Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reason #2 Why I'm Fat - Self-Employment

Many think that working for one's self has to be THE life.  They think that the self-employed get to set their own hours, work as hard as they determine they'd like to, and take as many days off as they wish.  The self-employed are the misguided envy of far too many who generalize this group in this way.

In an effort to keep it real here, it really depends on the industry in which one is self-employed.  A service industry in which the client is dependent on the most current daily details and updates with a 24-hour turnaround time and many stat requests while working with subcontractors having schedules of their own to contend with and to pick up the slack for, and being a perfectionist too aware and unwilling to allow silly, yet critical, errors made by others float out of my office, allows for none of this.  It in fact didn't allow for any vacation time whatsoever for 12 whole years.  Yes, there are perks, like not having to fight rush-hour traffic every single day; no more nylons, heels, and expensive suits; and not having to feel guilty when one, then two, and then three (or more) children fall ill in succession over a two-week time span.  The work, however, still needs to be done in a daily fashion, and in order to accomplish it, every non-family-related spare minute gets consumed by the client's needs.

I found myself last in line after the demands of my clients first, the subcontractors with whom I worked next (coordinating who could do what and when and taking up the slack), then the needs of my children, followed by the ever-changing demands of my husband's work schedule -- everybody and everything had to come first in a very impressive juggling act that would take two hours to describe in a blog post. If you want to compare how talented you are are juggling it while keeping yourself on the priority list, we can, but know your industry demands may be entirely different than mine. 

As a result of these hectic days, I came last.  I didn't put myself in my list of priorities because there was just simply too much to do, and I could do it, if I didn't need anything myself that is.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Generalizations/StereoTyping Caught on Twitter

This tweet was actually made by one of my online friends who has never met me.  She's very thin, a vegetarian, and in the medical profession.  All Fat people must step away from their plates, right?

(Note: I still adore her just the same as before she put this out in the Twitterverse, but see what I mean?)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Reason #1 I'm Fat: Sleep Hygiene or Lack Thereof

Studies the past few years have proven that poor sleep hygiene contributes to weight gain in a number of ways.

You may think "it's only sleep," but what sleep really means for us biologically is what needs to be understood more clearly in relation to sleep hygiene, and more importantly, how the lack of sleep is probably the biggest contributing factor to that "obesity epidemic" we are always hearing about.

It's no secret that we are extremely stressed out and spend the majority of our lives working.   According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, the average employed American works a 46-hour work week and 38% of the respondents in their study worked more than 50 hours per week. It is therefore no surprise to me that in the European countries in which the average vacation time ranges anywhere from 30-40 days annually with a lesser hourly work week that the obesity rate is also lower.  While American women receive approximately 6 weeks of maternity leave, (1/5 of American companies offer no leave whatsoever), some countries offer a full year of paid paternal leave, and some offer job protection for up to 6 years according to this report.

Sleep isn't just something we do because we cannot physically stay conscious any longer.  Sleep is something a body actually needs to repair itself.  We don't regularly leave our cars running in the driveway all night for tomorrow's trip into work when it's low on oil, yet we think nothing of running our bodies almost as long.  Just as leaving a light on shortens the bulb's duration of illumination, leaving our bodies "on" without adequate sleep intervals shortens our life span and deteriorates our health, i.e. our light.

In order to repair itself, a body needs an adequate sleep cycle, 6-8 hours for most of us nightly, to signal the body to create certain hormonal and neurochemical reactions that regulate our weight and mood chemicals.  Adequate sleep allows our bodies to repair themselves and to recover, from repairing our damaged DNA to building tissue and muscle.

Without an adequate opportunity to repair itself, a body becomes so involved in trying to save itself, period, that it cannot focus on it's normal routine of signaling the release of the hormones and neurochemical reactions required to regulate our weight and mood.

Many night owls find themselves reaching for a sugar fix, be it a drink or snack, which obviously contributes to weight gain, but the lack of sleep itself distracts the body from it's natural state of health, which it biologically strives to achieve despite the abuse thrown its way.


Now after covering some of the information above collected from various studies and articles.  Just as I have asked myself what it means to me, you must ask what it means to you, as a fellow obese person.  I'm you perceive a lack of sleep a contributing factor to your enlarging waistline?

I'd also like to vent.  I get frustrated when I hear the overused  "American Obesity Epidemic" and "Our Children are Fat because they eat Fast Food." Really?  Considering the differences in family structure and demands upon them as a unit compared to 50 years ago....this is the ONLY contributing factor to the rise in obesity amongst Americans?  I can argue that tired ol phrase of obliviousness.  Parents, as well as their kids, struggle to even find family time, and most of them are too tired to recognize it when it smacks them in the face. Yet all we hear these days is about how much MORE or harder everyone needs to work and how we need to train our children to be bigger producers or workhorses than we are.  Can they actually scientifically alter the hours in a day to make it happen the way they try to genetically alter cattle so each animal can proportionately feed more people? I mean, come on.  Don't get me wrong here.  I'm a huge proponent for working to support yourself and to attain one's goals, so don't generalize me into a lazy category over this opinion.  You have parents overscheduling children.  They run from this activity to that activity and often even enlist the help of other parents for their crazy busy offspring because they are unable to physically be in two places at once.  These parents are running to these events straight out of work and the only way anyone can eat prior to 8 p.m. is to grab a fast food meal at least a few times a week.  In the past, such a thing was an occasional treat rather than a necessary and affordable quick-fix. If you've followed me so far, I think you get the rest. Moving on...

If you have managed to have or find the time to identify how much time your body needs for peak function, please share.  As I've shared earlier in another post, we are all different.  I think mine is the 7-hour mark.

Let's discuss how different I am compared to all these studies discussing sleep hygiene.  When I was 21 working two jobs (see how lazy I am), running on 4 hours of sleep a night between the two jobs, living on my own trying to make a life for myself, and eating nothing but a Fast Food meal once daily, I was the thinnest I have ever been in my life at 129 pounds and 5'7-3/4". Go figure. Now I'm in my early 40s, spent the last 12 years having babies and working around their needs, got about the same amount of sleep each night, 4 hours nightly, and ate a homemade meal once daily, and I gained 5 pounds per year.  Funny, isn't it?  While I like to joke and say I'm going back to the old days of Fast Food once daily, I know the difference is mainly in that my second job then was as a running sports bar waitress, and while I run after kids all day, my main and only job today is stuck at a desk chained to a computer.  Back then the 4 hours of sleep seemed to be just fine for me.  Over the last few months I decided to make sleep a priority and I'm losing weight and feeling great on 7 hours a night, all while eating 5 to 6 times a day.

While I much preferred how much I could get accomplished once my kids and husband were asleep, even if I had chosen a moment or many of silence in lieu of an accomplishment, I had to get real honest with myself and snap out of the denial I didn't even know I was in.  My denial was in refusing to recognize how much I was harming my health by pushing myself so hard continually, for feeling guilty about not accomplishing something on my mental to-do list.  It is what it is.  Our bodies are machines and all machines burn up and out eventually, some faster than others.  I'm choosing to care for mine a little more than I ever have the first half (hopefully this is half) of my life.  You should do the same. 

If I am an overachiever so willing to forfeit a full-night's sleep, am I really a sluggish or lazy person as society labels me? I don't think so. I'm willing to bet money that I was running circles of accomplishments around all the skinny working moms out there. ;)

What's your take on the sleep issue?


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Personal Pros and Cons of NutriSystem

I'll start off detailing how I came to be on NutriSystem and share the pros and cons of it for me personally.

Firstly, as I've mentioned in another post, I was facing an extremely hectic summer.  I decided to try NutriSystem for the summer because in being honest with myself and recognizing that the mom-is-last syndrome from which I suffer would get in the way of any real success if left to my own defenses, I gave it a shot.  I figured losing some would be better than the mere 3 pounds I manage to lose here and there during crazy times.

I'm glad I did because I have so far lost 22 pounds since April 19, but there are a few surprises I'd like to share with anyone who is thinking about joining.

Firstly, I called the advertised number and asked a lot of questions.  It sounded so easy.  I only wanted to become a NutriSystem member because they were going to provide the meals for me.  I thought this meant I would only meal plan for my picky kids and husband rather than cooking as much as I do when I'm trying to eat all the stuff they don't want to.  It didn't quite turn out that way. (There's quite a bit of prep in all the do-it-yourself participation involved.)

The food arrived and I accepted the introductory package, a little bit of everything, to taste it all and decide what I wanted from there.

When I opened the box, I was actually very insulted at what was inside.They had given me chocolate bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner covered in chocolate, things like donuts and muffins for breakfast, and a ton of chocolate, cookies, and chips for the dessert/end-of-the-day snack.  I was offended because it made me feel like so many others have made me feel...that I must hole up in a corner of my house eating crap day in and day out and I therefore needed a daily dessert or chocolate every day.

I decided to turn the other cheek, as they say, and just go with it.  The following day I started only to discover that I was suddenly starving for the first time in my life, and with a raging headache.  I found it ironic that I was absolutely N-E-V-E-R hungry pre-NutriSystem and I start it and find myself ready to rip somebody's head off for food.  Food was all I could think about all day.  It didn't help that I was unprepared and that the sales rep wasn't totally forthcoming despite my interrogation.

I followed the directions in the journal they provide which goes like this:  [NS Breakfast Entree and NS shake], [PowerFuel], [NS Lunch Entree and PowerFuel], [SmartCarb], [NS Dinner Entree and SmartCarb], then [NS dessert entree].  NS = NutriSystem, PowerFuel=Lean Proteins from a very limited list provided in the journal, and SmartCarb=Starchy Veggies & other items from a very small list in the journal. You are also to take in 8 glasses of water daily, 4 non-starchy vegetable servings, and are allowed 3 what they call Extras from a limited list in the journal.

I found myself just fine in the morning since I had never eaten breakfast, snack, then lunch anyway, but I did question what on earth I was doing as I licked peanut butter from a 1-Tbsp measuring spoon. I thought to myself, "Am I really licking peanut butter from a tablespoon right now and calling it a power fuel?"

I'm guessing actual hunger kicked in because eating smaller portions and more frequently every few hours turned on a switch in my body.

Also, as I reached for the very small container of instant mashed potatoes with broccoli to rehydrate for my lunch (about 3/4 cup only), I asked myself "Really? This is the whole lunch?"

Since one of the very reasons I find myself Fat was being chained to a computer virtually every spare minute of my life for the past 12 years, I was very disappointed to learn that it was practically a requirement I join their online community and dig and search for answers to what was sure to ruin the NutriSystem experience for me.

It turned out there was a much larger list of these extras, powerfuels, and smart carbs to be found online to supplement the 4 entrees they provide and it turned out there is a recipe section there to turn some of these little things they give you into actual filling meals, i.e. some people turn the instant potatoes into potato pancakes, etc.

It also turned out that I did not like a lot of what they provided to me, but I stuck it out to figure out what I did and did not like to personalize my next order.  While you couldn't get me anywhere near that sloppy joe mix again, not even for a million dollars, there is quite a bit I absolutely adore, especially after I learned how to jazz it up, i.e. turning the burger patty into a gyro, or the very dry grilled chicken breast chunk into some chicken fajitas.

So, I do recommend NutriSystem to people, but I think you need to get real honest at what is holding you back before deciding if it is the right plan for you.

Personal Pros:
  • Not having to fret about what I'm going to eat each meal with what family is going to eat. 
  • Losing weight even when things are hectic. 
  • A lot of it actually tastes good when spruced up a bit into recipes.
  • I do not suffer from heartburn at all when following the plan. 
  • I eat more veggies than I ever have. 
  • I drink more water than I ever have. 
  • It helped me to give up pop/soda.
  • I've learned a bit about portion control.
Personal Cons:
  • The headache I get after a few days off when restarting. 
  • An automatic weight gain when I run out the door leaving my packed food behind (regardless how much I eat or what I choose). 
  • I sometimes get tired off the shelf-stable food and stray to the fresh homemade version. 
  • I get all veggies out and therefore do not get in my whole 4 servings of veggies daily. 
  • They don't exactly have the nicest, most compassionate or patient people around in the chat rooms for support.
  • I can't stand nor have time for automated answering services and therefore avoid calling their always available counselors.
  • While my plan with joining was to cut down on my food prep for myself (cuz I'm prepping other things for family), I find myself in the kitchen 6 times a day now prepping little things for myself. 
  • The expense. 
So, as of right now, my pros equal the cons in number, so I stick with it the best I can. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back on the Wagon Full Blast & Paying For It

 So today I made the decision to adhere strictly to my NutriSystem plan, mostly because I finally made it to the grocery store (which is required on NutriSystem unless you want to starve).  I'm paying for it because each time I do this I wind up with a raging migraine the very first day back on.  I am not sure why this happens, but if you are on the NutriSystem site and you search headache in the blog area, you'll get far too many posts about it. Some people say their headaches lasted three to four days.

It's a scary thought to me, but one for which I choose denial.  I can probably count on two hands how many headaches I've had in my lifetime prior to NutriSystem and probably on one hand how many times I've taken meds to treat a headache, but this headache is special enough to keep me up at night until I cave at around 3 a.m. and take the meds. Today I just took them around lunchtime and it's definitely lessened the severity.

Is it the preservatives in this shelf-stable food? Probably. I'm too scared to read the labels too deeply to find out.  I just wanna lose weight during this hectic time and not wait to lose it when everything calms down a bit.  Guess I could be trading off some potential health effects for weight loss.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Moving Ahead Despite Lack of Blogging Knowledge.

Sooo, anyway, I've been on NutriSystem since the end of April and have lost 22 pounds.  I haven't been religious with it, as I find myself getting tired of the shelf-stable food.  Anybody else?

I decided to jump on the NutriSystem wagon after analyzing my situation carefully.  Two major things that were sure to derail any honest attempts to lose weight on my own this summer were sure to be the demands made on my time with kids out of school and the gargantuan organizational project facing me after finishing the basement (everything was thrown into the garage by my unorganized husband).

When I saw they were having a 40% off event, I got to I wait until everything is "just so" to best enable a success versus 3 pounds down here or there, or try this out WHILE I struggled through this summer and potentially lose even a few extra?

I don't like pre-packaged or frozen entrees, but I thought, maybe, just maybe, having everything laid out for me, almost like an itinerary, I could lose 10 in the process.  While I don't like pre-packaged or frozen entrees, I decided that spending a couple hundred per month was a good incentive to stick with their plan and I stood a better chance of losing more with NutriSystem than when left to my own defenses. (Note:  I thought being on NutriSystem meant I would not have to meal plan and less food prep, but that turned out to not be the case.)

Looks like my self-assessment of the "situation" has been right on for me to a benefit, aka an actual accomplishment.  Summer isn't over, but 22 pounds down with all I feel I have endured this summer is definitely something to celebrate, and I have yet to jump off that proverbial bridge as I've shared probably way too often this summer.

This post leads me straight into the next one.....What is it that is REALLY holding you back?


I've been unsuccessfully trying to figure out how to create that cutesie lil "banner" above. (Insert scream of frustration here).  It's driving me insane!  If anybody knows how to make it so that the white background showing now remains transparent, as it comes originally, then please do share!  I've tried leaving a comment on the TCBOTB Facebook page, but nada, zilch, zero.  Sigh.