I’ve only gained 1.3 pounds in 2015.
I know what you’re thinking. (Actually I’m not a psychic. I can guess what you’re thinking.)
Way to go, Cathy! Fist bumps all around! Woot!
Or something like that.
And in a way, it feels really good to type that out, but there’s a caveat: I started out about 43 pounds over what scientists say is the upper most end of a healthy BMI for a 5-foot 6-inch woman.
Now let’s agree for argument’s sake that those BMI charts are just a tad hardcore and we’ll choose a slightly more sane number.
How does 30 pounds overweight sound? Good? Yes? Okay, let’s go with that.
So that 1.3 pounds, while initially impressive is actually just a hair over homeostasis. In other words, I maintained my girth in 2015 and I’m being honest with you about how I have moved
more less and eaten well like shit in 2015, that 1.3 pounds is a mother effing MIRACLE.
So I have a few thoughts and the first one is this: menopause is a bitch, ladies.
Okay it’s not all that bad. If you can deal with daily hot flashes, then you’ll be just dandy. That’s really been the main issue I’ve had for the past two years. In fact, there are some real benefits to The Change but they might fall under the WTMI (WAY too much information) category. One not-so-great side effect is that my body requires far fewer calories to operate. Unfortunately my daily choice maker doesn’t seem to be getting the memo on this.
Which leads me to Number Two: my purpose has determined my present outcome. My purpose this year has been to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. To that end, it’s still officially hard to bend over without my stomach putting up a fight. And you can’t really blame that on menopause, people.
And all this would be fine if I was okay with it. But I’m not okay with it. I don’t feel great in my skin.
I can move more and I can eat well. So that’s what I need to do.
Here’s the thing: I am an abstainer.
I was recently listening to a Nutritional Weight and Wellness podcast featuring Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, who was talking about her new book, Better Than Before. The conversation was about habits and the abstainer/moderator idea came up.
You know this, right? Abstainers are all or nothing people. When it comes to food, we can’t keep a piece of dark chocolate on our desks to last us the entire work week. We don’t just eat one Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Pumpkin. We don’t drink just one glass of wine.
One thing that Gretchen talked about was the belief that moderators are who we should strive to be but the reality is, some of us are and some of us, she would argue, a majority of us, probably are not.
I see this so clearly in looking at my entire life. As a smoker, I never could fathom those people who would have a smoke on the weekend with a beer and be done with it. Nicotine addiction drove my daily life on pretty much every level. But it’s not just in the bad habits category where I see my tendencies. It’s in everything. If I need to learn how to use a new piece of software, I will dive in and absorb every last bit of information I can find to meet that goal. If I decide that it’s time to clean my house, then it’s game on for hours until it’s done.
Abstainers can be very productive people. But the key for me is to realize it’s neither negative nor positive. There are pros and cons to everything, but this isn’t a case of right and wrong.
It’s just the way it works for me. I’m not good at moderating or dabbling.
As I downed an entire bag of those aforementioned Reeses pumpkins last week during one episode of Project Runway, I think I realized that maybe something’s gotta give. Again.
So here I am, just talking about it in my very public forum. I tend to worry that this all comes across as whiny but it would be disingenuous of me to not write about it, because it’s in my head most days. And the way it’s been in my head has been in a very whiny, childish, woe is me kind of way. So I’m trying to get clear with myself and make some changes.
So that’s what I’m doing.
Make no mistake about it, menopause is a raving lunatic of a bitch!!
Thank you Cathy, for every time you write about this. Even though I’m not in the same life stage as you, I respect your realness about the struggles with exercise, food and over indulging. With 12 weeks till Christmas and having just got married, I’ve spent this week eating anything, happy I’m not “restricted” anymore. But its not making my body feel any better. Things had to give with family in town, but thank you for this post. Thank you for reminding me, I can try again. And I can do this! I’m going to combine your 30 days of thankful with move more eat well JumpStart, but plan to start adapting my behaviour now. 🙂
it is a daily battle…speaking as someone who has fought hard to lose 56 lbs the last year and a half…I feel better than I have in years, but it is a daily battle.
There are just some days when things get away from you. I recently re-discovered oreo cookies. unfortunately, I ate almost a half of sleeve of cookies! Fortunately, they were the new thin version!
Paul B says
Looking good Cathy!!! Just finished reading Better than Before myself and like you, could totally relate to the abstainer mentality. It’s all or nothing for me. Would love to moderate but it doesn’t work for me. However, what had me laughing throughout the book, is that she says we fall into 4 personality types. I knew exactly mine, the Rebel. And for every tip and technique she discussed in the book, she had the caveat, “except for Rebels”. It’s not until the last chapter that she reveals the ONE technique for them. The rest of the book? Completely useless for my type haha. I came away with the impression that if you’re a rebel who wants to change your habits, don’t bother haha. P xx
Cathy Zielske says
Paul, I took her little what type are you test and while I cannot for the life of me remember what I was, it wasn’t rebel. LOL!.
As someone who battles this regularly (been in menopause for years), I found a few things work for me. Doing a little exercise everyday (even 5 minutes of yoga, stretching, weights, etc) is better than several hour-long grueling sessions a week. Substituting works wonders — rice crackers vs. flour-based, sugar-free cookies vs. the real thing. Yes, there are splurges believe me, but its all about what you can live with. And yes, I chow down on dark chocolate everyday. In the end, its about finding that sweet spot, what’s healthy but easy to maintain.
Cathy, I am another one that says thanks for putting your honesty out there because it is reality for a ton of people. I know I used to let my self esteem be controlled on whether I exercised or ate bad. I got tired of it and decided to do what made me happy. I stopped beating myself up. And in the process, I focused on what I like to do. I like to walk, so I try and walk most days when it is warm. I like to cook so I am exploring eating more vegetables and fixing them how I like them.
I agree with what Laurie said about substituting also. If I am going to make tacos now, I make them with ground turkey instead of ground beef. I haven’t stopped eating beef by any means, but if there is a good substitution that tastes the same then I choose it. My husband is a type 1 diabetic. He controls his diet with his carb intake. What he started doing years ago was only eating half a bun when he had any type of sandwich. It may be small, but over a years period of time you are saving calories. Or if I make tacos I don’t use the shell and instead put all the toppings on some lettuce.
Another thing that has really made my butt expand is sitting all day working at home. When the kids were young I was running all the time, but not more. I don’t have a solution for that one except get up and move more. It is hard getting out of your comfort zone for sure.
Cathy Zielske says
Sandy, sitting on my butt all day doesn’t help me either. Part of why I want to purchase a laptop is so that I can work standing up for the things during the day like blogging work or other writing. 🙂 Every little bit does help. Right?
Seriously honey. Get that laptop, throw a board across your treadmill’s arms, and go to town! You only need a 1.2 mph pace and in 2 hours you’ll have nearly 20k steps. And its slow enough to let you still work… not detail design work, but blogging, email, photo cropping/editing, etc. It’s a total sanity saver for me. (Won’t help much when we down a whole bag of pb+chocolate deliciousness, but it is better for your overall health and sure won’t hurt!)
The other thing I’m finding helpful, is adding more weight training. Seems to be helping curb my cravings more than cardio. And hey, muscles are cool… if only you could see them under the flab. 😀
Cathy Zielske says
Yes, you know, this is such a great idea. And yes to the weight training. I started with some in the summer, then went to a funeral out of town, came back and decided not to do it any more. Getting back to that this week.
Great idea – I am so trying this.
And by the way, who are the cute boy pictures on the drum set? Is that Matthew Mcconnaughey that I see?
Cathy Zielske says
Indeed it is! Cole decided to plaster his photos on his bass drum. Too funny.
Aaw man, I so relate to this all-or-nothing business. After my no sugar challenge this spring (when I felt great by the way, and weight just fell off me), I was all “I’ll reintroduce chocolate as a Saturday snack. I can handle this.” and five days later I was *this* close to shooting myself up with syrup. Moderation just doesn’t exist in my world.
Michelle t says
I can’t offer any advice, I have the opposite problem due to a health issue. But I just wanted to extend support. You’re not whiny, you’re real. And you’re honest. Sitting here, reading your blog posts, cheering you on, and wishing you the best. Michelle t
I’m right there with ya, Cathy. In. Every. Way.
I have gained 30 pounds over the past 6 or so years. And yes, I am 53 years old. UGH. I applaud a mere one pound gain over a year! It’s AWESOME!!!! Don’t you be beating yourself up. You make a delightful contribution to the world and that’s what’s important! Plus, you didn’t gain 10 pounds. Or 20…
Boy Cathy, I swear we are twins separated at birth, right down to the hight, I am older than you but that is the only thing different, I could have written this blog post. My husband was in the hospital for 3 weeks in March and I haven’t gotten to Weight Watcher’s since and the weight is piling back on, 10+lbs so far
I haven’t been able to exercise like I used to either so that doesn’t help. I really need to get my head screwed on and do something about this before it gets worse.
Thank you for posting this
Cathy – I love Gretchen Rubin’s Project Happiness book. I am totally type A, which can be helpful, but sometimes it’s exhausting. I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember and it seems like I’ve hit a phase of life where it is WAY harder to lose anything. I started to resent the fact that losing anything meant that my life needed to revolve around food and exercise. Grrr! I have to accept that though. It has to be one of the things that are a high priority on my list or else I’m just going to get a whole lot of the same… if that makes any sense. I’m still fighting with the same 10 pounds up and down (i have a lot of weight to lose, but I seem to be stuck on this one range), but I try to remind myself that I am eating better, I am more active than I have been in 17 years. Even if the stupid scale refuses to budge, I am healthier…
Oh I can so relate to your post Cathy and realize I am definitely an abstainer. It seems this year I’ve hardly moved at all what with the surgeries and treatments (even though I was supposed to) and food choices lately have been disasterous. I keep thinking, I’ll haul out my old and I do mean old WW food journals and just try and follow them for a couple of weeks to get me jumpstarted again.
Please keep sharing Cathy, you have described me, exactly. I am an abstainer as well, in all I do! If I am ready to make a purchase, go on a trip, etc., I research it to ‘the death’, as my husband would describe it. It is true, I go to the extreme in all I do, so although it probably won’t change me, it does help me a great deal to know there are others out there exactly like me! I can say to my husband ‘see, I am not the only one out there that is like this!”! He probably would like to meet Dan and trade their stories over a beer, LOL!
I’m another abstainer. I don’t know how to moderate. I’m incapable. And on the personality type I’m an obliger – which means I suck at keeping promises to myself and need outsiders to keep me accountable when I do want to make a change. Combine the two and it’s a lethal combination for making positive change. I’m actually kind of jealous of you for only gaining one pound this year. I jumped up 14 seemingly overnight with no change in my habits. Ugh. So make room on the whining bench because I’m definitely in the frame of mind to commisserate!
Allison Barnes says
You can do it Cathy! Have you done Whole 30? I’m on my second round of it. I did it in June and felt amazing! Then summer hit and all hell broke loose. So I just started up again. You learn a lot about yourself and how your body handles certain foods. It’s a great way to get started on a new journey. Good luck! I also joined a crossfit gym. I LOVE it. It’s something different everyday. Best workout I’ve ever done.
Wow – just from your description, I’m an abstainer, too. I just wish I really *was* abstaining from all my bad habits but no.
If you’re whiny (which you aren’t!) then I’m throwing a tantrum! I signed up for MMEW for the first time this year, spent December making the cards my colors & creating motivational filler cards (because I was going to do this all year, doncha know) – & then promptly got wickedly sick on January 2. And then sick again in February (the 4 & under set should be labeled with biohazard signs for the strength of the germs they carry!). And then finally got through two+ weeks in March & was feeling really good about myself – & got called for jury duty for the first of four trials in a gang rape case. I didn’t sleep for nearly 3 weeks & by the time I unwound, I was too upset & angry to be thoughtful or reflective. On the bright side, I did mange to restart Lose It again & was going well with daily logging – until I got a really bad cold which turned into quite bad bronchitis (yep, the 4yo again). I’m finally feeling better & am trying to convince myself that starting to log & to work out again doesn’t mean I’ll get injured or sick (because that’s what has happened every.single.time I’ve restarted over the last 2-3 years – I’m starting to get really paranoid). Ok, end rant!! TL/DR – I understand completely. You are SO not alone!!
And now a question – will you be offering MMEW again this year? I’ll be doing it anyway (theoretically) but would love to (attempt to) finish it with the group!
As for menopause – it really does get better! Mine hit at 47 (I was SO bummed) & while I still very, very occasionally get a wee flash every great once in a while (I’m 56 now), it’s pretty much done. The first 6-8 months were the worst & then it all tapered off slowly over 3-5 years, with it getting easier & easier over the months & years.
And man, am I long-winded!!
Cathy Zielske says
Sarah, that’s totally me… 47 was the magic age. Good to hear there should be lessening of the hot flashes over time.
I’m trying to decide if I want to create a new class for 2016. Something different than MMEW. But something to help with the process of self care and of course, scrapbooking. 🙂
I am a full-fledged, card carrying member of the ALL OR NOTHING club. It is tiring, and I hate it. But – IT IS ME. I might as well embrace it. I seem to bike 62 miles and juice my own concoctions, OR eat the bag of candy on the couch….. damn, WHY can I not find that middle ground???? Did reading her book teach you HOW to become a moderator??? I sure could use a class on that. Until then, pass the Halloween candy my friend…..
I would be delighted with any self-care class – after the last couple of years, I need to wallow in it!
My one request would be for it to not be quite so…intense right away. I found the first day or two of MMEW to be rather overwhelming, there was so much to think about & so many cards to work on. I think I would have found the initial January start of MMEW a bit easier if I’d either had longer than a day or two to work on the first part or if it had been set up so we did some or all of it the big picture thinking before class started.
Another possible thing to think about, especially with self-care topics, would be for the class to be a weekly topic (or even once monthly like One Little Word). I loved (as much as I did of) MMEW but I would have loved it even more if it had felt a bit more leisurely & especially if it had lasted longer than a month. I have no idea if something over a longer time frame would be something you could/would do or even be interested in but I thought I’d mention it.
Cathy Zielske says
Thanks for that feedback. Move More, Eat Well used to be a year long class. I did it for two years then decided to change it up.
My mind is working on some ideas for next year. I definitely need to think about what I would want out of something like that and go from there. 🙂
I had already decided I was going to do some version of MMEW for 2016. Going through health issues right now is making me even more determined to eat healthier, and as soon they figure out my neck and spine issues, move more. I didn’t do MMEW this year, and miss the accountability I had last year documenting what I was eating and exercising. My plans for 2016 is to keep it simple… 1 summary card each month (I like numbers so track how many vitamins, how many days with exercise, etc) and include a few photos.
It would be very inspiring & motivating if you did come up with a self-care class for 2016. Either way – MMEW or something new – I’m in!
btw: whine away…I follow you but rarely comment, but you always keep it real and it’s exactly what we are all going through as well. 🙂
Cathy Zielske says
Thanks for commenting today, Linda! I’m definitely thinking right now about how I can create my own accountability for 2016.
Cathy are you thinking of bringing this back again as a ‘class’ I would love to do this with you again
I’ve taken MMEW every year since you offered it. I much preferred the year long, monthly class version to the all-in-January-and-done version. In fact, I missed the accountability that the year long version provided. You know I would totally be in if you teach anything remotely related to eating well and exercising our bodies and/or general self care!
Thank you so much for this post! I finally have a diagnosis — Abstainer. But I’m thinking I’m in a subcategory of Abstainer, because I’m constantly failing at abstaining. The only thing I seem to be consistent about is my inconsistency. Take heart though, your struggle is more universal and relatable than you realize. I appreciate that you’re sharing your move more/eat better journey. I had an exceptionally move less/eat horribly day yesterday and the internal conversation that resulted was scathing. This post helps me put things in perspective and has encouraged me to show up at the dreadmill for a mile or two today. Thank you!
Fun to read all that! I just re-started (we won’t talk about how many re-starts this is) the MMEW Jumpstart. AND I’m logging my food on MyFitnessPal, AND I’m working out 3 days a week. And yes, it is a total drag! Oh, and did I mention only having wine on the weekend and limiting it to one bottle. Let me say it again, a total drag!
BUT somethings got to give!
Good luck Cathy, we are so there with you!
Ok I get it Cathy I’m a crazy sweaty menopausal women who cannot lose 5 pounds for the life of me. But why are there pictures of Matthew McCaughey on your or your sons drum?
Thanks for chuckle Cynthia
Kathleen S says
Reese’s peanut butter with Butterfinger chips. Abstainer. I’m okay until I open the bag, and then it’s all or nothing. Also in the 47 years club, and why, why do they not warn us about the weight problem going in to it? My hot flashes evidently destroyed my thermostat, and I’m stuck on hot and still flashing. But then I come from a long line of geriatric flashers. Thanks for the encouraging words that we’re all in it together! And no, you’re not whiny just honest and realistic, and we appreciate it!
Let me send you five or ten “AMEN!”s along with a few snorts and laughs as I read your confessions…
Oh Halloween, we do love thee and know you will be bitch to us moderator wannabees.
As a completely unrelated aside:
Cathy…did you read “Bloom County” in the 80’s? Your sense of humour strikes me as one that would have enjoyed it. If so, did you know that Berkeley Breathed is again doing the strip on Facebook?
Cathy Zielske says
You know, I remember Bloom County, but I swear I cannot recall if I ever read it. Might have to check it out!
Shelley B says
Hey Cathy, I would just like to say thanks as well. You are not alone in this. All of us go through this back and forth, back and forth. We are ‘Healthy’ and then we swing to ….let say NOT so healthy. All the women I know go through this constantly. We eat poorly and then smack ourselves on the head and say GET IT TOGETHER and we do. And then those evil little PB and chocolate goodies call to us, literally from across the room. So I just wanted to say you are not alone and thank you for putting it out there. So we all know, we are not alone.
Cathy Zielske says
Thanks, Shelley. I get gun shy on this topic because I feel it’s repetitive and then there are always a few nasty comments that make me think, “Naw, not going to deal with this in the public forum.” But it does feel productive to write about it. It reminds me of what I need to do. 🙂
I love that you post about this. Repetitive tries is real life for lots of us I bet. I know it is definitely my reality.
I try not to comment on blogs unless I have something of importance to add. So here goes…I was in the same situation. Menopause, an added 40 pounds on my 5’7 frame. Worked out like crazy, ate less, blah, blah, blah. You know the drill.
Saw a nutritionist that gave me a daily diet of the proper protein, carbs and veggies to eat in a day along with the knowledge that only resistance type exercise was going to burn fat and build muscle. As soon as I changed my daily walk from a flat 3 miles to an uphill 3 miles, did I drop those 40 pounds at a rate of 2 pounds per week.
Yes, I like my wine so I trade my carb at dinner for my wine instead. I am not out of breath going up the stairs, I can run and wear better looking clothes and I drink wine. I gave up my morning sugar in my coffee and all the other cookies and cakes that menopause makes us crave but I feel better.
See a nutritionist. You will thank yourself.
Cathy Zielske says
Hey Christy! Thanks for commenting today.
And yes, you’re right. I saw a nutritionist three years ago and honestly, I have not been following what she told me which is a protein, fat and carb ratio to shoot for on every meal and snack. Plus, the strength training. I am rebooting that on Monday.
I need to spend the money and go back to see her. 🙂
Judith walker says
We’re kindred spirits – those Reese pumpkins, I bought the pack on Tuesday and finished them on Thursday! They were really good out of the fridge!
fighting the battle here too. i’m 47 and waiting for pre/menopause to begin. i’ve lost a lot with a Dr supervised diet this year, but it’s not sustainable long term. i really don’t enjoy exercise and i have a hard time on my own. i’d love to join a new MMEW group!
fighting the battle here too. i’m 47 and waiting for pre/menopause to begin. i’ve lost a lot of weight with a Dr supervised diet this year, but it’s not sustainable long term. i really don’t enjoy exercise and i have a hard time on my own. i’d love to join a new MMEW group!
I have been on a move less eat junk spiral since May when my mom died and I am so much in need of a recharge. I just want to be comfortable in my clothes again.
Cathy Zielske says
Juliann, so sorry for your loss. 🙁
Thank you for your honesty – it’s a breath of fresh air!
Cathy you are hysterical. But I also feel your frustration and pain. I just passed by 56th birthday and I am in exactly the same spot as you … well except I am also on Prozac for menopause-induced anxiety. So now I am overweight, having hot flashes and can’t sleep and to make things perfect, the Prozac makes me snore so now my husband (of 30 years) and I now have separate rooms (thank God for the daughter in college or I would be on the sofa).
Just living the dream. :/
Cathy Zielske says
Oh my gosh, that makes me smile but not in a mean way. Just a OH HONEY!
Between you and me, I’m sleeping in my daughter’s room now too. It’s just…. so quiet!
Melissa Shanhun says
Fellow abstainer here Cathy! 🙂 Just reached for the sugar free dark choc this afternoon #winning
Another great interview of Gretchen Rubin. It is from a little bit of a different angel. Thought you might like it: http://balancedbites.com/2015/11/podcast-episode-217-gretchen-rubin-happy-healthy-habits.html
Cathy Zielske says
Thanks, Angela! I’ll check it out!
Hi Cathy, don’t know if you will even see this but I am trying to get back to memory keeping was googling running/scrapbooking and got a hit on your blog. We haven’t been in contact for many years so you probably won’t remember me. Anyway, at age 54 I am just starting my 17 th year as a runner. At age 50 I also started triathlon. I have been able to maintain my 35 lb weight loss for 16 years. For me the key has been truly loving what I do but more than that surrounding myself with others who share the same passion and do it for not only health reasons but because its our idea of fun. Get yourself a real life friend or walking/running group. Join the local gym/pool that has group swims or runs. Or the local run store club run/walks. Surrounding yourself with people of like mind who will support and encourage you in real life, is vital. Sign up with friends for a race that is months away and set up a training plan.
I don’t know if you have posted any updates but I hope you are suceeding keeping on track with your goals and doing well.
Cathy Zielske says
Hey Beth, I see all comments! 🙂 And thanks for the good wisdom. Yes, my goals are on track. I’m being realistic and taking care of myself in a sustainable way.