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bear by san

March 2017



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me and a troll

don't you wish there were another picture of che guevara?

The following contains discussion of fitness, health, and weight issues. If that is triggery for you, please page down now!

Ob. Disclaimer: I absolutely support anyone's right to live in their body as they choose, at any size they find comfortable. This is entirely about me, and my efforts to reclaim my health and strength after half a decade of abusing and neglecting my poor body.

Well, I'm wearing a pair of jeans that, based on the brand and cut, must date back to 1987 or so.

They're Chic, size 14 tall, and in high school they would have been baggy on me. Now, they fit loosely except for the waist, which is a bit snug--but then, that happened when I was sixteen, too, though the jeans were size 11 then. This is because eighties jeans were cut to fit absolutely nobody except a young Brooke Shields. They do, however, still make my ass look fantastic, a characteristic generally not shared by modern lower-rise jeans, which make nobody's ass look good. Not mine, not yours. Possibly Jessica Simpson's.

But they do let one bend at the middle without pinching one's ribcage on the waistband, which I suppose is a win.

I guess that means I am officially back in my high school clothes, generously speaking. As I also have a black bat-winged sheath dress from Chico's that I loved in high school, and have been hanging on to for sentimental reasons. I might dust it off for an eighties party later this year. If only I had some slouchy elf boots.

I suspect I will save the jeans for eighties nights at goth clubs. I think I still have one pair of slouchy socks hoarded away somewhere... ;-)

This is all prelude to saying that I'm hovering somewhere around 187, and have been for about a month now with the usual ups and downs--but I'm obviously building muscle, because I seem to be shrinking. At one point a month or so ago I noticed I had obliques, there under the slack middle-aged tummy. This week, I noticed the top set of ab muscles. Also, my thighs are no longer getting in my way during most of yoga--that stopped after scott_lynch and I walked somewhere around 40 miles in three days of NYC. I can do Hero's Pose and Lightning Pose without cheating now, and my body doesn't actually interfere with my ability to do a lunge anymore.

It's still getting in the way of twists, and my biceps interfere with Eagle Pose, but that's not new. I'm a solid girl.

I can also wear most of my beloved old corp-goth work clothes again, justifying my hoarding tendencies. Two suits are a bit tight, but they were always on the skinny end of the rack. I had to move the buttons back on a green suit I love, that I had expanded a bit when I was gaining weight. It's a size 12.

I am facing the surprising possibility of shrinking out of my wardrobe again. In any case, look for a much better-dressed Bear at conventions this summer, since I love these clothes and don't have a dayjob to wear them to anymore.

Curiously, I'm about 17 pounds heavier than the last time I fit in these clothes, which tells us about the power of rock-climbing. Muscle is heavy!

My current weight goal is somewhere in the neighborhood of 160 pounds. Which should make the same size, roughly, as when I was in high school and weighed 150-ish. I was on track and field then, and at my most muscular before now, but I'm pretty sure my upper body now dwarfs what I had then. (Shoulders! They're awesome!) Also, um. Boobs. Some cup sizes have come to roost since then. Ahem.

So I'm less than thirty pounds from my goal, which is very pleasant. My body is behaving as it should; everything physical is so much easier than it was in 2004, when I couldn't walk a half-mile without agonizing pain (now I can run five 12-minute miles back to back); and I'm enjoying the reduction in back and joint pain and the ability to sleep comfortably on my side or back again without feeling like my own belly is crushing me.

I seem to be part of a coterie of SFF writers and fans on the "get healthy the old-fashioned way; move more and eat less crap" bandwagon, which pleases me. (personally, I have been following the efforts of Scalzi, Doctorow, Lynch, Sykes, Downum, Silverstein, Connolly, Buckell, and I'm sure a few others whose names are eluding me because it's time for lunch.) It pleases me because I'd like to see a lot of these people around for a damned long time.

I'm also noticing changes in appetite, which tell me my body is adapting to its new lower caloric demands. Two whole pieces of fruit is too much to eat with lunch now; I am contented with half of each (plus some protein and vegetables and brown carbs, of course). (I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, about ten servings most days; I've finally figured out how to reach my RDA minimum of potassium, and it goes like this: a cup of fortified cereal in the morning (Special K protein plus, since I can't find Total Protein around here anymore), half an orange, a small banana, eight ounces of green coconut water, and half a sweet potato. Some strawberries or mango don't hurt either, or some beans.))

For those who are curious about how I did it (my doctor was, and she laughed out loud when I said, "Counting calories, restricting sweets and saturated fat, and getting off my ass!" She then replied, "So doing all the boring shit we tell people to do, huh?"), here's my plan, fondly called The Discipline:

It's a refined version of the Hacker Diet, which relies on good old thermodynamics to make things happen. I'm keeping my caloric intake around 1700-1900 calories a day, exercising for about an hour a day on average, drinking lots of water and not too much caffeine, avoiding refined carbs (mostly: I get 100-200 calories of "treat" a day, which could be a glass of wine or a beer, or a brownie, or... PRO TIP: Guinness is lower in calories than most "lite" beers, and tastes a fuckload better. Now you know.), eating roughly twice as many vegetables as the FDA suggests, and trying to keep my protein intake around 20% and my fat intake around 25%--and also trying to keep my protein intake above 100g a day without too much reliance on red meat, or meat at all. (I do use protein supplements--whey and soy, mostly.) I eat a lot of high-protein dairy (skyr!) and I try to limit myself to 100-200 calories a day from refined sugar, which is roughly 20-40 grams. Or, well, half a can of non-diet Coke.

Managing sodium intake is a killer. But I'm working on it.

Sleeping eight hours a night also pisses me off, but it seems to be necessary. I got six last night, and noticed the difference on my run this morning--I kept having to walk up hills I normally cruise up in second or third gear.

I also exercise six days a week--usually two days of climbing (with a little yoga); three days of running; one day of yoga. I also try to get in some vigorous outdoor time when possible--kayaking, hiking, walking the dog. Walking to the store. Picking up my jump rope for five minutes on an otherwise sedentary day.

As I said, one of the most successful weeks of the Discipline recently was when Scott and I were on Manhattan, eating every goddamned thing in sight. But we also made a point of walking two-thirds the length of the island at least once (Riverside to Chinatown, with side trips), and we walked as much as time permitted, otherwise. I know it sounds like my fitness routine is crushing, and seven or eight years ago, it would have crushed me. (Hell, I had the pleasant experience recently of putting in a Rodney Yee video that, in 2006, I could do maybe fifteen minutes of, and having the full hour workout be only just pleasantly challenging.)

But remember, when I started out, I weighed 285-290 pounds and could not walk a half mile. One good habit builds on another, it turns out--and I find myself drinking more green and herbal tea because black tea doesn't taste good after the first mug, and I find myself not hungry for seconds unless the food is exceptionally good, and even then not always. There's not actually a lot of privation; I just want more of what's healthy for me.

It's okay if I have a measured ounce of cheese on my beans and rice, instead of as much as I can fit in the bowl. It still tastes just as good! Better, since it's as easy to afford small quantities of really delicious food as it is large quantities of sort of icky food. And far more satisfying.

Who knew?

Which is so different from all my old pathological ways of dealing with food and drink that it's a little croggling.

Most of this, of course, is just basic health maintenance stuff, and not too hard once you get the hang of it. And it's not like I don't give myself days off: I will in fact have two or three drinks on a night out, for example. I'm fully planning on onion rings after archery tonight when I get dinner with the Thursday Night Shooters.

Just... not too damned often. And budget for it.

It's not the extremes that set one's level of health; it's the baseline.


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Great job!

I was out for a walk last night when I noticed that the church down the street had re-blacktopped their parking lot, and my first thought was "Oh, man, it was always such a treat when someone did that when I was in middle school, because it made it perfect for roller skating on."

My second thought was "You know, you used to roller skate 12 hours a week. It's FUN. Why don't you buy a pair of roller skates instead of forcing yourself to do exercise things you don't like?"

So this weekend I'm going hunting for roller skates.
Inspiring! Thank you!
Yay health and enjoying the amount of fruit you have.
Well done, and inspirational.

Upper body strength helps with accuracy in archery. Amazing how much stuff is functional!
I dunno if that ever happens, but I find it helps to think of it as a resource management game ala Sim City.
Awesome! I just had the odd experience of buying a pair of pants 2 sizes smaller than what I wore in high school. Still weigh more than I did then though...
Muscle is heavy. *g* So is bone.
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Skyr!!!
Good for you Bear! I've been following this journey of yours for a while, and it's great to hear that your getting great results. My own Discipline is not going so well, but I've got a 6-month old distracting me ...although an hour or so a day of power walking with him in a stroller mitigates a multitude of my sins!
Congratulations on your hard work and may you have many good returns from this! (also, thanks for keeping these posts coming - from here I learned about quoina, skyr and coconut water)
You know, the exercise, I think, is the most vital part. I mean, yes, losing weight makes it easier? But I noticed feeling better within a month of starting to exercise half an hour most days, before I figured out how to lose weight.

So good on you.


Good for you. I see your exercise tweets and they are a daily inspiration to me. This was in evidence when I put on my summer work pants this morning and they fell off! Live long and prosper!

Re: Brava!

I think eighties pants are the pants I've been missing. All my pants that don't have draw strings are way too loose in the waist by the time I'm happy with the fit in the hips and thighs. This is partly because I have a hugely (and huge) muscular butt and thighs, and don't like tight pants, but it's also pretty ridiculous. I mean, this is with me still having a disproportionate amount of fat on my belly (for me, if not for the population at large).

I'm hovering around 88 kg - might eventually head towards 80, I suspect, but still letting things settle down after surgery. (At my height and musculature, 88 is pretty reasonable, so anything else is mostly for entertainment value.) Major re-education of shoulder muscles in progress. And, of course, without the nerve compression my blood pressure has gone back to 105/65 which will be fine when I get used to it, but for the moment is still a bit low.
I have good luck with Eastern Mountain Sports cargo pants. They're loose and rest on the hips, and are very tough and have many pockets.


I am glad your recovery is going so well. Also! Your physical fitness routine has been an inspiration to me more than once, especially given some of our parallel physical limitations.
This is good to see, and thanks for sharing your weight. I'm doing a lot of the same stuff, but have a huge block when it comes to sharing numbers on my blog. Not sure why. I have a smaller starting frame than you, but I'm doing 1660 calories a day, plus 3-4.5 hours bikram yoga per week, plus walking the dog, and lately adding at least one long bike ride per week. (I'd like to do more, but have some schedule challenges that I've needed to work through.) I lost 3-4 pounds in the first six weeks, but have been stuck hard at the same weight for about a month, even as my clothes seem to be getting looser. It's hard to keep the faith when you don't see the number changing on the scale. Funny thing, when I have talked about this on Facebook and on LJ, each time I get gentle pushback from people who want me to believe that 1660 is too many calories. No, it's not, it's really not, and I really appreciate seeing someone who is working on changing their body without going to starvation levels of calories. I really worry about what we are doing to our health, as a society, when we so many people on starvation diets.

I can't believe you still have a pair of Chic jeans laying around. Remember Jordache?
Oh, and a caveat about high school weights. This is something I learned recently, that makes total sense, but had never acknowledged. Women continue gaining bone mass until they are 25 or 30, so your high school weight is probably the wrong weight, unless you've gone over the other side and have lost bone mass again.
You could add Steve Barnes to your list of diet/exercise sf authors.
Good for him! I don't know Steve, though, though I admire his work...
It's okay if I have a measured ounce of cheese on my beans and rice, instead of as much as I can fit in the bowl. It still tastes just as good! Better, since it's as easy to afford small quantities of really delicious food as it is large quantities of sort of icky food. And far more satisfying.
Yes! One principle I’ve been using is “cut calories, not flavor”. Cheese planes are a wonderful invention, and I’m delighted that supermarkets now sell preloaded spice grinders. The sandwiches I pack for lunch are a lot smaller than the ones I made ten years ago, but even more tasty.
Also, good food invites me to pay attention to it. Which encourages me not to eat mindlessly.

Go you!

I realized, reading your plan, here, that all my reading and research and best-practices have led to me doing pretty much exactly what you are doing, foodwise. With minor modifications and differences. (I'm a vegetarian, f'rinstance.) And tendonitis be dammed, I'm still exercising three-to-five days a week. The result so far is, while my weight is still between 307 and 312 (down from 330 last January) I have lost two pants sizes and a shirt size, and had to punch a new hole in my belt.

The Discipline, it seems to be working for me, as well, is what I'm saying.
You *rock.*

Speaking as somebody who has dropped a hundred pounds over six years or so... it's worth it, and it's worth doing it right. (I could have done it faster, but there were stress-related lapses.)

I kept climbing through several bouts of tendinitis. Of course it's important to give your body a chance to heal, and protect the joints... but taping helped a lot.
I am going to add this to my memories for post-partum.
Except I won't be cutting calories because I will be nursing. But the types of calories I am taking in and the exercise parts.
I'm starting from a very different place than you, so I'm doing quite the opposite, but it's working for me. I find it fascinating that different people can eat quite different diets and do well on them. And it's always inspiring to read of other people's success, no matter how they're doing it.

In order to maintain normal blood glucose levels (without medication or insulin), I have to eat a very low carb diet. No grains, no sugar, very little fruit, no starchy vegetables. Alcohol in moderation (wine beats beer, but the occasional Guinness is good for me). I aim for 20g carb/day, but often get up to around 30. Going over 50g/day is right out though -- one 80g day will put my blood glucose out for 3 or 4 days. Not seriously high, but just up enough to be annoying.

I end up eating around 1,700 - 1,900 calories a day, about 60:30:10 Fat:protein:carbs.

Exercise is a bit of a trial for me -- I've worn out a few too many parts to do things like running or rock climbing. So I walk. And lift heavy things when I can (mostly furniture right now). It would probably do me good to take up Yoga or Tai Chi.

Good for you!
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