Ideal Protein Diet - Week Three - I'm Small Boned but Big Fatted
If my body was as small as my hand I'd be knee deep in chocolate cake right now
Coming to grips with morbid obesity
I wrote down a quote recently, “A man who is beside himself despises nothing more than becoming the man he was.” Now that I am able to observe my old patterns of behavior I know that person I was, is not who I wish to be. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching since I began this diet. Divorcing myself from food has given me a little distance like watching the life of someone else in slow motion clips. I thought back to when I came home from NYC in 1987 at 123 pounds. Before I left New York I went on a diet of my own design called the “Chopstick Diet.” It was a simple premise; by eating everything with chop sticks I slowed down my eating and therefore ate less. I had always eaten too fast. This is a problem because it takes your brain 15 minutes to register that there is something in your stomach. Therefore, if you eat like a runaway train you can get way too much food in the first 15 minutes of eating. By the time your brain sends the full signal to your stomach it’s too late.
The genesis of this diet was a visit to a small restaurant in China Town. A very National Geographic Special looking older Chinese man saw my young daughter and me struggling with chop sticks. We were really just amusing ourselves. He came over and without a word of English he taught us both to use the foreign utensils well enough to finish our dinner. We were elated with our new found skill even if we were slow and unwieldy. Thereafter, every time we ate Chinese we asked for and used the chop sticks. It just made it that much more fun. However, I was no expert and the food got in my mouth and subsequently my stomach at a much slower rate. When I was brainstorming for a way to drop some weight before I had to face the people who knew me as a thinner version of myself I decided to eat everything with chop sticks. I carried a very nice set of black lacquer inlaid with abalone shell in my purse. If you are going to be weird NYC is the place to do it. I would go to the Automat and get a salad, sit at a table by myself, whip out my chop sticks, and proceed to eat my way through lunch. Believe it or not no one ever noticed. They were probably too busy gawking at celebrities or checking out the young women with translucent dresses and no undergarments. My reasoning was sound and I lost about 18 lbs. before leaving my apartment in Jackson Heights.
I did the math. In the 25 years since I left NYC I had only gained 3.3 pounds per year. I was astounded. That’s not to say I haven’t gained and lost and gained and lost over that same 25 years. I never got down to 123 again; however, I must admit that was too thin for me and resulted in a stringy neck and puny arms. When I think back to when I had a scale, I have not owned one in years as part of my elaborate self-deception, and how little I thought about a gain of 3 pounds, I cringe. Each small incremental gain added up to morbid obesity – in my case that was 68% over the top range of my ideal body weight of 140. Morbid obesity as defined by the AMA is 50 – 100% or 100 pounds above ideal body weight. An alternative measure of morbid obesity is Body Mass Index (BMI) of 39 or more. I began this diet with a BMI of 35. A healthy BMI for a woman my height is 18.5 – 24.5 which means I have a long way to go. Greg and I have a new plan to buy a scale once we are a healthy weight and weigh ourselves every week. If we are up a pound we will diet that week and until that extra pound is gone. I want to establish a whole new mindset once I can eat outside the Space Food format. I will not eat carbs at every meal or dessert like I’m a condemned prisoner eating my last meal. When I think about it I really miss fruit. I want to make healthful meals that concentrate on freshness and nutrition. I always scoffed at fruit as dessert but now I’m ready for that concept. Halleluiah! I have finally awakened from my food coma and to the possibilities of life at a healthy weight.
Greg started his diet several weeks before I did. This is his second time on Atkins and it works for him. He’s dropped lots of belly fat and is looking fabulous. Somewhere in my dark moody brain I was afraid of being the fat woman on the slim guy’s arm. He never said one word against my size and when I would make disparaging remarks he would always tell me I was perfect. That’s love for you. I never noticed his weight when he was heavier but now that he is slim he looks great. I wonder now, will he see me in an enhanced light after I am at my good weight? I have been at least 20 lbs. overweight ever since he’s met me in 1995. I don’t think he realizes how small I am. One of my young co-workers looked at me and remarked that I looked small in my shoulders. I lifted up my cuff and showed her my wrist. She looked at my bird-boned wrist in amazement as I quipped, “I’m small boned…I’m just big fatted.” I suppose that is why I have been able to carry so much weight without people being aware of how much I actually weigh. The fat is simply covering up my bird-bones in a way that is deceptive.
I keep looking for signs that I will be an empty leather bag when this diet is over. Although there is a little evidence of stretched out skin for the most part I am still intact. My skin is shrinking along with my fat loss. I’m sure there will be some damage but I have to believe that the intense protein infusion into my body from the Ideal Protein food is helping the muscle I have to remain stable. I will need to incorporate exercise into my life in the near future. I have already begun my yoga stretching, a combination of yin yoga and restorative yoga, into my mornings when my pain level is manageable. I know I have to convince my hips to realign and my muscles around my joints to hold those joints in place so I am not constantly wobbling around like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.
When I was 27 years old with a youthful body I took that body for granted. I had a very low opinion of people who spent their valuable time working out in a gym. I imagined that I was pure intellect and scoffed at the care and maintenance of my body as trivial and vain. One fateful day as I was getting on the subway I noticed an elderly woman struggling to get into the car. I took her arm to help her and I was horrified by the complete lack of muscle in her upper arm. My hands sunk into her flesh and onto her bone like she was filled with half set Jell-O. I’m not sure if my face registered my shock but that one small moment set me into an understanding that I would be that woman someday if I continued neglecting my physicality. If you pay attention to the signs they are there. This was a wakeup call. That very day I set up an appointment with the fitness instructor at our office gym. He slowly got me on weights and cardio and until my initial injury in 2006 I never looked back. Even at 27 I was so out of shape that I would get incredibly nauseous after each workout until gradually I built up stamina and strength.
I’ve had to change my regimen several times due to injuries or changes in health but when I found yoga I knew that was my medicine. Not only did it keep my spine supple and young, stretched my muscles and joints, manipulated my internal organs for optimal functioning, it also gave me more physical strength with less injury that lifting free weights. The thing that works for me is the mind body connection. I remember thinking that my body was a solid mass inside and only wondered what was in there when I had an ache or pain and consulted a medical journal to look at the pictures of where the organs are located. I always separated my body from my mind from my spirit. When I looked at this rationally I realized that without my body my mind (the non-physical manifestation of the brain) and my soul that I judge to be part of the brain as well would be kaput. My brain floating in a jar of life fluid hooked up to electrodes to be kept alive like in a science fiction could not communicate its thoughts or emotions without my body.
We need a good balance with all three parts of our humanity. With this in mind, I have noticed a marked improvement in my ability to think since I’ve been on this diet. My thinking is clearer and my memory has improved. I don’t know if this is because of the way I’m eating or if it is due to my writing on a regular basis again. I’ve been an avid journal keeper for years and I have had some experience as a published writer. There is a Bob Dylan line in From A Buick 6, “I need a dump truck to unload my head.” that has always rung true for me. I write to empty out my head. When I don’t write I have all of this in there swimming around with the everyday ordinary thoughts that help me get my work done like, “where’s my pen, did I shut off the stove, how many items do I need from the store, are the green beans eatable or have they turned into penicillin in the fridge, etc., etc., etc.” I don’t want to set up unrealistic expectations for this diet so I say it is likely a combination of the food and the writing.
I also seem to be sleeping better. My quality of sleep has improved and I fall asleep more easily. I’ve also noticed that I am thirsty all the time and find it difficult to be without a large glass of ice water at my side.
The third official week of my diet I pulled everything out of my freezer, cupboards, and refrigerator that I cannot eat. I put it all in a giant bag and walked it over to my friend Sandra’s apartment. I got rid of the frozen fruit I used to use for soy milk smoothies, the tasty rice crackers I used to eat with tuna since I’ve cut down on glutton, frozen homemade bean soup, and frozen corn. If I’m going to do this I need to surround myself with the foods that I am allowed to eat. I can’t take the chance that in a moment of weakness I will go into an eating frenzy.
I loaded up on things I can have. I have a luxurious two pounds of extra-large shrimp in the freezer. I have tilapia that I bought fresh and frozen in single serving parcels. I have a lean roast beef, two pounds of lean hamburger, and enough vegetables to feed a small town. I am ready. If you live in a town where there is an Aldi’s I highly suggest you go there to buy your produce if you are on a budget like I am. I was buying only organic but that was before I had to consume four cups of vegetables a day and also pay for the Space Food which is not cheap but ultimately worth it. I spend $25 every two weeks at Aldi’s and only have to fill in things I run low on during that period. Also, their frozen vegetables are pretty good and come in big bags. The thin green beans are excellent. I put about a tablespoon of olive oil in a very large skillet and kind of stir fried the whole bag. I got my 2 cups of vegetables in and my oil in the one meal. Greg liked them too. They were delicious and crisp.
I struggled with doubts about losing weight this week. My clothes didn’t feel discernibly larger. My jeans did not feel loose and I just didn’t see it. What I came to realize is that I should have purchased the next size larger but had, through a series of very complicated and creative sessions in self-delusion, convinced myself that I was not larger but my drier had shrunk my clothes. So, I know now that I was what my dear deceased and colorful mother used to call, “Ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag.” She did have a way with a phrase. This was always her remark when she would see a woman in clothes so tight that the oozing out of spilled fat created interesting body parts that could not be identified. I then remembered having to unbutton and unzip my pants when I sat at my desk or drove home in the evening. I just got so used to that I had forgotten the pants simply did not fit. Now they fit. They aren’t lose but they are not stopping circulation in any part of my body. My navy pants always fit better than the others. When I put them on toward the end of this week I noticed that they were way too long. My first thought was that I’d always heard I would shrink as I got older I just thought it would be more gradual. Then I realized that I didn’t have as much butt and thighs holding them up. The navy pants have to be put into the pile of clothes that no longer fit and maybe I can take out one of the things I grew out of with my weight gain.
I have no doubt on this last day before my 3 week weigh-in that once I drop all this excess weight my hip will feel better just because of that. However, as added insurance, I have started a relationship with a new saint after finishing off my double novena to St. Jude. I feel I have the strength and stamina to remain on this diet until I get to my goal. Once again, it may be that St. Jude infused me with the necessary strength or else it could be that feeling I had help from beyond brainwashed me to believe in myself enough to go forward. It’s not easy every day but the results are driving me now. I now started a double novena to St. Gema to help with the pain. She is a fairly recent addition to the litany of Catholic Saints and much less well known. Gema was born in 1878 and died in 1903 in her 25th year. She was canonized by the Pope in 1933. The strange thing is that there are actual photographs of her. She is quite beautiful and the photos are haunting. She is the patron saint of back pain and suffered with curvature of the spine and meningitis but was miraculously cured. She apparently regained her health completely but later asked to be taken as a victim for the salvation of souls. She died a year later after a mysterious illness. Again, I’m not sure what to attribute to supernatural superstition but right after I started the first novena I had two glorious days of minimal pain. The pain has come back since then but what a relief! Now after experiencing that diminution of pain it has encouraged me to begin my yoga again to stretch out and realign my hips and strengthen my body. You can see the whole story of St. Gema at this website: http://www.stgemma.com/ - you’ll see what I mean about her beauty.
One thing I’ve gotten from the morning prayer routine is a recommitment to kindness. When I first had my last injury for several months or even a year I was more compassionate to everyone. I noticed when someone was lumbering along under the confines of pain and felt pity for their struggle. The old man or woman bent over a cane or a walker was no longer a nuisance to me in a grocery store line. I guess I always saw the physical manifestations of pain but never understood what the individual was feeling. Now I do. I know the pain of those ginger steps and I understand the language of the occasional grown or involuntary sound that accompanies working through the pain. If everything happens for a reason I now know that my pain could have been in lesson in patience and empathy. No matter what happens to my level of pain now I know and will always be aware that the small outbursts of temper, the inability to move along swiftly and fluidly, the sadness, and the lack of energy can be all about pain. It wears you out, wears on your nerves, and makes you feel hopeless. I will never look at a person again and not feel their pain. It seems like something we should know intuitively just by being human but we have to learn it like other skills.
Right now I am driving to Dr. Rick’s Ft Lauderdale office. I am trying to brace myself for disappointment. I think about my friend Sharon who has been on The Cookie Diet and is dropping two pounds per week. I think about how slim and pretty she is looking and I try to keep that in mind as I remember last week I only actually lost two pounds although I called it 2 ½ to assuage my disappointment. I also try to remember my days at weight watchers where I would follow program all week for a loss of 1/2 lbs. So I get myself into the mindset that if I once again lose two pounds I will be grateful. I think of the diet’s claims to create a loss of 3-7 pounds and then my heart sinks at the prospect of a two pound loss. I think about what two, one pound boxes of butter looks like and I rally for the two pound loss again. I drive myself insane thinking about how much I’ve lost. When I got on the scale Dr. Rick was amazed. He said, “You’re not supposed to lose this much in one week,” and then he remembered my tiny loss the week before. It has averaged out to 6 pounds per week. I am down a total of 18 pounds in 3 weeks. I can hardly believe this is happening to me. I am the one whose body does not respond quickly to any weight loss program. I am the one who watches all the others disappear inside their oversized clothing only to get the 1/2 or at best 1 pound loss. The proof is in the results. I will never be morbidly obese again.
Food Ideas for Week Three
I made two pounds of hamburger for Greg and me to eat. Greg is on Atkins so even fatty beef is on his menu. I need to get the extra lean beef which is sometimes dry. I doctored it up as follows:
2 lbs extra lean hamburger
1 tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 heaping tbls mustard (any variety you like)
1 heaping tbls low sugar Heinz Catsup
Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients well in a large bowl and form into 6 patties. If you have one of those sensational stove top griddles with the ridges heat that very hot and brush on a coat of olive oil. Cook burgers until desired doneness. We like ours well done and they were still juicy and very tasty. Dip in a Walden Farms product, mustard, or use a little horseradish.
Quite by mistake I added WAY too much water to the soy patty package. I looked at it without my glasses and instead of 1.5 my old eyes just saw the 5 and I added 5 oz. of cold water. I realized my mistake right way after the water was in the bowl but I thought what the heck, can it be worse this way than as the soy rock I had the first time? Under no conditions should you add 5 oz. of water to this…what happens is that it turns into a dog food consistency that does not taste any better than the soy patty…but there is WAY more of it. I had to swallow it without chewing. It almost didn’t go down a couple times. Beware…use your glasses. But most importantly…avoid the soy patty. To me it is the worst product on the menu.
I discovered that if you take your 2 teaspoons of oil and some apple cider vinegar and add half a package of powdered stevia you get a really nice dressing that is reminiscent of Polish vinaigrette that is laden with sugar.
Along that same line of reasoning, use apple cider vinegar and stevia with some red pepper flakes for a Thai like version of a dipping sauce for raw vegetables. This is especially good for cucumbers.