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Weighing in on September

There has been no 180 on my weight this month because I’m still weighing in at 180. This does not bother me since I’m glad I’ve been maintaining my loss. That’s 32 months straight with no significant gains. I also have to admit that for the past couple of months I’ve been in a maintenance frame of mind. Weight loss is nice, but now that I can buy bras in the stores (Yay, 36A!) and pants in the misses section (Double yay, size 12!), it doesn’t seem quite so urgent.

However, I also have to admit I don’t want to weigh more than 180 ever again. At the most I never want to pop back over 186, which was the point where I officially lost half my weight. If I get bigger than I am now it’s back to plus-sized jeans and ordering bras online. I’d like to have at least a 10 pound buffer area so I have time to correct course if I ever do start gaining back weight. Right now I don’t have any margin of error.

I decided to reevaluate my goals, like an annual job evaluation. It’s good to check-in with your goals at least once a year, be they weight, financial, or career. It’s hard to get where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there. I decided I’m going to try to get to 170 pounds by January 15, 2008, my three year anniversary. That’s three and a half months to lose 10 pounds, which seems reasonable. And now I’ve told you all, so I had better stick to it, right?

But I needed to decide how I was going to get there. After some debate, I started tracking what I was eating in the SparkPeople nutrition tracker a couple weeks ago. I’m not a big fan of tracking every last detail of my meals because it makes me feel like I’m stopping at the last gas station outside of Crazy Town. You’re not in Crazy Town yet, but it’s a short drive to the city limits. Do I really want to start obsessing about every gram of fat I’ve ingested in the day? So, I decided I’d just do it for two weeks so I could analyze what my diet had been like lately.

I’ve never paid much attention to the ratio of macronutrients I eat in the day (carbs/fats/proteins). It always seemed pretty damn complicated, plus when I first started out I didn’t know what half the foods I ate were made out of. Learning what were sources of fats and proteins was like learning the gender of all the nouns when I was learning Spanish. The table is feminine. Why? It just is! And cottage cheese has protein, okay? Why? It just does! There are no shortcuts. You just have to memorize it all. I prefer just to make sensible decisions and let the whole thing sort itself out naturally.

But holy cow, I’ve been eating a lot of carbs! Funny how I just kept slipping in more and more fruits and yogurts and oatmeal servings into my day. There is not anything inherently bad about carbs. They are an essential macronutrient. Yay, carbs and fat and protein! However I know when I eat a lot of carbs I start craving a lot of them, which might be part of the reason I had been eating so much in the evenings lately.

I’ve adjusted my diet somewhat, like I was restarting my computer. I’ve settled into something less carb-o-licious but still satisfying, but there were four days there when I was going pretty low-carb. I started to feel weak on the second day and I got a headache on the third day which did not go away no matter how much water I drank. When I woke up to the same throbbing in my skull on the morning of the fifth day I decided, “I’m going to have some oatmeal!” I don’t mind eating low-carb foods for a week or two, but I do mind having a freakin’ headache for more than two days. I do not want to be the girl who chooses weight-loss over good health, so oatmeal it was! Life is so much better with carbs.*

However, I did lose several pounds during those four days as my glycogen stores drained away and I have to admit it was really fun. I always tell people that slow and steady is the way to go, and I truly believe that, but there is no denying that it’s hella’ fun to see the numbers on the scale go down every day, even when you know it’s not really fat disappearing. That experience made me understand crash dieters a little bit better. It’s easy to see how extreme that kind of speedy weight loss is when you’re outside looking in, but when you’re the one actually dropping a pound a day, it’s easy to get sucked into a twisted way of thinking. No one who does something crazy thinks they’re doing something crazy, right?** You can always make up rationalizations for why it’s okay for you to be doing something that would otherwise seem questionable to an objective mind.

Anyway, I’m back to eating fruits and whole grains now and a lot of my cravings have gone away. It was pretty interesting to see how quickly my body reacted to a dietary change like that. I sometimes take it for granted that what I eat directly affects how I feel, but there’s no denying it’s true when you feel like sticking an ice pick in your brain to relieve the pressure.

There’s also no denying you need to lay off the running when you diagnose yourself with the beginnings of Achilles tendonitis. I first noticed a slight pain at the back of my left foot when I was stretching before my first 5K this month. Later in the week I noticed a slight pain when walking down the stairs. After some Googling I learned that it was probably Achilles tendonitis which “tends to occur in middle-age recreational athletes.” Middle-aged?! I’m only 26, which is only middle-aged if I die when I’m 52 and I’m hoping to keep breathing for longer than that. Then I read on and saw that “long distance runners will have symptoms of Achilles tendonitis after increasing their mileage.” Oops, yeah, that’s me. I probably should have waited longer before tackling those five mile runs. It’s hard to hold myself back when I exercise because I’ve been holding myself back all my life. I want to take it to the limit and see what my body can do! However, this tends to lead to injuries and “microtears,” so I need to figure out a balance between pushing myself and harming myself. Until I figure that out, it’s the low-impact elliptical machine in my apartment’s exercise room for me. I had never used the elliptical machine before in my life, and holy quadriceps, Batman, it’s tough! I could only do a mile the first time before I needed to stop and walk my jelly legs back upstairs to my apartment.

We’ll see how all this goes, and hopefully by the end of October I’ll be down a couple pounds. The funny thing is, now that I’m a “normal” weight I take weight loss far less personally. If my adjusted diet and exercise routine doesn’t lead to weight loss, oh well! It didn’t work. It’s not a personal failure. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It just means my body did not react to that regime by burning fat. That’s all. When I was morbidly obese I was scared to try any kind of diet because I was so scared I’d fail. I wanted to be thin so badly that I didn’t know if I could handle it if I really tried to do something and it didn’t work out. Now, if it doesn’t work out, I’m still pretty darn thin. Life will be okay. There’s less at risk, so I’m not as scared of a huge disappointment. And I can still eat oatmeal.

* This is not meant to be judgmental of anyone on a low-carb diet. I know the headaches etc. are supposed to go away after a while, but I was not interested in doing low-carb for life so I didn’t see any point in continuing. It’s just not something I can do, but if it works for you, kudos! Everyone needs to find what works for them.

** I am not saying low-carb dieters are crazy, I’m saying crash dieters are crazy. Doing low-carb and losing a pound a day was as close to crash dieting as I have ever come.

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K • October 1, 2007 at 8:55 am

You are so sensible! Where can I get some of that?


jessica~ • October 1, 2007 at 9:41 am

I, too, use Sparkspeople to track my food (I focus on protein, calcium and fiber). I couldn’t believe that with all the veggies and grains I ate each day I still wasn’t meeting my recommended fiber and calcium allowances. That is the good thing about the diligence of tracking food (as crazy as we may look), it brings other important issues to your attention — things other than just fat & calories.

My carbs are always at the highest point of my recommended daily allowances. I have oatmeal every morning and some whole wheat bread or pasta during the day… ah, well. Good luck!!


KateG • October 1, 2007 at 10:38 am

“The funny thing is, now that I’m a “normal” weight I take weight loss far less personally. If my adjusted diet and exercise routine doesn’t lead to weight loss, oh well! It didn’t work. It’s not a personal failure. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It just means my body did not react to that regime by burning fat. That’s all.”

I LOVE this part. This is exactly how I feel now. It is a great place to be in. But it is hard to know exactly how I got here and even harder to help others realize they can get here too – I know people who are really hard on themselves if their weight fluctuates at all. I guess you can’t force someone to enjoy the success they’ve already had.


Julie • October 1, 2007 at 11:25 am

I had similiar foot pain when I was running shorter distances than you. How long has it been since you bought new sneakers? I was happy to find that my sneakers were worn and a new pair helped the pain immensely. That and oxycontin before runs…jk, jk.

PQ – My sneakers are still pretty new. I did get a heel cushion to stick in my shoe to help ease the strain a bit. Plus I’ve been elevating it and icing it. Hopefully my heel will heal fast!


Mia • October 1, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Good post. One I needed to read, no doubt!

Take it easy on your heel. If it doesn’t get better soon, go see someone. Mixing up your exercise routine is always a good idea, anyway. I don’t remember if you wrote that you tried spinning, but that’s also an awesome low-impact workout.


MB • October 1, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Eating low carb is so hard but you do see results which is the only reason I did it for so long. I didn’t eat bread or pasta for over a year, lost lots of weight, started eating it again and gained it all back (and then some). You just can’t go through life without eating bread.

You are a great example of “those last 10 pounds are the hardest to lose.” I’m sure you will get there and we’ll all be cheering for you.

Hope the foot feels better soon.


the veggie paparazzo • October 1, 2007 at 1:02 pm

PQ, this is just the post I needed to read today, since I’ve been plateauing at 180 for about 2 months now, AND since I learned two days ago that I have a slight injury from overexertion. I got a massage yesterday and am taking four days off from running to see if those will fix it.


JEM • October 1, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Well you know what they say about those last ten pounds. It has to be true, I have seen my mom and friends go through it. My mom lost about 40 pounds…30 of it in 3 months and the last ten to get her to her goal took 3 months. She has been at goal for 16 months.

Low carb is tough. I did it once and lost weight fast but it came back just as fast. I am currently trying to reduce my carbs(because I would eat only carbs if I could and it was healthy) and I am trying to pick carbs that are complex and have lots of fiber.


Jenny • October 1, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Information is power and so is knowing what works best for you and YOUR body. It’s smart to do what you did. As for your achilles.. it’s why I can’t run anymore, but jump roping is very low impact and fun.


Diana the Scale Junkie • October 1, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Crap! I might be a little too close to Crazy Town!!


Marla • October 1, 2007 at 4:59 pm

I wonder how Achilles Tendonitis is different from the wretched plantar fasciitis? They seem very similar. The P.F. is obviously going around and I’m still dealing with it. Things that have helped me: MUCH stretching, no walking, new shoes, arch supports, heel cushions, vodka.

It’s good to reevaluate goals–this is a long-term project for all of us, and it would be strange if we DIDN’T change our focus every few years.

PQ – I had plantar fascitis about 4 or 5 years ago, before I even started losing weight, and this is definitely a different pain. The PF was on the bottom of my foot whereas this pain occurs at the back of my ankle about where it would rub up against my shoe. I’ve tried the stretching and the heel cushions, but I haven’t tried the vodka. I’ll have to get on that one!


Marla • October 1, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Also I meant to add: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with carbs–in vegetable form–it’s just that most people skimp on protein, which according to whichever theories you subscribe to, is essential for muscle-building and fat loss. That’s the word on the street, anyways.


Nory Roth • October 1, 2007 at 6:42 pm

“Crazy Town” hahahahaha every time I read that it’s funnier. Great post!!! I agree with you regarding low carb diets — trepanning just isn’t for me!


Heather • October 1, 2007 at 6:49 pm

Wow, hope your heel gets better soon! Just a question — I have an appt. to see my doc, but I’m curious — did your achilles pain start um, suddenly? Or was it gradual? My arch was tingly for a few weeks, so I got new running shoes, but while in said running shoes this weekend for a quick run, my achilles seemed to “tense up”. I stretched and kept going (it was scheduled to be a very short run), but now my calf is sore, and my achilles is tender. Please diagnose me! Jk! Just wondering if your heel pain came on quickly or developed gradually.

PQ – The first time I noticed the pain was when I was stretching before the 5K. After that I noticed it when I was walking down stairs. Other than that, I actually haven’t had any pain. I’m staying off of it though so it doesn’t get any worse. I don’t want a chronic injury.


Zana • October 1, 2007 at 7:22 pm

Hi PQ! I think it makes perfect sense to track your nutrition with software if you are restricting calories. It’s simply impossible to guess your way to good nutrition when you’re trying to fit all your vits/mins into a small calorie package. And I’ve also found that when I get all my vitamins/minterals and protein, I don’t get nearly as many cravings or feel weak/tired. Malnutrition will cause cravings!

I don’t try to get 100% of everything everyday, but I average out my diet over the week and try to make sure there are no glaring deficiencies. I also use a food scale to take the guesswork out of my portion sizes and make sure the quantities I enter into the software are accurate. I know to some people this seems strange, but making the effort to really know what I’m eating has improved my health dramatically.


starbird • October 1, 2007 at 8:05 pm

I agree with Zana! Portion control really helps and lets me eat whatever I want.

Re: oatmeal. I eat it Swiss-style nearly every morning. Swiss style my way is: 1/3 cup of 1- minute Quaker Oats, plain out of the box (other brands don’t taste as good); topped with 4 almonds, ground or chopped fine, 1 T ground flax seed, 1/4 apple, chopped, and sometimes 1 or 2 T of vanilla yogurt – Brown Cow is my favorite. That is my breakfast and it holds me til noon. I used to serve myself 1/2 cup oats and 1/2 apple, but couldn’t lose weight. Just a tiny change made a big difference. Just to give you an idea of proportions, I now weigh 136.6 on my gym’s Tanita.

Lunch is high protein – bacon & eggs, or mixed salad with steak or tuna or something, etc.

Dinner is very light – sometimes just a grapefruit and/or some cottage cheese.

The above regime works and I’m dropping an average of one ounce a week. Crazy Town here I come! But seriously, it really works for me.


BrightAngel • October 1, 2007 at 9:20 pm

I suppose, by your definition, I live in Crazy Town.

Logging all my food into DietPower every day has become a habit, just like brushing my teeth and making my bed. I’ve now done it more than 1100 consecutive days…(from 190 lbs down to 110 lbs and 20 months of maintenance) including all the binge days. This has given me tremendous personal data which gives me insight and helps keep me on track when the scale zaps me, and my mind tells me…”that’s it. If I’m going to be fat anyway, I might as well eat whatever I want.”

Crazy Town? I don’t think it’s crazy to take daily steps that keep me accountable for what I eat, which help me accept long-term responsibility for my daily food choices, and keep away the big D (DENIAL).

PQ – Actually, I said “it makes me feel like I’m stopping at the last gas station outside of Crazy Town. You’re not in Crazy Town yet, but it’s a short drive to the city limits.” So, no I don’t think you live in Crazy Town. And like I also said, I found it helpful tracking my food to analyze what I’d been eating. It’s just not something I see myself wanting to do forever.


emily • October 1, 2007 at 10:16 pm

I think tracking your food for a while is a good idea – it’ll give you a realistic view of what you eat. I’m curious as to whether you’re weighing/measuring portions or just estimating – because it’s REALLY hard, or impossible, to estimate accurate. Just about everyone underestimates pretty dramatically. Once you track for a while you won’t need to anymore, because you’ll have a much better idea of what you’re eating.

Unrelated to food-tracking, but have you considered getting your bodyfat % tested? You could do that at a gym or on a fancy scale. The scale way isn’t necessarily accurate, but if you have a decent scale and weight first thing in the morning it’s probably consistent, so it’ll tell you if you’re maintaining/losing/whatever. I would bet that you’re solidly in the normal bodyfat % range, and I imagine that you will continue to lose bodyfat, even as your weightloss goes super slowly or stops.

PQ – I’ve been estimating portion sizes, but I’ve been estimating high since I know people tend to underestimate. And I also take into account that it’s just an estimate and not an exact chart of what I’ve eaten. As for the scale, I own a fancy scale that measures my body fat. It’s around 34% when I measure in the morning and around 29% when I measure at night. I think the difference is due to hydration.


Database Diva • October 2, 2007 at 2:37 am

I know what you mean about it being harder to stay motivated once you get into the normal range. I’ve gone through a couple major “up and down” cycles. Whenever I’m heavy, I kick myself for not having lost more when it would have been easier. When I get back to the low end of the spectrum, I find I just want to have fun, and don’t want to put up with the discipline of managing my food intake. I also find that long distance running requires me to eat just enough to prevent weight loss, or I feel weak and faint.


Cindy • October 2, 2007 at 6:40 am

Hi PQ,

I don’t use a computer program, or measure, but I do keep a food journal and record everything I eat every day. I have been doing this for the last two years and one month. It has contributed to my weight loss success, I think, by keeping me “honest” with myself. It doesn’t keep me from cheating…I write those down, too, but it keeps me “thinking” about what I am eating. I also try to record how I was feeling…or how I feel about having eaten this or that, because for me there is so much emotion involved in eating. So, yes, I am on the road to crazy town and nearing the city limits. I do not feel like I can stop recording every day. I don’t know what would happen …and I am not willing to find out just yet. So I am on my eighth notebook and I’ll just keep at it until it feels okay to stop—-maybe never. We all do what we need to do to get by—and who knows? Maybe crazy town isn’t such a bad place to be…


Christy • October 2, 2007 at 8:14 am

Oh Sparkpeople. Since I row on the crew team for my university, SP was really what tipped me off that I was sometimes burning up to 1500 cals a day with our workouts in the boat… I had completely stopped losing weight cause I was underestimating what I was burning.

I know what you mean about logging calories and being ‘on the way to Crazy Town’ – while it’s great to be accountable for what you eat, having that be your primary focus… seems ridiculous. And so incredibly time consuming.


Rebecca • October 2, 2007 at 2:14 pm


First of all, let me just say that I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now and you are a fantastic writer and obviously a very cool and motivated chick to have accomplished what you have!

I’m sure you always get comments telling you what you should or should not do to lose weight but I thought I’d share my experience with carbs. I have PCOS and I just recently started seeing a dietician who recommended cutting out many carbs from grain sources and making sure that the ones I do eat from grain sources are low glycemic index. I now get my carbs from fruits and veggies, and whole grains (like your beloved oatmeal!! and really grainy breads or barley). I have seen a slow and steady drop in weight. It helped me, and although my medical condition and body are probably completely different and unique from yours, it may help.


Holly • October 2, 2007 at 2:52 pm

I just think it is funny that you say “I must have some oatmeal!” as opposed to “I must have 10 oatmeal cookies!”

I think we (and I mean I) forget to give ourselves credit for how much better we eat when we are working at it. Enjoy that oatmeal!!!

PQ – I think a nice, warm bowl of cinnamon and Splenda oatmeal is my new comfort food. Mmmm.


kim • October 3, 2007 at 10:00 am

My husband is a marathoner and was getting tendonitis frequently. He did a lot of research, found some exercises (I think one of them is standing on your tiptoes a bunch of times) and takes fish oil religiously.


Jane • October 8, 2007 at 9:54 pm

>>There is not anything inherently bad about carbs. They are an essential macronutrient.


Little Bill • November 7, 2007 at 4:24 am

Carbohydrates ARE essential if you plan on doing any kind of real exercise. Protein and fat can get broken down into glucose, but it’s a SLOW process. You can get by on mostly protein and fat if you sit around most of the day, otherwise you’ll probably feel sluggish and irritable if you try to stick to eating few carbs.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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