Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Progresso Review and Giveaway

I love getting things in the mail that aren’t bills. Whenever I open the hatch of our dusty, black mailbox and see a magazine, a Netflix envelope, or a package, my heart rate actually seems to go up a little because I get so excited. So, imagine my delight when a representative of Progresso contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing their soups. I actually buy their products anyway, so it was easy for me to say yes.

A couple of weeks later I arrived home to find a box full of 15 cans of Progresso soup, a Progresso mug, and a digital jump rope on my doorstep. I should note this was all sent to me at no charge by Progresso. Pretty awesome, especially considering it put a nice dent in our grocery budget for the week.

The package included traditional, light, and low-sodium versions of their soups. They’ve come out with several varieties that are only 100 calories per serving. You have to note that a can is usually 2 servings (who eats a half can of soup?) but even 200 calories for a large can seems like a safe bet, nutritionally. One of the 100-calorie varieties is chicken noodle. I really couldn’t tell the difference between the light and low-sodium versions. Both had lots of chicken, veggies and noodles, and the broth was great. The chicken and dumplings flavor is another one I buy regularly. I never met a dumpling I didn’t like.
I sampled the French onion along with a grilled cheese sandwich made with part-skim mozzarella and 9-grain bread. It was an awesome, healthy combination. As a traditionalist, this is hard for me to say, but the French onion soup was a better partner for the grilled cheese than my usual choice of tomato.

Now, for the giveaway! Progresso graciously provided a prize pack for me to give away to a reader:

To enter, send an email to morgangetsthin@yahoo.com with “Progresso” as the subject line. If you’re picked as the winner, I’ll write you back to get your mailing information.

Please make sure to have your entry in by Friday, January 29th. A winner will be randomly picked using my random winner picker. That just means I’ll put all the entries in a hat and let one of our dogs fish one out. Hopefully I can figure out who the winner is before Buster or Daisy tears the entry to shreds.

Also, be sure to check out Progresso’s “Souper You Debut” contest for the chance to win a full makeover in New York City. Details can be found here: http://www.progressosoup.com/souperyou/.

Thanks to Progresso for the opportunity to do this review!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Honey and vinegar

I haven't done much to benefit my fitness this week. I met all of last week's goals, but have yet to make new ones for this week. After a long walk with a friend on Sunday, I was left with blisters with their own zip codes, so it's been a little difficult to walk. This is no excuse for avoiding food-related goals, I realize. It's already Wednesday, so I'm a little late for the ballgame. Don't worry- I haven't forfeited yet; it's more like a rain delay.

The old adage "I'll start on Monday" is a common one in the world of weight loss, and I'm certainly no exception to thinking that way. Why I think it will be easier to start on a Monday is a mystery, considering Mondays are incredibly stressful for me. Every Monday, some unseen force (the promise of money, I suspect) compels me to wake up, shower, get dressed, and drive to my job, where around 300 emails from angry people await my reply. As I'm writing back to the guy who doesn't know me, yet is sure I am a butt-f***ing weasel (yes, I've actually been called that by a stranger), I'm thinking about how a cheeseburger or a cupcake would make it better. The guy who calls me a weasel is a complete stranger, and I shouldn't care what he thinks. I do, though. More than that, I care that he is mean to me. I wonder if he knows that the person he is writing to is a human being- a funny, clever, fat human being with blisters on her feet. I wonder if he knows that his rant makes me want to binge on spaghetti and meatballs until I'm about to burst. People seem to think that the anonymity of email gives them permission to treat the reader like a punching bag, but rest assured, that punching bag is a person. It might even be me. So please, for the love of cupcakes and cheeseburgers, be kind to the customer service reps you deal with.

But I digress. My point is that Monday does not a good starting point make. Thank goodness today is Wednesday, or I'd be in real trouble.

Oh, and to the dude who called me a butt-f***ing weasel: I have your name, your credit card number, and your home address. Suck on that, douchebag.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jagged little pill

Wow, what a couple of weeks it's been. Where to start...

Blogging, especially when you know people are reading, can be a risky little game. There are things I want to say, but feel I can't. There are things I hate to say, but know I should. I guess that's the nature of honesty and tact, and practicing them can be difficult at times.

Something I don't want to say but should: I've been on Zoloft, a common anti-depressant, for about 18 months now. Looking back, I can't even remember if I've mentioned that before, but it's relevant here. I got on it after the marathon. I probably should have been on it a lot sooner, but I was reluctant because one of the big side effects is weight gain. I hate to say this, but at the time, I would rather have been depressed than fat. When things really started to take a turn for the worse, I changed my thinking to "I'd rather be alive than dead," because that's how dire it was, and I decided it was time for me to experience a day that was not filled with desperation.

So, that's when I started taking my happy pill. While I can understand why people feel the need to refer to anti-depressants as "happy pills," it's really a misnomer- at least for me. They never made me happy; rather, they took my spectrum of misery-to-joy and smooshed it together, until the spectrum didn't really exist any more. Emotional extremes were pretty much gone. This was partly awesome because I hardly ever felt sad. As my friends and family will verify, I am most definitely a crier, and I hardly ever cried anymore on Zoloft. The other extreme was gone too, though. I'm sitting here now, trying to remember a moment of pure joy that I might have had during my Zoloft haze, and I can't remember one. That's kind of sad.

While I blame myself entirely for my weight gain (after all, it was me making those choices and no one else), I feel like the numbing effect of Zoloft played a part. I put on about 25 pounds in the first month. I got fatter and fatter, but hey- at least I wasn't as depressed about it.

When I decided I was ready to try to lose the weight again, I thought I should get everything in my corner that I possibly could. That's when I decided to stop taking it. Let me just say this before I go any further: if you'd on an anti-depressant, always check with your doctor if you're thinking about stopping. I wish I had. She probably would have told me to taper-down, rather than quitting cold turkey. That would have been good to know.

For a few days, I didn't really feel any different. After a week or two, I could feel my old self start to emerge a bit. I'd cry a lot more readily. Pretty much anything cold set me off- an ASPCA commercial, stubbing my toe, seeing a dead squirrel on the road- anything. Old feelings that I thought were gone came rushing back. It also feels like there's a shorted-out wire loose in my brain. Out of no where, I'll get these little "zaps." It doesn't hurt, but it's annoying. While the negative parts of Zoloft withdrawal are bothersome, I will say that the highs returned, too. I'm happier, even with all the crying and brain-buzzing, than I was before.

I'm also not quite as hungry. I've been following my weekly goals and doing pretty well. Last week my goals were to exercise 3 times and avoid beef, which I did with no problem. I even managed to run on the treadmill for a couple of minutes. This week, my goals were to keep up with the exercise, limit beef to 1 serving for the whole week, eat no fried food, and avoid alcohol. I have one more workout to go before tomorrow, but that won't be a problem. The scale is being rather obnoxious- I've only lost 2 pounds since I started, but I feel worlds better. I'm not quite so out of breath when doing everyday things, and I'm feeling more confident. This time around, I'm really trying to focus on how I feel instead of the number on the scale. In that respect, I feel like I'm getting results.

So that's that. Now, where's the Kleenex?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The middle way

Last week, when I decided I was ready to start over, I also decided I had to change a lot of my thinking. The first time I lost weight, it came off very quickly. I suspect that's because I only ate what experts say is the bare minimum amount a person should eat, and I exercised pretty much every day. I don't know how I was able to do that for a whole year. Seems like I should have burned out after a week or two.

This time around, it has to be different. If I'm going to lose this weight again, I can't have my characteristic all-or-nothing attitude about it.

Before Christmas, NBC aired a "Where are they now" episode of The Biggest Loser. I DVRed it, knowing I had no immediate desire to watch all the happy, shiny, thin people who had been able to keep their weight off; but, I knew I might want to watch it someday. On Monday, I queued it up at got ready to be jealous of all the previous contestants. Many of them were right where we left them- ripped and glowing, albeit with slightly sagging skin. A few had become personal trainers, which is a career I thought about for a while. Some had put some of the pounds back on, but still were working at it. But there was one- Eric Chopin- who was just like me. He'd gained most of it back. The words he said were exactly the way I felt. While I'd never wish for someone to feel as awful as I do about my relapse, it was comforting to see how much we're related in our struggles. So many of my readers have written to me, saying they'd lost a bunch of weight and gained it back. All of us are alone- and not alone- all at the same time.

Eric was visited by his old trainer from the show, Bob Harper. Eric was so worried about Bob being disappointed or angry. I feel that fear with my family and friends all the time. I know my family worries about me, and they care about my health and not my weight, but it's still a slap in the face when they bring it up.

When Eric talked about dropping the pounds again, he talked about how hard it was the first time, and how reluctant he was to go "all out" again. Bob said something that really stuck with me, and I'm paraphrasing here: "You know how to lose weight. You know how to put weight on. What you don't know is how to find a balance."

I'm trying to keep that in mind as I climb this mountain again- slowly. My system right now is to make 2 small changes a week, see how that goes, and then move on. This week, my goals were to exercise 3 times, and not eat any beef. I have one more workout to complete before Sunday, but I'm on track. Let me tell you- I had forgotten how great it feels to be completely sore and nearly immobile the day after a weights workout.

So, that's going to be my system for a while. I'm not worrying about calories, mileage, or even having seconds at dinner (for now). Just 2 things a week. That's doable, right?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The way things are

2009 wasn't the best year. My lack of posts may lead some to believe I was very busy- too involved with my exciting whirlwind of a life to blog. They couldn't be more wrong.

After last year's Kansas City Marathon, one of the best days of my life, things took a turn. I was sick of thinking about every little thing I ate, bored with running, and tired. I was so very tired. At the time, I was just allowing myself a little break from my fit existence. The break turned into 14 months of a total downward spiral. I've gained every bit of the weight back, and then some. Here's my new "before" picture, which was taken about an hour ago. By the way, that's my sarcastic "fuck you" smile. I haven't genuinely smiled for a photo in months.

On my right ring finger, there's a red indentation that represents where my grandmother's wedding ring used to reside. She gave it to me as a birthday gift in April. Every time I'd visit her, she'd want to hold my hand and look at it. I told her I'd never take it off, and that always made her smile. A few days ago, I had to break that promise. I could feel it getting tighter and tighter as my fingers got fatter, and I was worried that if I didn't remove it soon, I'd have to get the ring cut off. Four days ago, as I pried it off with the help of lots of soap, I cried. Grammy died in July. She's on my mind constantly. Mostly I wonder what her last moments were like, and if she was afraid. I saw her the night before, but I still feel a lot of guilt for not being there during her final moments. Since the nursing home didn't call me to let me know she was rapidly declining, I was at home on the couch, obliviously eating Taco Bell. I will never, ever forget that I was eating fast food while my grandmother was dying. It sickens me to think it. I miss her so much. She was the most generous person I've ever known.

My life has become one of avoidance. I don't make eye contact or engage people in conversation unless social nicety requires it. I rarely go out with my friends, especially the ones who only knew me as a thin person. A few weeks ago, I met my old running gang for brunch. I don't really know what possessed me to say yes, because it was the very last thing I wanted to do. Of course I wanted to see them and catch up with their lives. I missed all the long, sometimes deep, sometimes silly conversations we'd have on our Saturday morning runs. But I didn't want them looking at me. I didn't want them to see what I've let myself become.

With the holidays came the extended family, most of whom hadn't seen me in a year or more. I almost called in sick to Christmas. My relatives are nice people, and I knew they'd never say "Wow, you sure got fat again," but I didn't care. I knew they'd probably think it. I wound up going to Christmas, but I started pounding beers as soon as possible. Each drink helped me to put away the shame, so I could talk to my family.

God, what a mess.

I've been waiting to be ready to start it all over again. I ponder what I did wrong before, and what I did right. I try to get inspired, to remember what got me fired up in 2007 when this all started. Back then, it was the inability to put my shoes on without getting winded, the headaches, and having a revolving credit line at Lane Bryant. Well, that's all back. Okay, maybe not the line of credit at Lane Bryant, but I've shopped there recently.

So there it is. I weigh 286 pounds, and as I type this, I'm wearing the very same fat pants I held up so triumphantly in this picture:

Once again, I'm back to square one. I've been down both the thin road and the fat road. Even though the thin road may be more difficult to travel on, the air is more clear and its scenery is certainly more pleasant. The clothes fit and the physical limitations are virtually gone. I can breathe when I'm on the thin road.

Forgive the cheesy metaphor, but it's the way things are. So, here we go again.