Back Fat

I threw my back out the day of the Mercy Watson party. It wasn’t the kneeling on the floor making the poster, or hovering over the kids while they worked on their origami pigs that did it. It wasn’t even hours later as I stood in a Compassion International exhibit with the family as part of Mikey’s birthday celebration, though by that point I was shifting from foot to foot and stretching my back. It was when we got home and I took off my bra.

Turn, twist, slide and huh. That hurts.

My back still hurts, although the pain going down my legs is almost gone. I think it would be better if I wasn’t cleaning and preparing the classrooms (and library) for summer cleaning. Lots of bending over, lots of moving piles, lots of movement I should be avoiding. I’m there through Tuesday, and then I’m off for the rest of the summer. I can’t wait.

I haven’t been to a doctor–yet. I’m waiting to see if my backache magically disappears when the stress I’ve be hiding disappears as well. In the last month I experienced my first school drama. It’s a very long story, but the gist is that we may have new leadership next year. One of my best friend’s had her marriage convalidated, and as the matron of honor I had to find a dress and be in pictures. I know, not stressful for the majority of the world, but being “almost” the center of attention and posing for pictures is, possibly, my least favorite thing ever. Last week the woman who was my mentor for volunteering died after hard-fought battle with cancer. She was two years older than me.

To be sure, stress goes on, but the overriding feeling of panic is starting to fade. I’m hoping the back pain fades with the stress.

I also haven’t gone to the doctor because I feel I’m in the boat I’m in because I have to lose weight and exercise. I’ve gained so much weight in my three years at the school! I’ve also stopped exercising. I feel ungainly and my clothing doesn’t fit.

I also feel it’s time to research breast reductions. This isn’t something I take lightly, but it’s time. My back hurts. My neck hurts. My shoulders hurt. It’s difficult to find shirts and wearing something with buttons is out of the question.

Weight loss, exercise, and (maybe) surgery. That’s what I see in my future. Now I have to decide how to reach my goals.

For the last few months, I’ve been reading every book I can get my hands on about dieting and health. I researched studies and looked at outcomes. I watched lectures and listened to experts and, sadly, everything I have read and heard confirms what I wrote about years ago: diets don’t work. God, I wish they did. I won’t be doing paleo or Whole30 or Weight Watchers or anything with a doctrine. God, I wish I could. But then, doing that for most of my life is part of what got me in the mess I’m in now.

The latests books I’m reading on avoiding diets stress the importance of accountability. This is a relief for me. I believe diets don’t work, but some books stop there and don’t tell you what to do next. The books I’m reading now encourage calorie tracking and food logging for at least a few months so that I can get a feel for when and where I’m going wrong–because I am doing something wrong. I’m not listening to and/or ignoring hunger cues, I’m eating for the wrong reasons, and I’m doing both to the detriment of my health. Case in point: I love, love, love healthy food. Fruits, vegetables, SALADS…but I skip them because they seem like a lot of trouble. It’s easier to just grab a coffee from Starbucks or fries from the cafeteria.

Researchers espouse a “crowding out” eating plan, where you try to meet your nutritional requirements before you dive headfirst into the ice cream. I like this. I have always been one to find comfort in order and expectations.

Weight loss and exercise, but not too much. That’s what I see in my summer. The surgery will have to wait until I get a handle on the first two. Feel free to cheer me on. πŸ™‚

UPDATE: I used to be a member of My Fitness Pal, and now I’m back! My username their is RosyPaige. (No clue why–all my usual usernames must have been taken.)

p.s. I’m currently looking for apps that help me track calories, activity, and glycemic index, if possible.

p.s.s. I feel this video is necessary to end on a positive note, because I know this post sounds a little gloomy. Two words: Alan Thicke.

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  1. Jules! Let's be accountability buddies! I'm in a very similar situation. Suggestion on calorie tracking: my fitness pal. It's free. You can friend people and share as much or as little as you like and it's easy to use on a computer or phone or iPad. I started wearing a Jawbone Up (like a Fitbit but I like their interface and sleep functionality better). My sister and mom also picked one up and it's a nice way to keep me motivated.

    One more thing on mfp, if you use Fitbit or Up it syncs so you can see how many calories you're burning with activity.

    • I was thinking the same thing as I read this post – accountabili-buddy πŸ™‚ I also use MFP and a Fitbit. I'm just at the beginning of this journey, but have learned so much. It has to be a lifestyle, not something I'll do until I reach a goal so I can go back to what got me in this mess.
      If anyone is interested, I think maybe it would be cool to form some sort of group to share encouragement and accountability.

  2. Also I don't mean to sound like a scary cheerleader lady. I'm just in the midst of this and find it so much more attainable when I know someone else is dealing with similar things.

  3. I don't have an app recommendation, but here is another person cheering you on!

    Also, two of my friends had breast reduction surgeries in college. After hearing about how it significantly changed their lives for the better, I have been pro-surgery ever since. (I think before I would have been in the "don't change the body that God gave you" camp). It seems like a big decision but with very potentially great outcomes.

  4. I'm all for breast reduction surgery if one really needs it, but in many cases, the person wanting surgery is wearing the wrong bra size. If you're wearing the wrong size and don't realize it (they say 80% of women are wearing the wrong size), wearing the right one could alleviate a lot if not all of the problems you mentioned.

    Have you been professionally fitted before? Victoria Secret and the bra section of department stores don't count. They're infamous for poor sizing (measuring over your clothes, adding inches to your band size, etc.). A lingerie boutique is your best bet, but I've heard good things about Nordstrom. You might have luck there if you can't find a boutique in your area.

    I lost back pain and neck pain when I got fitted into the right size. I now wear 30J (was wearing 34 or 36 G). I'm not skinny so I never expected such a small band size, but that's part of the problem… there's this myth that anything above a D is porn star sized cups, and that normal people are between 34-38. Truth is, most places that aren't professionally trained (like Victoria Secret) will add 4 to 5 inches to your band size, which is an outdated method based on the way bras used to be made. I measure 31 around, but I'm a little squishy. So 30 is just right for me—snug on the loosest hooks so there's room for the bra stretching out (hooking it tighter as it gets older), and the bra band stays level from front to back/no riding up in the back. Also, the letter thing, letter size is relative to band size, so 30D and 36D are completely different cup sizes.

    I have no idea what your bra journey so far is, and maybe you know all this stuff, are in the correct size, and still have pain because they're so heavy. At that point of course it's worth looking into surgery, if that's what you're comfortable considering. But I just wanted to make sure you (or others reading) knew that the right size bra can make a HUGE difference in the amount of pain you're feeling, as well as posture and the appearance of fat (when everything droops or slouches, you look fatter overall). First thing people said to me after I started wearing new bras was to ask if I had lost a bunch of weight because I looked so much slimmer. Nope, just a better bra! Clothes fit better, too.

    • Sadly, I have been fitted professionally. πŸ™

      My hope is that I will lose weight and therefore not need the reduction. We'll see.

      • I was going to suggest professional bra fittings also. I’ve been wearing a 40 E [DD] for nine [!] years, and while I had lost 50 pounds since I bought it*, all I had to do was sew another set of loops onto the band so I could hook it tighter. [*I had just started working after not doing so for six years, and was newly vegetarian, so that meant almost no fast food. Since I’m hypoglycemic and have to eat every few hours to keep my blood sugar up, I used Calorie Count to help me understand that I was eating — I liked that I could put my own recipes/foods into the database if they weren’t listed.] After gaining about 15 pounds back, then losing it again recently [I started doing super-simple yoga at home], the band really felt too loose so I decided to measure myself carefully. I’m now supposed to wear a 36 I [DDDDDD]! It sounds like an outrageous change, but my band size got smaller while my bust size stayed the same — there used to be only a five-inch difference, and now there’s nine! I’ve also had a lot of back pain [ever since I hurt it while in high school] so I decided to order a quality steel-boned underbust corset. [*Disclaimer here that I’m not jumping on any corset bandwagon — I had a crappy one in high school that helped me some, and I’ve done loads of non-celebrity-endorsed research since then.] On the very first day wearing my new corset my back felt better because I couldn’t really slouch. I’ve been wearing it for increasing amounts of time almost every day for a few weeks and I’ve found that when I’m *not* wearing it now, it’s usually uncomfortable to slouch — either my back will hurt, or my stomach will feel compressed. While wearing it I can now grocery shop for a couple of hours without my back killing me by the end. *And* it keeps my loose bra band in place, which will tide me over until I can get new bras. I realise this sounds like I’m selling something, but really, I just wanted to share because it’s helped me so much. Perhaps you could try a posture bra if you don’t want a corset.

  5. I'm a big fan of MyFitnessPal. I've been using it almost two years, and alng with a big lifestyle overhaul (lots more exercise), have lost a little over 4 stone (nearly 60lbs). You can track your food, exercise, and water consumption. It also integrates really well with other apps, for example, I use it in combination with FitBit, which tracks my general activity levels throughout the day, and with RunKeeper (on the rare occasions I go out for a run).

  6. I use MyFitnessPal too, but I also signed on with a health coach through Instagram, see HealthInHabit. She provides accountability, loads of inspiration and really just tells it like it is. She's lost over 120 pounds through healthy eating and exercise and that's what she promotes. I still have a long way to go, but I've lost more weight with her than with any other diet/plan I've tried and I've tried a lot. I also don't feel like I'm on a diet. You should check her out.

  7. I had a breast reduction with I was 19 years old and am so thankful that my mother was proactive about it. I was a 34GG with two back curvatures. My mother's spine suffered real damage because of her very large breasts- she has a kyphosis and the weight of her breasts made it much, much worse. Even though it was years ago, I would be happy to talk about my experience with you.


    • You know, I never even considered issues like curvature of the spine. πŸ™ I'm definitely going to see a doctor about my concerns. Thanks for sharing your experience because you've touched on issues I've never even considered. :/

    • Good luck Jules! I have lower back pain, and I've always thought. Oh. I need to strengthen my core. So i finally sucked it up and hired a personal trainer who has a degree in kinesiology (and suffered major back problems himself). Turns out I actually need to strengthen my hips and glutes to take the pressure off my lower back. Who knew! Weight training has made a tremendous difference in my back pain issues without loosing any weight.

    • Forgot to sign my comment above. Woops! I wanted to add that even with my breast reduction, i still have lower back pain related to musculature issues. I think its definitely worth starting with a spine doc, and then working your way down towards physical therapy, weight training or a chiropractor to make sure you're addressing the real problem. Cheers, Susan

  8. Let me add my recommendation for My FItness Pal to the group here. It's a great tracking tool. I've used it off and on and always find success when I do. My daughter has been using it and exercising consistently for the last few months and has lost 22 pounds.

    I'll be cheering you on and following your journey. So many of us in the same boat.

  9. How do you feel about fitbit? The app is great at tracking movement and activity and has weight, diet, and water tracking options too!

    Blessings and strength on this journey!

    • I have it, stopped using it (I was bad about charging it) but I have it in the charger as I type. It is a great tool–I need to be better about using it!

  10. I've used myfitnesspal before, but last month my friend told me about a new app called Rise and I've been using it to great success! You fill out a short questionaire, then choose from a small group of pre-selected nutritionists/dieticians (you can read their bios). You are paired with this person, and you take quick snapshots of each of your meals and snacks. There's also a small section for text description. Your coach gives you feedback and encouragement/butt kicking/whatever you need. That's IT. I haven't counted calories in a month, and I've lost weight. Weight I've been trying to lose for YEARS. I cannot say enough good things about this app.

    • Seconding the Rise recommendation! I used it for a few months while I was both trying to lose wait and step up my exercise game – I wanted to make sure I was eating the right things to support my workouts without adding too many calories. It was really great!! Too be honest, I did not have a large amount of weight to lose, so after a few months I got tired of taking pictures of everything I ate and canceled the subscription, but it was long enough to make certain things habits, and I've found that a lot of the lessons I learned with the nutritionist have still stuck around.

  11. I use My Fitness Pal to track calories, and it also syncs with my Garmin watch – so I know what I've burned running. I really believe it's calories and the kind of calories one eats that results in weight gain/loss. Having trained for a marathon, and GAINED weight – for me, it's more about what I put in my mouth than what I burn. I hope your back feels better soon.

    • Gained weight while training for a marathon! Well, there's proof that it's not *just* calories in, calories out. The books I've been reading have said as much.

  12. I previously used MyFitnesspal, and I feel I learned a lot about what calories look like but it's hard for me to stay motivated on that long term with the daily logging in and recording foods. That, and I don't have a smart phone so it is not an option for me to use the apps mfp or fitbit, etc provide.

    What I felt has worked for me is trying to eliminate much of my sugar intake, eating much smaller portions, waiting for seconds, drinking more tea, taking out any trigger foods from the house, and moving around more. Like you, I love love love healthy foods, but I also am a sucker for sugar.

    My favorite books have been: Wheat Belly: total Health, I Quit Sugar (by Sarah Wilson), and Nourishing Traditions died (by Sally Fallon Morell). I'm also reading one now called You are What you Eat by Dr. Gillian McKeith and it seems pretty helpful.

    Good luck!!

    • Thanks, Sonrie! I'm not good at calorie tracking, either. I'm on day two, and while I don't see myself doing it for the long tern, the book I'm reading (The Mindful Diet, I think) is correct in that it's been eyeopening to see what kind of eater I am. I'm a calorie bomber, apparently!

  13. We can cheer each other!! I'm in the same boat, and — sadly — your body does nothing to help you after 40. Great day! I was logging my food for a while, and was horrified by how my choices stacked up, even the "good" ones. You're doing things, Jules — just keep doing the next right thing every day. I'm rootin' for you!

  14. I posted a comment yesterday that seemed to disappear in cyber space, so I'm back with my two cents. I don't have your issues, however I have an overweight teenager I am trying to steer to healthier eating. We went to a nutritionist last week and it reinforced the need to have good heatly food accessible in your fridge so you can make good choices. I am sure you know all this, but it takes work to implement and a fair amount of advance prep of food items, cleaning out the fridge, etc. Andrea Howe's blog is a good source for what is involved in trying to eat healthy. It's not fun, when my preference would be to read a book, surf the internet, or a million other things over cooking and prepping food under duress. I love to putter in the kitchen, make meals and be creative, but this is more like work. So my advice is to get into pure, good, unprocessed food for your meals and eat every 4 hours so your aren't starving. It's the highs and lows that kill your metabolism. I also learned that there is much unknown about artifical sweetener and it could create the "insulin response" whereby your cells open up and pull in sugar (though it is not really sugar) and then store it as fat. Hopefully I got that right–sounds awful–like a cruel hoax! Keep up wiht the walking–you were so good a couple years ago–moving is better than not moving and definitely makes the difference in weight loss. Finally, my neighbor had a breast reduction–loved it! I also had a coworker who told me she had one in college and everyone thought she lost weight–couldn't quite peg the change, but the overall result was she looked thinner. My vote is just do it. I suspect you will be very pleased with the results and glad that you did. It also could be the change that spurs you on to improve your eating, etc. Best of luck. Keep us posted. We will cheer you on. LOVE THE VIDEO –the grandfather of Blurred Lines! so much more chaste. I lived that decade of aerobics–what memories! Photos are great too. You have an eye!

  15. I know people have varying opinions on this, but I've found going to a chiropractor has helped with my back pain. He always encourages me to stretch, exercise carefully and lose weight in a very nice, non-judgey way. But he is always happy to treat my immediate back pain issues and for me, it helps with the immediate pain and helps me recover much faster. And lo and behold, also helped me to lose weight and find exercise that does not completely intimidate me.

  16. Jules, have you read Peter Walsh's book on clutter & weight? I have it and am reading it now and think it could be helpful. It reminds me so much of your William Morris project – but applied to yourself & not just your house.

    Another thing that has helped me so much in the past is finding a limited selection of meal ideas that sustained me while taking the weight off (something I'm actively doing now.) Maybe you find two or three (at most) breakfast and lunch ideas that are easy to make but sustain you and stick to those this summer. Taking away some of that decision making fatigue helped me stay focused on my goal. Its not the most exciting way to eat but honestly I don't need to think about food all the time when I'm trying to get rid of extra weight.

  17. I have use fitbit as well. But I have used SparkPeople and received results when I completely used it. SParkPeople also has lots of information.

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