Saturday, September 15, 2007

Now with only one foot in the grave!

Hey Internets, I'm obese!

I was having dinner with a friend who reads this blog and also keeps up with a lot of people in my blogroll, and he mentioned that a few of those bloggers only use their BMI as a weight loss indicator. And because I still am kind of All Things Weight Loss on the inside, even though I've ostensibly shunned formal dieting and I sit in my work's food lounge smiling beatifically like some sort of oracle of self-acceptance and emotional peace while Gen miserably wraps her hunks of meat in bacon and dips them into nacho cheese and then sacrifices the liver of a wild boar to Dr. Atkins, as soon as he said "BMI" my mind immediately snapped into "Hmm, I wonder what I weigh now?" mode. And even though I was like 99% invested in the rest of our conversation that evening, a tiny little part of me was pining to reunite with my scale and see whether my slightly looser pants this week were actually loose or just stretched out to the point of giving up.

So this morning, after sort of ignoring all this weight loss business in the wake of being Officially Insane in the Membrane, I woke up and performed my little weighing in ritual of peeing, stripping down, and blowing all the air of out my stomach (because air weighs SO MANY OUNCES). I sort of half squinted through my dirty contacts, and then I had to bend over close to the numbers because I really couldn't believe what I saw.

217.5 lbs. Hm.

This is pretty good, considering I was climbing back up near 227 about three weeks ago, right before I had my little mad scene and decided to go for help. And really, the most gratifying part of it is that I've done this completely without dieting. I'll admit that the Wellbutrin seems to be playing its part in toning down my appetite, and that's fine, but I've also somehow decided that fruit is better than ice cream, and water is better than pop, and having a bowl of brown rice and vegetables is a definite improvement upon three frozen Totino's pizza and a bag of honey mustard pretzels.

As my brother's summer job boss would say, "Too cool. Too cool."

So, back to the BMI. When I first started this blog, I dutifully weighed myself and took all my measurements and went to the little government health website that calculates your BMI for you. When I clicked "submit" and a big red block of text showed up next to my BMI of 42.9, I was really sort of taken aback when it said I was in the "morbidly obese" category. I sort of furtively looked around my room for a gaunt hooded figure with a scythe, and then looked down at my body for signs of impending disease or death. I couldn't really find any.

Being morbidly obese to me means having to use the motorized shopping carts at the grocery store because walking to the bread section and back is impossible. Morbid obesity means clothes don't carry your size anymore, and your body starts betraying you in ways that it shouldn't for your age. You limp, you huff and puff on a single flight of stairs, you move slowly and ungainly and simple chores and household tasks are a monumental undertaking. In my mind, morbid obesity means diabetes and heart attacks and maybe the necessity of surgery to help get your body back into fighting shape. I am NOT morbidly obese.

I'm not claiming that I am in any way in truly acceptable physical condition either, though. I'm not good at running, and I can't even do one real pushup, and my body doesn't bend and flex and move as efficiently as it used to, but my blood pressure is low, and my body is healthy, and when I walk I do so quickly and smoothly, and I can work for hours and hours without needing a break. My body, if not aesthetically pleasing or athletic, is at least functional. And yet, I might as well have printed out that big red DANGER sign on that website and taped it to my chest like a big scarlet F, because science and mathematics have decided that my weight was inching me closer to my deathbed with every ounce I gained.

And so this morning after being surprised by the 217.5 on my scale, I remembered last night's dinner conversation and decided to check my BMI just for fun, and since I managed to lower it three points this year, I'm now squeaking just under the morbid obesity line at 39.7. Obviously not so good, but at least I didn't earn the scorn of the NIH this time.

I made a little bar graph of my progress since January, because I don't really think the numbers on the side of my blog give an accurate picture of my gains and losses over the last nine months. There were sometimes I'd weigh in on my calorie counter website, but not here because I wasn't blogging or it wasn't "official" or for whatever reason, and so I stuck those things in on this bar graph to see if I could notice any trends. So, here it is:

I think this tells so much more of a story than those numbers, because it just proves to me how much of getting healthy just has to become ingrained in your mind as a matter of fact lifestyle, and not as an undertaking with an absolute beginning and absolute end. Looking at it like this also lets me be so much more forgiving of the progress (or lack of progress) I've made since January. Analyzing the numbers and realizing I've only lost 17 pounds since January kinda made me cringe, because what have I been DOING this whole time? When I look at the graph, though, I can tell you exactly why the weight spiked. I see February and I can say, "Right, my grandma died in February and I really took it badly." I look at that last little spike and I know that that's where the depression started going out of control and I was eating so much I couldn't breathe and of course there'd be a weight gain when something like that happens. And now there's my new measurement of 217.5, which tells me on paper I'm doing as well as I thought I was in my head.

When I started all this, I really thought that getting to a 35" waist or an under-40 BMI or dropping below 200 lbs. was the absolute most important priority I had for the immediate future. Somehow though, even back then, I knew it wasn't going to roll that way. The bar graph wasn't going to look like the side of a mountain so much as a big, craggy, drama-filled mountain range that just wound on and on and on. If you had told me that in, say, January or even May of this year, I would've been profoundly disheartened to hear it. Now, I'm just kind of "Eh." about it. If I look at the scale next week and it's on 215 or something, then awesome...I'm on the right track. If I spike back up, then I know I need to stop pulling into Taco Bells and start spending more time at the places with the salad bars and the veggie wraps. That's cool with me, because hopefully the aggregate successes will mitigate the times when I can't always keep it together.

But at least now that I know that the government has helpfully provided an arbitrary number to endorse my opinion that my weight (never mind the fact that I commute hundreds of miles each week on heavily trafficked highways and I fly in airplanes and I often fall asleep at night with my back door unlocked and my baseball bat nowhere near enough to protect me and sometimes I try to plug in my hairdryer with wet fingers) isn't suddenly going to cause me to unceremoniously drop dead while playing "Skip to my Lou" with a bunch of first graders, I can stop being so obsessive about alway wearing clean underwear. I just figured that if I did keel over because of my ABHORRENT AND COMPLETELY LIKELY TO KILL ME CASE OF MORBID OBESITY, I at least ought to try make my mother proud.


Lauren said...

congrats on the weight loss and the lessons learned. And from personal experience, when you are in some sort of horrible accident, even if the underwear were clean in the beginning, they aren't likely to be afterward. Or in death, cause when you die, your body just kind of lets loose. I've never seen it, but that's what they say on Grey's anatomy, and House and Bones. Hmmm, maybe I should watch less tv, nahhhh

Scale Junkie said...

I envy your obeseness and hope to be merely obese by the end of next year. Great job on the weight loss!!

Jarrett Meyer said...

All the measurements can be a lot. Then you have to decide whose scale you'll use. It can be a lot to digest. (Hehe.)

I guess all that matters is that you are content with who you are. I won't say happy, because I don't see me ever being happy with me. Content? I can live with that. I wasn't content being over weight. I like shopping for smaller clothes. I like the weight that I am, but I want that weight to look differently now (more muscle, less fat).

You may never want to participate in a marathon or even a 5k. But if you wake up in the morning and hate what you see, that's no good either.

*ccc* said...

Bah, you couldn't see the ripper because he's hanging out waiting to take MY morbidly obese arse...

You just keep doing what you do and don't let any number, BMI or otherwise, phase you.

That graph says a helluva lot.

Now, if you could please send these words right back at me when I complain of a slow-moving scale, I would appreciate it.

Salma Gundi said...

"... hopefully the aggregate successes will mitigate the times when I can't always keep it together"

I love this sentence :) I'm pretty sure that it sums up life in general, not just that which relates to weight and health.

Happy new monitor shopping!