Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baby Steps

Tonight I made pasta. From scratch.

It was not the most beautiful dish, nor was it the most fabulous thing I've ever eaten (although most of the blame for that lies with the sauce which was homemade, but definitely not fresh). But it was pretty good. And it was pretty easy.

While I will certainly not shy away from my sweet tooth, or my love of all things cheese, probably the biggest factor in my dietary downfall has been my laziness. Somedays (okay, fine, everyday) I just can't seem to summon the will to prepare a meal. We're talking salads and sandwiches are too much work. That is some serious laziness. So I reach for whatever is easiest, which often is baked goods or chocolate or ice cream or whatever else my sweet tooth is craving. Cause sugar can motivate like nothing else.

But tonight I cooked. I made something simple, with ingredients I was in full control of, and it felt good. It may not have been the prettiest/fanciest/healthiest meal, but it was fresh and prepared by me in the moment for my enjoyment. I hope to do more of this in the future, and take back a little more control over what I am putting into my body.

I will make pasta again. I plan to try it with some different types of flours to experiment with wheat free options, and I will definitely make the sauce fresh at th same time. Tonight was just a test run so I only made a little in case I had to scrap the whole thing (Brett took the kids out for burgers so it's not like I was depriving them of dinner- although they did eat half of mine, and Jack cried when it was gone), but next time it will be for the whole family. I better rest up.

Making healthy changes (and food from scratch) is not for the lazy.

update 2-1-10:

the recipe I used (although I used roughly half):
2 1/4 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt (I didn't use enough due to my random adjustment of ingredients and mine needed more)

mound flour in a bowl and pour beaten eggs and salt into the center. Mush around and combine using a fork or your hands until it becomes dough. Form into a ball and cover with cling wrap for 30 min.

wash hands,wash counter, sweep up all the flour you spilled, etc.

separate ball into smaller sections (fourths or less depending on your space). Place on floured section and roll out into a misshapen, flat shape. Slice unequal, crooked strips using a pizza cutter.

Boil in oiled, salted water until firm yet tender. Water will be cloudy from the extra flour, and pasta will be very goopy at first leading you to think you've ruined it. Go wash the baby's hair, and when you come back it will have firmed up nicely.

Strain, rinse, and top with your favorite sauce (prefereably not week old leftovers).


Thursday, January 28, 2010

So guess what I didn't escape today?

Um. Cake.

It was one of those "hey we're all sitting around, a few moms at the kitchen table while our kids are running around playing quaint, civilized tea-party turned sugar-induced never-ending relay race from one side of the house to the other, complete with running into walls, stubbed toes, and ear-drum piercing screams. Want some cake?!" moments.

I had the cake. And it was good. So good that I only feel marginally guilty. (okay, by "marginally", I really probably mean "immensely", but whatever).

I wish things weren't the way they are. I wish I didn't have to take obscene amounts of hormones that bloat me up in the weirdest way (seriously, when you have to excuse yourself from aforementioned play date just so you can go stand in the bathroom with your pants unzipped so you can take a few deep breaths, you've pretty much reached an all-time ego-crushing low. Even though you know that at the beginning of the day, those jeans were falling off of you).

It's really hard, when you've been good all day and yet feel that large-and-in-charge by the end of the day. Why say no to cake when you're doomed to chubdom anyway?

OH THE DOOM AND GLOOM! Seriously, with the whining, Sarah? Get over it! I know. I'm annoying.

But I guess my point is that this is my struggle right now. Finding a way to see the relevance in my quest to lose these 30 (33)lbs when it feels like my quest for the one thing I want most in the world (even more than being skinny-ish) is pushing me to gain.

But it is relevant. I know that. I went to the gym this morning and I felt good. I am going tomorrow morning. I have started doing more yoga. We have started eating better--more home made meals, less sodium, more whole foods and fruits and vegetables. Less meat.

I don't see a difference (well, not a positive one) on the scale. I don't see it when I look in the mirror either. Especially not at 7pm.

But I am starting to realize, even though it challenges me daily, that the changes I'm making in my diet and activity level are NOT just about the scale or about "omg, when will I be able to shop at H&M again without feeling ridiculous???!!!" They about preparing my body to have the strength and energy to carry another baby.

I remember years ago, reading Jennifer Weiner's book Good in Bed. Throughout most of the book, the main character struggles to lose weight. When turmoil arises in her life, she does. Dramatically. As turmoil ebbs away, she gains weight back. Rather than revert to her prior self-loathing, she begins to see her body in a positive light, seeing it as a source of great strength, carrying her through her experiences, both physically and mentally. I am trying to approach my body with that kind of compassion and appreciation. I am trying to realize that while I do not fit the conventional model, so to speak, of beauty in our culture, my body contains the ability to carry me through my days, gives my feelings and thoughts a solid, (almost) fully functioning home and that that alone is reason to be thankful for it, even if it doesn't have a snowball's shot in hell of ever sporting a bikini out of the dressing room ever again.

So yeah, I had a piece of cake. A small one. Because there's no escaping it. But I'll be at the gym tomorrow. And I'll wake up grateful in the knowledge that my body can take me there. Even if it's a bit chubtastic.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To Find The Time

I was reading a magazine a while back, and it had something about getting 350 minutes of cardio exercise a week being the magic number for weight loss. And of course, this was like Allure or Marie Claire or something, so you know their fitness advice is the best in the biz, haha. But regardless of how well researched or accurate this info is (I no longer have the issue, can't remember which mag or which month, and am WAY too lazy to look it up for verification), I hvae kind of kept this goal in mind during my gym trips. Now, obviously I fall way short of 350 minutes weekly (that's an hour a day EVERY DAY and I just can't maintain that), but it has helped me push through for that extra ten or fifteen minutes or whatever. And I think it even made a small difference in my weight - although that small difference was before the holidays and has been more than eradicated by slothfulness and face stuffing.

My plan now is to refocus myself on hitting this goal and getting more cardio every week, with some better resistance training thrown in for good measure and good metabolism. I've worked over the past 6 months to make exercise a regular part of my daily life, and now I need to put some attention into making it better in quality and quantity.

Or at least just talk about it here. Writing and thinking about changing my body and losing weight is ever so much more fun than actually doing it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


So, I've been writing on this here "dieting" blog for about two weeks now, and I have yet to do any actual dieting. Whoops. Guess I better get on that.

My intention going forward is to make some real changes to my eating habits. I find this difficult because A) it involves eating healthy things rather than tasty crap (duh), and B) it makes me feel a little bit like a hypocrite. I ate sugar and junk food (in copious amounts) yesterday, so who am I to say I don't eat it today?

I also feel like it is harder to find social support when making dietary changes. If you are an alcoholic or a smoker, when you tell people that you are no longer drinking or smoking, most people will give you positive reinforcement. That makes it easier. This is, of course, not to say that it is easy to DO those things, but it is easier to announce when you plan to stop bad habits that everyone thinks are bad habits. It is easier to find support. Most people, upon being told that you are no longer drinking, will not immediately offer you a beer. Share stories of all night benders, and people will jump right on the bandwagon to help you get sober. Offer up tales of overeating and weight gain, and you will most likely just hear their own horror stories and then be offered some cookies.

I find it harder to quit implement changes in my diet because you are so often met with resistance or disbelief. Announce that you no longer eat sugar, and the people who know you (and have seen you snarf cake like your life depended on it) tend to view you with a healthy does of skepticism. They naturally don't think you'll make it, and honestly, they probably don't think that it really matters if you do. When someone decides to quit smoking, you don't often hear people say "oh, smoking's not so bad in moderation, go ahead, light up." They will say this to you if what you want to quit is sugar.

And I'll tell you, it may be more socially acceptable, but sugar is every bit as bad for you as smoking or drinking too much.

So I have decided to cut sugar out of my diet. It may not happen cold turkey, but it will happen. I also plan to eliminate (or at least limit) wheat and gluten. I have some digestive issues and I think this will help in terms of my overall health. And yes, I feel stupid saying these things. It feels uncomfortable to suddenly be applying strict rules to what I eat when I ever have before. I don't enjoy talking about it; it feels like I'm lying about who I really am or putting on airs. I worry that people will hear I don't eat sugar or wheat or whatever, and look at my fat ass and think "yeah right." But I am unhappy with my choices in regards to what I put in my body. I want to do better for myself, and I can't let the non existent strangers in my head judge me. All habits have to be changed one day at a time. You have to start somewhere, and as uncomfortable as it makes me, as much as it makes me feel like a pretentious asshole, I'm starting here.

I'm sure it will get easier.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not So Bad Is Not So Good

The other day, looking down at myself, I was struck by the thought "my legs don't look so bad. they look almost...thin right now." And you know what? It's true. I look pretty much fine. There are plenty of people out there who would probably trade anything to the size I am right now, and I will most likely never go on to fame and fortune as the fat lady in the circus. But so waht? Is "not so bad" what I'm striving for? Is "not so bad" really not so bad if it means my pants don't zip?

A lot of times you hear people who have lost a lot of weight saying that it is hard for them to see themselves as thin. That when they look in the mirror they don't really see their new bodies- that they are constantly surprised by how the clothes they expect to fit them are way too big. This is my problem, in reverse.

I have always been thin. I have always been able to eat whatever I want and remain thin. And most of the time, I still think I look that way. I forget all the changes my body has gone through, and that my metabolism no longer works like it did when I was 20. It is such an unpleasant shock to realize that even the "fat clothes" in my closet barely fit me. That my true body is not the body I have in my head.

I am not a thin, young girl anymore. I am a 32yo mother of three who has let herself go through laziness and self-indulgence. My inner child is ruling the roost, convincing me that I can continue to eat like a teenager, because surviving off cookies and cakes and junk food is really not so bad.

And you know what? It's not. But "not so bad" isn't good enough for me. I want great.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Soooo, make that 33lbs...


I'm not making excuses....except that I'm making excuses.

I'm trying to lose this weight while at the same time battling against infertility. Infertility is the most emotionally draining experience of my life thus far and I, my friends, am an emotional eater. Feeling tapped out? Eat. Feeling desperate? Eat. Feeling like crying? Eat. That would be me. I'm not sure where it came from (not entirely true--I've been exploring it for years in therapy. I am a hot mess, y'all), but when I need comfort, food is my go-to soother.

Let's add to the emotional rollercoaster the fact that the fertility drugs I'm on tend to add, oh, A GAZILLION pounds of water weight onto my already busting-out-of-the-seams frame. In early November, I weighed 164lb. By the end of my first cycle on Follistim and progesterone, I weighed 175lbs. Eleven pounds in one month. Granted, Thanksgiving was wedged in there somewhere, but I am fairly certain I would have had to put my whole family out on the street and eaten the entire feast myself to gain eleven pounds from one meal.

We took December off because of some complications from the first cycle, and I spent that month fighting the holiday stress eating and trying to get rid of as much of that wonky weight gain as I could. I got rid of a few pounds of it, but now? It's been six days, and I'm back up three pounds. So right where I was when the last cycle ended.

This makes for a swirly mix of self-loathing and anxiety that makes me itch to head to the fridge. Or the bakery. Or Ben & Jerry's. My head spins with thoughts of "if I never get pregnant, I am getting fatter each month for nothing. I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't do this," and then ricochets off the idea that, "zOMG, if I DO get pregnant, I am going to be starting out at just this side of obese. I will *be* obese by the time I deliver. I will have to lose weight from a place of obesity. I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't do this."

It's a whole giant bucket of awesome, folks.

So, yeah, that's my excuse for the week. My Tuesday weigh-in was a flop this week. But that's okay. Back in the saddle (my "horse" being the treadmill) tomorrow morning at the gym. I can feel the strength in my muscles growing, even if I also see my waistline expanding. Somewhere under there I am strong and fabulous, I know it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Everything In Moderation. Except Moderation

This week I proved for the five thousandth time (because when it comes to scientific testing I am THOROUGH) that sugar is indeed, my gateway food. A handful of crackers does not make me want to eat the entire box of crackers (unless they are white cheddar Cheez-Its, then Nom Nom Nom Nom). A cheeseburger does not make me spend the rest of the day snacking and munching and generally overeating by a factor of ten. Sugar does.

On Wednesday I decided that I could in fact be strong and only eat one cookie. And I was right. But I spent the rest of the day eating other things – and thinking about eating other things. It was harder to feel the desire for a healthy dinner after having that dose of sugar at lunch, and I snacked all night afterwards. Like sugar awakened every joy the act of swallowing and chewing ever had, and so I felt the intense need to engage in it for hours upon end. Oddly enough, on Thursday when I just said, “to hell with it” and ate ALL of the cookies, I didn’t feel this way. I had had enough, and I was fine to eat respectably for the remainder of the day.

I guess all this has really taught me is that moderation is not going to be the key for me. And since my habit of going whole hog is reflected so brilliantly in my ever expanding girth, I’m going to have to work on abstaining* from sugar and sweets as much as I possibly can.

After my daughter’s birthday cake this week of course. You best believe I’m going face down in that sucker.

*Even though everyone knows abstainance never works, hahahahaha!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Really, You Can't Escape It...

So why the title of the blog? Why bring cake into the picture? Why not some kick-yer-butt-into-shape title like "Buns of Steel Moms" or "Skinny Mommies"? (clearly sugar is what made me witty in my former life. Expect a lot of really unfunny stuff from me here while I attempt to detox.)

Because the reality in the life of a mom, especially the of a preschooler, is that it is REALLY really hard to escape the omnipresence of sweets. Sure, I could be the mom who bans all sugar products or baked goods from our lives. I could bring my child a rice cake (even there, cake) to eat at parties instead of birthday cake. I could refuse invitations for play dates on the chance that the hostess will put out tasty little snacky treats for nibbling while the kiddos play. I could refuse to volunteer at my son's preschool on cookie-making days or RSVP "no" to preschool holiday parties.

But doing most of that would make me a pretty shitty (and lonely) mom. Don't get me wrong, we are not awash in high fructose corn syrup in our house. I'm not baking batches of cupcakes, devouring them in one sitting and then wondering why I'm pushing maximum density (at least in my own personal history). But even as I stand in line at Starbucks, waiting to order my tall Earl Grey tea (which has taken the place of my much-loved but way too sugary chai tea latte), I am bombarded with temptations like this:

We simply live in a world where, no matter how good you are or how committed you are to your best intentions, you ARE going to come in contact with, well, cake. Unless you cut yourself off from the rest of the world, there really is no escaping it.

So my goal is to find a way to coexist peacefully with cake. Without feeling the need to go face down in a heaping pile of red velvet cake every time I see it. Without the feeling that I am missing out on something life alteringly delicious if I say "no, thank you," at the next birthday party. Without worrying that the play date hostess will think I am a rude bitch when I turn down the plate of tasty treats in her living room. And without beating myself up over and over again on the inside on those occasions when I do say "yes." Because let's face it; every once in awhile, I'm going to say "yes" to cake.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Now Before And Before Before

Going through some old pictures a while back, I came across a "before" photo. One of those, meant to be private, no holds barred shots meant to help keep the fire of weight loss lit. This particular photo was taken in 2002, when I had gained a whopping 5 lbs, and completely disgusted by myself. Are you ready for it? here you go:

Completely disgusting, no? Oh, and for the record, in that photo I weigh about 130 lbs - which is my current GOAL weight. Pretty pathetic. What a fool I was to A) think THAT was totally fat, and B) not get in shape then when it would have been so much easier. Oh well.

Pretty much since that photo as taken I have been slowly inching up the scale - between 2002 and 2005 I gained about 10 lbs. And unfortunately, I didn't have a digital camera during that time, so my choice of photos is very limited. But I had a few in an album that I just snapped new pictures of (I am SO high tech) so that you could get a better idea of what I used to look like, and what I hope to look like again. Soon. Sorry the picture quality is so bad - they were fuzzy to begin with, and then the photo of a photo set up doesn't really help.

And here I am today. Sorry the lighting is off a bit (you can't properly see even ONE of my chins), but I think my posture and expression give you an idea of how thrilled I was to be taking this shot, and also perhaps why I didn't move the camera to set up a new one.

ok. That's it. Frumpty Dumpty in all her glory. I will post in progress pics as we go along, and before you know it I'll be shaking my teensy tushy in my first ever AFTER photo!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

I wish I was as thin as I was when I thought I was fat...

I'm the other one. Sarah. You might have read my whining about my weight here. I've been kvetching about the baby weight for just shy of three years now. And honestly? Even before that, I was never really thin enough to be happy. It's funny how, no matter what you weigh, it seems like you should weigh less, and then when you gain, it seems like that former weight, unacceptable at the time, was actually your ideal, happy, perfect, skinny-girl weight. Okay, so maybe it's more sad than funny.

This magnet is perched on my fridge, reminding me, every time that I go in for a nosh, of my quest to stop putting on the poundage. Most of the time, rather than keeping me from finding a snack, it makes me wish I had a giant Archie Bunker-esque Barkalounger to kick back on while I eat that delicious piece of cheese.

When I got pregnant with my son, I weighed 145lbs. Please note the honeymoon photos, taken August 2005:

Oh, hello, old face. Without extra chins.

And look! A discernible separation between boobs and gut. And please note the calves I'm rocking. Sigh.

That's me, to the far right. You know. The one who looks NOTHING like the girl in the top two pictures.

Aaaaand, that's me. The one that's not a 3.5 year old boy.

Oy. My work, friends? Is cut out for me. This week, I weigh 173lbs. My goal is that by the time I attend BlogHer '10 in NYC this coming August, I will weigh 30lbs less and be back to my wedding weight of 145lbs. It won't be easy--I've been setting this goal over and over for the past three years.

But the failures have to stop--as my son gets older, I not only have to set a good example for him, but I have to ensure that I am healthy, and that I am around for him as he grows up. With high blood pressure and heart disease in my family, my weight loss cannot be simply about my vanity (but let's make no mistake--it's a LOT about my vanity). It has to also be about my health. When I weighed 145lbs and wanted to lose 30lbs, it wasn't the same as it is now. Now, not losing 30lbs is actually shaving years off of my life. And I am digging life far too much to duck out of the game early. So, extra 30lbs taking up space inside my skin? Your days are numbered.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Does It Still Count As Baby Weight If The Baby Is Four?

Hello. My name is Kate Johnson, and I am an addict. I don't use drugs, pop pills, and I rarely drink alcohol. The substance I abuse is sugar.

It all started a week after the birth of my first child, when I was laid up on the couch, barely able to walk (she was, um.. a large baby), watching a rerun of Seinfeld. You know the one with the Junior Mints? And I thought "ooh, I could eat some Junior Mints right now." And so I did. Everyday. For the next three months.

From there I slipped even further down that slippery sugary slope, until I was consuming a giant piece of Grocery store cake at least 3 times a week. My husband was my dealer, eager to keep the new mother happy, bringing me whatever I wanted. I had but to ask.

Fast forward almost four years and two more babies, and my daily diet still reads like something out of a birthday party shopping list: cookies, chocolate, ice cream - sometimes all three at once, and never in the recommended serving sizes.

It's embarassing.

But I have decided that this is where it ends. I spent the past four years focused on my kids - planning fo them, growing them, birthing them and raising them. My weight developments in that time have been like this: up 35 lbs*, down 30, up 20, up 30*, down 50, up 30*, down 20, up 10. Now it's time to bring a little of that focus back to me, and stop this slow uptick on the scale. Together with this blog and my friend Sarah, I am going to lose 30 lbs (preferably by this summer, but just to lose it at all is the main goal), and I am going to keep it off.

Follow along, cheer us on and start reaching your own goals along with us!

*pregnancy weight gain