One of the reasons I've been a bit quiet the past week is that I've been working on a project, or rather RE-working on a project: losing weight.
Of course, this is a topic that has come up on the blog over the years, and in my private life this is a subject that has occupied countless chunks of my time and energy since I was 15. For the past 15 years at least, I have struggled with the same 10 or 20 or 30 lbs up and down, and I was at least 50 or 60 lbs overweight on top of THAT to begin with. The reasons for all this are not worth going into at the moment. The net result is this, however: I am too fat and it is unhealthy, and it looks and (more importantly) feels terrible. There, I said it. I even bolded it.
I debated long and hard about mentioning this here. This isn't really a blog about my personal struggles with my weight, it's a blog about Paris and travel and adapting to life (and love!) in France. And frankly, I think when you're someone who has been overweight for most of your entire adult life, other people get pretty sick and tired of hearing you talk about how you're on a diet or how you want to lose weight. ("Oh, right. You're going to lose weight? Again? Riiiiggghhhht. Sure you are.") You don't want to hear about our inner demons where food and exercise are concerned, and I don't blame you; I have those demons and they exhaust me, so it must be equally exhausting to be a spectator in the life of a fat person, even if (or especially if) that person is someone you love. And people who have not really struggled with being overweight probably just look at the rest of us and think: "Oh it's a matter of willpower. You just need more willpower. Dude, man up, already, stop whining, and lose that flab!" (I know at least some of us have at some point looked at a fat person and thought EXACTLY that. I'm not pointing fingers. I'm just sayin' - losing weight is both more simple AND more complicated than it seems. Do with that what you will.)
In the end, I wanted to stop waiting to feel "ready" to lose weight (because I will probably never feel "ready" but my health issues are telling me the time is NOW). I knew I had to dive into something that would guide me in a healthy direction, but also take into account that the life I live in France is not one where I have access to a lot of the same "diet-food" options I have in America, so I would need some flexibility as well. I had the option of working with a French nutritionist but felt scared off by the prospect of someone asking me to count every calorie and potentially giving me a program that felt too restrictive (I have found in the past that they don't work very well for me: I rebel).
The bottom line is that I decided I wasn't going to give up on myself, because to do nothing is still a choice, and a lousy one at that. I signed up for Weight Watchers Online again, and this past week has been my "adjustment week" -- which takes some mental energy, hence less blogging. The WW program (if you're not familiar with it) is based on a points system, where all foods, beverages and activities are assigned a points value. Depending on the weight you're at, you get to eat so many "points" during a day. You also have a bank of 49 extra points per week (no carrying them over) to use if you feel a bit hungrier one day or if you have a special event, like a birthday or a business dinner. You can gain extra points to use if you add activity into your routine as well; the more active you are, the more points you get to work with (because you're burning more calories and your body still needs fuel, so eating more is ok for a more active person, even one who is trying to lose weight).
Since the first week has been all about adjustments, I'll just say that "adjusting" is what has been happening. More than it being a mental challenge this week, it has been a physical one. Ravenous, unexplained hunger on Day 4 that no amount of extra fruit and veggies seemed to satisfy. Then the rebound effect of all those fruits and veggies and the bloating, oh the bloating. You get the picture.
Because I needed an outlet for my see-sawing emotions (Georges is very supportive but I just think there are limits on how much emotional baggage you can heap on your partner) I started a separate blog as a journal for this process. I had planned to keep this completely private, but after reflecting on how I get a lot of value from seeing other people (like people on TV or even friends and family I know) get inspired to change their lifestyles and get healthier and trimmer, I decided to go public with it because I am sure some of my readers are struggling just as much with their own weight issues as I am. And maybe by being public with what I'm doing, it will not only give me an outlet but also make someone else feel less alone in all this.
It's called The Inside Skinny and you can check it out if something like this interests you (and please, if it doesn't interest you, just stay here because I promise not to vent ad nausum about my efforts). I give you fair warning, however, that sometimes the content will be graphic; today I used the word "poo" and the other day was all about noxious gases (seriously, if someone could bottle that stuff and use THAT in miltary actions, we could stop wars but without all that physical violence). Because weight loss can be a very ugly business, even when the end results are glorious.
And yes, I do even disclose my ACTUAL weight -- something I never, ever do -- so be sensitive to how difficult that was for me.
Now that I'm over the hump of the first week, I think it will be easier to have more balance between THAT part of my life and the rest of it. Because I'm starting to get out more, walking (happily, my bum knee and ankle have been cooperating but don't say that too loud or they might hear us and decide to make trouble again) and while I'm walking, I am noticing things and taking pictures and as always, keeping an eye out for blog-worthy things happening in Paris.
Although I don't how many of us Paris ex-pat bloggers can keep complaining about the crappy weather we've been having and how it has NOT felt like summer AT ALL so far. The problem is, it's true. And not at all interesting.