Zìjǐ Xiězuò (自己寫作) I Write for Myself: Never Alone

ORIGINAL CONTENT

I looked up from the toilet and see one bright blue dopey eye peeking through the crack of the bathroom door. A little sigh escaped past my lips and I reached up to close the door a bit more but not latch it. A bulbus nose nudges the door open enough so that I can see the one brown, one blue eye, harlequin Great Dane impatiently waiting for me to finish my business so that I can let him out to do his. Since I’ve had children and one dog after another, I can’t remember the last time I went to the bathroom without an audience. It is one of life’s little luxuries that a mother and dog owner freely surrenders.

The pandemic triggered safety protocols to work from home. And as the universe would have it, a once-in-a-life time offer to permanently work from home came about. Each morning my eyes open to a pair of yellow eyes of the Weimaraner, eerily staring at me to my left and a giant Great Dane anus connected to four outstretched legs to my right. I reluctantly leave the warmth of my covers and fresh cotton sheets to go downstairs surrounded by overexcited dogs eager to relieve themselves. Sometimes I have to rush out to the backyard before the morning light with my high power flashlight looking to bag up dog feces, hoping that I do not step in it first. I absent mindedly fill the dog bowls with food & water and the early morning stillness is abruptly interrupted with the sounds of savages scarfing down their breakfast as if they have been fasting for weeks followed by tongues lapping up water with equal velocity.

We all return to bed for a nap until it was time for me to log in for work. I sit in front of the dual monitors clicking away for 8 hours, periodically disrupted by a large bulbus head nudging my elbow for attention. The college sophomore frequently bounces downstairs with some revelation or complaint, often in the middle of a video conference call. I force myself to break for a 30-minute lunch and often make a cup of tea that sits neglected for hours because an unexpected urgent matter demands my immediate attention. At 5:30, I log off and four times a week I make my homage to Orange Theory Fitness, otherwise I do not leave the house and I am never alone.

At night when the Hubs is home, I attempt to steal a few minutes of solitary quietness and retreat to the bedroom. I sneak upstairs hoping to evade the Great Dane following me like a baby duck, softly closing the bedroom door behind me. On successful escapes, I giddily smooth the sheets on my bed before getting in and savor the few minutes of being alone, not needed by anyone, not having to fulfill a need. The temporary tranquility is often short lived as the college sophomore bursts in to share his frustrations of online courses or the sound of dogs stampeding up the stairs to retire for the evening … and my day restarts like Groundhog Day.

Healthy Byte: Maintenance 3rd Anniversary (Day 1318)

Today started out like any other Saturday; the house was quiet, still full of sleepy heads, and two hungry pups. I laid in bed for a brief moment before I propelled myself out of the comforts of the warm covers and into the chill of the air conditioned room.

I glanced briefly down at my Fitbit and it stated “0930, SA 13.” The pups wagged their tails excitedly waiting for their breakfast and as they chowed down I retrieved my standard weekend breakfast of protein bar and cup of hot tea. Something about the date drew me to tap on the Fitbit again and I read “0947, SA 13.” Then it suddenly dawned on me, Aug 13 is the day. The day that I reach my goal weight three years ago from years of being overweight.

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This is what unhealthy looks like

This was me in 2000. I was 30 years old, 163 lbs at 4’10”, had a BMI of 34.1 (obese), hated photographs of myself, hated shopping for clothes, was the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life, and had accepted that this is how a mother is suppose to look. It wasn’t until 12 years later at an annual physical when my blood work came back declaring that I was pre-diabetic that I finally was scared enough to actually skip all the quick fix diets or miracle diet supplements and just settle down to put in the work.

Weight loss compared to was a breeze. The first two years of maintenance blew by with very little hiccup largely due to my fear of falling prey to the statistics regaining. I remained hyper vigilant on nutrition and gymming regularly. The only time I skipped gym was for a child’s sporting event. My weight remained constant within +/- 1-2 lbs and life was good.

This third year however, has been a series of challenges and it was the first time my weight fluxed back over 100 lbs. I was horrified, frustrated, and was in borderline panic mode. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong or what has changed or why is that stupid fucking number on the scale going in the wrong direction?!

Of course I knew all the answers but just became quite comfortable with what I am calling the ‘maintenance blinders’ squarely over my eyes. And that is exactly why I religiously log everything and anything other than water pass my little devil lips into MyFitnessPal. It is an incredible source of data to find the self-sabotaging pattern of eating. I can summarize my top pitfalls which has made my 3rd year of maintenance a bit of a roller coaster.

  1. I looked at my daily caloric allotment and felt it was time to increase it from what has made me successful in the previous two years. Instead of 1230 I increased it to 1450 – regardless if I gymmed or not, often eating over it, and abandoned my TDEE #s.
  2. I increased my strength training and reduced my cardio drastically.
  3. Due to increased strength training I was more hungry so I ate more. I became a huge fan of Peanut Butter … on everything!
  4. I associated the consistent weight gain to gaining muscle and rationalized that my pants were getting tight around my waist due to muscle – yes I really did quite an excellent job convincing myself of this one.
  5. A few days before my cycle I have always been famished but since I was doing more ‘strength training’ to ‘build more muscle’ which naturally ‘burns more fat’ I quenched my insatiable appetite with everything and anything with little regard to the quality of what I was consuming. The power of self rationalization is incredibly powerful.

Thanks to my MFP pals and a mishap on the elliptical severely injuring my wrist, I refocused on getting back on track.  

  1. I have NO idea why I veered away from TDEE. I think subconsciously I reflected how easy the previous 2 years of maintaining was and just got a little cocky. I thought ‘hey maybe I can’t get fat again!’ I was sadly mistaken. LOL I dialed my daily baseline caloric allotment to a reasonable 1350, did not eat over it except for once a week on family pizza night, and I have strictly adhered to eating on plan during the workweek and loosening the reigns on the weekend (80/20 Rule).
  2. I did a bit of research and apparently there are studies which alludes that some people are physically built to respond better to cardio and some to strength training when it comes to weight loss. So I have tweaked my physical routine to strength training to be half of my cardio 5 days a week. While on the weekends I bump up the cardio and the strength training to a 60:40 ratio in favor of cardio.
  3. I have made peace with that peanut butter can be addictive for me, so I have tapper off on it and magically I no longer crave it on everything. lol
  4. I have also had to face the hard truth that if my weight is creeping up and my clothes are getting tight around the waist, it is NOT muscle weight but F-A-T. That was a very difficult truth to acknowledge because I no longer could use strength training/more muscle as an excuse to eat like a crazy person. Cuz let’s face it, eating like a crazy person with zero regard to outcome sometimes is just flat out enjoyable. But too much ‘enjoying’ resulted in a reality that I did not like. SO instead having ice cream 4 days a night I limit it to 1 on a non-pizza night. Instead of drowning my protein bar in PB I put it in the fridge so that it doesn’t need ‘something extra’ to make it more palatable.
  5. I still feed my insatiable appetite days before my cycle, but now I do so with the least amount of carbs & sugar with the most nutritional value. This little standard allowed me to make much better choices to satisfy without falling into the carbs & sugar addictive cycle.

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Purrty colors no?

Oddly enough the horrific wrist injury refocused me on nutrition because I knew my physical activities had to be highly curtail to accommodate my lack of mobility. I literally could not even walk on the treadmill because the vibration sent sharp shooting pain up my arm. Therefore without the reliance to ‘out-gym’ poor eating choices I was inadvertently forced back on track. As my wrist healed and I was able to slowly incorporate strength training again back into my cardio while being more proactive about my nutrition – not only did I not gain weight but lost. It was the first time this 3rd year of maintenance that I have regularly included strength training without gaining and I am elated.

I am back under 100 and 1.8 lbs from goal. I have been focusing on my shoulders and triceps and with the continued reduction in fat, I am finally seeing results.

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Happy 3rd Maintenance Anniversary to Me!

So thanks universe for my mishap on the elliptical to get back on track. hahaha

HB Sig