkins, WW, SoBe, Grapefruit...you name it, I've tried it. The funny thing is most of them work IF you follow the plan. This is where I always seem to screw it up. I spend every minute of every day looking for ways to "work" the system. Flex points is dangerous for me for that very reason.

Right now I'm trying the "Hey, Patty McFatty...How About Eating Less and Exercising More Diet". I'll let you know how it's working out for me. Good luck!

Gussie said...

I have to say I agree with you completely Cara, weightloss should be a personal thing and I don't like the fake compliments either. Even when my bf knows I have been working my ass off to get in shape and says I look amazing, I know he means it but at the same time I look at the scale and see that I am only down 0.2 pounds, I don't really want to hear it at that point, not until something huge happens.
I also tend to be one of those people with no metabolism so I have to diet all the time (yes all the time) and exercise like crazy just to stay at my current weight, losing isn't going to happen unless I wake up tomorrow and become a marathon runner in the olympics. It's the most frustrating thing in the world. I feel for you, trust me I do!

Crabby McSlacker said...

"Since it is not actually possible to just drive around and drop off your unwanted pounds where you got them..."

I sure hope the scientists are working on this. I envision two sets of drive-thru windows on opposite sides of the restaurants...

Great post, and the WW stuff cracked me up. I've never been a good "group" person myself, and much prefer the "accounting" method where I can earn and spend without anyone else moralizing or applauding me for my choices.

(And thanks for the mention!)

Maggie said...

I know exactly what you're talking about! It seems like I always go up a pound on the weeks where I've been "good." And I hate it when I get over-complimented on weight loss--it puts a weird pressure on me even though it's supposed to be encouraging. (I'm only trying to get back to the weight I was before my husband and I moved in together--I've got 5 or 7 pounds to go but it's taking forever!)

Brandi said...

Okay, I almost pissed myself when I read the carrots bit. This is raw material. I too am not good at discussing tough stuff, accepting sagg, flabby body, but can blog away about it!

Cara said...

Thanks, Carla!

Sarah, you are so right...I figured out really quickly that the online forums are not for me. I'd much rather vent with all of you guys who are way funnier :)

Bex- You are so right. I am an intellectual; I should be able to see the relationship between eating less and working out and having a hot bod. But alas, I just can't make myself actually do it without a little help. For the millionth time I will ask, Why is is so freaking hard?!?!?!?

Gussie- I totally feel the same way. Where did my metabolism go? Somewhere around age 27 is just plain disappeared. I honestly used to eat like a huge pig and was stick skinny. I am paying for that in a major way now! I feel guilty about almost everything I shove in my mouth bc I know it is going to stick.

Crabby- That is the perfect visual. We must sanction this. We need these places in the world. I would pay, I swear I would! Your blog always helps, though :)

Maggie- Why is that? Yesterday morning, I was seriously like HOW CAN THIS BE??!?!?! It is just so wrong. By the way, I ordered my fabulous Maggie Mug....it is on its way from Cafe Press as I write this :)

Brandi- Isn't that so funny how we can share with a bunch of virtual friends, but we are so adverse to a room full of real people? Times have sure changed :)

--cara said...

from one cara to another, amen sister!

i too do the WW thing, but i go to the mind-numbing meetings every sat am. i go because it's the only way i can lose. i have to put myself through the torture to keep myself on track.

my leader is a male.

need i say more!!!???

seriously, keep up the great work and i mean that, that's no WW talking. it's so hard. i just started my own blog along the same lines as yours.

i just want to lose weight so i can feel good again.

Merry said...

Not that I want to leave you feeling conceited, but my impersonal judgment is that this was a terrific kick-ass post.
You make me feel much better about not being able to whole-heartedly joining the WW program. I think it's terrific that WW helps people (and I'm sure it helps many people) but it leaves me feeling like an atheist in church (not a feeling that a Good Catholic Girl regularly experiences).

MizFit said...

(so agree with merry)
I DETEST the line (uh, when people say in not in yer post :)) about gaining a pound being a normal part o'the loss.


thanks for swinging by.

stop back in a feel free to b*tch the Mizfit's way....we all love a good lamenting session.



katieo said...

Ack! How did I miss this? I'm usually stalking your blog...

Ok, I'll be back to comment later, this is hilarious. The kids need lunch though, and (unfortunately) they can't feed themselves yet. be right back...

Maggie said...

I just saw that you ordered it! You are so fabulous!!!

katieo said...

Ok this was just awesome. I found myself wanting to highlight sentences over and over again to preceed a LOL! when I left a comment, but there were so many, i didn't think you'd need me to REpost the post.

1)I LOVE your witty comments on my blog (no pressure or anything...) And whenever I talk to Aaron about one of your comments, I usually start with, "You know. Cara. The really really funny smart one who found us through women's health..." then we both proceed to laugh at your wittiness.

2)That SUCKS the scale went up. Last week I was on my period which is why (I'm HOPING) the scale showed a THREE pound gain. lovely. Anyway, I'm back down this week and am laughing at how worked up I got about it last week. And yet somehow it happens every month.

3)How do you pronounce your name?

ThickChick said...

Haha, Cara, you and I DEFINITELY had similar experiences at WW meetings. Plus I got tired of all of the same old lessons: dip your fork in the salad dressing, etc.

Except I would get way to emotional about it and sometimes I'd cry privately after weigh-ins. Totally, inexplicably, lame. And then I'd go emotionally eat with a large pizza, sack of cashews, and pint of Hagen Daaz to soothe the ego.

Thanks for the shout outs, by the way! Glad to hear I inspire you - I don't always feel so, uh, positive about this stuff, but I think I write that way as part of a ploy to convince myself to remain upbeat about all of it.

Awesome post, hope you touch on this touch-y, private, subject more often!!

Maggie said...

"By the way, I ordered my fabulous Maggie Mug....it is on its way from Cafe Press as I write this :)"

And in return, you get a Tri for the Cure donation! We are such do-gooders. :)

Cara said...

Cara- I completely understand how the meetings are important to some people, and I've had friends who have found really fun meeting groups. I just tend not to be as social as they are, so it's a little harder for me. We are going to DO THIS!! Two Caras can accomplish anything :)

Merry- wow! Thank you :) I think you hit the nail on the head. I tried to describe the feeling as being th same as I used to feel in math class. Like "I know I SHOULD be here, but I really don't belong" But, you're totally right, it is more like church. :)

Thanks again, Mizfit!

Oh, KatieO- how funny is it that we all talk about each other as if we are old friends. I swaer it feels that way. and although I can almost guarantee he won;t ever comment, Mike read all of your blogs, sometimes even beating me to them and then spoiling it! We totally refer to all of you by name. Mike was being a little grumpy about something the other day, and I was like "hey, Cranky Fitness, chill out" We both cracked up and it is a new part of our vernacular.

You, know, I was PMSing at weigh-in, too, so I guess I shouldn't worry so much, although I still feel like I dieted and exercised enough during the week to even overcome that :)

My name rhymes with Sarah, or Tara from Gone with the Wind. So many people say Car (like an automobile) -uh.

ThickChick- You TOTALLY inspire me. I always relate to your reactions about the same issues, including being driven to tears and emotional eating by WW people. What IS that? :) Either way, your sneaky ploy is working!

Yay Maggie! Thanks so much! We are major do-gooders aren't we? I haven't started harassing my friends or donations yet, so you are my first official donator!! I am going to send you your pink Komen ring!

Cara said...

Just as an update...I am leaving this afternoon for my Annual Girls' Ski Trip. 11 girls in a mountain cabin full of beer and pizza and peanut m&ms. (I can almost guarantee a couple of hilarious stories from this, so get ready) I get back Monday. The plan is to ski as hard as I can every single day so that I can make up for the crap I will inevitably eat. I am really, really hoping that works for next Tuesday's weigh-in. I would be so ticked to go up twice. Have a great weekend, everyone!! I will catch up on your blogs on Monday!

Mamacita Chilena said...

you are sooooooo tall, and I am so jealous!!!!!!!!

Lucas said...

Cara - Cheese and rice! We could be twins! I'm five foot 10 but my biggest size was an 18, not a 16. Clearly you have more restraint than I do. I'm now a 14 leaning towards a 12. I wore the weight pretty well too but still, dragging around 40 extra pounds is something you feel all day every day and it doesn't feel good. I did WW for a while but couldn't STAND people sitting around talking about food all the time. Drove me nuts having to sit there and debate which tortillas were lowest in carbs and highest in protein. SHOOT ME!!! I switched to LA Weight Loss where there are no meetings. I actually learned so much about nutrition and how much food my body needed verses how much food my fat ass wanted! I totally appreciate your situation because I've been there. (a couple of times actually)

Thanks for all the funny stories. I love stopping by and finding something new to read from you. Totally makes my day!

Love you.
Love your blog.
Love your whole operation there.

That girl from Shallotte said...

Mr. Sweetypants called me at work after his first physical since beginning triathlon training just to let me know the nurse who weighed him asked how he'd lost 20 pounds in three months. Grrr. Made me so mad I still write run-on sentences thinking about it.

Okay, my favorite blogger girl, I have three points.

1. Never go to WW meetings or AA meetings (disclaimer: I realize both have saved lives) because it's no fun sitting around with a bunch of strangers talking about how much you miss food/alcohol.

2. Read "Good in Bed" by Jennifer Weiner.

3. Get with me about double-teaming some boob surgery. I'm 5'6 and my 36 Ds make me look like an old lady. I'd be more than happy to donate some to you.

I just heart you to pieces!

Kira said...

I'm sorry, I know this is off-topic (great post, btw), but where do you find clothes?
Ok, that came across wrong. Let me try again. I am...LOOK, i'm VERY TALL, for 5'2" (almost). But my niece is 6' tall, and I take her shopping for clothes. Now, I know where the shorty-mc'shortish jeans are...where are the jeans for your people? I and a georgeously leggy 15 year old would be eternally grateful. (I ask, because I live in the Denver metro area too. OK, YES, AURORA. SHUT IT.)
And thank you.
kira110 at juno dot com

Lucas said...

I realize you were asking Cara but if I might ring in? You have to go online! Both Gap and Old Navy have amost ALL their jeans and many of their pants available in Tall sizes but they don't carry them in the store. I go in, try on pants and find the ones that fit my waist,hips, etc then go home and order them online in Tall sizes. Also, go to The Buckle. Their jeans are more expensive but they come in super long sizes. So long that I had to have some hemmed which has NEVER happened to me before. Also, they have styles a 15 year old will actually like. Best of luck.

BTW, It's not easy being tall at 15 but at as you get older, it rocks! I'm 5'10 and I wear high heels! Encourage your neice to stand up tall if she's a sloucher. Someday she'll love her height and slouching is a really hard habit to break.

Cara said...

Mamacita- Don't be too jealous. I love it, but as you see below, shopping can be a bit difficult at times.

Luca- Crazy! I DO love being tall, and one of the reasons is just what you said. I can carry a lot of weight well. I can honestly say, no one would ever look at me and say that I'm really fat, even at over 200 pounds. And it is so true about those WW meetings, as long as you don't eat thirty of them, the kind of tortilla just doesn't matter that much :) I love your blog, too!!

Leigh Ann- See, your husband is one of the enemy also :) Mike just thinks about dropping a few pounds and it happens. Like overnight.

1. I totally agree

2. Already have, twice, and it is one of my favorites.

3. We have to figure this out. It just makes sense.

Kira- I agree with Lucas' next comment. I buy all my jeans from Gap online, and I get the "extra long" because I am all legs with a 36 inch inseam. In Denver, I also shop at Tall Girl in the Denver Pavillions off of 16th street mall (a level below the theater and next door to the upper entrance of Barnes and Noble) Their clothes are great, but a little pricey. They also have a juniors line, and they have stuff that other places don;t really think of like coats, workout pants, pajamas, and pantyhose. I buy all of my suits for work there.

I also agree to remind your niece to be proud of being tall. I wasted so much of my adolescence worried about it, but now I wouldn;t trade it for anything.

That girl from Shallotte said...


My sister has been 5'11 since she was in the sixth grade. She was totally embarrassed about being taller than all the boys and even the teacher and developed really poor posture trying to make herself smaller.

She did a little stint as a runway model in high school and learned to hold her head high (pun intended).

She doesn't wear heels, but I love to get her to try them on when we're shopping. She thinks she looks like a drag queen, but I always tell her she should wear them in real life and intimidate the hell out of men.

Work the height, lucky girls!

Maggie said...

Cara--this post or Sweet November would be good guest posts on Cranky Fitness. Are you planning to submit something?