Thursday, January 31, 2008

Eating Everything in Sight

I tried a new recipe for dinner tonight- Cajun salmon cakes. Here's the recipe, if you're interested. It was delicious, but the portion size was a wee bit...well, wee. After dinner I was still hungry. I still am. There's a bag of olestra potato chips and a carton of cottage cheese in the refrigerator calling my name. All I really want to do right now is go in the kitchen and go crazy.

It's after 9 p.m. If I ate a bunch of salty food right now, I'd be all bloated in the morning, and my workout (not to mention my weigh-in) would be less than fun.

That whole "eat when you're hungry" philosophy is hard for me to get on board with, as is the motto "eat to live, and don't live to eat." Let's just get it out on the table- I live to eat. Always have. I love the taste of food. It's rarely about the nourishment. It's about the taste and the way it makes me feel.

I've come to the realization that I have two sorts of hunger. There's stomach hunger, then there's what I call mouth hunger. The stomach hunger tells me when my body needs fuel. If I don't pay attention to stomach hunger, my stomach growls, I get a headache, and I get really, really crabby. Mouth hunger is everything else. If I smell something good, see a fast food commercial, or even think about the way something would taste, it flips a switch in my brain. That's the danger zone. If it hits when I'm in the kitchen, I'm in real trouble. Thankfully, right now I'm in front of the computer so I can write about it rather than do it.

Emotional eating (which I never thought I had a problem with) also falls into the category of "mouth hunger" for me. It was naive of me to ever think I wasn't an emotional eater. My reasoning behind beliving that was simple- I didn't overeat when happy or sad. In fact, when I was sad I would lose my appetite completely. I was leaving quite a few other emotions out of the equation. I eat a LOT when I'm pissed off. If I'm on my way home for lunch and some jerk is driving like an idiot, I usually "graze" when I'm preparing my meal.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post. It's really just a distraction so I don't raid the kitchen. Let us assume that I *did* go in the kitchen right now. Here's what would probably happen:

1) Get out the potato chips and cottage cheese, planning to have only one bite of each.
2) Have my bite, then have 3 more bites.
3) Now that I've had something salty, I want something sweet, so I go for the lowest calorie option, which is a sugar free fudge pop. I don't feel satisfied, though, so I grab a 100-calorie dark chocolate bar.
4) Oops, now I want salty again. How about some of those wasabi almonds that have been around since Christmas?
6) Dammit, now I need sweet. I always have to finish with sweet. But now that I've already fallen off the wagon, let's fall off in style. Let's just have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, shall we?
7) Leave the kitchen feeling like a complete failure. Entire day's hard work ruined due to weakness.

That's what could have happened tonight. In fact, I was pretty close. But I'm not gonna. The mere act of resisting my urge to binge has left me pretty much exhausted, so I'll just go to bed. Then, the second I wake up I get to eat breakfast.

I swear, most of the time I feel like a heroin addict who's looking for the next fix.

Tuesday Night Rituals

I have three rituals that I do every Turesday night:

1) Eat 2 vegetarian corn dogs with a side of light potato chips, mustard and ketchup
2) Watch The Biggest Loser
3) Try to break a previous fitness record

When I started exercising 9 months ago, it was a real struggle for me to walk to the local park and back. That's about a 25 minute walk at a brisk clip.

On Tuesday night- are you ready for this? I jogged 45 CONSECUTIVE MINUTES. Consecutive. That means all in a row. Knowing that I have this ability opens up a whole new world. I could run a 5k and not have to stop to walk halfway through. I could run away from a burglar, or a policeman. I am reborn, I tell you.


Yesterday I stepped on the scale to see a wonderful number looking back at me- 174. Why is this so special? Well, it means I've lost 90 lbs. since May 1, 2007. If I let myself think about it long enough, I just shake my head in disbelief.

Like I've said before, the rate at which I drop weight has slowed down considerably, so I imagine it will be April or May before I can say I've lost 100 lbs. I wonder what that will feel like. I remember thinking I would have some kind of "running-through-a-flowery-field" feeling when I got below 200, but that really didn't happen. It just sort of came and went.

The "M" word- maintenance- is getting closer and closer, and it makes me nervous. I knew in the beginning that this wasn't just a diet. I was changing my life. Now that I'm closer to my goal weight, it's really hitting me that this is what it will be like forever. Well, maybe not exactly; I probably won't need to exercise quite as much, and I might be able to bump up my calories a bit. However, for the most part, this is it. No more eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's in one sitting. No more going through 2 drive-throughs before getting home and eat ANOTHER dinner. On one hand, I'm so grateful to not be that person anymore. She was really pathetic and sad. But I kind of miss her sometimes. Is that messed up?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Small town, big food.

My partner's family lives in central Kansas, and they celebrated their belated Christmas this past weekend. I was looking forward to going and seeing everyone. To be honest, I was looking forward to being seen as well. A few of them hadn't seen me since before the weight loss, and I got some great reactions.

Man oh man, though, my diet got so screwed up. We stayed at a hotel with a decent continental breakfast, so that was good. They had hard boiled eggs, Cheerios, yogurt, and fruit. Lunch was a little trickier. Our choices were pretty much Subway, Quizno's, and Applebee's. And dinner... well, that was pretty much totally nutso.

Angie's dad made dinner the first night, and he really did make an effort for it to be mostly healthy. He baked some chicken breasts, and had a fruit and veggie platter. There was, however, a hamburger, potato and cheese casserole. Of course, if I had been thinking properly I would have had a chicken breast, then filled the rest of the plate with fruit and veggies. But no, the casserole stuff looked way too good, so I had two big helpings of it.

We opted for Quizno's for lunch the next day. Their flatbread sammies are decent, but I made the mistake of getting two of them, AND chips. Bad move.

Then over to grandma's for dinner. There was so much food it was insane. I just kept eating, too. It was like I didn't even care anymore since the weekend was already so screwed up.

The first morning I was able to work out in the hotel gym, but the second day there were a couple of teeny-boppers in there and the treadmill wasn't available. It was annoying, because they weren't even seriously working out.

I got home and I'm up two pounds on the scale. I expected as much, but it's still definitely an annoyance. I enjoy going to see Angie's family, and in the past my mentality was "the more food, the better." Now that my habits have changed, going there is obviously more difficult. No one forced all the food into my mouth, but I still felt like it was out of my control somehow. I need to work on my decision making strategies for times like these. It's like my brain turns off and there's some primal instinct urging me to consume.

It was good to get home and get back on the wagon. I made Moroccan Chickpea Stew last night, and I felt nourished. I also sat down and made my exercise plan for the week. This morning I did 45 minutes on the treadmill, and hopefully I'll get in another 45-60 minutes tonight.

To sum up- this was really the first time in over 7 months that I was out of my routine for more than one meal, and it was more difficult than I expected it to be. Also, I never thought I would say that I would look forward to getting back on my plan, but I did. I couldn't wait to eat a meal filled with good things that I knew were working with me and not against me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Falling off the wagon is no fun. It happens to me at least once a week. “Slipping” means different things for different people. It could be an ice-cream and potato chip binge that lasts all night, or an extra serving at dinner. These days, I consider anything I put in my mouth that I haven’t planned for a “slip-up.” Take today, for example. It’s freezing cold in the office I work in, and for some reason, everyone I come into contact with is annoying me. This stresses me out and makes me want to eat everything in sight. When I got home for lunch, I put my waffles in the toaster to heat up. It seemed like an eternity waiting for those things to pop up. While I was waiting, I got out the potato chips and cottage cheese and went to town.

Granted, there are worse things I could have done. I could've eaten the whole bag of chips instead of only having a few. I don’t keep a lot of unhealthy stuff in the house, so it’s difficult for me to get in any real trouble. Like I said, though, I wasn’t planning on having those extra calories today, so now I’m annoyed with myself.

If you have an “all or nothing” mentality, losing weight is hard. Those people who can just eat one bite of cake...surely they are the devil. I have an all or nothing mentality, and I’m trying to get rid of it. Not everything is black/white, or good/bad. Maybe my body needed those extra calories since I worked out this morning. Fifty more calories isn’t going to make me gain back 88 pounds, and that’s what I have to remember.

On my refrigerator door, I have taped up both pictures you see on the right side of this page to help me remember how far I’ve come. I thought it would persuade me to stop eating in the middle of a binge. It didn’t work today. Once I’m in that moment, it’s really hard for me to get out of it. The only reason I stopped today was because I had to get back to work.

The truth is, I’m having a really weak, defeated-feeling day. I’m trying to get out of the funk.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What I Eat

I'd like to preface this post by saying that I'm not a doctor or nutritionist, so please don't assume I'm some kind of expert. But, I know what worked for me.

If you're on a weight loss program, the fewer choices you have to make about food a day, the better. I don't mean to imply that you have to have a boring diet, but it's nice to not think too much about what to eat. It just muddles your mind and makes you hungrier than you were in the first place. If you have just a few things that you rotate for each meal, it makes things easier.

I can't stress enough how important planning is when you're on a weight loss program. You've no doubt heard this before, but it's true. I often know roughly what I'll be eating a week ahead of time. I plan out dinner menus for the entire week so I only have to go to the grocery store once. I stock up on "staples" that I always have for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

Planning a week ahead of time is enjoyable to me. I'll be the first to admit I enjoy being organized and making lists and planning things out. If that's not your thing, then try planning tomorrow's meals. If that's too much, just think about your next meal. Just having a game plan is a huge step in the right direction.

I try to eat about 350 calories for breakfast. I break it up into two small "mini-breakfasts." I eat the first one before my morning workout (about 6 a.m.), and the second when I arrive at work (about 8 a.m.). Also, if you've read my food logs on PeerTrainer, you might have noticed that I don't think "breakfast" has to mean eggs, toast, etc. Have dinnery stuff too, if you want! Here are some of the things I enjoy eating for breakfast:

1) Leftover sausage and bean stew. This is a dish that I make for dinner at least once a week, then live off the leftovers for a couple of days. I like having it before my workout because it has protein and also some sugar to get me kicking. It's right around 200 calories per cup.

2) Waffles. Eggo makes really good nutri-grain blueberry waffles. I use sugar-free syrup. Two waffles and 1/4 cup syrup is 215 calories.

3) Cheerios mixed with Dannon Light yogurt. A cup of Cheerios is 100 calories, and the yogurt is 60. I've eaten this stuff every morning for almost two weeks and I love it.

4) Smoothies. In a blender, I mix one cup of frozen mixed berries (70 calories), 8 ounces of Light and Healthy Tropicana Orange Juice (50 calories), and a container of Dannon Light yogurt (60 calories). Blend it up and enjoy for only 180 calories.

Lunch usually comes out to be around 300 calories. I typically eat leftovers from dinner, or I even eat the stuff I normally have for breakfast. Here are some other things I typically have.

1) Turkey sandwich. I get the Oscar Mayer deli turkey, which is 45 calories per serving. The bread I get is 40 calories per slice. Then, you can put mustard, or light BBQ sauce on it and wind up with a decent sandwich for around 150 calories. I'll have this with cottage cheese and fruit.

2) Soup. Progresso makes light and low-sodium soups that actually taste good. The whole can is around 120 calories. Have a turkey sandwich with it, if you want.

3) Lean Cuisine BBQ Chicken Pizza. These things are really good, and they are 350 calories. Have some salad greens with it to make it more substantial.

I like to eat snacks that are 50-100 calories. I always get hungry at work around 3 p.m., so that's usually when I have a snack. Sometimes I have a morning snack too, but I'm often so busy at that time that I don't notice I'm hungry.

1) Fruits and veggies. Snack time is when I eat a lot of my produce. I like apples (around 60-80 calories), bananas (100 calories), carrot sticks (I don't count these as calories), frozen berries, etc.

2) Soup At Hand. These are portion-controlled soups that you drink from a cup. Do yourself a favor and get the low sodium ones (which still have a lot of salt, but it's better than the regular kind). These are surprisingly filling and they make me feel warm during these cold winter months.

3) Curve Bars. At 100 calories each, they have some fiber, chocolate, and peanuts. I wouldn't call them filling, but they tide me over until dinner.

4) Cottage cheese. I love the Daisy brand 2% cottage cheese. When I open the container, I pour off a little of the liquid since I like mine thick. It's 90 calories per serving. Good stuff!

I really like cooking, so dinner is the time where I'll experiment a couple times a week and try new recipes. is a great resource, and it's free. Admittedly, I don't get enough vegetables in my diet, so I've been making an effort lately to try to have some veggies with dinner. Here are some of my favorite meals:

1) Semi-homemade pizza. I get the Pillsbury French Bread dough (NOT pizza dough), roll it out on a baking sheet, top with a small amount of pizza sauce. Then I pile on the veggies. I really like spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, onions, squash... then I add a small package of reduced fat feta and bake it at 425 for about 8-10 minutes. Cut into 8 squares. Two squares is around 300 calories. Serve with salad greens.

2) Moroccan Chickpea Stew. This stuff is vegetarian, but so hearty and nourishing. The recipe is by Alexandra Jamieson, who happens to be married to Morgan Spurlock, the dude who made the film Supersize Me.

3) Morningstar Corn Dogs. Two of these are only 300 calories. We eat these every Tuesday night while we watch The Biggest Loser. On the side, we have the light Ruffles (yes, the ones with Olestra).

4) Tilapia. I get the frozen tilapia, thaw it out, and dust it with chili powder and a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Then I cook it in a pan sprayed with PAM olive oil spray. Tilapia is only 90 calories per serving, so you can eat a lot of it without feeling guilty. You really can't go wrong with fish.

5) Fudge pops. If you get the no-sugar added ones, they are only 40 calories each. I have one of these after dinner pretty much every single day.

So, these are some basic staples of my diet. I could stand to eat more fruits and veggies and less salt, but other than that I think I'm doing pretty well. After all, I've lost 89 pounds this way!

I'll tackle eating out and cheat days in a different post.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to Look Good Naked- my new favorite show

Have you seen this show yet? The host is Carson Kressley from Queer Eye. They take women who are unhappy with their bodies and show them how to love themselves. I can really relate to these women. Every time I watch the show, I feel a little better about myself. It's on Fridays on Lifetime at 9/8 Central.

When the weight loss slows down

It's been 8 months and 21 days since I changed my habits, and I've lost 88 pounds. That's a lot. I'm so close to a 100-pound loss I can almost taste it.

When I first started this whole thing, the pounds melted off. In fact, a girl I work with came up to me back in September and said "Morgan, you appear to be melting." It felt great. The weight is no longer melting off me. I'm lucky to lose a pound a week.

Now, I hear all of you saying "but a pound is a healthy weight to lose in one week. You shouldn't be discouraged." And you're right...a pound is great. A pound is a pound less than I was before. However, when you compare it to losing 5 pounds in a week, like I was in the beginning, it's a little frustrating.

If you do the math, it makes sense. When I was 88 pounds heavier, I burned way more calories at rest than I do now. When I started, I made the mistake of dropping my caloric intake too low, to about 1200 calories. What I should have done was go to 1500 or 1600 and work my way down to 1200. Now that I'm at 1200, I really have nowhere to go. I don't think it would be wise at this point for me to eat less. In fact, that would likely trigger my metabolism to slow down even more and I'd stop losing weight all together. If anything, I should probably be eating more, but that's a whole other can of worms I'll open in another post.

So what am I going to do, you ask? Well, I've started by shaking things up with the workout routine. In the past, I did most of my cardio after dinner. I had myself believing that was the only time I could do it, since I didn't want to get up any earlier than I do now. It's no secret that working out in the morning will do more for you than it will in the evening. It kick-starts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day. So, I decided to do 30-45 minutes of cardio a couple of morning each week, and then do strength training on those nights. This really has helped a little bit. I'm also considering hiring a personal trainer for a couple sessions to get some professional perspective.

I purchased an exercise ball last week, which came with an instructional DVD, and I must say it's a blast. My core muscles are feeling stronger and I swear my balance is better.

Additionally, I'm trying to eat smaller, more frequent meals. I've always been the kind of person who likes to eat a lot in one sitting, and adopting this new strategy has been difficult, especially at dinner time. If you read my logs on PeerTrainer, you'll notice I'm not doing very well in this department. But I'm trying.

This is all no-brainer stuff. I'm definitely not doing anything new or revolutionary here. I'm just trying to get rid of those last pounds before I can say I'm in "maintenance mode."

Today in my Peertrainer group I was talking about how weird it is when people stop complimenting you on losing weight. It's like the novelty has worn off. I'll admit that the attention made me feel special and noticed- something that I hadn't felt in a while. Now that's gone. Don't get me wrong. I still feel special for what I've accomplished. I'm also working harder now than I ever have, but since there are no dramatic changes on the outside, it's more difficult for people to perceive how tough it is to continue on this journey. Does that make sense?

I will say that it's pretty awesome when you see someone you haven't seen in a while. I went to the dentist this morning, and as I was sitting in the chair, the hygienist said "Holy cow, Morgan! How much weight have you lost?"

This weekend I'll be making a trip to see my "in-laws." (I use quotes there because I am gay and we're going to see my partner's family, so they're about as close to "in-laws" as I'm ever going to get.) I haven't seen them in at least 8 months, and I'm secretly hoping for their jaws to drop. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How I Got Started

Like I said yesterday, there was no single thing that happened to make me want to lose the weight. It had been building up over several years, and the simple truth is that I just didn't feel good anymore. Not physically, nor mentally. There are the obvious physical problems that come with being obese. Going to a movie always induced anxiety because I would have to squeeze all of myself into the seat and hope I would fit. Finding clothes was tough. Mowing my yard turned me a shade of red that I didn't know existed. The many rolls. And climbing stairs- forget about it.

Here is an example of the "roll" issue:

Dealing with the mental stress of being a heavy person is almost worse. I remember reading somewhere that when people step into an elevator, they position themselves so that the weight in the elevator car will be evenly distributed. When I would ride the elevator at my office, I'd be on one side, and three people would all be on the other.

I didn't like looking people in the eye, for fear of seeing in them something that they hated or loathed in me. When meeting someone for the first time, I would try to make a joke about my own fatness, just so I could be the first to get it out of the way. Just get it out there. Yes, I'm aware I'm fat.

It was May 1, 2007 that I weighed myself. I was 264 lbs. I got out a journal with a picture of Bucky and Satchel from the comic strip "Get Fuzzy" on the cover, and wrote the date on the first page. Below it, I wrote down everything I ate that day. I wasn't trying to change my diet that first day, so looking back, I cringe when I see what I put into my body... lots of macaroni and cheese, tuna patties fried in vegetable oil, half a pint of Ben & Jerry's... eesh. The next few days I started eating a little less, and eating more fruit. I also started walking. I would take my dog to the park down the street and back.

This transitional period was strange. I was reluctant to tell anyone about it because I wasn't sure if it would stick. In a weak moment, I mentioned to my mom that I was trying to live a healthier life. If I remember right, all she said was "hmmm." My parents had a treadmill, so one day I went over there to work out. I managed to stay on for 35 minutes, which is longer than I'd ever exercised. I felt pretty proud of myself, but my mom still seemed distrustful and skeptical.

On May 14, 2007, I joined a free web site call On the site, you form groups of 4 people and log all your food and exercise. This really helped me feel accountable. If I ate an extra serving at dinner, I knew I'd have to log it and my group mates would see. It helped me stay on track. To see my daily food and exercise profile on PeerTrainer, click here.

By the middle of July 2007, I had lost 30 lbs. and people were starting to notice and compliment me. My parents dumped their skeptical attitudes and said they were proud. I was feeling pretty strong and good about myself. We got a treadmill for our house and I used it almost daily.

On October 16th, I weighed 199 lbs. I had dreamed of that moment when would step on the scale and see a one in the front. I actually took a photo of the scale. All you see is my feet and 199.

Those first 65 lbs. were probably the easiest to lose. Next time I'll discuss how the weight loss slowed down, and where I'm at now.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A little background info for you...

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Morgan Gets Thin. This is my first blog ever! I'm here to tell the ugly truth about what it's like to go from morbid obesity to a somewhat normal weight.

I've struggled with weight for a long, long time. I remember when I was twelve. I was the tallest, huskiest girl in my class, but I was athletic so I didn't think my large size was a big deal. When I stopped doing sports and kept gaining weight, I knew I had a problem.

I just got bigger and bigger. I hardly ever weighed myself, so I can't be sure exactly what the numbers were. I do remember being in college and having to buy men's jeans because the women's sizes would no longer fit me. This was before plus-size fashion came into the picture. If you were bigger than a 16, you were pretty much out of luck.

That is, until I discovered Lane Bryant. I thought I had found the place where I belonged. The stuff actually FIT me! So, that was my new home away from home when I needed clothes. I got up to a size 26. That's 26, folks. Everyday tasks were becoming difficult. Easy things like tying your shoes or taking a shower. And I was only 29 years old.

A lot of people say that they had a "light bulb moment" or they hit rock bottom before they started getting healthy. That didn't really happen to me. There was no catastrophe that occurred, or no embarrassing moment where someone made fun of me. I was just sick of it, that's all.

So I changed. Tomorrow I'll tell you all about it!