Anne in Feathers and Beads

I came back from New Orleans with pretty silver earrings from the French Quarter, a crystal jar and a plaque for completing service on the board, two pounds of Mardi Gras beads, swollen feet – and an additional five pounds. I knew it even before I got on the scale this morning at Weight Watchers. At least it’s marginally better to know there’s a gain without having that come as a shock actually on the scale.

And really, what did I expect? I ate dessert more often than I’d planned, and bread and cookies because they were easy and transportable. I had a few glasses of wine and one cocktail (some amazing Brazilian margarita thing that I can’t spell or pronounce) but that was really not much for being at a conference near Bourbon Street. There wasn’t a lot of fruit around and I found myself craving vegetables and salad, which is unusual for me who usually complains of eating salad until I turn green. I did eat lots of blackened fish and chicken and the flavors and tastes were wonderful.

Making the food choices was really hard. I was consciously aware in some cases that I was eating things that I was going to regret. Sometimes I ate only one instead of a handful or was able to push away the plate after being satisfied. My system isn’t used to a steady stream of this much sugar. At a conference we essentially work from 7am-bedtime with programs, meetings, and always networking. There’s pressure and tension that comes with that, as well as the fun, and it was so easy to reach for the handy carbs rather than seek out something better. Especially with feet so swollen that walking became a problem.

I have to not beat myself up for it. But I gained 4 lbs even before I went away and am discouraged to realize how damn fast I can gain what takes forever to lose. I need to make an appointment with my newly assigned primary care doctor here in my new health plan and am already bracing myself for hearing the “you need to lose weight” lecture (nothing like thinking positive, huh?).

In the last two years, I’ve been playing around in the same ten pound range. That’s actually pretty good for someone who has been morbidly obese her whole life. I know I have a lot more to lose to feel better; I want so badly to be under 200 lbs. But it’s no small potatoes that I’ve been able to keep from regaining everything, which is my usual pattern. I’ve done that over and over and over and I’ve been terrified that it would happen yet again.

I’ve restarted over and over again but it’s been difficult these last two years to get enough of a grip to refocus and really make progress. Maybe I’m just afraid of it. I’ve thought about not going to WW since mostly I seem to be maintaining but know that, for me, the consistency of having someone else weigh me is crucial. If I stopped going, more than just my feet would be ballooning.

I can’t promise forever. But here’s the plan for this week: Journaling. Planning meals out the day before so I know what to prepare and eat. Bringing lunch at least three days instead of eating out. Drinking one more bottle of water. Walking the mile between the parking lot and office at least one way, at least three days. The fridge is stocked with fresh fruits, veggies, and protein, and my swollen feet are fitting into walking shoes. I got weighed today so it’s a clean slate.

Of Beignets and Bread Pudding

BeignetsI’m off to New Orleans this morning for a conference and will be there for a week (if you count the two travel days – and we all know how well I do on travel days). It will be great to see friends and catch up with folks I haven’t seen for a year, and to be back in New Orleans. I realized this morning that the first time I went it was for this conference the year that I moved to Boston. Now I’ve moved again and hey! we’re back in NOLA.

Wonderful city, very hot and humid temperatures, fabulous restaurants. It’s going to be hard, it always is for me at this thing. I’ve been reminding myself that I don’t have to eat bread pudding at every restaurant I visit just because I love it and it’s on the menu. I’m eating out every meal, though breakfasts should be easier to manage since I’m on the concierge floor (one of the perks of being on the board) and I know I can get fruit and yogurt there.

I decided that I can eat one full dessert at a dinner meal and that’s it; I can share with other people or simply not have it. Bread pudding, which seems to be a specialty down in NOLA, has 13 points for a 1 cup serving, which is ridiculous. But better to know that before I eat it every day and then feel bloated and stuff. Beignets, those wonderful French donuts famously eaten at Cafe du Monde with good strong coffee, are definitely on my must taste list, as are good pralines. Made with sugar, buttermilk and pecans, they are so easy to eat and then your teeth rot because of the excess sweetness.

I’ve been looking up points values and checking out restaurant menus to try and get a grip on myself before I leave. Main dinner entrees will be fish, probably blackened, or a combination of appetizers and/or salads. I know I’ll have desserts to at least taste but I don’t have to demolish everything on the table. As my friend T used to say, “the last bite tastes the same as the first”- it won’t get better just because I keep eating it. I’m also going to allow myself a few glasses of wine over the week but wine makes me retain water and I’d rather have bread anyway. Choices to make.

The point of this trip is to attend a conference, network and learn things, NOT to go and eat everything not nailed down. The food part is what is always hard, though, so thinking it through and looking up points and menus in advance helps me feel more in control – hey! I’m using the “mental rehearsing” WW tool for living. Yay me πŸ™‚

Time to get dressed and head for the airport. I’ll be back to check in when I can.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rollez!

Being squished into seats

I spent this week at my favorite conference with 1800 of my best friends. The sessions are stimulating and practical – and very crowded.

People with bodies my size have a hard time at meetings like these. All those chairs chained together make it difficult to have personal space – whenever a row is filled, people sit in every other chair so there’s room to spill over without risking having the rolls of fat hit anyone else. But then the session turns out to be popular and the chairs fill, and we sit squished on the row, everyone uncomfortable and awkward and vulnerable. Even the thinner people want space around them; for me, it’s a necessity.

I never felt judged for my size – and there were plenty of other people my size or larger who both attended and presented sessions. We know our stuff and are valued for who we are when we go to something like this, not our pounds or body shape.

But it mattered to me. I don’t expect to be skinny; my goal is to be healthy and thinner but not skinny – but I hated that I didn’t go to some sessions because the only seats were those little 1/2 seats left when people on either side had spilled over, just as I know I do. Standing up for an hour wasn’t really an option because my knee was hurting more and more as I walked myself silly.

Crowded planeBeing on the plane on the way home felt the same. We get herded like cattle through security, with instructions barked at us to take off shoes and coats, remove any liquids and put them in little plastic bags, take laptops out of our bags, put everything in the machine, stay in line and don’t change to confuse things, keep moving, have your boarding pass that you just showed to the person who let you into the line in the first place, having bags searched or items wanded to make sure we’re not bringing bombs in with our CPAP medical machines.

Obviously today was not a happy travel day. After a happy 45 minutes of security, we waited in herds before getting on planes where we were chided, er, reminded, that this plane was extremely full (has anyone been on a plane in the last year that WASN’T completely full?) and to keep moving, get our bags shoved in the overhead compartments ASAP, sit into the little squished seat, and try not to breathe for the next 4 hours. Assuming the plane is on time; if not, you have extra time on board while it circles. Getting out is like releasing that “snake in a can” that would explode when the can was finally opened.

As I was looking for a picture of a full plane, I ran into this page that just made me cry. The author is entitled to his opinion. I don’t have the energy to deal with it tonight.

I’ve been eating out for 10 days and wasn’t able to preplan much of anything. I overate points every time I opened my mouth and even though I did record them at the end of the day when I had time, I felt out of control and bloated from not enough water. The hotel water was terrible and bottled water in the quantity I drink got expensive plus I had to be sure not to go far from a rest room – hard to do at a meeting or on a plane.

Now I’m home with a chance to sleep until I wake up, and grocery shop for healthy food. It’s actually a relief to get back to the foods that make me feel good, to my WW meeting on Sunday, and the routine that helps me stay on track.

Rocky Mountain High

This was the view from my plane today as I flew from Denver to San Jose. I found myself looking up from my book and finally just resting my chin on my hand as I looked out in wonder at the beauty of these snow covered peaks. The lower foothills were deep blue-green from the sky, in folds the way beaten egg whites peak (the obligatory food reference).

I had a wonderful time in Colorado on an official work visit to a chapter – doing a presentation, attending a board meeting, and checking out libraries at several universities, firms, and a court. And I walked my feet off. Well, actually, it was the knee that was more bothered than the feet. Except I wore ill-fitting newer shoes that look great if I’m not walking all over in them. I’m back to the pink birks.

One thing I’d forgotten is how green Colorado is. Not just green space and leaves, but ecologically aware. Lots of the people I met regularly take public transportation that’s clean, frequent, and convenient. They recycle everything, use environmentally friendly products, and eat organically grown food. It was great to be part of it, and to spend three nights with new friends who live in a cohousing community, something that was new to me but interesting and comfortable. Read more about it πŸ™‚

Food-wise I didn’t make very wise choices much of the time, especially the travel days (today included). It’s a good thing my “travel somewhere every other week” period is almost over – these days with airport food calling me are almost impossible for me to fight because I don’t want to. I want the comfort food, even though that food just ends up making me sick when I eat too much of it.

Today I had a mid-afternoon lunch in a very cool place that looks like the kind of place where The Fonz and the Happy Days crew would hang out – lots of red vinyl seats, shiny chrome, white floors, and a 50’s menu. I had all sorts of diner things that I’d never eat in another place (the chocolate malt was divine but not worth 14 points; don’t ask me about the onion rings). I thought I’d be fine until I added up the total points and gulped to see that I ate more in that meal than I’m allowed in a whole day. Gulp.

Tomorrow is a play day and I’m spending it with a friend, another Internet pal I’ve known for over 5 years. We’ve never met and are looking forward to some fun. Work starts again on Monday with the next conference. It’s my favorite meeting of all I go to because it’s informal, enormously practical, with immediate application to my daily work. Plus all the cool kids go and get to learn and talk about the newest system applications. We like the toys πŸ™‚

On my walk today I picked up a box of Fiber One Peanut Butter bars (3 pts each) and one of the Hershey’s Sweet & Salty bars (3 pts each) to have for breakfast or snacks during the meeting that will at least add some protein and fiber and help me from making some of the stupid choices that are otherwise likely. Send me some good “think thin” energy!

Am I coming or going?

American Airlines Terminal, O’Hare AirportI’m not entirely sure where I am today, what with all the coming and going I’ve been doing. Last week at this time I flew down to Louisiana for a meeting, came home on Saturday, rested Sunday, and headed off again by car on Monday, this time to find an apartment.

I haven’t done an apartment hunt out of state in 17 years and it’s harder than I thought, the running around and looking at things that don’t begin to meet my needs even though they are lovely in some ways. Some of them, anyway. Thanks to the web I’ve been researching on Craigslist and through apartment-finder websites to get an idea of the area and what prices and areas look like.

In person they look a lot different.

I spent 2 1/2 days running from place to place and before I left, I did sign the papers for an apartment in a complex about 9 miles from work. It met every one of my “wish list criteria” and is modern, clean, and up to date – and even has a washer and dryer in my unit. Yayyyy! First time I’ve had that in 20 years. It’s also on the first floor which my poor knees will appreciate when I come home loaded down with groceries. I’m even getting a parking space in a carport so hopefully there will be less snow shoveling next year.

Ice Cream SundaeEating has been out of whack all week. When I travel, by plane or by car, I reach for food. I want salty more than sweet and I also want quantity. Liquids of any type were on hold a bit because I wasn’t sure when I’d find a restroom. Meals came at odd times – mid morning breakfast at McDonald’s and mid-afternoon lunch/dinner that included some kind of protein and then a small ice cream sundae. With real ice cream and hot fudge. I can’t do that anymore because both days I ended up with heartburn from the richness.

Theoretically I know how to stop it, and we even talked about snacking at WW this week so I should be prepared. But put me in an airport, tired from waking up at 3:30am and on edge with a work trip, and I go in search of carbs and salt. It makes me mad that I can’t bring yogurt and water through security, since they charge an arm and a leg for it once you get through the lines and the scanners.

Tomorrow morning I’m on the road again, or rather in the air, this time to Chicago. It’s another flight that requires waking up at the ridiculous time of 3:30am to get ready and off to the airport with plenty of time. I am not a morning person and I need enough time to wake up here before I head out or I leave things behind and make no sense. I come home on Monday, saving $700 off the cost of a Sunday return (airline pricing makes no sense).

I’m tired and really would rather just have a few days to do nothing – this IS vacation time, all of it, including working last weekend at one meeting and this weekend at another. I’m not very happy that I’m using vacation for work purposes but it is what it is, and I come back from Chicago and go right to work – completely unrested with a full week of questions and problems to resolve.

Two months from now I will be unpacking in my new place, another state away.