Sunday, November 23, 2014

When Life Hands You Soy-Lemons, You Make Soy-Lemonade

As we approach the holiday season, I've encountered a potential heartbreak as far as my diet goes: I may have to celebrate the holidays without delicious holiday nog. That may not sound like an actual problem for most people, but I love eggnog. A lot. To an unhealthy degree that is difficult to make other people understand.

My friend Sandy, for example, said this when I mentioned my problem and talked about the amount of calories in a single serving: "Would you really drink 8 oz of that at once? Granted, I don't like eggnog, but even if I did, that seems awfully heavy to drink a full cup at one time. It's egg yolks and sugar and cream plus all those colorings and preservatives and corn syrup."

Well, no, Sandy. Of course I wouldn't drink 8 ounces of eggnog at a time.

Because I drink my eggnog out of a 20 ounce tumbler.

And sometimes I have a second glass after the first one.

I know. That's disgusting. But it's also my holiday vice, which doesn't make it less disgusting, but does sort of explain how sad I am that I will not be able to buy any eggnog this year, for the same reason that I can't buy more than a single service size container of ice cream at a time. If it's in the house, I will drink it all. Possibly all in one sitting, because I've done that. I've consumed an entire half gallon of eggnog in one evening by filling glass after glass until the jug was empty.

I didn't get to 295 pounds by accident, you know.

Since I'm trying to change those kinds of eating habits, and I know I lack the willpower to carefully portion out the eggnog a serving at a time over the course of several days, and at about 350 calories per cup one serving is a poor use of my calories for the day anyway, I've been a little sad, and mentioned this to several friends. Some of them expressed sympathy, some offered recipes for light eggnog, and one suggested that I try soy-eggnog.

"It's just like eggnog!"

SPOILER: It's not.

I know, because I tried it.

soynog french toast (1)

It looks sort of like eggnog, right? It's the right color, and if you lean over it and inhale, it even sort of smells like eggnog. When I opened the carton, I was for a moment filled with hope, and willing to run to the friend who told me this and hug her over and over until her ribs snapped or my arms got tired. I should have talked to more friends about it before buying, though, because when I mentioned it to other vegetarian and vegan friends this week they all looked at me the same way that they would if I had opened my mouth and spontaneously vomited soynog onto their shoes and pantlegs.

Even vegetarians hate soynog.

There's a good reason: While soynog may look, smell, and even taste like eggnog, the texture is all wrong. It's like eggnog-flavored water.

soynog french toast (2)

It's like something that some of your eggnog might turn into if your eggnog sits in the refrigerator long enough to separate.

So I now had a quart of soynog, and it was disgusting. I debated just pouring it down the drain, and was even encouraged to do so by friends who work with charities that feed the hungry and try to reclaim leftover restaurant and dining hall food for homeless people. Even they saw no value in soynog, but this morning I conquered the soynog problem, by turning it into something delicious and holiday festive.

I made soynog French toast:

soynog french toast (3)

It's warm, it tastes like eggnog, and the texture doesn't matter because it is the texture of French toast.

You'll need:

2 eggs
1 cup soynog
Splash of vanilla (maybe a teaspoon?)
liberal sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg

Mix the first four ingredients together and pour into a wide, shallow bowl. Place each slice of bread in the mixture, turning the slice over to get both sides, and then drop in a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat, cooking one side and then the other until they are both golden brown.

It is the most delicious French toast I've ever made. Plan it for a festive Christmas morning breakfast, and dazzle your family with your holiday festiveness.

Just don't drink that crap.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

4 Things I've Learned

I've talked a lot about this whole walking and trying to lose weight thing since I started it in July, but I realized this week while talking to a friend that there are some things I haven't talked about. You learn a lot about yourself and your friends when you try to turn your life around (or at least part of it) and, while some of those things are hard to mentally wrestle with and some of them are annoying to listen to, some of them are also kind of amusing, at least to me.

In no particular order, here are some things I'm learning during my journey that are amusing me:

1) The top of my head doesn't sweat.

Every time I walk outside, I wear the same hat. It's the gray Old Navy hat I bought for Alternative Spring Break in 2013. We were going to some service sites that said we could wear hats instead of hair nets, and I didn't own any hats, so I got this little gray one at Old Navy. It's been riding around in my car since then, because sometimes I go outside and walk around and I don't want the sun to burn the top of my head, so it was natural that when I started walking around outside regularly I put on the hat.

And I sweat in it.

A lot.

And over the course of four months, this happened:

salt washed

The top of my hat is the only part that is still the same color it was when I started walking. My sweat, soaked into it over the course of days and miles, has slowly bled all of the dye out of the hat except for the top. The top of it does touch the top of my head; I've checked when I have it on. One of my friends has argued that what's actually happening is that the sweat all rolls down my head and the bottom of the hat, which is tighter, soaks it in, but I have chosen to believe that the top of my head doesn't sweat.

2) I'm going to donate clothes that I have worn less than five times.

I bought a lot of clothes on my way to 295 pounds. I had to, because the old clothes stopped fitting. The pants wore out, but the shirts didn't. I just kept putting them away and buying newer, bigger shirts. This happened gradually, over time, so it never seemed like, "I just bought this. Shit. It doesn't fit any more," but now? Let me show you something:

I bought a red, white, and blue shirt in June, a 3XL, with the idea that I might wear it for the 4th of July with a patriotic tie. When I tried it on, though, my 3XL shirt was too tight when I sat down. It looked fine standing up, but when I sat and my belly spread the buttons were straining and about to let go, like the unmarried sister in a Tennessee Williams play, so I couldn't wear it with one of my patriotic ties and I put the shirt and the idea away. After a few weeks of walking, though, I could wear it on July 29, and look how cute it looked! I looked adorable and patriotic, but a bright red and white shirt isn't something you can wear every day, so it turns out that I didn't wear it again until Tuesday this week. It was so big that when I tucked it in I had to unbutton the bottom button, because it now hangs so long and billowy on me that I have to tuck the bottom part not just into my waist, but past my groin and into the legs of my pants. 55 pounds will transform a shirt that had tight, straining buttons into a tarp with buttons.

It's a great problem to have, but it also means that I am going to take a shirt that I wore twice and put it in my Goodwill pile.

3) Cramps hurt like hell.

One morning, I snapped awake out of a dead sleep and sat up in bed somehow managing to both scream and to gasp for breath. God only knows what the neighbors thought if they heard it, because I'm pretty sure that I've never made a sound like that in my life.

Probably because I've never had a cramp like that in my life.

My calf was fully constricted and rock hard. Like any sane, rational person who went from sound asleep to maybe a six on the pain scale (possibly more; it felt like more, but I don't want to belittle people who have been impaled by things or had limbs violently removed) in under a minute, I sat up in bed and began punching myself in the calf. This was purely instinctive, because it took me at least a minute to think, "Oh, this is a cramp. You need to massage that out."

I've never exercised enough to get muscle cramps before.

When I finally got my calf to unlock, I staggered to the living room to google "cramps", and then to google "leg cramps" because I'm not menstruating. Now I eat at least one banana every day, and I haven't woken up with horrible leg cramps again.

4) My tailbone hurts.

This is my living room furniture:


That's not the way my living room looks most days, because it is both spotless and organized in that photo, but you get the general idea. That chaise lounge piece on the right is my favorite piece of furniture. I love that couch. I refer to it as my Fainting Couch, and it is the piece of furniture that I sit on every day, because the other couch is usually hosting a big pile of laundry that I need to fold and put away.

It is no longer comfortable, because I got so fat that I broke it.

I don't mean that it is physically broken, in the sense that the frame remains solid and I didn't get so heavy that I actually cracked my furniture by sitting on it. I did, however, wear a bit of a rut in my fainting couch. It was a really comfortable rut, actually. I'd come home, sit on my fainting couch, stretch out, put up my swollen ankles, and settle in for the night. I might fall asleep while I was watching television, but eventually I would get up and go to bed after spending a night not moving, sunk into my rut on my fainting couch.

And now, I can't sit on it for more than an hour or so at a time, because it hurts my tailbone.

Because my smaller ass no longer fits in the rut.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Four Months

One of my friends asked the other day if, since I've had to buy new pants, I was going to take one of those photos where you smile at the camera and stand in your old pants and hold the waist out so that people can see how far the waist of your pants is from your actual waist. If you were hoping for such a photo, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it's hard to take one of those pictures by yourself. I guess I could take it in the mirror, but this isn't Myspace and I don't want to show you my (nonexistent) abs. I also don't feel like inviting anyone over to take such a photo, so anyone who wanted one is going to have to live without.

You can look at this photo instead:

Inspiration (2)

The khaki pants on the bottom are the pants I was wearing in July. They were tight in July, but I was wearing them. The charcoal pants in the middle are a pair of the new pants I ordered at the end of September, a little over a month ago, which I mentioned above. The jeans on top? I wore those on Sunday. Last time I wore those, as far as I can remember, was April of 2012.

That's what progress looks like.

How much progress?

In July, I weighed 295 pounds.

In August, I weighed 273 pounds.

In September, I weighed 260 pounds.

In October, I weighed 248 pounds.

Today I weigh 240.

I have lost 55 pounds.

This month was a little rough for me, because I was out of town for a lot of it. I enjoyed my trips, and found the conferences educational, but I had trouble sticking to my calorie limits. It's really hard to maintain control of your food when you have to pick it off of a conference buffet, and options are very limited. I don't think I'm going to have the same problem when I am home visiting my family this month, because we'll go grocery shopping and I can handle eating out here and there, but trying to manage food for two straight weeks was a challenge. Walking was less of a challenge, and in both places it gave me a chance to get out of the hotel and see things that I probably would not have seen otherwise. I hit my step count every day, and most days exceeded it (one day I even doubled it, and walked ten miles), so I feel like travelling was ok, for the most part.

I also struggled a little bit with people at conferences. A lot of these people are friends that I only run into once or twice a year, usually at these conferences. It's nice to see them, and many of them told me how good I looked and how much thinner I looked, but a lot of them were also a little less supportive when I didn't want to go to happy hour before dinner because I wanted to go walk on the beach for an hour and a half instead. I didn't ask anybody to walk with me, because I think you should make your own choices, but I also don't appreciate being told, "You're no fun! All you do is walk on the beach!" by surly drunk colleagues. It's a problem that I talked about before, but that doesn't make it less annoying. Fortunately, I've always been willing to stop talking to people if they annoy me, and I found some other friends to hang out with instead. I might even like them more.

This is not to say that I am surrounded by unsupportive friends, because the opposite is actually true. I did the Race for the Cure this month, and enough friends donated to sponsor me that I made my $500 fundraising goal.

Race for the Cure 2014

Even better, I came in at 47:10. That's four minutes faster than the race that I did in September. I have another 5K this weekend, on Sunday. I'll let you know how that one goes.

My friends have also been supportive in other ways, and I don't know if I've thanked them enough. Many people have stopped to tell me how proud they are, or that they are inspired by my journey, or just that they support me. Larry (actually Mike, but I'll always think of him as Larry), Sara, Ilona, Erin, and Leonor all sent me books for my Kindle. My friend Lauren sent me an Amazon gift card, and in addition to spending some of it on books, I also spent part of it on a calendar for the Inspiration Wall across from my treadmill:

Inspiration (1)

It's a calendar of Venice.

I am 40 pounds away.