down fifty means a new post!


It’s official: I’ve lost 50 pounds! This means I’ve achieved my second weight loss goal (my first was 25 pounds, my second was 50 pounds down). I’ve decided to make my next goal 65 pounds down, and then to see where I stand. I might stop before or after that, or choose a lower number, but it’s hard to decide that until I’m closer.

My concern before summer started was that with summer would come laziness and perhaps a lack of motivation. Luckily, my plan to keep myself busy has been working well: I’ve been going the gym almost every morning, and not spending a whole lot of time just vegging out in front of the television. But actually there have been plenty of days when I’ve spent quite a bit of time watching television or in front of the computer, and even then, I found it pretty easy to avoid eating constantly. I went to the doctor at the beginning of the summer, and she told me that at the weight I was then (which was when I had lost about 40 pounds), I’m basically at a healthy place. She said I could lose more if I want, or stay where I am, and that at this point, it’s up to me. That’s very reassuring!

Other indicators of the fact that my weight loss has gone very well:

1) My prom dress is now definitely way too big for me. Which means I’ve now lost all of the weight that I gained in college, as well as plenty more.

2) It is SO much easier going up stairs and hills. I barely even notice them now!

3) A trip to the store a few weeks ago showed me that I now can comfortably wear a smaller dress size than I’ve ever worn (or at least smaller than since middle school)! In fact, I found the same dress that I had bought a few months ago (which I bought partly to celebrate having lost a bunch of weight) in a smaller size, and when I tried that on, it totally fit! I didn’t buy it though, since it makes more sense to just tailor the bigger one to make it smaller.

Another thing I wanted to mention: A lot of you know that I recently went to the conference The Amazing Meeting 9, since I just posted pictures and I’ve posted about my excitement. One of the cool things about it is you get to meet a lot of really amazing scientists, authors, and bloggers. For example, I got to meet Bill Nye and thank him for his show, which got me and so many other kids pumped about science! I also met Steve Novella, and thanked him for being such an amazing model of how you can be incredibly successful professionally and still have hobbies and have a family (he is a neurologist and professor at Yale, and runs multiple blogs and podcasts as well as many other projects). But despite these incredible introductions, I had an even more memorable meeting at the conference: I met Greta Christina, whose blog post was what got me started on losing weight. I found out when I was already there that she would be there, and decided I wanted to meet her and thank her. I did: I introduced myself and told her how back in January, I came across her blog, and it completely changed my perspective on weight loss, and since that time I’ve lost 50 pounds. I thanked her for saving my health, my life, and my happiness. And then I hugged her and we took a picture together. It felt so amazing to be able to thank someone who unintentionally had such a direct and vital effect on my life, and I will always remember that.

A few people have recently asked me what it is that actually changed my perspective on losing weight, and made it possible. You can read the article that did this here:

and make sure to read Part 2 and Part 3 as well. But to summarize, the things I read on there that did it for me are the following.

1) First, not thinking about food as good or bad. Attaching morality to food leads to (or is the result of) an unhealthy relationship with it. So, as the blog suggests, I’ve been thinking about food in terms of a budget: I set a budget for the day (the number of calories I can eat) and then think of food as either calorically expensive or inexpensive. So eating chocolate cake isn’t sinful; it just means that I’ll have less calories in my budget for the rest of the day. Which means I can eat a smaller amount of a calorically expensive food, because I get both the delicious flavor as well as the knowledge that taking just a small amount means that I’ll have more calories to eat later.

2) Doing a cost/benefit analysis about whether losing weight is a worthwhile thing. For many people, it may be more worthwhile to not lose weight and to instead change how they feel about their current weight (which is a big part of the fat acceptance movement). So if a person would be happier in the long-term accepting how they look and feel at a heavy weight, as long they are willing to accept the risks (increased chance of many diseases, shorter lifespan), then that should be their choice. But a cost/benefit analysis should be done, instead of just ignoring the risks or pretending they don’t exist.

3) The idea to talk openly about losing weight. So I’ve had the Lose it program post all of my exercise on Facebook, as well as weight changes and when I’ve received their motivational badges. Also, notes such as this one, where I get a lot of ideas from you guys, as well as feedback. SO HELPFUL! I think another big thing about this is that often when someone is losing weight, people aren’t sure whether they are allowed to mention it or not. So posting about all of this stuff has let people know that I’m generally open to comments and questions about losing weight.

4) I learned about Lose It from the blog post, which is an application that has been INCREDIBLY instrumental to this. It just makes keeping track of food and exercise easy and fun, as well as other helpful features like a forum, social network, the ability to look at trends in your calories, exercise, nutritional intake, weight, etc. Which is awesome for nerdy people who like graphs. Oh and another amazing feature is the fact that you get motivational badges, which gives you fun things to aim for.

5) Thinking about this as a lifestyle change instead of a diet, and planning to behave in the same way on the day I hit my goal as I have on every other day, so that I don’t just go back to my old habits.

6) Doing exercise that is fun. Most of my exercise the first few months was just getting up in the morning and playing Just Dance 2 on the Wii. It got me moving and burned calories and never felt difficult! It also helped that sometimes my roommates would join me which made it extra fun!

7) Not letting myself get ravenously hungry, and remembering that for the rest of my life I will never let myself get ravenously hungry.

So reading the things I just mentioned on her blog are pretty much what got me started on this. If you think you might be interested, definitely click the link I posted above.

A final thing I wanted to address is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. During this whole weight loss process, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. Since people can’t see the health benefits of weight loss but can see the appearance benefits, it makes sense that that’s what people have mentioned (“you’re looking so slim lately!” sounds way less weird than “I bet your cholesterol levels are within a healthy range now!”). And it’s been really amazing to have people tell me that I look good. It’s something I barely had growing up, so to have that now is a shock to my brain, and is perhaps making up for lost time. But the problem is, it’s happening at the time in my life when I need the least reassurance. I look in the mirror now and I see that I’m slimmer, and I do think I look better now; I never had any of this positive feedback when I hated what I saw in the mirror, which is when I really needed it. Growing up, the one physical compliment I got was that I had great hair. So essentially my self-esteem regarding my appearance was built around that one trait, a trait that I knew wasn’t really all that important to most people. I guess I just wish I could have had that kind of positive feedback when I really needed it. I notice that this paragraph of the note is a lot more rambling and less straightforward than the rest of it, so that might tell you that it’s something that I feel emotional about, and that I don’t really know how to explain. But I wanted to try anyway.

Well, I believe those are all of the main things I wanted to address. I can always write another note if something else comes up. And as I said, I’m continuing all of this with the new goal of getting to approximately 65 pounds lost. Onward!

And my most recent before/after picture, because those are always fun. 😀


101 Goals in 1001 Days: the list

Alright, so I’m doing the 101 Goals in 1001 Days thing, which I recently found out about. It originated at so I used that website and also for ideas. Well, the idea is you make a list of things you’d like to accomplish in the next 1001 days (which is 2 years and about 9 months). Even if you don’t get them all done, that’s still a whole lot of accomplishments if you do some of them! I decided to try, since I think it would add a lot of focus to my time.

I originally brainstormed 129 goals and then cut it down to 101. Some of them are ones that I absolutely plan to accomplish, some are ones that I would love to at least half-accomplish, and some are ones that would just be nice to do but that I won’t stress about if I don’t. I took into account the number of weeks (143), months (33), school weeks (about 90), school days (about 450), etc., to be realistic, and used that to decide how many times I would like to do them (for the goals that involves a certain number).

My 1001 Days are the following: July 6, 2011 through April 2, 2014.

Here is the list:

1) Donate blood 15 times (0/15)
2) Write a letter to myself encouraging continuing weight loss to read if my motivation begins to wane
3) Read 15 non-fiction books (0/15)
4) Read 10 fiction novels (1/10)
5) Read 35 journal articles that aren’t assigned for class (0/35)
6) Learn the Russian Sign Language fingerspelling alphabet [done!]
7) Do the 20 Chin Ups Challenge
8) Watch 20 must-see movies (1/20)
9) Publish a journal article
10) Learn 350 new ASL signs (20/350)
11) Get rid of half of my belongings
12) Dye my hair temporarily 3 different times (different color each time) (0/3)
13) Memorize another ASL story
14) Finish reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban translated into Russian
15) Lose a total of 75 pounds (specific amount subject to revision) (60/75)
16) Take fitness classes: self defense, kickboxing, yoga, pilates
17) Reduce coffee intake
18) Bake bread from scratch 3 times (0/3)
19) Get contacts
20) Improve my posture
21) Become flexible enough to touch my toes
22) Do the 100 Pushups Challenge
23) Ride a roller coaster
24) Learn to play 3 songs on piano (0/3)
25) Make a video blog
26) Listen to 5 songs each from 20 must-hear bands (0/20)
27) Record grandparents on video telling their life stories
28) Update photos of family (Old Me/Now Me)
29) Solve Rubik’s cube
30) Keep track of what I did every day in my small notebook
31) Learn how to juggle
32) Learn CPR
33) Sew my clothes that are torn
34) Learn to play chess
35) Save money
36) Record all money spent
37) Try rockclimbing at the gym
38) Go hiking 15 times (0/15)
39) Go camping
40) Learn 10 different ab exercises and do them 800 times
41) Make list of things I’m proud of
42) Reduce the amount that I use verbal fillers (like, um, etc)
43) Volunteer 3 times (0/3)
44) Read the news 100 times
45) Pack a lunch for school 300 times
46) Take pictures of me completing and write about accomplishments of these goals
47) Sort my computer files
48) Repeat the names of everyone I meet so I remember them
49) Learn string theory well enough to explain it
50) Try 15 new recipes (0/15)
51) Read class notes every night
52) Do social things (non-studying) twice a month
53) Backup my photos
54) Talk to new people in all of my classes
55) Go to office hours of all of my professors
56) Graduate from college
57) Get prescription sunglasses or Transitions lenses
58) Go to ASL socials every week
59) Meet lots of people at TAM 9 [done!]
60) Send a secret to PostSecret
61) Finish making a pair of earrings
62) Keep binder of all bills
63) Keep car clean
64) Floss nightly
65) Revisit my goals on the first of every month
66) Clean my room every month
67) Use moisturizer nightly
68) Reduce the amount I put on chapstick [done: I seem to have overcome my addiction!]
69) Make eye contact and smile at people who I pass
70) Write a letter to a company telling them I appreciate their product [done: Nintendo for Just Dance 2]
71) Take the GRE
72) Take the GWPE (Graduate Writing Proficiency Exam, a requirement for Humboldt State)
73) Take a face picture every month to see how my face changes as I lose weight
74) Donate money to 5 charities (0/5)
75) Straighten my hair once
76) Create a new 101 Goals in 1001 Days list by the end of the 1001 days
77) Buy a cute and comfortable bathing suit
78) Work in my parents’ yard 30 times (1/30)
79) Try all of the weight lifting machines at the gym
80) Get rid of all the shoes I don’t wear
81) Learn 500 new English vocabulary words
82) Get the third HPV shot [done!]
83) Get a bike and helmet
84) Make a living will
85) Take grandmas to a garage sale
86) Walk around on a Saturday to multiple garage sales
87) Regularly figure out which direction (west, south, east, north) I’m facing
88) Play a pick up sports game
89) Try rollerblading
90) Try small amounts of olives occasionally in order to eventually like them
91) Learn the rules of Russian grammar
92) Watch Russian movies
93) Make another vector-style picture
94) Do assignments as soon as they’re due
95) Do knee-strengthening exercises daily
96) Go to Israel on a birthright trip
97) Keep track of my goals using checklists on my wall
98) Be able to shoot 10 consecutive free throws
99) Improve my geography knowledge
100) Buy shoes: running and for the rain [done!]
101) Sleep 10pm-6am most nights

My next step is to make a plan for how to achieve each of these goals. Sweet 🙂

Edit: I’ve made my specific plan for each goals. Now to finish it all!