Food + Drink + Life + Health + Vanity + Wearables



I struggled to find an appropriate photo to accompany this post, but I couldn’t. Instagrams of feet are always a good fallback, so here are four of them. This post has nothing to do with feet or shoes or tiles or anything like that, though. It’s about weight — gaining weight, losing weight, weighty weight.

About three years ago, I wrote a post called I’m OK. Sometimes I go back to read it so I can remind myself of exactly how I felt that day, because it’s how I strive to feel all the time — that is, I strive to not have to think about how I feel; to not have to think about constant physical self-improvement.

I’m going to quote myself:

I’m 5′6″, I weigh 150 pounds, and I usually wear a size 8 or 10. This is the size that I am when I am eating healthy, well-balanced foods in normal quantities. I have weighed as much as 40 pounds more when I was eating enormous portions of unhealthy, prepared foods, and I have weighed as little as 30 pounds less when I was meticulously measuring every morsel of food that entered my body and obsessing over calories and fat grams and fiber content to the point that I wound up not really getting much pleasure out of what I was eating. Neither option was healthy, but not because of my weight at either end of the spectrum — it was unhealthy because my body wasn’t getting the things it needs in the right amounts to function properly.

Yeah. That was me three years ago, which suddenly feels like a long, long time. I still believe in everything I wrote, but I’m not at that place anymore, physically or mentally. I’ve hung out in the ~145 pound area for most of the last 6 years without really thinking about it. I’d go up a few pounds when I was overworking and stressed, and I’d go down a few pounds when I was taking extra-good care of myself.

Last October, though, things started to get out of control. I know it sounds TOTALLY RIDICULOUS to blame Hurricane Sandy (because seriously, among all the things that were affected by that storm, my weight does not deserve to be mentioned), but that was kind of the turning point. I wanted comfort foods, I wanted to bake, I wanted takeout food, I wanted to feel safe and I wanted something to do while I waited for my apartment building to have electricity and for the subways to start running again. Unfortunately, my default activity when my regular routine is interrupted is EATING. Snacking. Eating. More snacking. Not much moving around. More eating.

Seven months post-Sandy (three weeks ago, to be precise), I forced myself to get on a scale. It wasn’t like I couldn’t see that I’d gained weight or that I didn’t notice having to buy bigger jeans, but I wasn’t prepared to discover that I’d managed to put on FORTY (40!) pounds. In seven months! Whoa. 5′6″, 180 pounds. That’s only 10 pounds shy of my highest weight ever, a place I never thought I’d be again in my life.

Side note: I’ve never really understood why so many people (women AND men) don’t like to reveal their ages or weights and that kind of stuff. Why is it such a big deal? Your age is what it is — who cares! The older I get, the less that makes sense to me. If I started telling people I’m 27 instead of 37, what would I accomplish? I get that those of us who are or have been overweight often (not always) have some degree of shame or embarrassment associated with scale numbers, but at the end of the day, what does being open about your weight change? How is it different than telling someone your height? Anyone looking at me can see that I’m overweight — being coy about numbers and sizes doesn’t suddenly make me look like I’m thinner. I’m all about dropping the shame and other internal weirdness and just putting it out there.

Just so it’s clear, I really don’t think that height/weight-based metrics are particularly good indicators of a person’s health. That said, I have a pretty good sense of where my weight naturally settles when I’m eating healthy, nutritious foods and taking good care of myself. I didn’t go from 140 to 180 pounds in seven months by taking good care of myself. My health and well-being matters to me, and as I creep closer to 40, I know I really can’t mess around with this stuff.

Also, vanity. Self-image. That stuff. It’s real, and I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t affect me. The week before I weighed myself, I was at my friends’ wedding in San Francisco, and I spent a whole lot of time avoiding having my picture taken (and feeling ridiculously self-conscious when I couldn’t avoid it). Who wants to feel that way? Not me.

So today marks three weeks since my first “scale moment,” and as of this morning, I’m down to 170 pounds. Ten pounds might sound like too much to lose in a short period of time, but that’s just because I went from eating like a teenage boy in a growth spurt (takeout food every night, chips every afternoon, multiple daily bagels on the weekend, etc.) to eating like a reasonable human being overnight — so the initial drop in calories consumed was pretty massive. I have no expectation of continuing to lose at that rate! Having lost a large amount of weight once before (I went from 190 to 130 in 2006), I know that about two pounds per week is normal for me. My goal weight (hey, I have some goals) is 145-ish, because I know that’s comfortable and healthy for me.

I’m using Weight Watchers (online only, no meetings) to track what I eat. I am not an advocate of Weight Watchers’ packaged/processed foods, and I really don’t care about their meal suggestions or any of that stuff, but I do love their tracker tools (YAY for the iPhone app!) and the point system is very handy. It’s worth the $15/month to me because I’m the kind of person who likes order and accountability and having a system. I also really like that Weight Watchers isn’t about going “on a diet,” it’s about reinforcing health eating habits (hello, I sound like a commercial) through making smart choices every day. It’s sustainable.

I just want to feel well, be healthy and not spend so much time thinking about my size. I want to feel like the person who wrote this post again. I’m not comparing myself to anyone else, I’m comparing myself to what I know I’m capable of. I can’t be passive about this stuff any longer. Onward!

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  • Reply Charlie July 2, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Anna, I’m sailing along in this boat with you. Sometime between last fall and now, so many things happened and stuff just got out of control. The stress of wedding planning; my grandmother passing away; staying at and eventually leaving a job that I HATED. I’m 30 lbs heavier than I’d like, than I feel comfortable at. Definitely trying to keep things in check, in terms of bread and sugar- but I might have to check out this app, too!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply lesley July 2, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I could have written this – same height, same weight, same goal, same recent comfort-eating, feeling out-of-control-ness. I’m also doing the WW, which I’ve had good results with before. Just wanted to say you’re not alone, and it feels good to share the process. Good luck to you, lady!

  • Reply Nikki July 2, 2013 at 11:49 am

    This post resonates with me soooo much! My weight has fluctuated by about +/- 30 pounds for as long as I can remember. Over the last year I’ve been very seriously changing my nutritional choices and trying to make working out part of my lifestyle. It is so tough to have that moment where you suddenly realize you’ve gained weight (mine happened about 3 months and 25 pounds after I got my first desk job). I really like that your focus is more on being healthy than being thin and I wish you good luck in your efforts!

  • Reply Maureen July 2, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Good for you, sister. Keep at it and you’ll get there. Many of us have been there (and back and forth again). Thanks for your honesty and insight into it all. Food is comfort and love…too bad it can all backfire so quickly on us! WW is a good program and their tools are handy. Good luck!

  • Reply Samantha July 2, 2013 at 11:50 am

    It’s so refreshing to read someone talking about their weight as a realist and not from a place of…feeling bad. It seems like you’re saying “Wow, I was eating really unhealthily, I need to make some changes.” which is a healthy, smart way to approach it.

    That said, do you have any ideas about how to get motivated to exercise more? In terms of food, I basically just try to keep a bunch of vegetables in my fridge and make those the first choice, but I’m no good at making exercise a part of my routine.

    • Anna @ D16 July 2, 2013 at 11:57 am

      I wish I could say that I have great exercise ideas, Samantha, but that’s always been an area where I am extremely lax. I don’t get ANY “formal” exercise at all, actually. I am (like many people who live in urban areas) pretty naturally active — I walk about two miles a day at a pretty rapid clip just getting from one place to another. I would like to incorporate more of that natural activity into my weekends, though, like going for hikes and stuff like that. Maybe someday I’ll start to feel like I want to follow a regimented routine, but I’m definitely not at that point right now.

    • Lena July 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      I am really bad at getting exercise too, it just bores me. The only thing which kind of works for me, is a stationary bike & watching tv series while being on it. My father has one and as a student I still spend many weekends and holidays at my parents house and regularly use it there. Its nice having an excuse to watch some good series and that motivates and distracts you. Maybe buy a dvd set about something you’re excited to watch but make it a rule that you can only do that while on the bike or that you can only watch the daily show while on the bike? Would work with a treadmill as well of course or maybe just a routine of different simple exercises like to skip rope, weight lifting ect, for me key just is being distracted and having something to motivate me.

    • Michelle July 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Samantha, two things work for me with exercise: 1. making regular plans with other people and 2. doing something I love. What have you loved doing in the past, or have always wanted to try? Maybe it’s hiking not running, or kickboxing not yoga, or mountain biking not spin class. There most likely a club, class, bootcamp, or workshop that will teach you more about it and connect you to other people who love to do the same.

      Thanks for sharing your story with us, Anna, and good luck!

    • jesse.anne.o July 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      I am going to put in a plug for a good personal trainer here! I HATE exercise and failed gym class in high school multiple times. In grade school it was why I learned to forge my mom’s name. But each Friday I go to a personal trainer for a one hour session and it’s made a huge difference.

      I was going with the goal of strength and it took us about 3 months to “train” me so I could do things normally healthy people could do when they walked in with “normal” baseline assessment. But having someone know exactly how to adjust or correct exercise for me (too hard, not positioned the right way) was invaluable. I never would have been motivated to do anything I’m doing now or to try if it weren’t for the trainer. Also I tend to want to do maintenance exercise and eat better if I know I’m seeing the trainer on Friday.

      The most I’ve done otherwise is use the Couch to 5k app, which was pretty successful. (Once I learned that you had to pace yourself and not just run as fast as you could during the running intervals. No better way to feel like vomiting.) I couldn’t run a block before and now, even though I don’t run regularly any longer, I can always run a slow 10-11 min/mile 5k because my body’s used to it.

      The trainer is expensive but the app isn’t.

      Okay, that’s my 2 cents. I really hate exercising so I figured trying anything that’s worked for me might sort of helpful for others?

    • Jen July 3, 2013 at 1:37 am

      Hi Samantha,
      I’ve always been fairly active, but I started using a phone app to track my runs several months ago and I highly recommend it! It’s super fun and motivating to be able to accurately track my distance, pace, elevation climbed and other stats, and I can connect with friends so that we can motivate one another. For example, a friend and I trained for a race “together” via the app even though we live more than 2 hours apart. I use RunKeeper, which allows you to track a lot of different activities in addition to running. If you’re informally active in the way Anna describes above (like you live in an urban or very walk/bike-able area), you could try using it (or something similar) to track how much movement you’re doing throughout your day that you don’t even think of as exercise.

      My husband uses the Nike Plus running app, and it’s been a total game changer for him. He used to occasionally, and very half-heartedly tag along on my runs, but never really got into it and could never motivate to run without me. After an extremely stressful period and attendant weight gain, he started using the app and he’s going like gangbusters now (with and even without me!) There’s something really motivating about being able to see progress in a very concrete way by tracking your stats. I’m not sure if you can use Nike Plus to track anything other than running, though.

      Another suggestion that comes with a big caveat: my friend did Jillian Michaels’ 30-day Shred and really felt like it made a positive difference in her strength and stamina. Being able to see a difference motivated her to keep exercising. It’s 20 minutes a day, so not too cumbersome, and there are modified versions of the exercises to fit different skill and strength levels. The big caveat is that Michaels apparently motivates by screaming about things like being able to fit into skinny jeans and getting ready for bathing suit season. In other words, she’s very appearance focused. If body appearance is at all a shame trigger for you, it might not be a healthy video to use despite any positive physical gains it might help you make.

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 3:12 am

      Gosh, all of these suggestions are GREAT! Thanks for sharing what you do, everyone!! 🙂 🙂

    • abby July 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      one thing i really really really love is my FitBit. it is HUGE at motivating to fit a little more movement into the day naturally. it tracks steps and how many stairs (and sleep). you set your own goals, but most studies say a decent amount of exercise in a day is 10K steps (about 5 mi.). every time i visit NYC and i have it with me, it blows me away how much walking i do! (there’s also the Jawbone Up, which is more aesthetically compelling and buzzes when you’ve been sitting for too long, but i’ve not had one of those.)

    • Angela July 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      I had a major exercise breakthrough when I realized exercise is not really necessary for weight loss. Before, I thought I *had* to do it to lose weight, but that’s just not true. So I stopped forcing myself to work out hard and just decided to move my body because it feels nice. I don’t even own good running shoes anymore. I shuffle around in comfy sandals and end up walking 4-5 miles most days. I’m more active than ever because it feels good to move, not because I’m forcing myself to meet some fitness goal.

      And I second the fitbit…it’s really just a pricey pedometer but for me, it’s been awesome. I like seeing how much I’ve walked every day, and I end up parking far away from stores, walking around my apartment while on the phone, etc. But again, it’s fun and feels good to move. Not a chore that I fight against.

  • Reply Chelly July 2, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I love this post. And the one you wrote back in 2010.
    At just barely 5’3″, the 178lb I weighed a year and a half ago was terribly unhealthy, not to mention uncomfortable. I’ve lost +/- 30lbs with the help of weight watchers. However, 10 months ago I moved to a new city where I knew no one. Needless to say, making new friends, and the urge to discover all the wonderful restaurants my new city as to offer, has definitely hindered me from reaching my goal weight of 125lbs.
    Friends and family say “you look great, you’ve lost so much” but no one can really know or understand how you feel about yourself.
    I just recently bought the WW Activelink, because in addition to over eating I am not a naturally active person, and so far I love it! The scale has not gone down as of yet, but last night I looked at my ActiveLink and realized that I had not met my daily goal and proceeded to run laps around my workplace! Something I would have never done without it.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings, even when its hard to. It really does help those of us that cannot.

  • Reply Samantha July 2, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I completely agree with everything you’ve said Anna. My husband and I met in Culinary school, so adding up the usual college weight gain with culinary school – yikes. We’ve both tried for ages to lose it (years, really) – but we love to cook so it makes it hard to cut out large swaths of food.

    We finally found something that works for us: It only requires counting calories twice a week, and eating reasonably the other 5 days. And as of today, I’m down almost 25 pounds since March. Down to a weight I had long since forgotten! I still have 20 or so pounds to go, but I now know I can do it.

    And you’re right, it’s not about the weight, it’s about being healthy and feeling like you’re back in your own body. Good luck, and thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • Anna @ D16 July 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Samantha, that’s so funny — I designed the cover for the US edition of that book. 😉

      (There are several people at my workplace who absolutely love the 5:2 plan!)

    • gracie July 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      Love the fast diet! It makes me feel so energised bizarrely!

  • Reply Amy July 2, 2013 at 11:54 am

    My Fitness Pal is AWESOME, too! They have a online and app program and I think it works better than the WW apps. The food scanners actually work and you can set your calories, fat, carbs, protein, etc so it’s more custom than WW and IT’S FREEEEEEEE!

    • Angela July 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      I LOVE My Fitness Pal. I did WW online before switching, and I was surprised to find that it does everything WW does for FREE!

  • Reply Tracy July 2, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Good for you. I’ve been talking about joining WW for two weeks now. Maybe today I’ll actually do it.

  • Reply Annie July 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Anna- thank you so much for this post.

  • Reply Julie July 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I can also relate – I have put on 45 lbs in the last three years and I hate it! Prior to that I had always hovered around the 150 lbs mark, which wasn’t too bad for my 5’7 frame! I think a combination of a desk job and unhealthy food (baking and takeout and too much carbonara!) is to blame – oh, and the lack of exercise! This post came at a good time however as in the last week or so I have been thinking about eating healthier and attempting to exercise – i’m glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  • Reply LInda Holland July 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

    This is a courageous post. I’m launching a blog next week about living in Oakland, and I’ve been debating how much personal “stuff” to share. After all, who cares? Well, your post hit home. I appreciate when others share their inner turmoil honestly and without self-pity. Such writing inspires me to live my life to the fullest. Thank you.

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Linda, I think a lot about what I do and don’t want to share, but there are certain things that I tend to be secretive about for no real reason. Writing posts like this is pretty self-serving, really, since it makes whatever I’m talking about less of a monster to me!

  • Reply Karine July 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    No your not alone Anna. Same height and same amount of weight to loose… I try so many time to loose it “on my own”, without telling anybody. I was wrong. So wrong. It feels good to share. In january I was 30 pounds more and to encourage myself (you know…the carrot and stick!), I bought an espresso machine I really wanted for years, shipped it at my mom’s place and asked her to give it to me when I would have reached my goal! It worked for me. Although it is nice to drink a good cup of coffee every morning, I am happier, healthier and this IS the true reward! Keep it up!

    • Marjorie July 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      You’re right, Karine! I told everyone I know about my weight loss efforts. Some people at work still laugh and pull the old, “Are you SURE you don’t want one of these donuts? Come on, it won’t kill you!” but others are completely supportive, and they outweigh everyone else. All it takes is one other person telling you that you can do this, you look good, and even eating healthier with you to keep you going.

      And now I want an espresso machine 😉

  • Reply CT July 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I did WW in college (almost ten years ago now yikes!) when I was a cheese-pizza addicted vegetarian. I’m curious how their point system works for vegans — from what I remember about it from before, vegetables were very low in points. And this was also before iPhone aps and such but I remember it feeling very difficult to calculate points for homemade meals which as a vegan, are pretty much all I eat. Good luck on your journey — I too am interested in feeling healthy and not a certain exact weight or pants size. I do think a plant-based diet gives you an advantage for better health. Cheers – CT

    • Anna @ D16 July 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      CT, my previous weight loss (60 lbs in 2006) was also done with Weight Watchers, and that was pre-vegan (I was in the midst of my “meat rumspringa” at the time, so I wasn’t even vegetarian). Personally, I’m finding it really easy now that my diet is completely vegan, because obviously the goal of WW’s point system is to get you to eat more high-fiber, filling, nutritious foods. It’s perfect for vegans! Interestingly, Weight Watchers actually now counts all fruits and veggies (with a few exceptions) as ZERO points. I was skeptical initially, and I do subtract points from my daily total when I eat lots of fruit, but it seems to be working out very nicely.

      Also, I don’t know if this existed ten years ago, but WW has an online “recipe builder” that automatically calculates the per-serving points of any homemade meals. It’s great.

  • Reply Christie July 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Great post! I’m in the same boat right now. After maintaining my weight at 170 during 2012, I am back to 183 (my heaviest was 196 in 2009). And I’m only 5’1. :-\ I have the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, which I was using religiously, but after moving apartments and settling in (for the last 5 months, excuses excuses) I just sort of got lazy. Hella lazy. After reading this though, I think it’s time to get my butt back into gear! All for the right reasons, health and comfort. By the way, you look great!

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 11:11 am

      Moving homes is a HUGE trigger for me when it comes to overeating. It’s just so easy to say you don’t feel like cooking/shopping and order takeout…and then that becomes habit. Good luck getting back in gear, Christie!! You can do it 🙂

  • Reply Raluca | WhatWouldGwynethDo July 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    I am in that exact same place. A 10 when I know I COULD be and probably should be a small 8 or even big 6. I am working out, so I keep telling myself it’s muscle replacing fat but truthfully, I need to start replacing cookies with carrots. I loved WW after I had my second baby, but for some reason keep finding excuses to not hop back on the bandwagon…even though I am kind of sort of almost at the same weight I was when I first started it. The cycle continues…sigh. Wishing you a ton of luck getting back on track!

  • Reply Cori Magee July 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Love your honesty and openness in posts like this and I loved the older post you referred to. This topic hits VERY close to home for me. Although I have reasons and explanations (unemployment, moving, etc), the bottom line is I gained 50 lbs in about 18 months. I’m 5’2″. Do you know what 50 lbs does to someone as short as I am?!
    After going up and down in weight my entire adult life I realized that FOR ME it wasn’t the external reasons (unemployment, moving, etc), it was something more internal. At 35 I’m finally taking care of what I believe is my real problem. I went to a psychologist and I’m taking some medication for depression and obsessiveness. I NEVER wanted to do this before, but I finally got to the point where I believed I was weaker for not facing this. I wasn’t happy and I wanted to feel better. So I’m finally in this place and taking medication.
    I couldn’t be happier. I feel emotionally consistent and I’ve lost 17 lbs in the time I’ve started my medication, which is 2 months. Like you, I don’t want to be super skinny, but just happy and healthy. I’m on my way and I feel good about that. Only time will tell if the medication is truly helping me or I just feel like it’s helping me…

    I’ve been meaning to do a blog post about my weight issues, but haven’t had the nerve. I guess I’m practicing here, knowing you’re the only one who will read this. Your post is motivating me to be more honest.

    No matter what all of our personal reasons are, weight is such a difficult issue. Keep up the hard work and good luck! 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 11:12 am

      I’m glad you were able to figure out what would help you, Cori. Best wishes for continued success!

  • Reply Catherine July 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I’m with you, Anna. Wish we could eat peanut butter at midnight and laugh to each other, ” I never gain weight!”.

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Hahaha. I could totally eat a whole jar of peanut butter in one sitting.

    • lisa July 8, 2013 at 8:03 am

      i’ll join you if you don’t mind me bringing Nutella

  • Reply Emily July 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    This comment – “I’m all about dropping the shame and other internal weirdness and just putting it out there” is why I think you’re such a beautiful bad ass. Indeed! Drop the shame.

    Loved this post. Sending you courage, strength and happiness on your weight loss travels. xo

    PS – keep posting your vegan recipes. Total goodness.

  • Reply Marjorie July 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Girl, I am so with you on this post… Can I just say that I’m 5’4″ and struggling around the same weight area? I think you look fantastic!

    It’s rough for me because back in college my metabolism was awesome. I hovered around 115-120 and never had to think about what I ate. But it’s been quite a few years now of working my 9-5 desk job, and I hit 167 before I realized it. I was SHOCKED. Since my revelation, it’s been 3 months and I’m at 152, down roughly 15 pounds. I’m dying to get back down to 130-140. I can be happy with that, and I’m almost there.

    It’s amazing how I’m kicking my ass and eating only healthy foods, yet it takes so long to see results. I miss the good old days. I’m going to keep going. Loosing only a pound or two a week (or sometimes nothing at all) is tough mentally but that’s the way weight works if you’re doing it right. Sigh.

    Thanks for posting this. I see a lot of us relate. 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 11:15 am

      I’ve never been a “naturally skinny” person, but after I turned 30, my metabolism nosedived. The closer I get to 40, the harder it is to control cravings AND lose weight. Getting older has some downsides, but like they say…it beats the alternative!

  • Reply Jules July 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Oh, I have so much to say about this post. It’s no great mystery that I have long standing issues with food and eating disorders (not that you do) so any post about weight and diet and shame is going to make me short of breath. I’ve had a draft in my head for the last couple of months that I haven’t had the time/energy/courage to write, but I think I now I do…ish. Thanks for the nudge. It wasn’t intended (I am aware the world isn’t about me!) but it’s appreciated nonetheless. <3

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 11:16 am

      You’ve been doing amazing things health-wise this year, Jules — you are an inspiration! xo

  • Reply Kati July 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Obviously, you have a lot of readers who can totally relate to what you’re saying, me included. I had a personal dust-up with a family member last fall, and that, combined with some dental issues, the sale of my house and subsequent move back to NYC have resulted in less than optimal coping strategies that involve food, wine, and other not-so-healthy responses to stress. Beyond WW, and trying to refocus on your center, what strategies to you have for fighting/dealing with stress? I’m struggling to get through a tough phase in my life, and my substantial weight gain isn’t helping make me feel better (physically or emotionally). Would love to know a healthy way to feel the feelings without feeding them.

    • Jen July 3, 2013 at 2:06 am

      “Would love to know a healthy way to feel the feelings without feeding them.”

      If I may, I have a book recommendation. It’s called “I Thought it was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame” by Brene Brown, PhD, LCSW. I usually avoid self-help books like the plague, but I’m so grateful to have found this one. Brown talks about 12 different categories of shame that tend to plague women, including body appearance; the less-than-optimal ways that most of us deal with shame, including avoidance (using food to numb feelings goes here), people pleasing, lashing out, etc.; and she talks about how you develop shame resilience (which doesn’t magically make shame go away, it just makes it possible to move through it in a constructive, rather than destructive way). I’m not all the way through it yet, but so far the book has been pretty palatable in terms of not being too new age-y or woo-woo. I find myself recommending it left and right to my women friends.

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Dealing with stress is a huge part of my life — so much so that the pressure to deal with stress winds up becoming stressful itself. 😉 For me, the BIGGEST stress reliever is working on my house. The sense of satisfaction I get from making things better and safer and more functional and prettier is enormous, and when I’m in that “zone” (I hate that word, but you know what I mean), it’s almost meditative. I really don’t think about anything else, and I feel GREAT. The biggest source of stress in my life is my tendency to procrastinate, which snowballs and leads to anxiety issues which leads to more procrastination…and so on. I tend to be pretty avoidant (of people and of responsibilities) as well, so anything I can do to make myself feel more “present” is a good thing. In short: Figure out something that you LOVE doing, and then force yourself to do it. Even if it’s something easy! Life doesn’t have to be a constant challenge. As long as you’re immersed, good will come of it.

  • Reply Jen b July 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    That winter comfort food did me in as well. I started the blueprint cleanse in October. After the initial 3 day cleanse I incorporated it into my daily routine. Substituting one meal for a juice or two. I lost 8 lbs in about two months. The holidays came, and I got too lazy to juice. Of the eight lbs I lost, six have been found!

    Trying to get back on track. FYI. I’m 49 years old, a little shy of five feet tall and now weigh 125 lbs. My clothes fit better, and I feel better health wise around 115-118 lbs. Agreed. They’re just numbers 🙂

  • Reply chris July 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    i can’t believe that post was almost 3 years ago!!

    i am on the opposite end of the scale (oh what a terrible pun), but this post resonates, anyway–especially in regards to the 3 year old post.

    i have put on 5 lbs in the past few months. considering i had been trying for over 5 years, it feels good. calming.

    i want everyone to feel good about themselves, and if that means adjusting something dietary well good one you.

    we all deserve to be nourished and comfortable with the body we were born with. no shame, indeed.

    • chris July 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      i meant ‘good on you’

      but i guess ‘good one you’ could work, too;)

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 11:26 am

      I know body frustration is very real on either end of the spectrum (and everywhere in between), so congratulations on getting that weight on! Three cheers for a sense of calm.

  • Reply Tatyana July 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for posting this Anna.
    As many have said, this really hits home. I hope you the best on your journey.
    And please keep posting the vegan recipes – they are really good.

  • Reply Pixie July 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Bravo. So glad you’re doing WW. I lost 20 pounds through WW meetings (and using the online tracker, etc) over a year ago and would never have done that or, especially, maintained it without the meetings, which I continue to go to and love. And I don’t buy any of the foods either–the program’s not at all dependent on that. I still want to lose a few more pounds and am not sure what my final will be, but I’m also fine where I am now.

    You can do this!

  • Reply StephT July 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Thank you! Its so nice to hear you aren’t the only one.

  • Reply jesse.anne.o July 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I do the same thing – eating is my default for procrastination or feeling uncomfortable. And once I get into that pattern, it’s really hard to correct. I was raised in a really I-talian family where I ate a pound of pasta in one sitting regularly and it was encouraged so it wasn’t until I ran into friends doing WW once in NYC that I even realized that’s a ridiculous portion.

    I think in addition to things not fitting and feeling squooshed I get bummed that obviously I’m not drawing on positive live skillz to deal with stress, workload, bad feelings, etc. Food is just such an easy crutch…but also weird because hey, a girl’s gotta eat and I don’t want to have to focus on eating every time I eat in the context of whether I’m eating to eat or eating to deal with something else, no matter how trivial. On the other hand, I do like order and gold stars so sometimes I do track calories for the hell of it to get a sense of what I’m eating.

    Anyway, good for you for doing what you feel will make you feel better! And it looks like you are certainly not alone!

    • Anna @ D16 July 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      Sometimes I just like to blame living in NYC. We have such a ridiculous amount of delicious food here, and soooooo much vegan junk food. And a lot of it is really cheap! I’m just not good at controlling how much of it I eat — I can totally put away an entire pound of pasta, too. Sigh!!

  • Reply elisabeth July 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    as i started to read your post and you mentioned your weight gain, i was going to recommend that you try WW. glad that you already started doing it online. the meetings are great if you find a good leader and one of the things i learned at meeting is that WW is now working on changing behaviors and not just focusing on food. meaning, members are encouraged to look at what and why they are doing what they are doing (eating at night, stress eating, comfort eating, movement, lack of movement, planning ahead, etc) which is reflected in etools and not just focusing as to what they arent (or are) eating. i dont care for the packaged foods offered by WW or any company really and try to just eat fresh food prepared by me. my leader rightly encourages folks who are craving ice cream to eat the real stuff, albeit in small portions, and not the fake stuff, by way of example. i find that when i feel myself slipping, if i focus on my behavior in regards to how i eat and the choices i make, i can get back on track without too much trouble or anxiety. . bravo as to your efforts to far!

  • Reply Jennifer July 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Oh how I can relate to this post.

    I’m 5’8″ and spent the years 18-22 hovering at about 145 lbs with no exercise & crap eating habits. When I got married at 23 I was just shy of 160. I got pregnant at 24 & actually lost quite a lot of weight due to depression and gave birth at 5 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight… all 25 pounds of which I dropped immediately. All that weight and then some crept back up on me the last 2.5 years. Since giving birth I have put on 50 pounds! My poor body hates me for all of the up and down, back and forth.

    And unfortunately for me, my husband is the family cook, is a stick figure, and LOVES unhealthy foods and take out. Well this last month the scale finally hit a very scary number for me and I broke down and bought a treadmill (going to the gym isnt practical for me) & started using myfitnesspal again to try to make myself awake of the crap I’m putting in my mouth. The downside is that tracking my food intake makes me feel hungry all of the time — Im just always thinking about food!

    Anyway, good luck in your journey and thanks for being brave enough to share with us!

    • Anna @ D16 July 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Jennifer, have you tried planning out a day’s worth of food in advance and pre-tracking everything in the morning? That’s what I do a lot of the time, and it might help with the whole “thinking about food all the time” thing you’re experiencing now.

  • Reply Carolyn July 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    As someone who has lost 177 pounds (!!!), I am so relieved to read your thoughts on being healthy. That’s really what it is, right? Weight is one indicator of health, but I really believe tracking weight is only useful if it can help you better take care of yourself (which has worked excellently for me, but might be different for someone else). Just wanted to say thanks for posting something measured, accepting, and honest about weight. It’s a little harder to find that kind of conversation starter than you might think!

    (I also use Weight Watchers, and I love how much their structure encourages me to eat whole foods and a glorious amount vegetables.)

    • Anna @ D16 July 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      177 pounds!!! Carolyn, that is amazing. What an achievement! You must feel like you have a whole new life. Congratulations!

  • Reply Wockyjabber July 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I could have written this. This is me. I have been you. Over and over and over. I always end up going back to Weight Watchers when things get out of control. The tracking tools really help me. So many of us are with you. Keep at it!

  • Reply Annie July 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    I’m right there with you, Anna. My weight has fluctuated so much through the years (I’m 30 and wasn’t a small/petite short gal when I was in a healthy range anyway) and I’ve tried all those ridiculous diets/”lifestyles” that are definitely not maintainable. I’m just under 5’3″ and ballooned to my highest weight over a year ago at 155. I’m tired of the cycle and just not feeling my best. This go at loss and maintenance will be my third time losing 20+ lbs. I lose, maintain for a short period of time, gain then lose again; gaining more and more back every time. My goal is 120. Weight Watchers worked for me the last time…before I was sidetracked. It took 7 months but was much healthier than the previous time I lost 25 lbs. in 8 weeks. It’s been 4 years since I’ve felt comfortable being in pictures and I’d hate to reach a ripe old age, look back and notice a large section of my young life missing.

    • Anna @ D16 July 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Yeah, the up and down thing is bad news, and I’ve been doing that for a long time. It’s one thing for your weight to fluctuate by 3-5 pounds here and there, but it’s another to be constantly gaining and losing 20-30 pounds. That’s just not good for our bodies. Good luck to you, and here’s to sustainable success!

  • Reply Minna July 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Awesome post.

  • Reply Danielle July 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    This was such a good post, Anna! I totally agree: lying about weight/height/age/health is totally pointless. I come from two families of extremely muscular, tough, stocky people (I have what my yoga instructor affectionately refers to as “peasant musculature”) and I’ve come to take a lot of pride in that. I can haul 5-gallon buckets of dirt around like they’re nothing. I can do handstands (not too many women can say that) and cartwheels. I can bike and walk for hours – HOURS. I can do 90 minutes of ashtanga yoga without wanting to die.

    Unfortunately, with all that muscle come higher weight numbers. My cousin Fran is 5′-2″ and wears a size 6. She weighs 140 lbs. When she was 9 months pregnant, she got up to 205 lbs. I am also 5′-2″ and wear a size 10. I weigh 164 lbs. According to every single BMI chart I’ve ever seen, I am DANGEROUSLY OBESE. But this is my normal weight. Could I lose a few? Of course. Do I *need* to? Not really. I think if I could whittle it down to 150 (which I’m trying to do with more gardening/yard work and a bit more food consciousness this summer), I would be very happy with the result.

    When I go to the doctor’s office for appointments and the nurses/doctors ask me my weight, they scoff when I tell them. They claim that I must be mistaken – I couldn’t POSSIBLY weigh that much. So I step on the scale and prove myself right. They do a double-take, look at the numbers again and tell me not to worry about the DANGEROUSLY OBESE part – I’m “slightly overweight”.

    So there you go: you were brave and put yourself out there, so I did too. High fives all around. You rock.

    • Anna @ D16 July 4, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Yeah, I really think BMI charts are a load of crap for the most part. There are just so many variables! I have health conditions that require me to see a lot of doctors and get a lot of physical exams, and I’ve actually never had a doctor suggest that I lose weight. I know myself, though, and I know how winded and out of shape I feel…and how badly I really have been eating.

      High fives for muscles, Danielle! 🙂

  • Reply Alison July 2, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    I rarely comment on most blogs I read, but I felt compelled to say thank you for writing this. So refreshing and honest.

    • Anna @ D16 July 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      Thank you, Alison! I’m glad you decided to comment. 🙂

  • Reply Lise July 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    I went from 5′-6″ and 180 to 140 over the last 5 years, super slowly. I did it using WW online because of the tracker, but once I got to goal I didn’t like paying to track. I now use the free app LoseIt, which is calories vs. points based, but just as convenient. I learned how to eat with WW, they taught me good foods. Now I just need the reminder to keep in check. Feel free to add me as a friend if you download LoseIt.

  • Reply Julie July 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    This is just what I needed to read today, and it’s so great to see that no one’s in it alone. I’ve been putting off getting my ass into gear due to denial and laziness. I’ve always been a bit heavier than I’d like in my adult life, but after some major life changes a little over a year ago, I stopped taking care of myself and put on a lot of weight; I’m now at my heaviest hovering around 190 at 5’7″. I believe my healthy, feel good weight was somewhere in the 150 pound area, and I hope to get back to it. Writing this comment is going to be my starting point. Now that my weight is out there, it’s lost its power over me and I can finally get on with it already.

    I hope you feel well and healthy again soon, Anna! Good luck!

    • Anna @ D16 July 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Julie, we can do it! You are definitely NOT alone…look at all these comments! Good luck. You know where to find me if you want to talk. xo

  • Reply Sierra July 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Anna, you are a fuckin’ inspiration in keepin’ in real!!!!!!!! Amen to blasting the shame game out in to space and being honest, especially with ourselves! I SO identify with everything you said here and am sending you huge props and Mazel Tov on getting it all in check…I’ve got some major keepin’ it real with myself to deal with, and more than the weight loss, I’m looking forward to feeling like I have some control over myself. Thanks for being so RAD and opening up about all this, it’s refreshing to hear someone be so truthful 🙂

  • Reply Fred July 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    You are right you have to watch your health

    I have read your posts I’ll give you a tip…Too much coffee burns out your adrenals, that will kill your subtle system
    It makes it harder to exercise also, why do I know ?
    Because I found out the hard way after too much high grade black java…as they say WORD UP SISTAH

  • Reply molly July 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    thank you for your honesty, Anna. I have no advice for you because i’ve never figured out how to lose weight– the best i can do is try not to get too much heavier– but i really, truly admire you for writing this post. Especially the paragraph about being honest about “the number”.

  • Reply caroline July 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    I have enjoyed your blog for a few years now, I’ve seen photos of you and never thought you were even slightly overweight. I’m 5’6″ and weigh 218, so 180 frankly sounds pretty good to me. Best of luck to you, and thanks for all the inspiration and great ideas you’ve given me over the years.

    • Anna @ D16 July 4, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      Thank you for the kind words, Caroline. I admit I am very conscious about not posting photos of myself often (and when I do, it’s usually just my face…where I don’t tend to carry weight), and I don’t dress in a particular “revealing” manner. The weight is what it is, though, and it comes from unhealthy eating habits — that’s much more of a drag to me than the vanity side of things.

  • Reply emeline July 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I read in the post in 2010 and am still with you in 2013!
    That “a ha!” moment is crucial! But you must feel already empowered with your results!
    Finding something that works for you is key…. I do My Fitness Pal, and use hot yoga and running for exercise… AND Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred- level 1 is up on Youtube: it’s free, it’s SUPER fast (20 minutes) and you definitely feel stronger afterwards!
    Without exercise, I get all food crazy.
    Good luck and I love the new look here!

  • Reply Kara July 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    So I wrote this EXACT post last night. I lost a lot of weight. I maintained it for a long time. Stuff happened and as of today I’m up 30 lbs from my lowest.

    I’m not happy and I’m recommitting. I started yesterday and I’m exercising and making better food choices. It’s hard. But it’s worth it.

    • Anna @ D16 July 4, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Good luck, Kara! I tried to read the post you wrote, but the URL your name links to doesn’t work…

  • Reply Marlena July 2, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Indeed, a “weighty” issue for many women. Thanks for approaching this in a healthy way/conversation. I’ve been doing my best to break a number I’m not ready to share with primetime, and it has taken me one year to lose about 30 pounds, with Weight Watchers online, and seeing a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness once a week. I am not a physical person, and the trainer keeps me honest. Yes, it costs money, but I was very, very overweight, and figured it was now or never. For the first time since high school I’m feeling strong!

  • Reply monica July 2, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    again, you write a post that really resonates with me. thank you for always being honest & real. your blog is one of the best things to look forward to, while this year has been filled with ups & downs. much love xx

  • Reply dervla July 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    way to go, Anna! You can do it 🙂

  • Reply jen July 3, 2013 at 12:05 am

    i love that you share your numbers. we need more of that.

    i’m your height, and usually weigh about 155. i’ve been as high as 180, and each time it’s been the result of some emotional trauma. i’ve been as low as 140, but that only happens if i restrict calorie intake to 1000 a day. and at that weight, i’ve felt good but i know it won’t last forever: i watch people around me consume normal meals and i know that i can’t maintain 140 when eating 2000 calories a day. it’s only possible if i restrict myself greatly.

    i’m not even sure why i feel the need to share that. maybe that it’s that i’m so glad i’m not the only one that’s 5’6 and struggles with life’s literal ups & downs. and in my last year of my 30’s sometimes i get so fucking mad that i hate my body so much, and that it is so unfair i experienced pretty tough things at a young age that caused my weight to fluctuate so greatly and my stretch marks tell that story.

    so i’m trying not to hate my body for not looking like the “ideal” – and i hope to god that the next guy that sees me naked appreciates me for who i am and accepts that there have been some struggles and he doesn’t give a shit that i don’t look like an airbrushed bimbo.

    i have no doubt that you’ll get to a weight that you are happy/comfortable with. sometimes the extra sneaks up on us, and then we adjust. it happens. we move on & be healthy.

  • Reply joanna July 3, 2013 at 4:41 am

    Good for you Anna! How great it is to listen to someone with so reasonable approach to their self image?!
    Sorry if I offend anyone, but I just don’t have the patience for people who constantly complain about their weight but do nothing about it.

    BTW, Anna, do you know book “French women don’t get fat”? If you don’t – try it. I think you’ll like it. It’s not about diet. It’s about healthy habits and PLEASURE from eating.

    Also, as exercises were mentioned here, it was said that French women don’t DO exercises. Instead, they walk a lot and skip the elevators:)

  • Reply Rachael July 3, 2013 at 5:17 am

    As someone who grew up eating candy EVERY DAY and loving cake/cookies/etc, i REALLY struggle with how to eat healthy sometimes. I’ve cut out a lot of crap by being vegan, but that can be just as bad because i’m obsessed with sweets… my way around this is to always have raisons and coconut around. put that on anything, or eating it alone, and i no longer feel the need to eat 12 cookies hahaha.

    living in the city, walking is great, but start riding a bike! that’s the best way to accidentally exercise

  • Reply Simone July 3, 2013 at 6:27 am

    A while ago I felt really bad, had no stamina, looked a bit greenish, my hair refused to look half decent. I found out I had a major Iron-deficiency and really serious anemia. It probably happened gradually because I had no real red flags.
    So it is really important to care for yourself. In a way caring for yourself is caring for your loved ones as well. Because they cherish you. And Anna, you are a hero that you point this out to us and share so unabashedly.
    I am sure the people in SF want you to be in a picture, because they love you for who you are. In a way being in a picture is a form of love.
    Have a wonderful day.

    • chris July 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Simone, I found out recently that I am anemic, as well. I have no idea why but it was a real shock–no real red flags here, either. I had been treated for depression and it was an alternative health care professional who suggested I get tested, citing that depression is often caused by anemia. Who knew?? Not me obviously.

  • Reply Toni July 3, 2013 at 6:49 am

    I completely agree that it’s much better to have a healthy diet and weight, rather than losing as much as you can as quickly as possible!
    I’m also going back to weight watchers meetings after my holiday 3 weeks ago, as I am struggling to motivate myself. Just constantly want to eat biscuits/bread/cheese all the time!! I’m also online, search fiddlestickstoni if you want to “friend me” haha, I could use someone online to chat to about healthy eating as I think I bore all my friends about it.

  • Reply Natasa July 3, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Hi Anna! Luckily I have never had problems with my weight and till 25 yo I was always among skiny ones (+ smoking a lot + regular partying + never did any excercise + in general without much appetite etc.). Then I had an operation and in one month while recovering, gained 22 lb (10 kg). That was the first time I felt really bad about myself, didn’t want to buy new clothes, because my plan was to loose weight and being who I was before… But it took months and months (in meanwhile I also developed rosacea) and I was a real wreck.

    Then one day, I passed a sport shop and bought the most good looking and expensive run shoes they had and just the feeling wearing them was super-great. So I start walking…. 10km a few times a week, then every other day… and noticed how quickly my body start changing for the better. I was always walking very fast (till I was completly wet :). I noticed how easy it is for me every time to walk the same distance or how my legs don’t hurt anymore, or how my posture become straight. I was content, because every time I could see an improvement and every time I could say I did something good for myself and a big dinner late at evening “tasted different”.

    When I was feeling fit enough and my legs trained I started running. This is so far my most wonderful chapter in my life. I could write and write about the positive effects of running and exceeding yourself and how awarding this is for whole body and mind. I don’t do marathons (events), I run for myself, in my comfort zone and so I once ran half-marathon distance in 01:52:00. Since 2 years I am also using Endomondo app and find it really helpful with tracking, statistics, the community is very suportive.

    I am 34 yo, 5`5, 133 lb

  • Reply emily @ cabin fervor July 3, 2013 at 8:41 am

    I loved when you said, “I have a pretty good sense of where my weight naturally settles when I’m eating healthy, nutritious foods and taking good care of myself.”

    It took me almost 10 years to accept that I don’t need to lose those extra 5 lbs. or whatever to get to my “ideal” weight. My ideal weight is when I’m eating well and getting enough exercise. (I’m 5’4″ and it settles around 130.) It’s not so “ideal” to be monitoring every bite and becoming a slave to an exercise regimen for the purposes of weight loss rather than health.

    Good luck on this journey!

  • Reply Cher@NewburghRestoration July 3, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I haven’t read through all the comments, but I’m curious why you didn’t want to try the juice cleanse you did before? You liked the results back then.

    • Anna @ D16 July 3, 2013 at 11:00 am

      Oh, I still love juicing! I’ve done four juice fasts since that post, and I still have “juice meals” all the time. That doesn’t mean I want to consume nothing but juice for the rest of my life, though — this is about getting my eating habits in order for the long term. I’m not sure attempting to lose 40 pounds on a juice “cleanse” (I don’t like to use that word, personally…same goes for “detox”) is wise, either, at least not if you don’t want to gain that weight back. Same goes for doing 3/5-day juice fasts…you still have to eat wisely the rest of the time!

  • Reply thelady July 3, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Another reason why your blog continues to be my all-around favorite. You get a little of everything, in meaningful thoughtful doses that resonate in my life. I love WW. Punk rock girls for WW Unite! 🙂

  • Reply Jinger July 3, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Oh, Anna, reading that brought a bit of tears to my eyes. Last summer, I was down to the lowest weight I’ve ever been in my adulthood (170 lbs., attempting to not be weird about it and just take the cue from you). I was so proud of myself for exercising and balancing everything out well, especially since baking is a huge part of my life.

    Cut to the beginning of this summer, and the combination of my first year of nursing school and continuing to work 20-25 hours per week and having no time for proper sleep and eating, plus the excitement of suddenly having extra time after exams and using it do absolutely nothing but eat crackers and watch TV…things have gone downhill. I put back on 10 lbs., and although that doesn’t seem like much, that 10 lbs. was so difficult to lose in the first place, I’m having anxiety-filled moments about the prospect of losing it again. Moments that are keeping me from acting on it.

    But now that I’ve read this, I feel a little bit better. And that’s something that nothing else has done for me yet. Thank you.

  • Reply Michelle July 3, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Good for you for taking control of your health, and for standing proud and taking responsibility. I agree that we should just be be open about weight and hight, I always get this shocked little side look from my friends when I just put it out there (but I am about 50lb heavier than them, so there is that, they may just be shocked!) Anyway, I am sending you good vibes from Atlanta! (ps. I saw a picture of you at that wedding, and I thought you looked really beautiful, like always.)


  • Reply Jacinta July 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Good for you Anna! I took a nutrition class last year that really helped me make smarter choices about food. I work from home so I can be a crazy carbivore if I don’t stop and think first. Actually, “thinking first” was the best thing I got out of nutrition class. That, and learning to poach fish. Yeah, I was an innocent. Also finally got the very simple, common sense notion that I am the only person who controls what I put in my mouth. I can’t control weather, work stress, Mad Men just getting good and leaving me again, and so much other stuff — but I can control how I eat and how I feel (and by default, how I look). Best of luck to you as you find your happy weight.

  • Reply Katy July 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Anna. I clearly remember that post from three years ago. It was so well written and made so much sense to me. We were the same height/weight then, ~145 is my healthy weight too, and as much as I sometimes dream of what the scale said in high school I’ve been trying to better accept the number where my body prefers to be. I’ve also always been private about my weight and assume people weigh much less than they do, but that post was a real ‘a ha’ moment. Thank you for that. I saw myself and my own size more accurately – and positively – when I saw another woman with my measurements.

    And now, three years later, I’m in a similar place as you. Personal issues last year and having a second baby this spring have left my body 25 pounds heavier. Because I’m breastfeeding I have to be pretty gentle with myself as I try to lose the weight, which can be frustrating because my body feels/looks so foreign to me. I’m also using WW and eating healthy, and I know that in time I’ll eventually get back to where I want to be, but reading this post and the supportive comments that followed have been a nice dose of reality and a much-needed boost of encouragement. Thanks to you, and all of the commenters, for sharing.

  • Reply Crystal July 3, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I find myself in a similar situation. When we bought our house, I was at the healthiest I’ve ever been. The kitchen wasn’t usable, so we started to eat take out. A lot. and I’ve managed to gain about 20lbs. Trying to lose it has been more of a struggle than it was the first time around when I lost about 40lbs. Tighter schedules, less time for workouts. I totally relate to how you’re feeling, and it’s nice to know we’re not alone 🙂

  • Reply Kim July 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Hey Anna, I’m struggling with this, too. I’m 5’5″, 183 lbs & a size 12. And I’m also 37. I’m a half marathon runner & competitive triathlete, so my issue is that I over-eat because I work-out so much that I convince myself I deserve it, or it balances out. It doesn’t.

    I used to live in NYC, but live in Nashville now & recently saw the only registered sports dietitian in Nashville. She put me on MyFitnessPal at 1400 calories a day & gave me the goal of “Fabulous by Forty”. I’ve lost 11 lbs, so it’s working, but it’s slow & I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve got 3 years to do this.

    I’ve used Weight Watchers before & had great success. It’s an awesome tool. You’ll get there. My only advice is to not be too hard on yourself & maybe give yourself the same “Fabulous by Forty” goal.

  • Reply Judi July 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    YOU GO GIRL! I think a lot of people needed to hear this–yes, it’s about how you feel, and how healthy you are in the skin you were meant to have before the media got to you. I too think it’s idiotic not to share stats, and thank you for encouraging all those other real people out there to come clean. Right now I’m around 190 pounds, 5′ 5″ (a lot of that is, er, well, I’m busty); two years ago I started Weight Watchers Online (hate meetings!) and lost 40 pounds in six months. I’d love to get down to my healthiest weight at some point–that’s around 175. Probably won’t happen before my 50th birthday next month, but it’d be nice… anyway, thanks for being so out there about reality, as always. (I’ll say it again…Anna Dorfman, life coach!)

  • Reply Jade Sheldon-Burnsed July 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Bravo. When it comes to health and weight and age and all that ‘stuff’ as long as you feel good, it’s good. But when you stop feeling good and become disconnected, it’s definitely time for a change. I’ve had my own personal demons when it comes to weight (when I was in middle school through the beginning of high school I battled anorexia and exercised about 3 hours a day). One day I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was like a switch finally went on in my brain and I realized I wasn’t living/loving my life. I sometimes regret all that time I wasted, consumed with thoughts about weight.

  • Reply Polly July 3, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I seem to have done just the same these past 6 to 8 months, been gaining pounds. I always gain a few in winter, I eat ‘heartier’ foods and the dark nights been less activity but I normally shift it come spring. Not this year I’ve been a little greedy, snacking mainly – I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I have and I need to take action like you. Thanks for this post, I’m hoping my greedy side will listen when I say no to the next between-meal snack.

  • Reply Bethany Joy July 3, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    I was always about 20 pounds overweight, but now am 40 over since having my daughter 21 months ago. I love food and hate working out.

    As a longtime follower, thank you for this post. I keep debating WW, thinking I can do this alone. Obviously I need something more structured. I also just turned 30 and am determined to start this new decade with a bit more self-confidence.

  • Reply Suzanne Fletcher July 3, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile but haven’t commented until now. I don’t know you, obviously, but I so admire your honesty and bravery. You write about subjects that aren’t easy to write about, and you do it with so much grace. I have no doubt you’ll successfully get back to the weight that’s right for you. I wish you all the best!

  • Reply mcgrathinnola July 3, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    It is certainly not “silly” to talk about Hurricane Sandy as being the beginning of your weight spiral….and I can verify this through my experience with another hurricane, Katrina. With all the horror, loss of home and possessions, destruction, etc., etc., I put on those infamous Katrina pounds (30) from stress, worry and depression….we all rushed to any comfort food possible, out of town or back on the homefront. It took some time to lose lbs (not easy while trying to put your “life” back together) but eventually I looked myself again. Be kind and patient with yourself, that is so important…oddly, time can really be a friend.
    NOLA strong!!!! NY strong!!!

  • Reply tanta July 4, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Anna, I didn’t like Weight Watchers so I set up my own weight watching and tracking system using the app, LoseIt, and the Hackers Diet Online. You have to like counting calories to use LoseIt but here I find that the WW dictum of eating plenty of vegetables and fruits really helps.

    And as for the Hacker’s Diet Online, it allows for daily weigh-ins and tracking the ups and downs of your weight loss over longer periods of time, so you get a better picture the true weight fluctuations might really mean, as you continue to diet. All you have to do is plug in an ideal weight and time you want to get there and then plug in your weight each day (or as you will) and the system will do the computing, and tell you if you’re on track, within a +/- weight loss range. Its basically a big excel spreadsheet that tracks a running average of your weight gain or loss and gives you a visual snapshot of whether you’re on goal – even if the scale numbers gyrate a bit week to week. Check it out.

    My other ‘trick’ is to weigh myself in kg, which is easier to look at, especially on a daily basis, and then take a lb. weight once a week for a reality check. For me, this avoids the discouragement of seeing the large weight figure everyday – for some it’s a reminder, but for me is discouraging to see this every day. To each his or her own on this one!

  • Reply Dana July 4, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I like your interiordesignposts.
    … So, now i have to go deeper in your blog. 🙂

    greetings from Berlin

  • Reply Paisley July 4, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Hi, Anna! Sort of neither here nor there, but I thought I’d share this song with you, because of the title, and because I’m a book editor/writer, and you work in the book biz, too, and yeah, I know that these guys sound like you-know-who, too, but…I like it…

    As for the weight/age stuff…don’t get me started. Good luck! 😉 P.S. The Bodum iced coffee press is nowhere to be found (really; I’ve tried). P.P.S. Still looking forward to your post about the rug!

  • Reply rokorox July 4, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Anna, you’re talented and beautiful.

  • Reply peggy July 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    You are beautiful and I adore you. Love your new blog design.

  • Reply Meghan July 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I applaud you for posting this! How we are view ourselves at any size is a mind-f*ck on all levels. I am sorry that you are struggling, but take things a day at time. (you posted that photo of you a few weeks ago and you still pretty darn good…)
    I would also ask that the next time you are at your dr. to get your thyroid checked. I never struggled with my weight and had it shoot up finding out later that I did have a huge problem. It’s common.

  • Reply Sally July 4, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Way to go, Anna! Thank you for writing this and thank you for taking care of yourself in this kind way.

  • Reply Maria G. July 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    You know what you are not wrong in wanting to track your weight. Being watchful of your weight does not mean you don’t love yourself. In fact, you love yourself so you want to be healthy and being overweight is not healthy which is why the term “over” is added to weight as it means beyond normal, right? Keep it up. 😉

  • Reply kate July 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you for writing this honest post. You’re awesome and your goals are too, way to go!

    Saw a couple comments about integrating exercise into a “Regular” routine. I like to do weekly goals – like yoga at least 2x this week, zumba at least 1x this week, or get off a the earlier subway stop 5x this week to add extra walking… It’s bite-size and flexible, and I try not to beat myself up if I miss it.

    When I’m super stressed/busy, I think more along the lines of monthly goals, like, I’ll try one new activity each month. The research and anticipation into picking that one new exercise class or outing goes a long way toward making an “active mindset” feel more fun, and less like work.

  • Reply Mickey Elliott July 6, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you. The only one I’ll be comparing myself to is me, but I know I’ve been a better me. Thank you for this.

    Mrs E

  • Reply lau July 7, 2013 at 1:28 am

    you inspire me, lady! you know all about the world I’M in right now, so it was really good for me to read this / know someone else is there / feeling these things with me. onward, indeed!

  • Reply Sass July 7, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Thanks so much for this post Anna.

    I really want to share with you (cos I feel like you share so much with me via your blog) how since I kicked my sugar addiction I have lost weight and found what the ‘right’ weight for me is.

    I did Sarah Wilson’s 8 week ‘I Quit Sugar’ plan last August and have been in a waaaaaay better place as a result.

    She’s just launched this great website – and she also writes a blog – You may already know about Sarah…but if you don’t, she’s a kick-arse kinda chick.

    I’m 172cm and now weigh 64kg (when I started the 8 week plan I was 72kg). I’ve been stable at 64kg for the last 6 months.

    So, what’s better without sugar? My body feels like its re-calibrated – I only eat when I’m hungry & not when I’m bored/stressed/both, my skin is clearer than it’s been for years, I sleep better, I don’t have those mid afternoon energy slumps anymore, and I’ve got a bazillion times more energy.

    And eliminating sugar was the only thing I changed in my diet. I ate a balanced diet before I started this process, but I had no clue about all the hidden sugar in everyday foods (bread, cereals, etc)…including ‘health’ foods.

    Anyway, I’ll stop there cos I don’t want to sound like some kind of crazy anti sugar evangelist. Giving up sugar really helped me and I thought the websites might be of interest.

    Best, Sass

  • Reply Jane July 7, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Oh Anna, thank you for your timely post! I’ve been working for about 12 months to get control of my whole food and exercise thing. Partly to try to manage a big bundle of stress rather than lose weight (but it is a welcome side effect) and I’ve felt much, much better. But I’ve fallen off the wagon the last few weeks/almost months and am creeping toward feeling miserable again. Thanks for the reminder that this happens to other people and all is not lost!

  • Reply Alline July 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    I’m glad you posted this cause seriously I felt like I was the only person who felt this way (which I know is ridiculous). I turned 40 this year, and never really had problems with my weight up until I was about 38, then it all went down hill. I am in the same boat but have yet gotten the motivation as yourself to do anything about it yet. Good Luck and you can do it!

  • Reply Amy July 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I started a journey to a new me about a year ago, and have lost 84 pounds to date. Still about 25-30 pounds from my goal weight, but I feel like the ME that was also stuck inside a self-conscious, tired, unhealthy body. I use the MyFitnessPal app religiously and also worked my way from walking to running. I now run about 3 miles per stint, 3-4 times per week and have done a few 5k races. Just recently started doing Crossfit because I think it’s badass and I don’t want to be skinny and still flabby.

    Also, one of my biggest motivators is putting a dollar in a jar every time I exercise, then cashing it in for fun things like haircuts, manicures, new clothes, etc.

    You got this!

  • Reply Heather Daniels July 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks for writing this post. We all need to put things in perspective. I’m also 5’6″ and spent most of my life around 145-155. Right after I got married in 2007, I shot up to 183 and decided to join weight watchers online and increase my fitness. In 2008, over the course of a year, I lost over 60 pounds. I became kinda obsessed with WW. I was very diligent tracker and went to the gym six days a week. But the reality is that a person cannot sustain that kind of a pace and live their life. I knew my life needed a better balance, but I was terrified to stop. Thankfully, I was finally able to convince myself that I did not need to be obsessed with being 20 pounds less then I had ever weighed as an adult. I cut back to just running a few days a week and tracking on only weekdays. But guess what, I didn’t gain any weight. Okay, I gained a few pounds. But good. Balance is good. Even though it is very important to create a new routine for yourself, you have to make it healthy and sustainable.

    Today, at 36, I hover between about 127-132. I don’t count calories anymore. I focus on healthier choices and reasonable proportions along with running. No marathon training or anything. I strive for between 3-5 miles 4 times a week and one day of weights at the gym. I run both outside and on the treadmill. I feel so much better now then I ever did before. In my twenties, I use to starve myself to get down to 140. (And I lived in SF and NYC during my twenties so I did plenty of walking.) Now I am never hungry and actually feel like I have better metabolism then when I was younger. So I just want to add to the start running camp. Never in my life would I of considered myself a runner, but it has made all the difference in the world. Going for a run takes away all of the days stress… in as little as 20 mins. It has brought a great sense of balance to my life that I didn’t even know I was missing. I think learning to run was the best thing I ever did for myself.

    Good luck on your journey. Oh, and the new apartment is coming along great!

    • Anna @ D16 July 8, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      Running is not an option for me, so I’ll pass on joining that camp. 😉

      Different things work for different people. What is sustainable for one person is not for another, and not everyone is physically capable in the same ways. I’m glad you’ve found something that works well for you health-wise!

      I am in no way suggesting that what is right for me is right for anyone else — this post is about me. That’s all I can really do. The best thing I ever did for myself was accepting the fact that my body is my own, and that comparing its capabilities to anyone else’s is detrimental to my health.

  • Reply Megan July 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing this Anna! I think it’s something we all think about but never want to talk about. It helps to know we’re not alone. 🙂

  • Reply Sue Erneta from Sue at Home July 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    I’m a new reader and I too am very close to my highest weight (how did the 35 pounds I lost 5 years ago come back?). I just started Weight Watchers yet again. It worked for me before and I was able to maintain for a year and a half but slowly but surely those take out dinners and chip and bagels snuck back into my life.
    Best of luck to you! I’m excited to hear how it’s going for you!

  • Reply Jo July 13, 2013 at 12:32 am

    I agree with so many of the commenters:
    Anna, you’re amazing! I adore you! thank you for this post!
    I’m 6 feet tall, 205 pounds and 39 years old.
    I just started using myfitnesspal, but also like WW very much. I used to run and found great joy in it-it was so easy and fun. Now I can’t run anymore, so it’s interesting trying to figure that out. What do I do now? Your pragmatic attitude is inspiring. Hope to get back to my usual 185 in a few months.

  • Reply jessie July 13, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    i really resonated with this post–this is the third time i’ve read it, i think! i’m 36, and this past year, i started to get really uncomfortable with my appearance. always a curvy, zaftig girl, i was starting to make jokes about finding fashionable burqas (and i’m not muslim). i hid for a while, and pretended it didn’t matter to me at all, that i was a body-positive feminist (totally true, but that doesn’t really mean i was happy). i was expending a lot of effort hiding instead of doing something to make me happier with myself.

    anyway, i also hated exercise. i live in LA now, so there’s NO walking–i do in fact walk to my exercise studio, which is maybe a mile away! after a lot of trial and error and wasting time and trying multiple places, i’ve finally settled on dance–which is the most fun thing ever. i found a great, informal, warm, non-judgemental dance studio and love it so much i take several classes a week. am headed there right now, in fact!

    so, i guess that’s my tip: find something you’d be doing even if you didn’t have a weight-loss goal in mind. i have discovered that whenever i get into the “must-do-this-to-lose-weight” self-talk, i drop out of whatever the program is–but when i do it because i love it, and i’d do it regardless, it’s just kind of effortless.

  • Reply melanie July 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I am so right there with you – I lost 85 pounds two years ago, and because of that I gave myself a free pass to stop worrying about my weight for a while, even though I still had another 20 or 30 to lose at that point – I felt like I had accomplished SO MUCH and so I deserved to have some fun. For two years. Until I gained 20 (probably 30 now) pounds back and the size 12 jeans got tight (just last week actually). And now I’m like, ugh, got to fix this – because I feel like crap. Reading this and all the comments is such a great motivator – makes me feel like I’m not as alone and like it is doable to just keep moving forward instead of continuing to backslide. (also, juice cleanse/detox/fast reminder, thank you! – I should use that expensive juicer more, and it is delicious!)

  • Reply Kerry July 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Great post, Anna! I always love your writing style and really appreciate your candor! Losing weight gets so much harder over 40… it’s depressing. I’ve gained 20 pounds in 9 months and it’s not like I’ve been going crazy with the junk food either. I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I just have to eat less and exercise more if I want to be *healthy*. The stuff I did in my 20’s – 30’s isn’t going to cut it anymore. I may also do WW again because I need that structure…

  • Reply Jay July 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Great, and relatable post girl. Seriously. You hit so many points right on spot. I had been eating well ( I don’t want to call it dieting) for a while, starting in April and starting in July, I almost gave up. I am not sure how it happened but each day was like “I’ll start again tomorrow” I believe yesterday was the lowest point and I decided to go to KFC, what the EFF is that? I never went there before why now? Comfort foods, or the idea of comfort foods are really hard to get away from at times of struggle. A wise person(stranger) once told me to find new things I find comforting. Like a mug of tea, or doing a crossword puzzle. We can do this!

  • Reply Ilana July 24, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Awesome post with so much honesty! I remember a while ago you blogged about the cookbook Appetite for Reduction, do you use that with ww?

  • Reply Eva July 28, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Anna, I remember that post from 3years ago. It really hit home with me then, as this one does for me now. Like you, I’m 5’6″ and my healthy natural weight is around 145. Like you, I put on a lot of weight in the last year and am trying to get back into better habits and lose it. Full disclosure– I had a baby –but I kind of used that as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted and be lazy and put in more weight than was necessary. My sister in law recently got married, and I know exactly what you mean a out avoiding photos and feeling ridiculous! That said, I cut myself a lot more slack than I did when I was younger, and I know that I’ll slowly get back down to a healthier place. Thanks for your honesty and just putting it out there. And this might be a little random, but have you read Born Round by Frank Bruni? Such a great read and interesting insights into one his relationship with food and weight.

    • Anna @ D16 July 28, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Hi Eva, no, I haven’t read Born Round, but it’s been on my list for a while. Thanks for the reminder!!

  • Reply Amelia August 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you for this post.

    Like many of your other readers, I am in a similar boat. 5’5″ and hitting my all-time high of 160 at 26yo. I played sports in college and ate like crap and maintained a 140-ish range. My thoughts run rampid with the “woulda-coulda-shoulda” if i had taken better care of my body back then. In a high-stress job with several exams/tests/certifications to deal with each year. I recently took my CFA L2 (chartered financial analyst) exam and found out I just barely failed – the stress of studying for 7 months to not succeed has put me over the edge. Nothing speaks to me like bread/cheese/wine to take away the stresses of the day.

    More than losing weight – i want to feel that “OK” feeling cited in another post of yours. Being happy with my imperfections – accepting them while simultaneously trying to improve. The never-ending cycle that ranges between feeling ‘motivated -> sidetracked -> off the wagon -> depression/anxiety ….rinse and repeat’ is exhausting.

    Few things that helped me in the past – MyFitnessPal is an awesome calorie counter/food tracker. As for workouts – i never know good ones to improve my whole body (i try to remember routines and exercises from college) – but the Nike Training Club App (FREE) has amazing pre-set workouts. It was designed especially for women and can be done in as little as 30 minutes for a full routine, or 15 for a targeted workout (i.e. abs, legs, butt). You need little to no equipment as well. My new goal is to do one of these workouts 4x a week in addition to cardio.

    Anyhoo – thank you Anna for your honesty and openness with strangers like me. It makes a big impact.

  • Reply ally September 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    its been 2.5 months since you’ve posted this! would love to hear an update! I hope things have been going well 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 September 19, 2013 at 1:40 am

      Down about 20 pounds, Ally!

    • Ally September 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      WOW! That’s amazing!!! that’s awesome!! 🙂

  • Reply cR October 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    “All we actually have is our body and its muscles that allow us to be under our own power.”

    – Allegra Kent

    I love this quote by Allegra Kent, the fabulous Balanchine ballerina, and it has stayed with me ever since I read her terrific autobiography ONCE A DANCER…

    It helps me stay centered and calm whenever I’m prone to making bad choices for myself, my body.

    Anna: Pay attention to your body. Handle yourself as gently, as lovingly, as you handle Door Sixteen!

    Best wishes.

    • Anna @ D16 October 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      So I should ignore it for weeks on end and often think about deleting the entire thing? 😛

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