One year ago

One year ago today, I resolved to lose weight & achieve a healthy BMI. Those of you who have been following this for a while know that I hit my goal — and early, no less! Going from 201 pounds in April of last year to 157 at the end of December, and 146 today. The mid-140s seems to be about right, so I’m in long-term maintenance.

I was inspired to get serious by a personally significant anniversary: Dad died in February 1983, 25 years ago. Almost everyone in my family is incredibly long-lived. Going back to my grandparents’ generation, I can think of 6 blood relatives who died before age 60:

  • Dad, heart attack, 45.
  • His half-brother, who fell off of a roof and/or was electrocuted, in 30s?
  • His mom’s younger sister, who died of measles? smallpox? as a child
  • Mom’s older brother, of SIDS. (so he died before she was even born)
  • Her mom’s younger sister, of extremely high blood pressure, I’m guessing sometime in her 50s
  • Her mom’s youngest brother, causes unknown, date unknown. (Well before I was born. He was apparently always in questionable health; his mom died giving birth to him.)

And even looking at really old records, there’s a shocking number of people living into their 70s & 80s. So I figured that — since I survived childhood, and I don’t have whatever oddball condition Great-Aunt Edith had — that what I have to worry about is heart attacks & accidents.

Now that my weight is under control, all I need to worry about is accidents. (Which is more worrisome than you might think. I’ve had a lot of minor accidents that theoretically could’ve been a lot worse.)

I feel fantastic, too. In April, I biked to work at least once or twice a week all month long: logged a total of 201.5 miles. Plus I went on my longest ride EVER: 21.6 miles, which was lovely and gorgeous and I probably could’ve kept going, but I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d make it all the way back home!

I’ve been doing yoga, and my balance is getting substantially better. (That should help with the accidents issue!) I’ve run more than a block to catch a bus without feeling like my lungs and/or legs were going to explode. I’ve spent all day in the garden, working my ass off, and while I suffered for it later, at the time it was great.

Then there’s the vanity. 😉 The largest clothes I owned (part of the great wardrobe that I bought when I started this job) were size 18/20. Now I’m wearing somewhere around a 10. (Women’s clothing sizes. Grrrr.) Which has cost money — thank goodness for Value Village — but been fun at the same time. I’ve also gotten a somewhat absurd amount of positive attention, some of which I’ve already written about here; mostly random people at work going: “hey, you lost weight! you look fantastic!”

The latest bit was going to Procession of the Species with my college roommate Myke, and him saying that I looked about like I did then. (It’s funny. When I was in my teens, everyone thought I looked about 5 years older than I was. Now, apparently, I look younger than I am.)

Finally, this has been a tremendous boost to my sense of my ability to accomplish things. I’ve had plenty of disappointments, unfinished projects, successes that felt more like luck than work. This — I did this. I set out to lose this weight, essentially on my own, and I made it happen. It goes with the bike riding, in a way, as something I didn’t think that I could do, and in doing, discovered a new strength in myself.

sunday scribblings: photograph

parting is such sweet sorrow, originally uploaded by glsims99.

Yes, I realize that was the topic for last Sunday, and it’s already almost Sunday again. This isn’t really going to be anything literary, either. But I’ve been mulling the topic, and thought I’d post this photo of Glenda’s from SXSW. AFAIK, it’s the only photo of me from SXSW. (weird.)

Of course, on the one hand, I hate this picture. I look shiny and startled.

But…it’s the first picture I’ve seen of myself since starting my weight loss “project” where I look at it and think, “hm, skinny.” Not just, “oh, thank goodness not fat.”

When I went to visit Kat to see Cabaret weekend before last, she said, among other things, “girl, you look like in college!” which seemed totally wrong to me. After all, I do not weigh 120 pounds, which I did thru most of college.

But then I look at this and think, well, maybe.


It’s been a while since I’ve written anything more than that silly questionnaire of last week…. So here’s the brain-dump of what I’ve been up to.

I started bike commuting again on Feb. 19: 3 days that week, 3 days the next week, and then today. With the weather looking as it is, I’ll probably ride again tomorrow too. It’s been lovely. A little chilly in the morning, but warm enough that I’ve put my fleece vest at the back of my closet instead of wearing it under my jacket. And the “all trail” option is frickin’ amazing. The new trail is creamy-smooth pavement, and the whole ride is beautiful, calming. In the afternoon, there’s lots of people out — walking, mostly — but even early in the morning there’s a few other walkers and some other bike commuters, too.

I bought a new bike weekend before last; something a little more “performance oriented.” A Kona Smoke 29-er, which is taking some getting used to after 3 years on the very quirky Townie, but I’m definitely more nimble on it. And no, the Townie isn’t going away; C & I are going to work on overhauling, upgrading, etc. so it can be the around-the-town cruiser it ought to be, instead of my main mode of transportation. (From April 2007 until March 2008 I put over 1000 miles on it.)

I’ve been maintaining my weight for about 2 months now since hitting my goal; I’ve actually lost another 5 pounds or so since then. It’s a little bumpier up & down than before, but all within a good zone. I’m trying to add more fruits & veggies to my diet, too!

I started a yoga class, which is more strenuous than I’m used to, but in a good way. Yesterday I went sore from overdoing gardening on Sunday, and came out with both my hand/wrist and my legs in much happier shape.

Sunday I rode my bike downtown & back in the morning, then spent the whole afternoon gardening. (In a tank top! Yay for southern exposure!) I got some serious work done, even if I paid for it later.

The neighborhood association board re-elected me as president last week, which is a bit of a mixed blessing. 🙂 I like doing it, but I always feel like I’m running behind on something or another. The general meeting two weeks ago was HAWESOME, tho. We did C’s open mic suggestion again, and this time lots of people came up and said their piece (peace?), got some conversations started, etc. Plus we got 3 new board members.

This year, as a whole, we’re going to try to get some forward movement on a Madison Scenic Park community garden, work on improvements at Lions Park (oh hell, I need to make a phone call!), and start a basketball tournament. Plus probably some other stuff. (I so very want to redesign the website.)

Thursday I leave for SXSWi, alas w/out C, who I was hoping to bring this year. Maybe another time. I’m excited anyway. I’ll be renting a bike again! This time I’m going for work, so I’m going to sessions that (hopefully) have some practical applications for my job. Or at least that’s the theory. There will be liveblogging in any case.

Speaking of work, yes, I am still enjoying my job, although the last couple of weeks have been entirely crazy. Now I’m trying to get everything cleaned up to be gone for a week…and I wouldn’t be surprised if I caught a cold when I got back, either; I’ve been dodging that bullet too long this winter. I might write up one of my recent projects, as I learned some new things setting up a Drupal site. I’m discovering that I like Drupal…even if I curse its name periodically.

I have not been writing. ::sigh:: But I did have a weird revelation about an old project, something I want to follow up on eventually. House projects have been start & stop, although with more start than usual. The weather has been uncannily pleasant. I may manage to get in a veggie garden this year.

And that’s pretty much that. What’s up with you?


On April 11, 2007, I first started weighing myself, thinking vaguely about losing weight.

On May 21, I decided on a goal, including a specific weight and a specific date: February 8, 2008.

On December 16, I hit my goal weight for the first time.

On December 29, my trend line (for those late to the party, I’ve been weighing every day and using to track a weighted moving average) hit my goal weight.

I lost 44 pounds, about 4 dress sizes, and went from an Obese BMI to a Healthy one. This is what I did with 2007, so it seems fitting that it should be probably the last post of the year.

It’s been probably one of the best things I’ve done for myself in the last…well, honestly, quite possibly in my entire life: up there with learning web design, finally learning how to drive, and getting help for my depression.

Which, interestingly enough, this year coincided with the beginning of my weight loss.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence, though. I needed to get back in therapy, to do some work on my own, and to get my medication sorted out to be able to do this.  And at the same time, doing this has fed positively into my mental health over and over again over the course of the year.

I know it’s vanity, but I love the exclamations that I’ve gotten from people as they notice. It’s good to have people notice.

My FIL cracked me up last week, when MIL broached the subject, very gently, as some people do. They asked how I’d done it, and I gave my short/stock answer: “Eating less food. Getting more exercise.” FIL faux-exclaimed: “Why, that’s un-American? Why can’t my daughter-in-law take a pill or something?!” It was sort of sweet.

The long version of the short answer is pretty much the same as it’s always been:

  1. I weigh myself every day. I plan on doing this for pretty much the rest of my life.
  2. I plan to eat 500 calories a day less than what I generally needed. In the first couple of months, I did a lot of calorie-counting, to be able to see and know what the right amount of calories look like.
  3. I do not forbid myself any particular foods, or even worry that much about changing the content of my diet, only adjusting to get the right amount of calories and to keep myself from getting too hungry at any point. (I tried a lot of different particular combinations and found things that worked for a little while at a time.)
  4. I’ve increased my physical activity. Until November or so, that meant bike commuting. I put almost 1000 miles on my bike computer from April thru December. The last couple of months, I’ve switched to more walking and using the elliptical trainer.

And that’s pretty much it. I’ve been kinda hungry occasionally, but not that often. I did discover that it’s very hard for me to keep on track if I bake, so I’m keeping that to baking for other people.

I suppose that’s why the external validation helps — sometimes it just feels like not that big a deal, and it help to hear that, yeah, maybe it is.

Up next — maintenance. Working out what my new calorie level looks and feels like. Keeping on track through day-to-day stuff. Maybe dropping a little bit more, gradually, until I hit a good set point.

And OMG: buying new clothes! Right now, I have 3 work outfits. Seriously. I’ve gone through 2 complete wardrobes, pretty much. I think there’s a thrift store shopping spree in my near future, now that I’ve stabilized my clothing size.

Now maybe this can start being a little less of a weight-loss blog, and more something else. I dunno, maybe writing honestly about where things are with the house remodel? (ugh) But that’s for another day.  Today, I celebrate!


Just got back from the Neighborhood Assoc. meeting, my first general meeting as president. I think it was okay. It’s hard to tell from my end. A couple of presentations, some standing around after chatting. Other people were snacking; I got a sliver of maple nut muffin right at the end. I wish WB had made something that didn’t have coconut, as I love her cookies.

I’m still feeling a little revved up from all the social interaction. Being “on” — which is not bad, but takes a lot of my energy.  Strangers tire me out.  (Mmmm, sounds like a preschooler.)

My weight has hit a plateau.  A week and a half now at the same weight, which is a little disappointing, except that when I calculated BMI, I’m exactly at the top end of normal.  Which means that technically I’ve hit my goal.  Yay me. 😛 I’m still planning on losing 7 more, but I guess right here is pretty good, down 37 pounds from where I was in April.

C reminds me that I have stuff that will go bad if I don’t put it in the fridge (veggies & dip, plus cheese), and it’s about my bedtime.  So, good night.


I want to write, but I have no idea what I want to say. (This happens to me rather more often than I’d like.) So, random bits of life, then.

We spent a shocking amount of today & last night playing with Legos. There’s something about it that is very relaxing and reassuring for both of us. Both of us spent many hours as children building castles, towns, and strange imaginary objects from Legos. It engages the creativity — inventiveness, searching for the right piece, imagining — and the hands at the same time, with the familiar feeling of the hard-edged blocks in my fingers.

This is the fall, then, edging gently towards winter. Lots of rain this last week. I haven’t been cycling, maybe twice this month. I have, however, been working out, mostly on the elliptical trainer in the exercise room at work. In the mornings, I can get my exercise while watching The Colbert Report, which is a nice incentive.

You know how some people have a high tolerance for drugs, alcohol, etc…it takes a lot for them to get the buzz? I find I’m that way with exercise. The mood-stabilizing effect that I need really only comes if I get at least an hour a day of whatever: walking, cycling, elliptical, anything aerobic. Now I know, at least. It’s good motivation to get up a little earlier in the morning, to take a break in the afternoon.

I’m still losing weight, about 34 pounds so far. Today I bought new jeans for the first time in several years, and in a size…I don’t know when I was a 14 last. They look good, too, or at least I think so, and C loves how they look.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a sea change in how I visualize myself. It reminds me of sometime, I think it was last year, when in my head I just jumped one day from feeling mid-20s to feeling past 30. It was a good feeling. I felt settled in myself, comfortable in my own head somehow. I don’t know, I’m not explaining it very well. But all this time as people at work have gradually noticed my weight loss, I’ve felt different, mostly moving more easily, none of my clothes fitting right, but in my head I haven’t been any different. Now it’s changed, like a light switch.

I still have 10 more to go, and it’s coming on winter, which can be hard. (Harder to get exercise, more occasions for gluttony, and so dark.) But I’m still optimistic, most of the time.

Huh. Me optimistic. That’s nice. I like that. 🙂 This whole process, even though I’ve been totally obsessive about it, has been great for my mental health. This is something I did for myself, by myself. (C. has been supportive, of course, but the day-to-day choices are all me.) It gives me reassurance that I can change, and so often my depressions have come from a place of feeling entirely trapped in a particular frame of mind or situation or experience. The whole “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” thing.

I should probably go to bed.

Later this week we’re going on a short trip south, not all the way to LA, but to visit a friend who’s staying in the Gold Rush country, and some friends of hers and C’s who are having a party. It should be fun. I haven’t been in that area since I was 12 years old. So there may be a few days of quiet. Not that I post super-often here, but still.

compare and contrast

  1. Television: The West Wing is a Democrat/liberal TV fantasy of government. 24 is a Republican/conservative TV fantasy of government. I love 24 (action adventure soap opera!), though I find it incredibly absurd, but we just started watching The West Wing (90210 crossed with an afterschool special and McNeil/Lehrer!), and I’m eating it up.
  2. Weight loss books: The Skinny is the femme version of The Hacker’s Diet. I like The Skinny’s emphasis on enjoying the food you eat, since that’s part of what’s been working for me, but I prefer the math-heavy aspects of The Hacker’s Diet. I suppose that makes me a femme nerd. I’ll take that.

since April

I have lost 20 pounds (as of yesterday!) and I have lost approximately 1 clothing size. There is, in my head, a long rant about women’s clothing sizes, but for now I’ll leave it at this: in April, I fit into large 16s, most 18s and small 20s. Now, I fit large 14s, most 16s, and small 18s…in pants/skirts. Tops are about one size smaller. On Saturday I took 3 pairs of pants and shorts to Value Village, including the pants I wore to my job interview and my very favorite capris, because they were just way too big. I picked up 2 pairs of pants, a skirt, 2 dresses, and a pair of capris. ($42! I love thrift stores. I will not buy new clothes until at least mid-winter, maybe not until next spring.)

If I keep the rate of the last month, I’ll be at my personal target in mid-November. (Remember that I was aiming for early February 2008.) Even at the slower overall rate, I’m looking at getting there by New Year’s. Of course, I’m not really counting on keeping up this rate into the winter, but it’s nice to know that I’ve got a good cushion. So to speak.

As it is, I now weigh what it says on my driver’s license, and IIRC, this is less than I’ve weighed at any time since we moved to Olympia.

I have ridden 600 miles (as of this morning), mostly in my 11 mile daily round-trip commute. My average speed has gone up slightly: when I started riding, before I got the cyclometer, it took about the same time to bike as to bus. Now, it takes me about 15-20 minutes less to bike. (I just did that math, BTW, and it came as a shock to me, too.)

I could conceivably hit 1000 miles by the end of October, just commuting…which is about when I imagine I’ll stop biking to work on a regular basis. I have rain gear, but there isn’t much I can do about getting rain on my glasses, other than getting contacts, and I’m too squeamish to get contacts.

Numbers aside, I feel better physically and psychologically than I have in years. I feel at ease in my body. (Don’t ask about the house, though.) I feel like I can take on the dark of winter this year and come out the other side still strong.

I’m writing, too. I had a burst of inspiration for a longer-form poem yesterday for the first time in a while; one of those moments where the words started sliding together in my head and then I had to go find a piece of paper and a pen NOW. Most afternoons I take a break to go off somewhere (starbucks, park, etc) and freewrite, which has been gelling into a fictionalized reworking of one of my favorite family stories.

If we can just make some real progress on the house, then I’ll really be at the best I’ve been. Ever. Seriously.

Or maybe that’s just the post-ride endorphin buzz talking. 🙂

summer updates

Last Wednesday, which may well have been the hottest day of the summer, I rode my bike to work, but got a lift home from a co-worker. I gave blood for the first time since I was 17 (a funny story that I may have already told here) and it left me more woozy than I was expecting.

Later, I was recovered enough to (slowly!) bike down to the Deschutes River with C. We spent that evening in and next to the river. Something about standing thigh-deep in cold river water when it’s 100 degrees outside…. The place was packed, but that was only to be expected.

We did meet a couple of guys towards the end of the evening who’d been picking up trash — bottles, cans, paper, cigarette butts. (The butts are maybe the most annoying trash, just everywhere you’d want to throw down a blanket!) One of them said he figured on making $30, IIRC, on the glass and aluminum, and was planning on coming back. We all griped about stupid people who won’t clean up after themselves.

After that day, it cooled down gradually, until the last couple of days were mid-70s and raining. It felt fantastic. It’s not raining right now, but it’s supposed to be off and on through Monday. (Which means rain for Lakefair, a fact that makes me inappropriately gleeful. Lakefair annoys me.)

Except for the last two days, I’ve been biking like crazy. Over the weekend the odometer on the cyclocomputer I got in April rolled over past 400 miles, which is all the way to Portland and back, with an extra trip up to Seattle…and back. Whew.

I’m still counting calories, too. C keeps telling me I should be counting carbs, but that’s too complicated for me, honestly. I know I should eat things with a lower glycemic index, and with less fat, but the thing that I can do without massively crazy math and/or research is count calories. And I’ve (mostly) been staying under my target.

As of this morning, I’ve lost about 15 pounds. I say “about” because going strictly by today’s scale, it’s 16.5, but using the moving average of, it’s 14.9. I’m tending to use the average. I’m right on my target, too: 1.1 pounds a week. (In a somewhat scary moment of transparency, here’s my public profile.)

Speaking of web tools, has been fantastic because it’s so freaking simple. I tried traineo, which a commenter recommended a while ago, but it didn’t work for me. Their interface is too cramped: too much of the screen is taken up by site navigation outside of the application and by prompts to use other parts of the site. I felt smooshed when I was using it, and it didn’t give me enough more than physicsdiet plus the spreadsheets on my MDA to be worth keeping up on.

I’ve had some low moments, but mostly I’ve been feeling really positive. Psychologically, I’m relying on three things:

  • small steady improvement (the daily weighing/moving average thing helps here)
  • no restrictions on what kind of food I can eat, as long as I stay w/in my calorie limits (I had cake twice at various work celebrations and still came in under the line. I don’t do that very often, but at least I’m not beating myself up about it)
  • the ultimate goal (on this one, I’m thinking of my dad, a lot, and also with more vanity, next year’s SXSW)

And the in-between bits are going really well. I think I’m going to need to toss one and maybe two pairs of work pants, plus quite possibly all of my shorts…except for the ones I almost gave away a couple of months ago because they were too tight. The sad part is that I may need to get rid of my two favorite skirts, too.

Plus I just feel better. I’m moving more easily. I’m proud of myself. Five years ago, I did the hacker’s diet and lost a little less than 10 pounds, but other than that, I’ve never lost weight. I was a very thin child and adolescent, which is why I only gave blood the once; accepting, then conquering, all the weight I’ve gained since college has been a huge psychological challenge.

Recently I was talking to Mom (who is going back to work next week!) and I told her how proud I was of her for losing all the weight that she did when I was in junior high. She had gained a lot of weight after some cortisone-related medical thing in her 20s, tried to lose weight just before she was pregnant with me (apparently back in the day Weight Watcher was a PITA for pregnant women), and then finally dropped around 50 pounds about the same time she went back to school. (In <dr-evil-voice>lasers</dr-evil-voice>!) Yes, Mom went to community college, lost 50 pounds, and raised 3 rather troubled girls all at the same time. She may have her flaws (!), but what she was able to do is quite impressive.

She harrumphed about not being able to do Weight Watchers now, time and effort, blah blah blah, which is pretty typical for her. I just hope she was able to hear the compliment and know that her experience is helping me now.

For those who may be wondering, work is still good. I’ve been here 7 months and I still really like it. I’m getting to work on the kinds of things I never had time for at my old job; my coworkers are very cool, and I’m really close to home. Oh, if you are or know a graphic designer, there’s going to be an opening in my department soon. Somebody got promoted and so now we need to fill his old job. Email me for details.

That was a much longer update than I was planning on writing! I’m discovering as well that regular writing is also damn critical to my mental health, same as exercise, medication, or therapy. So I’m trying to get into a better habit of it. Maybe that will mean more blogging….


Matt Dean over at Open Source CU asks:

How have you used technology recently to get recommendations or advice from your friends and peers?

The flippant answer is: when have I not used technology? Three recent-ish examples:

  1. Via Twitter, several months ago, I’ve been observing a friend & colleague go through some trauma related to getting video onto a website. Plus we commiserated by email. So a couple of weeks ago, when someone asked me about something similar here, I knew immediately that I could IM my friend and ask him to refresh my memory about what finally worked for him. So I have a link or two stored up in for when that project comes back.
  2. I’ve committed myself to getting to a healthy BMI by February 2008. I posted about it here and here, and one of my blog-friends recommended a weight-tracking site. I’ve been using it, and it’s helping me to keep on track. (I’ve lost 10 pounds!)
  3. This goes back a few months, but it’s my canonical example of getting advice via the InterTubes. When I was interviewing for this job, I was really confused about whether to wear makeup. So I posted anonymously to Ask MetaFilter. I wouldn’t say that I took anybody’s advice in particular, but the overall themes and suggestions helped me decide what to do. And here I am. 🙂