stay shiny

For the last year and change, I’ve been on a serious mission to lose some weight. I spent most of my teens and early twenties never having to worry about how much I ate or how much exercise I got, and by my late twenties, that started to catch up with me. It didn’t help that I went from having a job where I basically got three or four hours of walking in every day, to the much more sedentary office/car worklife that I have now.

Before landisdad & I got married, I decided to do Jenny Craig, in order to lose some weight, and that worked, but I got pregnant pretty soon after we got back from the honeymoon. I never lost all the baby weight I gained with the Bee, and after the Potato was born, I routinely topped the scales at over 200 lbs. I wasn’t very happy about it—as a younger woman, I was fairly accustomed to male (and some female) attention, and I missed that. But I wasn’t so miserable that I wanted to do very much about it.

Last year, around June, I started having a lot of lower back pain. I sort of decided (without the benefit of medical advice) that it was due to the excess weight I was carrying around, and I decided that it was time to do something about it. So I downloaded a free app from, and created a weight-loss program for myself. It basically works the same way as Weight Watchers, or other diet systems—you track your caloric intake and add in any exercise you do—and every week, as you lose a pound or however much, you get a slightly smaller caloric allotment.

It works great for me, because I am a data-driven, competitive person. I like numbers, and I like being able to see the direct impact, every day, of my food choices. One of the things that it made me immediately recognize was how many calories are in ridiculous numbers of salads in chain restaurants, due to the dressing and other non-vegetable ingredients. It also gave me an instant reward for exercise—hey–I can eat 150 more calories today—which is something that I personally find very motivating. The other great thing about it, from my perspective, is that there are no ‘bad’ foods. I can eat a piece of cake, or whatever—I just have to make corresponding choices at some other point in the week that balance it out.

So far, I’ve lost over 40 pounds, which is still short of my goal of 60, but it’s a lot of progress. (I’ve also gotten rid of the back pain—but that did eventually require a doctor’s visit and a month of physical therapy, because what I had is sciatica—the moral of this story being, don’t diagnose yourself.)

People have started treating me differently. I’m treating myself differently—I had to get a whole new wardrobe, and for the first time in a long time, I bought a bunch of skirts, and some skinny pants. I dress up more—I’m not trying to hide in a uniform of a loose t-shirt and jeans or capris the way that I used to do.

I’m not a big proselytizer by any means—but if you lose 40 pounds, it’s noticeable, and people will ask you how you did it. I tend not to talk about it a lot—after all, I could have just as easily failed at this diet—and I don’t think that I have any more will-power or whatever than other people do—I just managed to find a system that reinforced my desire to change in a way that works for my crazy brain, it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. And I also don’t really want to talk about weight loss in a way that is at all judgmental, either in a positive or negative direction, really. There’s enough crap in our culture causing us to overeat, and move less, and feel bad about the way we look—and I don’t have any interest at all in feeding anyone else’s anxiety about herself. People will occasionally make nervous comments when they’re having a meal with me about how I’m “being good” and they should “be good like me,” which just make me very uncomfortable. I’m not interested in judging anyone else’s food intake (well, with the exception of my own children’s, but that’s a different thing altogether).

But yesterday I had a slightly odd experience where two of my co-workers started telling me that I had lost enough weight and I should stop. I was a little shocked, frankly, that they thought it was anyone’s business but my own what I weighed. I’m not in any danger of anorexia, or an eating disorder. The two of them had clearly been talking about me, though, and come to some conclusion about how I look, and that just pissed me off. Part of me wanted to say, “hey, back off, this is really my business,” but because they were being “nice” about it, I didn’t feel like I could (plus, they are two people that I have to work very closely with). The other part of me just said, “yeah, I appreciate your input,” which is probably just a different way of saying the first thing.

And then they kept going. It was extremely awkward, and I finally had to walk away to end the conversation, and I drove home from that meeting just recapping, over and over in my head, the many, equally rude things that I could’ve said in return, but didn’t.

Some days, it’s hard to stay shiny.


July 31, 2010. work.


  1. chichimama replied:

    Congrats on the weightloss! I just started with Loseit, hearing your successes to date inspires me to keep going!!!

  2. Becca replied:

    Good for you on all fronts–from losing the weight, to not giving them a piece of your mind (despite their deserving it).

  3. Jennifer (ponderosa) replied:

    I get comments sometimes (usually around the holidays) along the lines of, “Of course YOU can eat that, you’re so skinny.” It is totally irritating. It’s a backhanded compliment, while also seeming to imply that I shouldn’t actually be eating whatever-it-is. We have an obsession with weight in this country, and you get flak whether you’re thin or overweight.

    it’s funny you posted this though because I’m starting to realize that as I near 40, I need a work out routine (until now ive been pretty haphazard) — I need to stay strong or risk injury. routines are hard for me. I love how you designed a program that worked for your personality. It’s what I need to do.

  4. Jody replied:

    I’m trying to figure out how to say “congratulations” without falling into all the problems, like, what, it wouldn’t have been so good if you’d stayed at your old weight? But it’s really nice to hear about people finding a system that helps them reach a goal, and your weight story is sort of similar to mine, so I feel especially pleased.

    Calder and I both decided to get serious about weight loss this year, since we both turned 40, and then my cholesterol turned out to be scary-high, so I’m finally not just planning but actually executing those infamous “lifestyle changes” (except that for me, it’s better to focus on exercise and specific foods rather than weight loss, because I’m not sure these changes will actually show up on the scale, even though, honestly, I fantasize that they will). And you know, it took me a LONG time not to subtly sabatoge Calder’s efforts. Not to tease him when he took smaller portions, or harangue him for no longer joining me in a glass of wine, or [fill in the many blanks]. Especially when he dropped 20 pounds in 3 months and I stood still (this was before the cholesterol report).

    There is something difficult about weight loss that brings out the idiot in people, and it sounds like the idiocy hit your co-workers. Hopefully they’ll get over it. I wish I didn’t have that impulse to undermine Calder, but at least I’m recognizing it and getting over it already.

    In the meantime, I’m going to feel inspired by your example and hope I can report similar success sometime next spring. I would LOVE to buy new clothes!

  5. elise replied:

    I’ve always felt uncomfortable commenting on people’s weight loss. To begin with I am unable to notice any change in other people unless it is at least 20 lbs – whether it is up or down. Furthermore, it always feels to me as if I am saying “you look good now but before you looked fat”. Just seems rude to me. I don’t want people to think that I’m focusing on their weight one way or the other. However, I’m torn because people seem to thrive on other people noticing that they’ve lost weight. People seem to love to hear “you’ve lost so much weight! You look great!”

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