Tuesday, June 25, 2013

One year later: Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined it would feel this good

One year later. Wow, that is kind of hard to believe. I've been working at this new lifestyle of mine for one entire year now. And I can say with all honesty, this is all a new horizon for me. Have I lost weight before? I sure have, but I did it completely the wrong way and I was back to my old habits and gaining weight again long before a year was up. I've never completely transformed myself not only physically, but mentally as well. I've learned that it matters how you lose the weight, not just how much weight you actually lose. I didn't name this blog The Space in Between All or Nothing for no reason. Finding balance has been a constant lifelong battle for me. Like I've said before, my motto previously had always been "More, better, faster," and if I couldn't do things perfectly and be the best, I did nothing at all. So I count finally learning how to incorporate moderation into my life as just as big, if not bigger, a success than the actual amount of weight I've lost.

In the beginning of this process, I had extremely poor self esteem. I think it says a lot that I had so little confidence in my ability to succeed in losing weight that I didn't even start taking progress pictures until week 6. All I saw was an area in life where I had failed before, and I saw no reason why I wouldn't fail again. I had been overweight my entire life, and it was extremely difficult for me to picture myself any other way. But I knew that I could not continue living the way I was living. I use the word living lightly here because at 328 lbs, my weight had reached such an extreme point that it was difficult for me to do much of anything at all. So I thought I would try to do something differently. I didn't make myself crazy trying to exercise and eat in ways that were not sustainable long term like I had in the past. I didn't feel deprived all the time. My mantra became, "If you can't see yourself doing it the rest of your life, you probably shouldn't be doing it now." The changes started adding up. The pounds fell off. And little by little, a little became a lot. That's where people have it wrong. They think they can never do the same thing as I have done because it's such a large amount of weight. But the thing is, I didn't lose freakish amounts of weight every week. It averages out to about 3 lbs a week. But if you lose 3 lbs a week consistently, it adds up to something much larger. What can I say? It's basic math. That's why I truly believe others can do the same thing.

So fast forward to one year later. No exaggeration here...I'm a completely different person. In one year, I've lost 151.6 lbs. One hundred fifty-one point six pounds (sorry I had to be dramatic here and write it out in italics). So basically, you could say I've actually physically lost a person from my body, though I'm not quite sure who that person would be (Jane Doe?). That amounts to 46.2% of my starting body weight. That's pretty crazy to think about. I kind of wish I could pull an Oprah and wheel out 151.6 lbs of fat in a wagon as a physical example, but I won't because 1) I'm not sure and do not really like to think about where one would acquire that amount of animal fat and 2) that's kind of gross. I'll leave it to your imagination. I can show you what 151.6 lbs looks like on my wall of clothes pins though! And let me just take this moment to say, it takes a lllonnnggg time to write out 200 numbers on tiny clothes pins.

But more than that weight, I've changed mentally. I feel powerful. I can do things I never thought possible. I do 200 sit-ups at a time. I lift pretty heavy weights. I can run. I may not always be the fastest (ummmm never), or lift the most (not with those meathead guys at the gym), but that is okay with me for the first time ever. Being the best is not the point. I respect myself and the person I have become. It makes me so happy to know that I actually am the person that I have always imagined that I could be. I just never knew how to make that person a reality before.

Probably by now you're all thinking, "Just show the dang pictures already woman!" I know that's what you came here for, but as they say, this is my party. I felt a recap was in order here. After all, you can't appreciate where I'm at unless you know where I've been. As you may or may not know (I can't remember if I've shared this before), I take monthly measurements and progress pictures. As promised in my last blog post, I will share this NEVER BEFORE SEEN FOOTAGE (insert dramatic music here) in this post. We'll start with my measurement changes and prolong the suspense of the pictures a bit longer. I have to confess something here. When I first started, I couldn't wrap the 60 inch tape measure around my chest or hips. I had one inch to spare around my waist. It was a pretty big wake-up call to realize that I was bigger around than I was tall. I think I actually cried when I took that first set of measurements. So here are my measurement changes:

Neck: -3.9 inches
Bicep (one): -8.8 inches
Forearm (one): -1.5 inches

(Yes, I realize the neck and forearm are weird places to measure, but I had to in order to get my lean body mass and body fat percentage calculated.)

Chest: -24.4 inches (sorry gentlemen)
Waist: -24.8 inches
Hips: -30.2 inches
Thigh (one): -14.1 inches (thunder thighs no more; thanks treadmill)
Calf (one): -4.6 inches

When all that is added together (multiplied by two for the body parts that there are two of), that means I've lost a grand total of 141.3 inches. I hadn't added up all the inches in a while, and it was really staggering to me. My body fat percentage was 66.3% when I started this. Basically, I was 2/3 fat. That percentage has dropped all the way down to 26.4%. I looked up what normal percentages are,  and 26.4% is apparently average. For someone who was pretty much off the charts before, that is crazy to think about. I'm also really proud of the fact that I've lost a minimal amount of muscle during this, which proves I've been doing it the right way. Some muscle loss is pretty much inevitable when losing the amount of weight I've lost, but according to my lean body mass measurements, I've only lost 9 lbs of muscle. That means all the rest of my weight loss has been pure fat.

I was going to insert the classic weight loss success picture here, you know the one. The one with the huge old pants. I was aghast to realize this morning that I had not saved any old pants! However, I did hang onto an old coat of mine that was very tight on me at my heaviest. Here it is now:

Moving on to...PROGRESS PICTURES! Like I said before, I've been taking progress pictures every month since week 6. I've got a picture that is around my heaviest, so I use that one as my before shot. Fair warning, they are kind of reminiscent of mug shots, but I wanted to get the front and side views. Please also be sure to admire the high tech (lol) signs showing what week it is in my journey. Here they are:

Front shots:

Side shots:

Pretty cool, right? I have to insert a special thanks to my mom here for being my photographer throughout all of this, not only for these progress pictures every month, but also my 6 month and 1 year pictures. The woman has the patience of a saint. Thanks Mom!

Also, I would like to take the time now to show you some unflattering pictures (haha, like I haven't already done that). I have often been curious about what my face looks like when I'm pushing through a hard workout. So I had my picture taken while working out. Bad idea. I had the vague idea that I probably looked fierce and determined, like Xena, Warrior Princess. Let me just say, I was quite wrong about this. That is, unless your idea of of "fierce and determined" is also your idea of "constipated." Because there is just no other way to describe how I look. So much for the old ego.

Now, so you don't think I'm a lost cause in the beauty department, here are some of the shots I had taken today on the beach. And yes, before you ask, I do model professionally in my spare time. You know, because solidly built 5'1" models are always in high demand.

Obviously, I had to have a jumping shot in there.

Senior portrait shot! *Stares meaningfully into the distance*

Model attitude

Yeah, we definitely got some weird stares on the beach, especially since I may or may not have had my admittedly corny inspirational workout music playing too, but I really didn't care. Haters gonna hate, right?

I was also thrilled to try on my ring this morning, the one that has such special meaning to me but that no longer fit my finger (for more on this story, click here), and see it slide right on my finger with no problem. I had been keeping it on a necklace until it fit me again. That ring has always represented the best part of me and also a promise kept to myself.  To see it back on my finger where it belongs means more to me than I can say. 

So I've got less than 50 lbs to lose until my goal weight now. My journey does not end there though. I may reach my goal weight, but this is how I am living the rest of my life. And unlike previous "diets" (which this is NOT!), that thought doesn't make me want to hurl and/or scream. This lifestyle is totally livable.

I want to thank the Academy (oops, guess I was having an Oscar moment there), I mean, all of you, for being so incredibly supportive of me. Whether or not you have been there for me in person (ahem, thanks to my family for putting up with some truly weird recipes and taking endless pictures, and my friends for dealing with my sometimes irritating nutrition requirements) or there for me virtually (shout-out to my Destination Skinny and other Facebook peeps), I can't tell you how much it means to me. I really think me sharing my journey and getting such an awesome response from people has played a huge part in my success. I had always tried to "go it alone" before and that never worked out. Reading your comments and hearing how I have inspired some of you keeps me feeling strong and motivated.

One of my goals now is to pay it forward. I'm not saying I have all the answers. I most certainly do not. I'm still learning every day. But I've learned so much through this process that I just can't help but feel driven to help other people change their lives too. I have such empathy for people trying to lose weight. It can feel so incredibly hopeless and daunting when you need to lose a lot of weight. The task seems insurmountable at times. You also feel very alone, and I want to show people that they are not alone. I know the phrase "If I can do it, you can too" has been used so often that it has gotten to be a cliche, but the fact remains that it's true. I've been where these people are, and I have such a passion to show them that it doesn't have to be that way, that they can choose another way. So if you're reading this blog and you want to chat, just comment here or message me on Facebook and let me know. I would be more than happy to talk with you.

I know this post has been super long, but I hope you enjoyed it! The blog continues as I venture on into year 2! More hijinks and hilarity are sure to come. I'll end with a picture of my awesome mirror motto.

In case you can't read it, it says, "You must make the choice to take a chance so you can change your life."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sleeping situps and stomach stroking: My week of weird behaviors

This past week has been truly crazy. It could have been a complete disaster for me weight-wise. But it wasn't. I lost a pound this week. The old me would have been like, "A pound? That's all?!? Failure." And I'm not going to pretend like the new me isn't a little disappointed. But the bigger part of me knows that I'm 150 lbs smaller than I was this time last year. Obviously I'm not going to drop 6 or 7 lbs per week like I did in the beginning. It still is a bit galling to know that I could drop that kind of weight at the start while barely working out at all, and now I can only drop a pound while killing myself in the gym 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. Oh well! It's the price of being smaller.

So like I was saying, this week was crazy. I was planning my mom's retirement party for Saturday and there were like a million things I had to get done. I got a combined total of 4 hours of sleep over 3 nights. I forced myself to the gym those days because I knew the last thing I needed was to get off my routine again. I actually closed my eyes for a little nap while simultaneously doing sit-ups. I was that tired. It probably looked pretty special. I can't say they were the best work-outs ever, but at least they happened. My food intake was pretty sporadic. I didn't eat as often as I should have, and when I did eat, they were family meals that weren't great calorie-wise. But I controlled myself. I didn't go crazy eating, and I didn't force myself to sit in the corner eating a carrot while everyone else got to eat cake. I mean, that's been my whole goal here, to create a program where I can actually live my life and not be constantly resentful of the food I can't have. So after all that, I'm pretty happy with my weight loss this week, plus it brings my total to over 150 lbs lost in almost a year. That's pretty crazy to think about.

I thought I would share a weird and funny new habit of mine. Like I've said, my weight loss has slowed down as I've gotten smaller. But I've really been focusing on strength training and working on my ab muscles in particular every day, so the inches are really flying off.  I can actually feel stomach muscles. And in my upper abs, I can actually see the muscles! I can also feel my ribcage even sitting, whereas before I couldn't even feel it while stretched out on my back. Those ribs were buried under mounds of fat like a secret treasure is buried under the sand. You're so welcome for that visual. Now don't get me wrong, there's still some muffin top issues, but much less than before. Before it was more like one of those mega muffins from the grocery store. So lately without even realizing it, I keep putting my hand on my stomach. It's like I'm reassuring myself the muscles are still there. It probably looks weird, but it is a totally unconscious thing. Hopefully no one thinks I'm pregnant since the only people I know who constantly touch their stomachs have a bun in the oven. I'm also happy because the other day I suddenly realized I was sitting with my legs crossed. I had just been doing that lately without even thinking about it. I know to a lot of people that wouldn't be anything to get excited about, but to a girl who could barely even cross her ankles before, it is pretty awesome.

Next week, next Wednesday to be exact, will be one year since I started this crazy adventure. In one short year, I have changed my entire life. I plan on posting all of my monthly progress pictures on here next week, as well as the pictures I'm having taken later this week. I've only posted my beginning and 30 week pictures on here before, so most of these are never before seen shots! Haha, I thought I would be dramatic there like they do on reality shows or something. But seriously, it's pretty cool to see all the pictures lined up month by month. Plus, you can check out my sure-to-be-cheesy beach photo shoot from later this week. Hey, I've earned a cheesy photo shoot!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One week does not a catastrophe make

You know, I get a lot of people telling me that I am inspirational. Normally, that makes me feel pretty good. I'm not telling you this in order to brag. I'm telling you this because the truth is that I have felt pretty far from inspirational lately. I've been in a truly funkalicious funk ("Funkalicious" was my second choice for a title, so I still wanted to incorporate it into the entry). And that doesn't exactly inspire me to write in this blog very much. For all my talk about wanting this blog to be about sharing my successes AND my failures, let's face it: it's way more fun to write about the successes. I mean, it's not exactly on the top of everyone's to-do list to share with the world where they have screwed up. And as a recovering perfectionist (haha), it's really not on the top of my to-do list.

But then I got to thinking (always dangerous). What does it really mean to be inspirational? Sure, some of it is about having success. Obviously more people tend to take notice when you say you've lost 150 pounds in a year than if you said you had lost 15 pounds. But I think it is about more than that. People aren't perfect. Frankly, I don't think most people really gain a lot from having other people talk about how they are perfect. It's also pretty annoying in my opinion. I think people get inspired when they can see themselves in someone else's story. I think in my case, people see in my blog that I am far from perfect. They see that I have slip-ups. They see that I still battle with old habits and ways of thinking. But I think what most people take away is that despite all those imperfections, I have still had quite a bit of success. And I think that makes a lot of people believe that they can do this too. So I think maybe being inspirational is less about being perfectly successful, and more about letting down your guard and letting people see that you can have success even with a million little mistakes along the way. It's about being imperfectly successful. And yes, I just made up that term.

So with that in mind, I think it's important I share with you what's been going on with me lately, even if that's not too flattering. It has been kind of a perfect storm for a funk. It started with me getting a cold and having some pretty severe asthma problems as a result. I probably needed to go to the doctor for steroids, but I avoid those devil drugs at all costs. Consequently, my asthma problems didn't clear up as fast as they probably could have. I couldn't go to the gym for an entire week. Well, I guess I could have gone, but I wasn't really in the mood for out of control wheezing and a possible ambulance ride to the hospital, which probably would have been the result. So, strike #1: no gym. During this time period, my computer decided to shut down on me. My computer, which allows me to upload my calorie burn and input my food log for the day, and charge my Bodybugg. The machine which allows me to type in my blog. My computer, which I normally use to access other weight loss blogs and sources of inspiration for me. All gone. Strike #2. Finally, we have the fact that I have been frustrated due to the fact that I've basically been the same weight (up and down a bit every week) for a good six weeks now. Super frustrating. Strike #3...welcome to my funk. So I made excuses for myself. I could have very easily added up my calories for the day using good old fashioned pen and paper. Yet I didn't. I made the excuse that since I didn't have my computer to do my Bodybugg stuff, I just wouldn't count calories. At this point, a very loud alarm should have sounded, to the effect of, "Danger! Danger! Stupid idiot who needs accountability!" A softer version of that alarm was there, but I chose to ignore it. I was busy feeling sorry for myself about not being able to go the gym. Instead of focusing on the things I could control, like my nutrition, I focused on the fact that I couldn't work out, which I decided meant I couldn't lose weight. So why bother counting calories? Stupid, stupid girl. My all or nothing mentality reared its ugly head again there. I couldn't do everything right that week, so I decided to do nothing at all. It's not that I went completely crazy with my eating. I probably didn't even go that far over my calorie goals. It's not what I ate, it's how I ate it. I ate when I wasn't hungry. I ate when I was bored. I did not practice mindful eating. A recipe for disaster. It's a very slippery slope indeed.

So I gained weight last week. No surprise. It killed me that I couldn't go directly to the gym to work extra hard after I saw that number. It scared me. I don't ever want to be afraid of what that scale will say again. I spent too many years suffering from that particular fear. So I turned things around. I did what I could, even if it wasn't perfect. I got back to the gym Sunday, and didn't act like a crazy manic person. I did what my body told me it needed. And this week, I lost weight. Am I proud of last week? Nope, but like I said in the title, one week does not a catastrophe make. What is important is that I haven't given up. I've realized where I went wrong, and I am powering through. That's what I want people to take away from my blog. I may make mistakes along the way (plenty of them!), but I refuse to give up until I reach my goals.