Archives for category: weight

Hi there – happy holidays and all of that! I miss you all, and the strange thing is, I literally think about writing a post everyday. Seriously. I think those thoughts really strong and loud and hard and then continue to ignore the action that would require me logging in and, you know, writing anything down.

That’s actually kind of how things are going right now – I know when I last wrote back in August, I spoke about how hard everything was. Well, since then, things are still pretty hard – harder, in some ways.

My partner lost her job, so now my freelancing is our sole support system. Hence my bloody bloody fingers from making websites happen all day. And my lack of desire to type anything else when I could be drinking a gin/craft beer instead. (Keewanah Brewery? Michigan folks? Know what I’m sayin’?)

My weight is all over the place, but that place is mostly heading up, which is a HUGE, suffocating, mind-consuming problem for me.  I’m working on it, but I’m in that spin where I can only focus on either fitness or eating healthy on any given day, but I need to be doing both to make a difference. Don’t you hate when you know what you should be doing, but that should is what makes you just want to curl up and die?

On the upside, my gigantic 9 month old puppy now loves his walks. Small victories. 🙂

On the HUGE UPSIDE: I booked, and shot, and was paid to be on, a TV pilot. 

You read it right – I FINALLY BOOKED A TV GIG. Coming this Spring. New pilot – Jennifer Falls – from a veritable A-team of Hollywood folks, including headliner Jaime Pressly (of My Name is Earl Emmy-winning fame) and the wonderful Missy Pyle (of many many things, my favorite of which is Dodgeball. No lies.).  Hopefully the series will take off, because there is a teeny tiny chance my character could be seen more than once – I have a name and lines and a whole lesbian softball team with custom uniforms and everything. Sandy the lesbian softball captain. That’s me on TV.

I will write more about that soon. Because I will write more soon. Truth.

How are you all doing? Tell me your sordid holiday drama!

Butch Wonders had a nice post a few days ago talking about body image and butchness and how that all ties together, and it melded with where my head’s been lately so I wanted to post a few thoughts. I am one of those who can’t separate my physical body from my perception of my own identity (I’ve met quite a few folks who can do this sleight-of-mind thing beautifully, though). It’s why I have moved away from my trans identity – back in the days when I was trying to pass, I realized that I just wouldn’t without hormone treatment, which I’m not into. And thus – I’d rather just deal with being female-bodied and butch than try endlessly to look male-bodied. My own compromise.

Where I get my brain into trouble is with my weight. A few years ago, I lost a lot of weight without really trying – just about 40 pounds. It was amazing, and spurred a whole new revolution in my wardrobe, moving me from oversized plaid shirt and cargo pants into slimmer cut trousers and shirts with vests and ties. Because I gain weight in my chest and stomach, I can’t wear men’s shirts that fit my shoulders unless I’m pretty slim, so it was great to get down to that level and back into clothes that made me feel powerful.

The debacle of the ridiculous musical put me in such a stressed out place that I gained some of this weight back recently, even though I had kept it under control for more than three years. I just defaulted into no exercise/bad eating/bad sleeping/bad stressing and three months later I’m carrying back 15lbs. Fifteen pounds of armor, and of particularly butch armor. My need to protect myself totally took over my body – my need to appear bigger and stronger than I am on a daily basis let itself settle around my belt. And now I’m in that limbo of ‘trying’ to lose weight, which makes me come to terms with how scary it is for me to really be thinner. Because then I have to face my female body in a different way. That my shoulders slope even though I’m pretty broad, and that my chest could crush a small island nation, despite the reduction surgery I had almost 12 years ago. That my eyes are distinctly feminine when my face thins out and makes them fuller. And that if I have my weight under control, then my acting career might actually start to be something more than just a wish and a website and a bunch of student loans.

I’m back on the eating plan with some tweaks to take into account that I’m older and tired-er now. I’m back to my interval training and even started doing some kettlebell swings again – muscle training that I love because it takes like one minute to wear yourself out.

Here’s to the struggle to become the body we want to be. If all goes well in 2 months I’ll be on track again, maybe a bit curvier but also back in my vests and ties and, along with the clothing, back in my self-confidence. Armor-free.

This is not me. But close.

Hi all –

I’ve had a few questions from my (mostly quiet) readership about my weight loss process over the last year and a half; what formula I concocted to drop nearly 40 pounds.  I’ve touched on it a few times, but nothing substantial.  One of the reasons why it’s so hard for me to describe is that the process was multifold – I tried a little of everything and kept what stuck, so it’s difficult to distill the actions I took into usable info for anyone else.  The 40 ways to lose 40 pounds from my title are not discrete – I used each method, sometimes combining more than one, and the result was a gradual change in my overall body composition that netted me 40 pounds lighter. I’ll try to give a basic outline of my (bumpy) journey, so this will be a long post:

First, I came to my weight loss through my desire to learn more natural ways to stay healthy longer.  My father will turn 70 in the next six months, and his last 5 years have been riddled with one health problem after another, and the allopathic medical system in this country has done almost nothing to improve his quality of life or educate him on how to maintain his own health as he ages. I think that’s a shitty way to face retirement after working for 40+ years, and since I tend toward his heavy body and laziness (and am generally too poor for health insurance) I figured getting fit now was the best option for later.

One thing being dreadfully under-employed offers you is tons of free time during the weekdays to focus on whatever you please. I chose to focus a lot on the easiest ways to get fit in the manner which would make me happiest, while expending the least amount of effort and time.

I started with three goals: 1) Get my heart rate up for at least ten minutes every day. Doesn’t matter how.  2) Read the five most popular diet books and see if any were worth trying. 3) Learn to do a free-standing handstand – the basis of my acro training from clown school, which I failed miserable at.

The first goal I tackled with easy-peasy interval running.  I made a new habit –  wake up, take omega-3s and this weird metabolic mineral supplement my mom swears by (Briandall Trim), trip over running shoes and workout clothes at the foot of my bed, put on said clothes and shoes, place earbuds firmly in ears and turn on audiobook of Harry Potter number whatever (I’ve listened to the whole series at least 5 times), leave house.  No breakfast first, no shower, no thinking about it.  Granted, I had no job so I had no constraints here, but making the rules that I would not think to hard before I ran made it possible. I hate running.

And by running, I really mean a combo of walking and light jogging – like I said, just enough to get my heart pounding and break a little sweat.  I did (and still do) easy intervals – five minutes walking warm-up, followed by alternating 30 seconds jogging/1 minute walking for about 10-15 minutes, then five minutes walking cooldown. Barely even a workout, but seriously – this activity changed my life. You don’t realize how clear your mind gets until you start moving outside with little distraction.

The second goal is where the buffet effect of my efforts kicked in.  Here is only a handful of the diet/fitness books I’ve read in the last year, courtesy of the LA public library:

-Run for Life

-The 4 Hour Body

-The Paleo Solution

-The Paleo Diet

-The Every Other Day Diet (also called the SNAPP diet)  (yes I bought this… I’m a sucker for self-help marketing)

-Master Your Metabolism

-Why We Get Fat

-The Writing Diet

-Skinny Bitch

-The South Beach Diet

-This is Why You’re Fat (and How to Get Thin Forever) (it was hard for me to read and not just gaze at Jackie Warner’s big gay abs…)

-The Naked Warrior

-You: On a Diet

-The Belly-Fat Cure

Now let’s be clear – I read these books,  I thought about them, but I didn’t diet from all of them.  In fact, for most of the last two years, I didn’t diet at all.  What I did was change my thinking, my habits, and the types of food I was eating.  I focused on moving more: I kept up with my interval running, I would make sure to walk around for ten minutes after I ate, especially late in the day.  I set up a standing desk for my computer so that email checking wouldn’t leave me slumped in a chair for hours.

It was only after I made these changes and happened to lose almost 20 pounds without changing my eating at all that I thought I might try a diet. At that point I had only read a handful of books, but I had some strong ideas about food and what I thought I could work on. I did NOT want to count calories (especially after reading Why We Get Fat, which pretty much lays out why calorie counting is useless). I did not want to eat anything “low fat” because I have a strong commitment to natural whole foods minus any chemical alterations.

I began with the SNAPP diet because it made sense to me that by varying your calorie intake (without counting, just by varying portion size and type of food) that your metabolism would have to work harder – and I bought the infoproduct, so I figured I should use it.   I felt good doing it, and it paved the way for a lot of my later accomplishments.  Simply adding apples and almonds into my diet as breakfast/morning snacks made a huge difference, but I didn’t own a scale at this time so I couldn’t track my progress.

The only other diets I’ve even attempted are more “lifestyle eating plans” than anything else.  To drop the last 10 pounds, I decided to take January 2011 and stick to the Slow Carb diet from the 4-Hour Body.  I’m a big fan of Tim Ferris’ meticulous testing methods AND his commitment to finding the MED or Minimum Effective Dose for any goal-oriented training.  His diet is boring and difficult at first, but it hands-down worked the best.  For one month I ate six days like a caveman – leafy greens, beans and legumes, and protein only (no dairy, refined carbs, sugar, or fruit) and then on the 7th day I ate whatever I wanted in great quantities. It was awesome, particularly because steak and kale are two of my favorite foods, and it totally eliminated all of my digestive issues. Psychologically I always had that 7th day to look forward to, so I didn’t feel like I was on a diet.  It got me through the rest of the week, and not only did I lose the ten pounds, but I lost inches all over. I don’t stick strictly to this diet anymore, but it does guide my eating principles 95% of the time.  (Note: The Paleo Diet also gave me results, but I tend to over-do the fruit, and found it surprisingly more difficult to cook Paleo than Slow Carb.)

My third goal is still a work in progress, since I can’t yet do a freestanding handstand but I can hold a handstand against the wall for over a minute, which is amazing considering two years ago I couldn’t even see my feet.  Every day after I run I do a little routine I call my Trifecta: three sun salutations (with the back-saving emphasis on the up-dogs), three backbends from the floor, and then three handstands.  I feel better after the Trifecta than any other workout I’ve ever tried, and through throwing myself against the wall every day I finally figured out how to stay up there.

One more note – as I’ve gotten fitter, I’ve added some strength training, which has also helped my weight loss tremendously.  I added kettlebell classes back in January, and now own a set of kettlebells that I swing around. Since I’m an actor/clown, I enjoy focusing on compound movements for maximum strength and flexibilty – kettlebells give you a great whole-body workout in as little ten minutes. In fact, ten straight minutes would probably make me pass out. When I take kettlebell classes I can’t even walk up the steps to my house afterward.

So that’s been my journey.  Crazy and a little hap-hazard, but not boring.  I’ve really changed my lifestyle, through a kaizen-like series of small steps. Sure, it’s still a challenge to maintain, especially now that I’ve got so many day-jobs. But when I’m performing, I’m much more in tune with my body, I look younger than I did at 25, and I weigh less than I weighed in college. There are worse things.

To recap:

The most important diet books I’ve read –

1. Why We Get Fat (not a diet book, but totally changed my thinking about food)

2. The 4-Hour Body

3. The Paleo Diet

 

The fitness:

1. 20-min easy interval run, outside

2. Trifecta: sun salutations, backbends, handstands

3. Kettlebells 2x a week for at least ten minutes with breaks

 

The diet:

1. Slow-Carb essentials: protein, legumes, and veggies with a healthy dose of beer and bread on cheat days.

2. Dr. Oz’s green smoothie for breakfast (although I think Dr. Oz is mostly a hack. I’m not afraid to say it. I read his books.)

3. Yes, I still take some vitamin/mineral supplements, with an emphasis on fish oil twice a day.

 

And adequate sleep, lots of water, standing desk, trying to keep my stress under control… you get the drift.  Let me know if you have any more questions – I love talking about this stuff, and would love to hear what’s worked (or didn’t work) for you.

I haven’t really written about this yet, so it may take a few posts to sort it out.  Bear with me – we’ll see.

My weight and my gender identity have long danced a lurid tango.  Add to the dance a third partner who keeps cutting in – my profession as an actor. It makes for some junky starts and stops, to be sure, and an occasional spectacular wipeout.

Over a year ago when I moved back to LA to finally confront my demons and focus on performing as a career, obviously the first issue that brought me to my knees was my weight. I was really heavy. Not obese-looking, but if you were to put my stats into any of those fancy BMI online calculators (the pinnacle of science, I’m sure), they basically told me that I would make a better orca than actor.  Yes I’m almost 6′ tall, but I’m in my (cough) very late 20s and I was topping 230. It smarts to even type that out.

And then there was the psycho-weight-culture in Los Angeles/Southern California – a culture I had actively run from back when I didn’t have a weight problem to worry about.

It was a mighty stiff cocktail of self-loathing.

But! But! Wasn’t the whole point of moving here the fact that I didn’t look like anyone else?  Wasn’t the fact that I looked like a huge butch dyke the whole reason for this crazy life challenge?  And weren’t the parts I was cast in all looking for “stereotypical, butch, heavy, lesbians”? (More on the ridiculousness of this stereotype later – it’s SO related to these issues, but one thing at a time…)

Even at that time, though, all the pieces formed a rather skewed whole – sure, I was heavy and masculine looking, but my baby face and pretty eyes gave me away as too young for most 30-something parts.  And I was big, but apparently not big enough.  What could I do?

I started then, a year ago March, on a journey with my body that will probably last my entire life. If I’m honest with myself (rarely), it’s a journey I’ve been on, but I’ve been hiding all the maps and provisions from myself for many years now.

My size has long been a stamp of my butchness.  I think subconciously I’ve always related being heavy-set with being “manly”.  My dad’s a big guy who’s struggled with his weight his entire life.  I think, aside from my tendencies towards physical laziness (I prefer “efficiency”) and stress-eating, I gained so much weight in my early twenties because I was masking my femininity, literally covering my feminine body with whatever padding I could find.  Usually in the form of chocolate peanut butter Haagen Daaz.

I was in NYC. I was going to auditions daily where every other woman in the room was 5’6″, long-haired,well-heeled, and overly makeup-ed. I was working on painting and electrics crews with either superfags or musclemen, but I’ve never been a girl who’s “one of the guys”. So I was just a weird girl with short hair, who got bigger and bigger because the only way I could claim my space was, apparently, to take up more of it.

And then I was too heavy to keep acting. In NYC at least, in musicals and plays looking for “charming 20s, girl-next-door types”.  So I quit. I didn’t admit at the time that I quit because I was fat, but really that was key.

And now, I’m reversing that decision every day. But I’m forced to confront everything I’ve been avoiding.  My body. My gender. The ludicrousness of the media’s representation of lesbians. My difference from those representations.

I’ve lost almost 50 pounds, so I’m not getting cast as the “heavy butch” anymore.  It’s just me now, out here. Putting myself out here, beyond the stereotype.

Some days I miss my protective covering.  (But -it must be said – without the double chin.)

Tell me: Do other heavy butches feel like their weight is a protective measure? It may be too simple a question, I know, but I feel like it needs to be asked.

 

 

 

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