Allie Griffith

Allie Griffith
Location
Memphis, Tennessee,
Bio
Writer, game developer, artist. Also raconteuse, dilettante, and passionate advocate. I've been called an angel of wisdom and I've been called a judgmental idiot. Sooner or later I'm bound to say something that you disagree with; feel free to tell me your side of the story. I listen to other people's opinions and have occasionally been known to concede that they might have a point and alter mine. I use too many semicolons and I have terrible taste in music. I'm the sort of person who thinks it's more telling to mention that than that I'm married and had a foster daughter but she's grown now. By objective standards, my life is probably a disaster - no health insurance and a chronic illness - but my happiness quotient is the highest of anyone I know. Sometimes I tell sad stories but please don't let them make you sad.

Allie Griffith's Links

Salon.com
JUNE 11, 2009 5:41PM

Met my halfway goal: 50 pounds by my birthday!

Rate: 31 Flag

I started my weight loss plan (not going to say diet, because it isn't really, more a lifestyle change) on January 15th, with the goal of losing 100 pounds total and 50 pounds by my birthday, five months away. My birthday is Sunday, and today I hit my goal with three days to spare.

My BMI has gone from within a hair of 40, the range considered "extremely obese", which creates an extremely high risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension, passed through obesity class 2, in which the risk is classified as only very high, and into obesity class 1, unadorned high risk. A little more than 10 pounds - close enough to smell it - and I won't be obese anymore, just plain old overweight, at only increased risk. And several studies show that being only moderately overweight carries no increased risk at all.

I started trying to loss weight in hopes of improving my overall health. I suffer from what the doctors call "lupus-like syndrome," which is to say I have many of the symptoms of lupus, but my antibody profile doesn't exactly match that of classic lupus. For some reason, my body produces antibodies to attack itself. Like lupus, lupus-like syndrome is frustrating in that any symptom can appear at any time as the body launches a new attack, then fade away for months. Bouts of illness are called "flares." Typically my flares involve inflammation of my heart lining or blood vessels, which sends my cardiovascular system into a frenzy and fills my blood with waste products. It's nearly impossible for me to exercise during a flare, which is the primary reason I gained so much weight. But, unfortunately, the weight gain was adding more stress to my already overloaded cardiovascular system. I needed to do something, or die. Waiting for a time when I felt better to start exercising wasn't going to work, because I felt bad all the time.

Losing fifty pounds hasn't cured my autoimmune problems. In fact, at times, it seems to have provoked them. Any stress tends to trigger an autoimmune flare, and operating on a caloric deficit counts as stress. I've spent several weeks of this time struggling with chest pains, muscle and joint pains, headaches, muscle tremors, skin freakouts (I don't get the classic lupus 'butterfly' rash which has left Seal so scarred, but my skin has its own repertoire of terrible ways to behave), fevers, purpura (bruising of the hands and feet), and, most annoyingly, a menstrual period every 21 days as my body adjusts to less estrogen, which is produced by fat.

But!  I kept going. And I made my first goal, despite all.

My resting heart rate has dropped from 72 beats a minute at the best of times and much higher than that during an autoimmune flare, to well under 60 beats a minute. I had a flare last week, and instead of shooting up into the physically uncomfortable feels-like-someone-is-chasing-me when I try to sleep 100+ range, my heart rate only went up to about 70 - a perfectly normal rate.

When I started, I had to stop and rest while walking the third of a mile around the lake. Now I can walk two miles easily;  when I'm not having a flare, I can walk pretty much as long as I want to walk. I've been using my stationary bike to push myself, because it has a palm pulse sensor so I can tell from moment to moment if my heart is having a fit. It's necessary because when I'm having heart inflammation, my heart can go from a safe range to over 200 beats a minute instantly. The sort of chest band/wrist sensor you have to check periodically was never going to work - I had to be able to watch it constantly to learn how to feel what was happening with my body and how much I could push. When I started, if I wasn't having a bad day (when I could do no exercise at all) I could only do about two and a half minutes of slow pedaling before having to stop and let my heart calm down. Now I can sustain strong pedaling for thirty minutes at a time. My muscles get tired, but my heart chugs along safely in the target range. 

Now that my heart is better behaved, I've been adding a little strength training, gradually. Among other things I embarked on the "100 pushups in six weeks" program and surprised myself by being able to do 10 pushups on the initial test. I kept it up until the fifth week of the program, by which point I realized that I was hating and dreading every day of that stupid program and sick of feeling like a noodle between workouts. Dread is not a good motivator, so I'm looking for another program. I notice, reading other people's comments, that no one ever finishes the program in six weeks, not even the creator of the program.  Hmm. Surely there's a workout program which will enable me to get stronger without actually praying for anyone's death. 

(It's tempting to insert a line drawing of myself, with DDD breasts, doing a pushup, next to the '100 pushups in 6 weeks' line drawing of a svelte breastless chick doing a pushup. I haven't done the drawing, though, so you're just going to have to imagine it. I reach the ground quite a bit sooner than she does.)

I'd say it's been tough, but you know, it really hasn't been all that tough. The toughest part is wanting to grab a bite to eat while I'm out running around and not having any place to grab a bite that isn't chock full of sodium and corn syrup. The next toughest part is having a refrigerator full of tomatoes and knowing that if I don't make that pasta I said I was going to make they are going to go bad. I want to be a celebrity and have someone else cook for me. Cooking is fun when you're in the mood, but in the middle of June on a lovely hot day full of lightning bugs and the singing of cicadas, I am more than likely not in the mood.

The easy part has been calorie control. Once I stopped drinking corn-syrup laden Coke which made me crave sodium-laden prepared foods which made me crave simple-carb and fat-laden junk, I found myself naturally tending to eat fewer than 1600 calories a day. After a while I stopped counting, since it didn't seem to be necessary.

Best of - cheap, delicious, quick, and satisfying:

Smoothies made with frozen fruit (a different kind each day) yogurt, and flaxseed or ground walnuts or almond slivers.

Quickie homemade sushi made with Japanese import brand microwave sprouted brown rice, veggies, and sardines. This rice is so much better than anything available in any American store. Two minutes to perfect rice that has the texture of real sushi rice.

Roasted kale - like potato chips but with actual food value! And not 160 calories a pop!

Worth it:

Grass fed steak. Yes, it's worth the extra cash. A little goes a long way, the animal has been treated decently, and the meat has a fat profile more like salmon than like typical American grain fed beef.

Homemade soup. It's a hobby. But when you're finished, you have something delicious that you can feel good about eating. The other day I was wanting soup and feeling lazy, and picked up a can of Campbell's beef soup in the grocery. Looked at the label, put it back. 39% of your daily sodium per serving. Bad enough. But much worse when you realize that one measly can of soup, which I normally eat all by myself, supposedly contains 2.5 servings.  Do the math - you can get your entire day's serving of sodium from a single can of Campbell's soup. And to balance out the heinous saltiness they put corn syrup in everything. 

Not worth it:

Oatmeal. Yes, it's cheap, yes, it's healthy. I loathe it. I loathed it as a child and it turns out I still loathe it.

Fat free cream cheese. I think it's made from chalk.

Free, free at last:

Coke. Don't drink corn syrup. I feel so much better now that I'm free of my Coke addiction. My cravings are better now that I'm not kicking my blood sugar around. Even my teeth are brighter.

Sodium from prepared foods. I lost  twenty pounds the first month of my diet, mostly from water weight because I wasn't eating so much prepared food. Now that I'm eating normally, when I do eat something I used to eat, it tastes unbearably salty.

But, alas, I will never stop craving:

Fried chicken. There's simply not a way to eat fried chicken that doesn't involve absurd amounts of empty calories.

Pig fat:  don't try to feed me lean bacon. The fat is the point. The fat is delicious. No amount of eating delicious healthy foods seems to put a dent in my craving for luxurious white crusty swine.

 

And now, onward to the next goal!

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Congratulations! This is so cool to read about you!
Congrats! That's awesome!
Congratulations, Allie. Impressive to say the least. I have no doubt you'll make your goal!
"Quickie homemade sushi made with Japanese import brand microwave sprouted brown rice, veggies, and sardines. This rice is so much better than anything available in any American store. Two minutes to perfect rice that has the texture of real sushi rice."

Will you write up how to do this, and which brands? (I've gained 50 lbs in the last 8 years, and it needs to come off w/o dieting- sushi is usually a treat for me due to expenses)
Way to go, Allie.

Surely there's a workout program which will enable me to get stronger without actually praying for anyone's death.

I liked this line a lot. (Those thoughts are a motivator for me. :-)
Congratulations! You're doing far better than I've been able to! But that's 'cos I know what to do and just don't do it iyiyiyiyi!
Allie, congratulations. I work with a lot of people in excess of 50, 100 and even 200 pounds overweight. I see, every day, the pain caused by the trap they find themselves in - emotional and physical additions to food full of empty calories. I am so happy for you, that you have found a path out of the destructive loop of addictions, and are on your way to health. Enjoy your success!
YAY! Congratulations!

denese
I am so impressed by what you've done.
My sister got addicted to Sonic Cokes and tater tots and it ravaged her health. She's off it now but some permanent damage has been done and she will never be able to eat anything she wants again the rest of her life.

This news makes me very, very happy for you!!!
You have done a great thing, Allie. I congratulate you on your accomplishment, and wish you continued health and luck moving forward.

YOU GO, GIRL!!!
oh, sweetheart, i am so fucking proud of you and happy for you!!!! what a wonderful accomplishment!! my god, that is hard hard work. 50 lbs. is a lot of hard work. thank you so much for sharing this. i got great news about changing bipolar meds to one that won't keep putting weight on me, whihc i will post about. and, god, i totally get the BMI thing. i'm a titch way from obese, probably over that by now. and there is such victory is merely being overweight!!! i love you and thank you so much for the tips you gave us. love love love and gratitude and go read your PMs now, girl!!!!!
Allie, this is awesome. You inspire me.
I recently put a picture of myself on a post to show off Persephone's earrings. I left it for a night then took it off because I was so embarrassed. I need to follow your example.
I agree with you on the salt thing.
I got over my chocolate cravings by putting about a half teaspoon of cocoa powder in my coffee every morning. Now I can go through the check out line at the grocery store without a battle. Just a hint in case it will help someone.
Congratulations especially on giving up the soda. It must be so difficult to lose weight when you can't really exercise so much and your health is somewhat compromised, and 50 pounds is a big, big deal. And yes, laziness is the enemy of dieting, I know. Keep-a-going, you're doing great!
HUGE congratulations, Allie! Losing weight is hard enough without having it further compounded with health challenges. The fact that you're still moving toward your goal, even though it's not easy, is such an inspiration. Have a wonderful birthday. :)

@lifehalflived - Thanks for the cocoa tip. Chocolate is my crack.
Yeah! You have shared this so well. Most of us are trying to accomplish SOMETHING in our lives, some change. You are an inspiration. All the best in the next phase.
Good for you! This is a great accomplishment. I gave up soda, cream and sugar in my coffee, and started bike riding to give me a kick-start to a healthier lifestyle. If you can ride thirty minutes on a stationary bike, you could get around the lake in that time, with the breeze in your hair. A good bike, with a good seat really helps.
Awesome Allie! I bow down to you. Fifty pounds is a huge accomplishment and the fact that you are eating without counting every bite is the best indicator that this is a permanent change.

I need to shed some pounds too and for me the big calorie killer is wine. I love it! Am trying to get back in the exercise swing of things.

You are an inspiration.
That's an AMAZING accomplishment. You go.
Allie, what a great example! Way to go, congratulations!
Wow! Good for you! Here's to continued success.
Good for you! And good luck on that next goal!
Congratulations.

My motto is, "If it feels good, do it." And nothing feels better than having a strong, healthy body.
Nothing else comes close.
Good for you, brave Allie! Thanks for sharing your journey and your tips with all of us, and good luck and blessings as you continue towards your other goals.
I am so happy for you!!! I'd give you a hug if I could! Keep up the wonderful work!
I am so impressed! and this is really an inspiring accomplishment! I need to get my ass on the treadmill NOW..! (I'm with you on the homemade soups -- once you have homemade you can never go back to canned.)
Yes! Happy birthday to YOU! I congratulate you on a MUCH healthier lifestyle. Life...the key word.
Great!!!
your ref to whts like "chalk" n triggers "loathing" "still" had me giggling. Keep it up and a happy birthday in advance now, Allie Griffith.
Congratulations at this milestone in the journey toward what you feel is your true self. It's amazing the peace achieved when our outsides stop stuggling so hard with our insides.
I'm with some of the others. More details on the recipes please. I am in bad shape and need to lose a LOT. I just went to the DR. to get a little help. I need to watch my salt and I have noticed some foods having so much salt in them they almost burn your mouth. KFC in particular. I need help...You are an encouragement.
Extremely energetic and inspiring writing! You are amazing...keep it up. Rated
Hi Allie, This is sooo inspiring. I can feel the healthy new you shining through. Coca-Cola is poison! Should be outlawed... High fructose cornsyrup? I see the trucks out on the interstate that look like gasoline tankers dragging around thousands of gallons of that evil stuff.
This is a great reminder to me and many others to watch what we eat.
Where do you get the grass fed beef? I've heard it's more expensive but much worth while. (Actually it shouldn't be hard for me to locate as the flint hills of Kansas, which is where much of it is raised/ranched is near here)

Once again... an inspiration and I'm very proud of you and happy for you!
And.....lol
Sagey Journal and the rest of you. Stay away from the bloody bucket known as KFC. Also Taco Bell. Also Pepsi Cola. (All the same company)
Three of many reasons we are the fattest people on this planet.
Congrats!! On meeting your goal for your birthday. It really sounds like you have a great plan on your "Life Style Change". I hate the word diet also, it never seems to work if you use that awful word. Can soups and soda pop of any kind, and prepared foods are the worse. Keep up the great work!! you are doing great!!
Happy birthday and congratulations, Allie! Thank you for such an honest and heartwarming, encouraging post. I cannot diet any more but I recently started exercising and I loved your comments on the pushup program. I never had boobs until I got obese, go figure! I'm glad you're doing the right thing for yourself and reading this has certainly helped me try to do the right thing, also. Rated - you go, girl!
Congrats. That is amazing. And I second the grass fed beef. I have cancer and eat it for health reasons. One benefit of the price is that it forces me to eat less red meat.
How many people try to make changes in how they approach their lives and only get so far. Congratulations! Powerful words for a society that could use a reality check with how they approach basic preventative health. Awesome.
Yes there is a way to eat fried chicken and all fried foods using fiber one cereal......check out Hungry Girl.com for all the fried /unfried recipes........Im proud of you !!!!!!!!!!!!