Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? Ummm, not me

I went to stores and tried on clothes the other day, so you know this post was practically automatically going to be about body image. It's a common misconception that when one (I used "one" instead of "someone" because I'm fancy like that) loses nearly 170 lbs, which is a good-sized person, one would feel good about how one's body looks. And obviously, duh, I feel much better about how I look than when I weighed 328 lbs. I mean, I'm not completely delusional. But I can't say I look in the mirror and think, "Damn, I look sexy today." Actually, I would say that I have never used the adjective "sexy" to describe myself. Adjectives that enter my head when clothed are "decent" or "pretty good." Adjectives that enter my head when looking at myself without clothes are somewhat less flattering and may involve me making an even less flattering face at my reflection.

I had hoped that when I got close to my goal weight, there would be a magical switch that would go off in my head and I would have confidence that I looked good. But the fact is, I'm a bit more than 20 lbs away from that goal, and the switch hasn't gone off. Being this close to my goal weight is great of course, but also has a side effect that I didn't foresee. Always before when I saw something I didn't like about my body, I could say it was okay because when I hit my goal weight, my body would look great. But I'm objective enough to know that now my body is pretty much looking how it's going to look at my goal weight. Yeah, losing 20 lbs may change it a little bit, but for the most part, this is my new body. This is how it's going to look. And I do have mixed feelings about that. I'm not a supermodel by any means. Losing 170 lbs leaves its mark. I wish I could be one of those people that is proud of every stretch mark and bit of loose skin, but I'm not at that point yet. It would be easy to to think that if I had skin removal surgery, I would love how I looked then. But remember, I thought the same thing about losing weight.  I'm slowly coming to realize that having confidence in how I look is much less about losing any specific amount of pounds or having surgery to remove the parts I don't like, and much more about accepting myself as I am, flaws and all. 

I wish I could have an attitude like my boyfriend Brian does. His attitude about his body was somewhat of a revelation to me. He likes his body, simple as that. Not in a cocky or arrogant way, but he just likes how he looks. He doesn't mercilessly mentally pick himself apart every time he looks in the mirror. What a concept! And what's more is, he likes my body. This was also a revelation to me because I had always assumed that anyone I was with would just kind of accept my body because they liked my personality, but that they wouldn't, couldn't, actually like my body. Like the first time Brian said that he liked my legs, I was thinking, "My legs?!? You mean those massive tree trunks I lug around?" But having him and and his healthy body image around has been good for me. Slowly but surely, I am starting to believe that maybe there are parts of me that aren't terrible, that maybe there are parts of me that could even be called beautiful. 

I think I'm also making some progress on being more realistic about what size I am. I've written before about how when I try on clothes, it takes 3 times as long as it should because I frequently start by trying on clothes that are 3 sizes too big since that is honestly how I see myself. But when I went shopping the other day, I grabbed mediums and size 8's because I know that that is probably the right size. Yeah, every now and then maybe I need a size 10 or a large or sometimes even a small because sizes can be crazy, but for the most part, I realize I need to try on an 8, not a 14 anymore. It is still an effort to get the right size because when I look at those clothes, it still seems like they would be way too small for me, like I am one of those delusional women that is trying on clothes in the size they want to be and not the size that they actually are. I even have this one pair of jeans that I own that I know fits great, but still every time I look at them on the hanger it feels like jeans that size could never fit me. 

Sometimes I beat myself up about having lost all this weight and still feeling ugly at times, even 2.5 years into this journey. But the truth is that I have undergone a massive transformation physically, as well as mentally and emotionally. It's not something you get used to overnight. I don't think it's unusual for it to take quite a while to be able to accept all those changes. And also, everyone feels ugly sometimes, no matter what weight they are, be it 100 lbs or 500 lbs or every weight in between. No one feels beautiful all the time. But eventually I would like to be able to look at myself in the mirror, both clothed and unclothed and not immediately see my flaws. I would like to be able to look in the mirror and just think, "This is me. I'm not perfect and that's okay. Those little bits of imperfection just show where I have been and help make me me. I am beautiful in my own way, not anybody else's, and that is enough. I am enough." That would be pretty awesome to be able to think that and mean it. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I did indeed gobble till I wobbled

I admit it, I had the best of intentions about Thanksgiving eating. But good intentions aren't really worth much of anything. Part one of my plan went off without a hitch, but that's because part one of my plan involved eating whatever I wanted on Thanksgiving. And if I'm objective, this didn't actually involve me going crazy and shoving a whole turkey in my mouth or devouring a whole bowl of mashed potatoes. In all honesty, I just ate a moderate serving of everything. Even though that sounds fine, my stomach did not appreciate this at all because it was all rich stuff I am not used to. At this point though, I was still on track with the plan. Where the plan started to derail is when a couple hours later I decided to eat dessert (pumpkin cheesecake!) even though my stomach still felt horrible, just because I felt like I should have dessert and I wouldn't let myself have it the next day. So I ate that cheesecake and then headed to work, where I felt like my stomach was in revolt the whole night.

I wasn't tempted by the work goodies, not because of any superhuman willpower on my part, but because I honestly felt like I never wanted to eat anything ever again. I didn't really eat anything on Friday, so consequently on Saturday my stomach had recovered and I was absolutely starving. Upon arrival at my parents' house, I ate leftovers despite my vow not to do so. I mean, I did eat the turkey sandwich on whole grain bread and stayed away from the mashed potatoes, but I couldn't say no to the stuffing. It had celery and apples in it so it was practically a health food, right? Haha, I wish. This continued through the weekend, me not binging in any way, but not sticking to my regular diet either. What was really stupid is that my stomach continued to feel horrible the whole time, and while I knew full well that returning to what I normally ate would cure it completely, I still ate junk. Not because I was hungry sometimes, but just because I wanted to. I even continued to track what I ate in my handy app, and just kind of shrugged when I saw the calorie count. I kind of felt like I was being a masochist for even wanting to know the calorie count for some of it (does anyone really want to know just how many calories are in mashed potatoes?), but I track no matter what.

Some days I wasn't even over my calorie limit, but I knew the type of food I was eating was not doing my body any favors. And by Sunday, I had gotten to that dangerous place where I thought, "I weigh in Wednesday. The week is shot anyway. I'll just get back on track then." NO, NO, NO....what was I thinking?!? That is such a slippery slope!

So Wednesday morning came, and obviously I knew I had gained. I'm just not the type of person who can eat junk and not gain. But by that time, sanity had returned and I gave myself a talk that I was quite proud of. I told myself that the important thing was that I was owning the number on the scale, whatever it was, and not hiding from it. That whatever the scale said, it wasn't something that I couldn't overcome. That while it was important that I realize where I went wrong, it was equally as important that I didn't continue to beat myself up over it. So I hopped on and saw that 4.6 lb gain. I admit it, part of me resented that number, mainly because I knew some people could have eaten what I did and not gained an ounce. I threw a tiny pity party and thought, "Why can't I have a super human metabolism?" And then a minute later, I was all about getting back on track and doing what was right for my body, not everyone else's.

Luckily for me, part of that gain appeared to have been from excess sodium intake, since by the next day (after consuming tons of water), I had already magically lost a pound and a half. I've been totally back to normal since Wednesday and it feels great to me physically and mentally. Part of me is upset that even after all this time, I still can't seem to get it through my head sometimes that while eating junk feels good while you eat it, it's just not worth it for all the misery afterwards. It's tempting to beat myself up for not completely figuring everything out 2.5 years after I started all this. But I continue to be a work in progress and I always will be. Yes, I ate more than I planned, but I also didn't binge at all, which was not the case 3 years ago. I also continued to run every single day just I normally do. I've come such a long way, and one Thanksgiving weekend can't erase all that I've accomplished.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The holidays don't have to be the season of stretchy pants

Of course this had to be a food-centric post with Thanksgiving just a week away. Here's my thoughts about weight loss around Thanksgiving and the holidays in general: You don't gain weight by overeating on one or two days usually. If you indulge on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's with maybe a few treats sprinkled in between, you're probably not going to gain weight. The problem is that most people seem to view the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's as a food free-for-all. Anything goes! The concept of moderation seems to fly out the window. I know that it can be so hard to keep to your normal routine this time of year with temptations all around, and so very easy to say I'll be good tomorrow, or next week, or after New Year's. It's a slippery slope.

So with that in mind, I decided it would be good to share a few healthy, quick, and easy to make recipes for all those days that are not any of the above holidays. I got a lot of these recipes from my nutritionist. I know some blogs like to post healthy Thanksgiving recipes and that is great for some people. However, for me, I think it would just make me resentful if I replaced my old, admittedly unhealthy, family recipes with new, healthy ones on Thanksgiving. For example, I LOVE mashed cauliflower, but it is just not the same as my Nana's mashed potatoes with Duke's mayonnaise (I know, I know, sounds gross but it is delicious!). I let myself eat whatever the heck I want on Thanksgiving with the understanding that I will not be partaking of any leftovers afterwards. I get right back on track Friday. And actually, I usually don't really overindulge that much because I know how crappy that fatty food that I'm not used to makes me feel. Anyway, here's some of my current favorite recipes that I hope will help you keep on track on the rest of the month! Coincidentally, I happen to have pictures of most of these recipes.

 Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins

I'm actually makings these tonight! I made a slight alteration because I think it ends up tasting even better if you use half ground chicken and half  turkey sausage mixed together instead of just ground chicken. These are really fast and they freeze great!

Stuffed Peppers

I also made a slight alteration to these to cut down on the calories and make it low carb. I used shredded cauliflower instead of the rice. You just grate some cauliflower and saute it a few minutes and then just treat it the same as the cooked rice. I know it sounds weird, but the cauliflower really does taste like rice with way less calories and carbs. These are very filling. I've also made this same recipe with acorn squash instead of the peppers.

Crab Salad Melts

These are amazing! Plus they seem kind of fancy while being very easy to make. I usually have these with mashed cauliflower (can you tell I'm a bit obsessed with cauliflower?) or boiled squash. To make the mashed cauliflower, just steam the florets of cauliflower until soft and then place in a food processor with a couple wedges of swiss Laughing Cow cheese, a half cup plain Greek yogurt, and some salt and pepper. Or if you don't have a food processor, you could really just whisk all the ingredients together since the cauliflower is so soft.

Restaurant Style Buffalo Chicken Breast

I could seriously eat this every single day. It tastes so indulgent with the bleu cheese, but the great thing is that it's low calorie! Plus, it is extremely fast to make.

Flank Steak Pinwheels

This one is a bit more time-consuming to make, but they are worth it. They're pictured with the mashed cauliflower I mentioned before.

Peanut Butter Protein Cookies

I just made these for the first time the other day. I was a bit dubious of how the protein powder would make them taste, but they were really good! And of course, quick, which probably by this time you can tell is important to me. 

I hope you all will try out a few of these recipes. You don't have to be the bitter one in the corner of the room munching carrots sticks in order to lose weight this holiday season. Healthy food can be awesome tasting too! Please let me know what you think of these recipes, and if you like them, I'll post more soon. Also, I would love it if you would share any good recipes you have!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Being Humpty Dumpty isn't all it's cracked up to be

Terrible pun in the title, I know. I thought about adding in a joking/yolking pun too, but I was afraid then that people might actually start throwing eggs at me. So I actually came up with this post the other day when I was in a very weird/emo mood. I felt like I had to evaluate the contents when I was in a normal mood before posting in order to make sure it a) actually made sense and b)wasn't too crazy. I have come to the conclusion that I actually made some good points, so here goes.

I got to thinking about how all of us have broken parts or healed breaks in one place or another. Some of us just have more visible cracks than others. I was broken in a very visible way. Anyone could tell how very unhappy I was if they took even the most cursory glance at my life. I stayed in pieces for a long time, mainly because I didn't feel like I was worth the effort of putting back together. When I finally did decide I was worth the effort, I initially tried to mold myself and my life into exactly how it was before, when everything looked perfect on the outside. I thought only that result would mean I had been successful. Then I was kind of like, "Hang on, stupid...that didn't work out so great for you before." So I have put myself and my life back together differently now, pieced together a new and different me. Maybe it doesn't look so perfect on the outside. That's okay, I'm far from perfect on the inside too. I'm not all about being perfect anymore though.

I spent a long time being ashamed of some of the choices I have made in my past that led to me being so broken. I just couldn't forgive myself for not being perfect. And really, if I am not willing to give myself a second chance, how can I expect others to? But lately I have come to realize that all of my choices, good and bad, led me to where I am today, and I like that place very much. It would be easy to say that you wish you could take back all those bad choices, and then life would be perfect. But the truth is that you can't control cause and effect. You don't know if some bad choices are what ultimately led to some good choices and outcomes. So my past is just that; my past. For the most part, I have moved past being ashamed of part of it. My feeling is that you can either be bitter about the way things have gone in the past, or you can strive to to make the future better.

The nurse/scientific part tells me that breaks and scars in the human body can only be 80% as strong as they were before (why I remember that random fact from school, I couldn't tell you). But what I am here to say is that emotional breaks and scars are just proof that you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you. That they are a sign of healing. That they enable you to be stronger than you could have ever been otherwise, if you allow yourself to be. My broken places are in some ways my very strongest parts. I am perfectly imperfect, just like everyone else is in one way or another. As the great orator Emilio Estevez once said (haha, such a random person, but I really like this quote), "We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That's what connects us--that we're all broken, all beautifully imperfect."

So yeah, at this point you may be wondering if this post is a result of too many bottles of wine or something. I assure you, it is not. Like I said, I was in a weird mood and this is the result of it. I hope you get something out of it. I'll share one more quote, because a) it's my blog and I do what I want b) if you've read this blog before, you already know that I'm obsessed with collecting quotes and c) I really like this quote too, mainly because Ernest Hemingway is my dawg.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cheating on my blog...shame, shame, shame

I'm 2 weeks into my forced sabbatical from running. It is almost physically painful for me not to run in this beautiful weather. Walking just isn't doing it for me. I feel like I'm in running withdrawal. I've thrown myself into strength training, making myself do that for the same amount of time I used to invest in running. I'm trying to like it, but it's never going to have the same enjoyment factor as running does for me. I'm kind of just getting through it and hoping I have some hard-core guns (or maybe at least like small pistols) to show for it in a few months. Also, strength training kind of muddies the waters of terms of weight loss. I am proud that I'm still losing at all not doing any cardio, but it's not much and I'm not sure how much of that is due to decreased activity and how much is due to increased muscle. Who knows? I guess we'll see when I do my measurements in a few weeks.

Also, I have to confess that I have been cheating on my blog. Yes, there is another blog in my life. And let me tell you, it's hard to keep up with 2 blogs (it's why I've been slightly slack with this one lately)! It's worth every minute though. I applied to be a contributor on another healthy living blog a couple of months ago and was selected. So for the next 5 months, in addition to this blog, I will also be posting on I'mperfect Life. There are 8 of us contributors, and I really like it because we have different ways we lost weight and we are all at different stages of our weight loss. There's someone that everyone can relate to. I'm pretty excited to get to share my story with an even wider audience and connect with even more like-minded people. The whole philosophy at I'mperfect Life is "Real food. Real fitness. Real life." That lines up perfectly with what I have tried to do this entire time. I hope you guys will check out some of my posts there and some of the other posts too!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

There's a dead horse here and I am weirdly insisting on beating it

Who made up that saying about a dead horse anyway? It's really weird if you stop and think about it. Anyway, I know you guys are probably sick of hearing about my sickness (haha), but I promise you're not as sick as I am of having it. I had fully planned on writing about something else, but then I went back to the doctor this past week. And what happened there was so bad that I had to share. My breathing was terrible when I tried to "run." I use the word "run" here very loosely because it was really more like me starting to run, wheezing like I had just run 100 miles, and then having to walk. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered if I was actually harming myself by running as opposed to just making myself uncomfortable, but I quickly shoved that thought away in favor of my favorite form of cardio. I figured I was already resting as much as I was willing to by doing 4 miles instead of my usual 8. I was also really, really tired. Like so tired I needed a nap every day. I felt like I should be better than that after finishing my course of antibiotics and steroids. So back to the doctor I went, though I put it off as long as possible because I was kind of scared of what he would say.

I was right to be scared. My chest x-ray showed that I still had pneumonia. But the worst part, the absolute scariest part, is that I am not supposed to run for AN ENTIRE MONTH. 30 days, no running, no cardio of any kind. I am limited to a mile slow walk per day, and I had to talk the doctor into that because he thought I would overdo it (me, overdo things?!?). He said after a month I could slowly work my way back into running. This completely freaked me out. I've already been pretty limited in my running for the better part of a month while being sick, and now I hear it's going to end up being a total of at least 3 MONTHS by the time I get back to normal? Since I started losing weight I have never gone longer than 2 or 3 days without doing some form of cardio, and 99% of the time I do cardio every single day. Between that and the stupid steroids making me want to eat like a truck driver, I really don't feel in control. Before I always felt like if I had a bad week weight loss-wise, it wasn't a huge deal because I could always just buckle down and work harder. And now I'm limited to buckling down and...slowly walking a mile? I was all pumped up and ready to literally work my ass off now to get to my goal weight too.

Sometimes I wonder if I use my runs at least partially as a way to literally run away from who I used to be. Honestly, I'm not sure if that's healthy or not. I just don't know. What I do know is that when I wake up at 4:30 and get out there and run mile after mile, it's like an affirmation that I am no longer that sad, unhealthy girl who wanted to sleep as much as possible because life was just too hard to be awake for. I think that's why I find it so hard to rest, because it brings back some of those feelings even now, years later.

So I spent a couple days feeling sorry for myself. I gave myself permission to do that because there was no use pretending this wasn't a pretty big blow. And then I happened to read a quote that was exactly what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it, as has happened so many times before to me (really, it's kind of eerie).

How fortunate are those among us who have the ability to turn things around - to transform liabilities into assets. Life deals them lemons: they make lemonade, lemon pie, candied lemon peel. They seem to be able to assess the needs of the moment accurately and turn them to advantage.

I am determined to be one of those people. No, I have no control over my running right now, but I do have control over how I respond to this situation. I can do my 1 mile of walking. I can focus on strength training, which I always seem to place on the back burner. I can do yoga, which I have thought would be good for me many times, but never seemed to find the time for. I can get the rest my body needs right now, even if it makes me feel lazy. I can make sure I stay on track with my nutrition and not use this set-back as an excuse for emotional eating. This is probably going to sound like it belongs as a monologue in an inspirational sports movie or something (probably because I have an inexplicable fascination with that genre of movie), but I really do believe it is when things are not going perfectly that you show what you are truly made of. Anyone can maintain a positive attitude when things are going their way, but it's much harder to keep that positive attitude when things start to fall apart. I'm trying to rise above my present circumstances. 

Okay, enough of the sappy, motivational crap. I know a person can only stand so much of it before they want to hurl. So yeah, I hope you see why I had to address this topic yet again in my blog. I just couldn't bring myself to write about some random topic and then at the end be like, "Oh by the way, I can't do any form of aerobic exercise for a month. Not that that's a big deal to me or anything. Not like it didn't almost literally cut my heart out hearing that news." This next month should be, if nothing else, at least very interesting. Really, if for no other reason than me looking hilarious trying to attempt yoga poses. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Seriously, nurses really do make the worst patients

I am terrible at being sick. Ask anyone who knows me. Not only do I stubbornly refuse to do things that would be in my own best interest, but I am also (I'm sorry for the language, but there's really no other way to phrase this) a stone cold bitch when I am sick. It's terrible because I know that I shouldn't expose my bitchiness to others and I would honestly just prefer being left alone with no one but my cats to verbally abuse, but when you have asthma issues like I do and also have pneumonia, being alone is not a smart option. Even I will admit to that much.

It's weird because I would never tell any patient of mine to do the things I do when I'm sick, but I somehow rationalize it to myself. Like telling myself that one day off work is sufficient for pneumonia and an asthma exacerbation. Or that I don't need to use my nebulizer every 4 hours because it makes me feel like I'm about to jump out of my skin. Or the biggest one of all: that I can still work out when I'm wheezing like someone's chain-smoking uncle. Not smart. Really not smart. I tried to work out on Thursday, just 2 days after I went to the doctor. That ended quite badly. I did indeed demonstrate some modicum of good sense and stuck to walking and the elliptical after that disaster, until today. Then I decided I needed to get back to running 8 miles right this second. Yes, it would have been much wiser to slowly build back up to 8 miles. But I think the combination of not really working out at all (or at least not anywhere even close to what I normally do) and feeling like I've eaten way too much because of the steroids (even though looking back at my food log, I've actually done pretty well) caused me to panic a little bit. About my weight obviously (although weirdly enough I actually lost a little weight this body continues to remain a mystery to me), but also just how it felt to sit on the couch a lot and rest. Rationally, I know this does not mean I am doomed to slip back into my old ways. But emotionally, it's a whole different story. How I "lived" before is so frightening and just downright unacceptable to me now that I completely flip out over anything that reminds me of that life or anything I think would lead me down that road again. It makes me act a little cray-cray (yes, I did say cray-cray) sometimes.

Running 8 miles this morning was stupid. Not only was it pretty much the crappiest and slowest run ever, but my lungs have been paying for it all day. I lost my perspective somewhat. I guess I still have a bit of that "all or nothing" mentality, but at least I'm calling myself out on it. Running 2 or 3 miles instead of 8 for a little while is not going to kill me, or even start me back on a bad path. Likewise, resting more than normal does not mean that I am a lazy couch potato. I am definitely on the mend (thank goodness!), but I have got to give my body a chance to get back to normal. And I have got to learn to give myself a break! Sometimes it's not all about pushing beyond your limits. Sometimes it's just about knowing and respecting your limits.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and leave the world wondering how you did it

I definitely enjoyed my birthday. And by enjoyed, I mean ate some not-so-great food until my body was practically screaming "WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?" Actually, being honest here, I didn't go completely crazy with the eating. I didn't binge eat or anything like that, which is a victory in and of itself. But I did eat what I wanted, when I wanted. I wrestled back and forth over feeling guilty about this. And here the conclusion I finally came to: I have no reason to feel guilty over 3 days of eating exactly what I wanted to, calorie count be damned. I lived my life. I enjoyed my birthday, which while it was not all about food, did include food. That's not a crime. There are going to be times where I am super hard-core about clean eating and getting all my exercise in, and there are going to be times where I eat what I want and may not get in all the exercise I am accustomed to. And that's okay. As long as it all evens out, as long as there are more good days than bad, and as long as the bad days don't start forming a pattern, it's all perfectly okay. That's how life works. I'm learning to be not so hard on myself.

What I do regret is the Monday following my birthday. I had planned to be back on track, but I ended up eating leftovers and a bunch of movie theater popcorn. Now that was unnecessary. However, I did reign things in and got back on track Tuesday. I knew it would have been oh-so-easy to let things slide on Tuesday too, rationalizing that I weigh in on Wednesdays, so one more day couldn't hurt. But I know that that is exactly how things can start sliding quickly downhill and snowballing. I knew that the scale reading wouldn't be pretty on Wednesday, but I take pride in owning that number every single week, no matter what it says, because there was a time when I would have been perfectly happy just shoving that scale under the sink to avoid bad news. I gained about 4.5 lbs. I'll admit to a momentary pity party. I mean, everyone is entitled to one. I thought, "Why do I gain 4.5 lbs over not even a week of eating what I want when other people can eat what they want every single day and never gain an ounce?" It just didn't seem right. But when I spoke to my nutritionist about it, she said that the very fact that I don't eat that kind of thing every single day is what led to my weight gain. My body reacts to that kind of food as a rebel army force. She said the vast majority of it was probably water weight from all the sodium.

So last Wednesday I was all fired up and motivated. And then freaking life (and my stupid dysfunctional lungs) got in the way again. I caught a cold. I know, no big deal, except it can be a big deal when you have asthma. I fought through my cold like a boss (or perhaps like a stubborn idiot) and kept up my workouts the first few days, despite my breathing issues. Then overnight, my cold morphed into bronchitis, and a couple days (and a fever, chest pain, and coughing up blood) later, I find out I have pneumonia. On the upside, I have managed to stay out of the hospital, despite pneumonia and asthma making for a pretty scary combination. But obviously, no working out. In all honesty, I don't know when I'll be able to work out again. That scares the crap out of me, because now I'm also on steroids, which make me want to eat like a truck driver. Seriously, steroids are the devil. I'm trying very hard to not have an "all or nothing" attitude. It would be super easy to be like, "Screw it. I'm sick. I'm not going to lose weight anyway since I can't work out. I'll eat what I want." Just because I can't work out doesn't mean I shouldn't maintain control over what I can control, which is my eating. This is just another curveball, and I'll deal with it like I have with every other curveball that has come my way (actually, maybe not the best analogy because I am kind of scared of baseball. If an actual curveball came my way, I would probably scream and duck).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dirty Thirty: 31 things I had yet to find out when I was but a young lass of 20

The day has come. My youth has departed. Today, I have officially survived 3 decades of life (well, to be completely honest, I wrote this post on Thursday, so I had not yet officially survived 3 decades then). Thirty. Wow, that's pretty weird to me. Even just a few months ago, that number kind of freaked me out. But now, I can say in all honesty that although a few freaked-out feelings do remain, the bigger part of me is excited for what is to come in this new decade. Like all things, there is a choice. I can either look at 30 as a phase of my life ending or I can look at it as a new beginning. A clean slate. And it is a new beginning that I know I have earned.

I'll take this time to confess that my sole reason for starting to lose weight 2 years ago was so that I could know that I looked better on my 30th birthday than any of my birthdays in my 20's. Just kidding! That would be pretty disturbing. It is a nice side benefit though. I remember every single year I would wish that I would lose weight that year. But for the vast majority of those years, that's all it was--just a wish, no substance or plan of action behind it. For your enjoyment, here is a retrospective look at my birthdays starting at age 23-29. It starts at 23 for no other reason than that's when I got a digital camera.

Age 23

Age 24

Age 25

Age 26

Age 27

Age 28 (6 weeks into losing weight)

Age 29

As you can see, there are varying degrees of weight problems in each picture. But that is an issue that I am perfectly satisfied to leave behind in my 20's. In my 30 years on this planet, I have learned some things, and a lot of them have been learned in the past decade. So I thought maybe I should come up with a list of 31 things (31 instead of just 30 because I'm an overachiever like that) that I have learned since I was a mere child of 20: young, stupid, and sure I knew everything. At first I didn't know if I could think of a list of 31 things that was a good mix of poignant and funny, but by the time I was ready to write this, I had to cut some out! Annoyingly enough, I tended to think of things to add to the list at the most inconvenient times i.e. while in the shower or running, or really any time I had no paper and writing utensil handy. I warn you, this list has cliches, but they are cliches for a reason, that reason being that they are true. I promise they'll be better than ones such as, "A penny saved is a penny earned." And there may be inspirational quotes too. I have kept a quote book to write quotes I like in for 10 years now, and I'm finally going to get to share these quotes with other people, dang it! I mean, what's a blog for if not to foist stuff on people? So without further ado, here is my list of 31 things I've learned by the occasion of my 30th birthday. 

1. Perfection is boring. This was hard for me to learn, as I was once so obsessed with achieving perfection that my mom thought someone had died upon seeing my reaction to getting a C on a test. It's not the end of the world if you mess up. Mistakes don't define you. How you react to them does. 

2. Use product in your hair. Forreal. Nobody needs to see the fro you were naturally born with, and conversely, no one needs to see the stick-straight, limp thing you call hair after straight ironing it to death. Repeat after me: waves and anti-frizz products are your friends. 

A few notes: I am not high in this picture, though my expression may suggest otherwise. Also, I deeply regret the scrunchie and Pooh t-shirt. The only defense I have is that I was 12. 

3. Digital pics are so much better and easier to deal with than printed ones, if only so you have the opportunity to categorize and sub-categorize them into various folders to your heart's content. 

4. Prayers are not always answered like you think they should be. There may be a different plan that you know nothing about. But take comfort in the fact that things are unfolding exactly the way they should.

5. Stay away from diet food. Non-fat, non-sugar, non-carb=non-sustainable and non-healthy. Eat real food that you can pronounce the ingredients in and you'll be fine.

6. What doesn't kill you actually does make you stronger (except for maybe weird diseases like leprosy or something). Hard times help make you who you are. Albert Einstein (who we all know was pretty dang smart) summed it up quite succinctly by saying, "Adversity introduces man to himself." Or in my case, woman to herself.

7. MP3's are better than CD's. No contest.

8. Second chances are real, but they don't usually come free. Be prepared to work your ass off for them. 

9. You are good enough, just as you are. I'm actually still learning this every single day.

10. You don't have to buy every movie you like. This results in a humongous DVD collection that you have to tote around every time you move. Same goes for textbooks. Don't save ALL of them. Or pack them all in one gigantic moving box in an effort to be space efficient. Bad idea for you and your back. 

11. Judging people based on superficial crap just means that you will miss out on knowing some truly incredible people. As my good friend Anonymous put it, "Judging a person doesn't define who they are. It defines who you are."

12. Emotional baggage can be a lot heavier than physical pounds. You have to lose the emotional stuff that's weighing you down before you can start losing the physical weight.

13. I am worthy of being loved by other people, and most importantly, by myself.

14. Reality TV will rot your brain. That said, I am fully prepared to cash in on my genius concept of Amish obese little people .

15. Having the power to Google anything, anywhere, at any time is highly addictive.

16. True friends stick by you no matter what. They may be like, "What the hell were you thinking?" sometimes, but they're still there for you. If they aren't, then they're not real friends. Period. Oprah "YOU get a car!" Winfrey said once, "Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." True, but I'm still waiting for that limo too. 

17. Being able to write bullshit essays in school in record time really does pay off in real life. I mean, I can whip out these blog posts like nobody's business!

18. You, not your circumstances, determine your happiness. If you decide to be happy, you're gonna be happy. But the same principle applies if you decide to be miserable. I think Hugh Downs (yup, totally random, I know) put it best when he said, "A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes."

19. You are responsible for the kind of person you are. Anne Frank, who could have turned out terribly and would have had completely justified reasons to blame her circumstances for that, once said, "The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands." Pretty smart for somebody who was only 15. I wish I was that smart then! I'm not saying how you were raised or your circumstances don't somewhat affect what kind of person you become. But seriously, man up and accept that you're an adult now, and that you and only you are ultimately responsible for the kind of person you are right now. 

20. Just because you're good at taking care of people doesn't automatically mean you are good at taking care of plants. Let's just say I have a black thumb. 

21. George Eliot once said, "It's never too late to be what you might have been." And I believe that down to my very core. I spent approximately 28 years knowing in my heart what kind of person I was meant to be, what kind of person I wanted to be, and just never was. I can't even tell you how satisfying it is to know that I am now that person I waited an entire lifetime to be. And I don't even mean physically. These changes are all on the inside.

22. A family is like superglue. It's messy and sometimes it gets in places you don't want it to, but in the end you're always glad to have it around. Except unlike superglue, families cannot be removed with acetone.

23. Excessive list-making is both efficient and satisfying, if also evidence of slight neurosis. I have 23 various lists on my phone. I also once received an entire year's worth of list-making paraphernalia as a gift. I guess you could say my list-making is a well-known quirk of mine.

24. I am pretty good at decorating cakes as long as they don't involve sculpting people. I learned via Youtube, as any good millennial would. Here are pictures of my best and worst cake efforts. I'll let you decide which is which. 

25. Pets love you unconditionally. They may express that love by laying on your chest and making it very difficult to breathe as you sleep, but hey, it still counts. 

Yes, of course my guinea pig had a pirate costume. Doesn't every guinea pig have one? His name was Captain Jack Sparrow; the pirate outfit was practically required.

26. Laugh at yourself. I've always found it difficult to name my strengths, but I do know that one of them is the ability to laugh at myself. Whenever I'm facing a bad time, I can usually still see how it's going to make a funny story later. Facing life is immensely easier if you don't take yourself too seriously.

27. Don't take a selfie or have someone else take a picture of you that you are not fully prepared for the world to see. Because no matter how much you think somebody won't post it online, they probably will. And the internet is forever, my friends. Google searches are omniscient and omnipresent (SAT words!)

28. Confidence is sexy. I mean, so are stilettos, but my deformed foot won't tolerate stilettos. It's probably for the best, as I have a large clumsy streak, and falling over your own two feet is NOT sexy. So I will just have to be confident and stiletto-less.

29. Shorter skirts and shorts are not better. I found this skirt the other day that I wore in college, and I thought "Homegirl was a ho!" Okay, I may not have actually thought "homegirl"in my head, but I did think ho. Here is a picture of said skirt, with a book laid on top so you can see the scale. 

30. The vast majority of the stuff you worry about never happens. Take it from me, as I used to be practically a worrying professional. Live in the present and have faith that things are going to work out. I mean, plan ahead and all that, just don't worry about everything constantly. It's draining. As Corrie Ten Boom (seriously, I really do have a staggering amount of random people quoted in my quote book) said, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows. It empties today of its strength."

31. And last but not least: Age is just a number. I know, I know, another cliche, but it is so, so true. I've seen 80-year-olds having the time of their lives, and I've also seen 20-year-olds slowly dying inside day by day. 30, 21, 55, 12, 116 (the age I hope to live to be, just so I can have another sweet 16 party); they're all just numbers. You may be limited by one thing or another at each age, but when it really comes down to it, life is what you make of it at any age. As my homie Abe Lincoln put it, "In the end, it's not the years in your life that counts. It's the life in your years."

By now you may be thinking, "Damn, this girl is seriously brilliant!!" Or alternatively, you may be thinking, "Why did I ever start reading this? Will it ever end?!?" Or maybe just, "Why does this girl have such a weird quote fetish?" Or maybe a little of all of these things. That's okay. I only spew out random words of wisdom on milestone birthdays once a decade, so I'm all done till I'm 40. And who knows what random wisdom I'll have acquired by 40! For right now though, I'm all set to ring in 30 with a bang (and some pretty amazing cake too)!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Seriously, who doesn't throw things in the dryer instead of iron?

This week I finally tackled a project that I have been putting off for the majority of a year. That's because it involved a massive amount of ironing. And I am one to avoid ironing at all costs. Like I will just throw something in the dryer for a few minutes if it's wrinkled, and call it a day instead of ironing.

The project consisted of me trying to sell 6 humongous bags of clothes that are now too big to Clothes Mentor and consign whatever was left over from that. When I had lost about 50 or 60 lbs, I gave away a good amount of clothes I had outgrown to Goodwill because I didn't know about Clothes Mentor. This makes me sad primarily because it means I no longer own my most gigantic pair of pants to use in the extremely cliched after shot. The clothes from this batch range in size from 10 to 18. So some of them have been sitting in a bag for a very long time and were understandably extremely wrinkled. I was probably wasting my time, but I thought the clothes would have a better chance of being bought by Clothes Mentor if they were relatively unwrinkled.

Luckily, I decided it would be wise to go through my closet again and see if there was anything else I could get rid of, since the last time I did that was in May and I've lost quite a few inches since then. I'm glad I did because a ton of stuff in there was way too big. My closet looks very sad and empty now. So I packed everything up in the oh-so-elegant black Hefty bags, lugged them down the stairs into my car, and drove them to my parents' house since they have an awesome iron, and more importantly a TV located near aforesaid iron. I lugged the bags up their stairs (seriously, I feel like I got a workout just lugging those bags around) and began trying to sort through what needed to be ironed and what didn't, and also put the clothes in some kind of order. Midway through, I decided to try on some of the clothes just to see how they looked. I had my mom takes pictures, because obviously the clothes looked fantastic on me...not. Keep in mind, these aren't even clothes from when I was my heaviest.

The proverbial "big-ass pants" shot

The bags I lugged up more stairs than I care to remember

Side "big-ass pants" shot

So. Many. Clothes.

Folded all neatly because that's how I roll

This dress was tight when I wore it to a wedding 3 years ago.

I ironed, and ironed, and ironed some more. And only managed to burn myself one time, which is actually good for me mainly because I always seem to manage to burn myself multiple times when around hot objects. I packaged up the clothes again, and dragged them out to my car. The next day I took them to Clothes Mentor and received a whopping....$20.80 for all my trouble. Seriously. They took a huge basket of clothes and I didn't even get $25 for it. From the leftovers, I took out what I thought might interest a consignment place and drove the rest to donate to a resale shop that gives all their proceeds to the domestic violence shelter. At the point, I was just sick of lugging those clothes everywhere and wanted to be rid of them.

So I didn't get enough money to purchase a new wardrobe (or really even buy a pair of jeans with). I had a fun time at Target anyway trying on size mediums and 8's and not being emotionally traumatized by their insane amount of mirrors in the fitting rooms, as I have in the past (see Shrinks in the dressing room: Something Target should have added along with all the mirrors). I also got to clear out a huge space in my closet, and more importantly, reap the psychological benefits of being rid of those clothes forever. It felt like a clean slate to me. I don't have all those physical reminders of who I used to be just chilling in my closet anymore. Plus, it wouldn't be quite as simple a matter for me to put on weight because I no longer have an range of ascending sizes just waiting for me to wear. I would actually have to buy new clothes if I gained weight. So I call it well worth it to have gone through all that trouble!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back pain is youth leaving the body

I'm less than 2 weeks from the big 30, and I was going along, feeling all good about it. Like 30 doesn't mean I'm old or anything. And then I randomly (and I do mean randomly since I have absolutely no idea what happened) hurt my back while running on Tuesday. I was running along in my own little special iPod world, back fine, not a care in the world (well, maybe a few cares), when WHAM! Sudden lower back pain. Way to make me feel old!  It's not like I suffer from chronic back pain. The only back pain I actually remember ever having was when I was over 300 lbs. That one wasn't really such a mystery; it would actually be more of a mystery if my back didn't hurt after carrying around all that extra weight. Anyway, that pain was promptly alleviated about 50 lbs into my journey.

Anyway, the pain this time wasn't so severe that I wasn't going to finish my run. I mean, duh...I'm pretty hard-core about getting that morning run in. But by the time I was getting ready to go to work, it hurt so much that I was even walking kind of weird. The only thing that helped was squatting and that would have earned me a few weird stares at work. It felt like the longest shift ever. I got home and promptly parked myself on the couch with my heating pad. I alternated between the heating pad and the tub that night and yesterday (which luckily I already had off work). It was really hard for me to make the decision not to work out yesterday. I know that seems silly because it's just one day, but I feel like I have a lot of momentum lately. I hated interrupting that. My body seems to crave movement early in the morning now. It wants to run. But I don't think running would really been physically possible yesterday because just walking was pretty painful since it jarred my back constantly.

So I was a lazy bum yesterday. I did nothing and it felt unnatural. I hoped my back would feel good enough for me to run this morning. And it did! Here's where I really made myself proud. I used to would have just rationalized that I could either do my usual 8 mile run with strength training circuits or I could do nothing at all. There would have been no in between. But today I knew I wasn't up to doing 8 miles. My back didn't  feel that good. And I knew I should lay off the strength training because of all the twisting movements. So I did just 4 miles of straight running at a pretty easy pace. I felt a few twinges in my back, but nothing terrible. And I won't lie; part of me did feel like a slacker. But the bigger part of me knew that I was taking care of myself and doing what was right for my body.

As I approach 30, my body seems to be trying to tell me that I'm not 18 anymore. Is 30 old? No, honestly I don't believe it is. But it is old enough that I need to take some precautions to keep my body working in peak form. I think my main crime in this area is that I don't stretch before or after running. Ever. I know it's bad and all that, but it just comes down to pure laziness. I don't want to take the time to do it. But I need to start. I can't expect my body to cooperate with me on doing over 100 miles of cardio a week if I don't give it proper care before and after. You only get one body. I need to stop taking mine for granted!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mind over matter ain't no joke, son!

I tried to find something to rhyme with "mind over matter" but all I could come up with was something involving a mad hatter, which didn't seem quite right. For any that are offended, I also deeply apologize for my incorrect grammar using the word "ain't" in my title. The words just come to me and I must obey their wishes....haha, that sounded appropriately pretentious and artsy.

Anyway, back on topic. Mind over matter. What the heck does that mean? Is it just some phrase people put on inspirational sports posters or does it actually have meaning? It has a lot of meaning to me, especially these past few weeks when I have been driving myself particularly hard. It's about not giving up even when every cell of your being screams at you that you should just stop already. Chris Powell once wrote to me (name drop alert lol) that my mind will try to get me to stop long before my body actually will give out. That is so true. Yet, your mind tries to continually trick you. It tries to tell you that you really can't handle any more. That it's okay to quit this one time. And even though my quitting that one time will not make a difference really in how much weight I lose, it sets a precedent. A precedent that says it's okay to to flake on a promise you made to yourself.

For the past couple of months, in addition to my regular gym workouts, I have been getting up at 4:30 am to run and do a strength-training circuit. I would say the first example of mind over matter here is actually managing to get up out of bed at that ungodly hour. I do my best to ignore the clock as it is just too painful to see the numbers. And then having to face 8 miles of running? My willpower and persistence is not really in peak form at 4:30 in the morning. I have to rely on a combination of being half awake and knowing that I have never once regretted a morning workout once it was done in order to get me through.

I do a one mile loop around my apartment complex that consists of running short distances between strength training stations. At each station, I alternate between burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, leg raises, lunges, and side leg-raises. Then I run out on the road 3 miles and then run back 3 miles, before completing another strength-training circuit. It's a lot. I'm drenched in sweat and have to physically wring my hair out when I'm done. Even now, after doing this for 2 months, it seems daunting every morning. So I use a lesson I learned at the very beginning of this journey. Don't look at the big picture. It seems almost counter-intuitive, as we are all usually told again and again to look at the big picture. But I know when I started this journey, I couldn't even think about the fact that I needed to lose almost 200 lbs. It was way too overwhelming. I focused on losing 10 lbs, or 5 lbs, or whatever amount of weight seemed manageable to me. And that's exactly what I do on these runs. I don't think about the fact that I need to run 8 miles. I break it up. Some mornings I'm more motivated and can think about 1 mile at a time. Some mornings it's all I can do to focus on passing one streetlight at a time. But it gets done. I very literally accomplish it one step at a time. And if I set my goal at 8 miles, I do 8 miles. I don't do 6 or 7 or even 7.99 miles. I do 8 because that is what I promised myself I would do. I finish what I start every single time. That means something to me because in the past I wouldn't have thought twice about quitting early. I didn't think twice about cheating myself.

Many people think that working out is primarily about the physical. And obviously, that plays a role. But I think the act of pushing your body beyond what you thought it was capable of is a mental game first and foremost. It's all about the mental strength and fortitude. I've seen day after day that my body is capable of running 8 miles. And yet, my mind still tries to tell me that this day is different, that my body just can't do it today. My mind can sometimes simultaneously be both my worst enemy and biggest strength. Because even when part of it tells me that I can't do this, that my body just can't take it, there is another part that tells me I can do this because I've done it before. That I have strength, both physically and mentally, beyond what I ever thought I was capable of.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just call me Pharrell (minus the stupid hat)

I feel like I need to have the Pharrell Williams' song "Happy" as the theme song to this post. You know, if I had accompanying theme songs to my posts. Things could not be better for me right now. It's just amazing to me how loosening up the reins a little both in my head and nutrition and exercise-wise has resulted in a pretty dramatic breaking of my freakishly long plateau. I'm steadily losing weight again (except of course when I had to be on prednisone), but more than that my body is undergoing the most noticeable changes I've seen in about a year now. It's pretty wild! I even had this woman in the gym today come up to me in the locker room and say, "I just want to let you know that I've been coming here 3 months now and seen you here all the time, and you have had a big change. You look really fantastic." And then she wanted to know what I was doing to accomplish it. That just kind of blows my mind to have someone say they noticed a change in me, not from the time I started all of this (which, duh, of course that's a big change), but just from the beginning of this summer. It's nice to know that others can see it and I'm not imagining change where there is none. I've been pushing myself beyond what I thought I could do all summer, both with running and strength training, and is immensely satisfying to see it pay off on both the scale and in the mirror.

Seeing the nutritionist has definitely made a huge difference. Increasing my calories is still kind of an ongoing internal battle for me (even knowing the science behind how metabolism works, my brain just still wants to tell me that the less you eat, the more weight you will lose), but I make myself do what is right for my body. I can't put in the amount of running I have been doing and not properly fuel my body.

But honestly, I think the main thing behind breaking my plateau was me getting out of my own way. The longer I stayed on a plateau, the more it drove me crazy and the more I obsessed over every bite taken and every calorie burned. If I wasn't losing weight, I thought I should cut calories and exercise more. I rationalized that if was going to get to my goal weight, it would take sacrifice. And yes, it's true I do make little sacrifices every day. I sacrifice extra sleep by getting up to run. I pass up cupcakes at work. That's okay. But sacrifice should not be the main byword here. In my desire to "finish" losing weight, I inadvertently forgot that there is no finish. That this can't be about sacrifice because I am on this journey for the rest of my life, and you can't sacrifice for the rest of your life. Life is for living.

I still push myself hard at the gym and on my runs. I've never run farther before and I don't think I've ever sweated as much (seriously, I have to wring my hair out after work-outs). The difference now is that the purpose is not to lose weight. I mean, of course that's great and I obviously I want that to happen. But I work out now because I like to work out (which in itself is a miracle from where I started). I like to get up before the sun and see it rise. I like to get into the zone with nothing but the quiet of the early morning and my feet hitting the pavement (well, and of course my iPod). I like to smash personal records at the gym. I am even starting to find a certain satisfaction in strength training.

I also think some part of my plateau was due to some unconscious part of my brain not being quite ready to take those final steps towards maintenance (yes, we're getting all deep and psychological here). On the outside, I was doing everything I could to lose the weight, but on the inside, I think I knew that a little part of me was scared to death of hitting my goal weight. Sounds kind of crazy, but after all, I have no experience with being anywhere near my goal weight before now. Me, be a normal weight and not have to try week after week to lose weight? That's totally outside of my comfort zone. So I think the plateau was kind of my brain's way of telling me I needed to take a step back and be truly mentally ready. From what I've heard, maintenance has its own challenges and I am going to need to work through them just like I worked through the challenges of losing weight. I am ready to do this now, and I think my brain and body both know that. It's an adventure that I will welcome. I hope to lose this last 20 or so pounds by the end of this year, and welcome 2015 and most of my 30th year ready to tackle this next phase of my life. And ready to rock it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why you gotta be so rude?

Ah, a title tribute to that dang song I can't get out of my head. But besides that, it is also an appropriate title. I got my first (and hopefully last) mean message on OkCupid. Now, this site has been going much better for me than eHarmony as a whole. I'm talking to a few guys and they've been very complimentary. And look, I know you have to love yourself first and all that jazz, I really do, but show me a woman whose self-confidence is not  helped out by a man telling her she's beautiful. She doesn't exist. So anyway, I was feeling pretty good. Fast forward to me messaging this guy who likes to work out a lot. Obviously, I do too. I get a reply back saying, "You're fat. Don't talk to me." So basically kind of like the fears inside my head coming true. A year ago, honestly maybe even a few months ago, this would have totally devastated me. I've always been super sensitive to criticism. I had no self-esteem, so I just basically believed any bad stuff said about me, true or not. I would have accepted what that jerk said as fact, and it probably would have been a very long time before I ever went on OkCupid or any dating site again. I would have completely obsessed over it.

But I'm very proud to say that I am not that girl anymore. Did that comment sting? Yes, it did. I'm human. It hurt, and the particular area of weight will probably always be a sore spot with me. No one wants to have lost 170 lbs and still be told they're fat. But then (maybe because I'm a cornball or maybe just because it seemed like the right thing to do), I looked at myself in the mirror, and said out loud, "You are not fat. You are normal. That guy doesn't know jack shit. Just because he may believe that anybody bigger than a size 2 is fat doesn't mean that you have to buy into it." And you know what? I actually believed it. Like really believed it. After all, was I really going to let one insignificant, sad man-child (because really, that comment was more appropriate from a mean 10-year-old, not a 34-year-old) influence my beliefs about myself more than the many people who have told me that I look great, that I am beautiful? Or more than the guys I'm talking with that have no problem at all with how I look? No way in hell. I'm happy to say that his comment made me pissed off more than anything, much more so than it hurt me. I personally think it's a sign of growth.

So my first thought was that I should just ignore his message because he wasn't worth anything more. But then I changed my mind. I used to let myself be a doormat all the time. I let people treat me however they wanted, even if it was terribly, mainly because I thought that I didn't deserve better. I wanted to stand up for myself this time, and let him know what I thought of him. I knew that most likely it wouldn't matter to him, but this was more for me than him. So I sent him back the following message: "Actually, I'm not fat. But even if that were true, I can always change my weight, while you, however, are stuck being an asshole forever." And then I blocked him. Let me tell you, it felt good. Really good. So while this experience could have been profoundly negative, it had actually been mostly positive. Because when I think about it, my first thought is that I really have changed emotionally. Any doubts I may have about my weight are actually pretty far down the list there. And I have that poor excuse for a human being to thank for it.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Size 8 and feeling great: A title that seems surreal to write

So it's been kind of a rough summer for me health-wise. Two kidney stones earlier in the summer, and last week I wound up in the hospital with a pretty severe asthma attack. Four whole days of IV steroids, breathing treatments, and oxygen. It was super fun...not. I was kind of terrified that with the IV steroids and the week of oral steroids that followed, I would put on weight. I mean, obviously I know treating my asthma is much more important than weight, but I've just worked too hard to see my progress derailed by medication. I have pictures in the past where I can tell exactly when I was on prednisone because my face was blown up like a balloon. Luckily, my fears were for nothing. I lost weight this past week even with the steroids and my work-outs not being 100% quite yet. Yay!

Moving on...I decided the time had come for new jeans. I had put this off for a while because I was in a size 10, and I wanted to be pretty sure I could fit in the next size down before I tried jeans on. Because the next size down is a size 8. Size 8. That is just insane to me. I have never, ever been that size before and it would be a major milestone, so the last thing I wanted was to try a size 8 on and have them not fit. However, my size 10's were starting to look like maybe I was trying to imitate Justin Beiber. They were hanging pretty low. It just goes to show that sometimes you don't necessarily have to drop weight to lose inches. I've maybe only lost about 4 lbs since my size 10's fit well, but I've lost 4 inches around my waist. I know that the strength training I started has made all the difference. In the past month or so, I can actually start to see noticeable differences in my body for the first time in what feels like a very long time.

I go in Old Navy yesterday and head for the skinny jeans. Yes, the skinny jeans. I don't know why, but I just got it in my head that I wanted skinny jeans, even though I would be more likely to fit in a size 8 wearing a looser cut jean. I grabbed a size 8 with some trepidation. They looked small. Really small. No way was I that small. So then I grabbed a size 10 and added on a size 12, because they were skinny jeans and who knew what size I would be? I have a bad habit of trying on stuff that is way too big because I still don't seem to have a accurate perception of what size I actually am. I tried on the 10's just so I could know that at least something fit. Hmmm, they were...loose, even without having worn them for awhile and getting them stretched out. I picked up the size 8's and put them on. They slid all the way up my legs, over my hips, and buttoned around my waist without me even having to suck in. I looked in the mirror, and I saw someone normal. Somebody with a shape, not just a gigantic blob. I stood there in those size 8's and grinned like a crazy person. But I also had some tears rolling down my face (also maybe like a crazy person, because who cries about jeans?) Because they weren't just jeans to me. I have vivid memories of standing in that same dressing room struggling to button size 20's, the largest size they carry in Old Navy stores. I even laid on the floor trying to get them to zip. Eventually, I had to accept that they just didn't fit. I had to order jeans online. Back then, when I eventually ended up a size 26, I  would have killed just to fit in a size that didn't start with a 2. Fitting in a single digit size seemed about as likely as me landing on the moon. That's why it is just so incredible to me that I fit in those size 8 jeans. That's a normal size. A size right in the middle of the jean stack. Until recently, I've had to dig down to the bottom of the jean sizes my entire life.

I get that a size isn't everything. I get that it varies among companies, and that you could drive yourself crazy obsessing over that one single number. But sometimes, just for a little while, a size does get to be important. Especially when it's a size you never actually really thought you would fit into. I mean, it's not like I was a size 4 or something when I was a teenager and already knew what it felt like to be this size. I have never ever been this size. It makes all those 4:30 morning runs and little sacrifices I make every single day seem all the more worth it. Let me tell you, it feels pretty damn fabulous. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dem bones

Okay, this is pretty random, but I know most people who have lost a lot of weight will totally get the importance of this post. Collarbones...they're like a status symbol or a weird milestone of losing weight. I have come to the conclusion that the appearance of collarbones must be at least somewhat genetic in nature. I formed this highly scientific hypothesis from observations of many people who have lost weight and also from reality weight loss shows, so you know this is definitely a totally legit opinion. But seriously, people seem to have their collarbones finally come out of hiding at an extremely wide range of weights. Last week on Extreme Weight Loss, this girl started to see her collarbones when she was like 280 lbs! And yet mine stubbornly refused to come out of hibernation even being just a tad over 160 lbs. I have been able to feel them for a while, say since around 220 lbs. And yet in picture after picture, those bones were MIA. There's just something about having visible collarbones that makes you feel thinner. Yes, I know it's vain and stupid, but everyone is allowed their little quirks.

But I had my monthly progress pictures taken the other day and I was comparing them to the past couple of months. Month to month differences are way more subtle than they were in the beginning, but I still am able to see some. Then to my utter astonishment, I saw the sudden appearance of collarbones! They showed a little last month, and then this month they are way more prominent. Here are the last 3 months:

I do not know what has caused the sudden miracle of collarbones. I mean, I have broken through my plateau in the past couple months, but I haven't lost some crazy amount of weight or anything (other than when I was sick, and that I promptly gained back as soon as I could eat and drink again). Maybe it's the increase in strength training? I just know it's nice to be able to see a visible change again. And it's nice to have collarbones without having to get in some weird contortionist position to make them pop out. They're just there, chillin'.

So yeah, really random post, but just thought I would share.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I guess I heard that dang "Frozen" song so much that I finally took its advice

This is not a post I could have written 2 years ago. Actually, it would be helpful if you read the scale obsession post I actually wrote two years ago called Holding my scale hostage under the bathroom sink (seriously, I do enjoy coming up with these titles every week). This isn't even really a post I could have written 6 months ago. Because this post is all about how the number on the scale is mattering less and less to me. I let it go (hence the "Frozen" reference in the title). I am a recovering scale junkie. I used to weigh myself at least once every day. I would usually weigh myself at least 3 times in a row to make sure I had an accurate reading. I would ABSOLUTELY, no exceptions, only weigh myself naked in the morning before I ate or drank anything and after peeing. It was a whole crazy routine. Like if I had had a glass of water during the night like 4 or 5 hours before, I couldn't weigh that morning because I felt like it wouldn't be accurate. If I happened to be at the doctor and get weighed with clothes AND shoes on (gasp!), I would literally close my eyes so I wouldn't see the number because I knew it would freak me out. I lived and died by the scale. Yes, I kept track of other accomplishments, but the truth was that I only felt good if the scale was moving down.

Eventually, my obsession with the scale grew to annoy me. I started keeping the scale under the sink so I wouldn't feel as tempted to weigh. Yet, it still called to me like the evil temptress it was. It was hard for me to cut back to even just weighing twice a week. I made myself take a two week scale vacation, which kind of backfired because it made me focus more on what I weighed than ever due to anxiety since I couldn't weigh myself. I knew my obsession wasn't healthy, and that as I got closer to my goal weight, it was becoming more important than ever not to let the number on the scale define me, since it wouldn't always be less than the week before.

I couldn't tell you exactly when, but sometime in the past few months, the all-important scale has started taking the backseat in what matters to me. Do I still weigh every week? Yes, I do because it is important to track how I'm doing. After all, I can't afford to backtrack and avoid the scale like I did at my heaviest, so that one month I was 260 lbs and then the next time I stepped on the scale I was 328 lbs. That's not good either obviously. But I don't obsess over weighing now. I don't have a whole crazy routine. I don't feel a compulsion to weigh every day. Once a week is fine for me. It really became clear to me how much I had changed at the nutritionist's office the other week. She wanted to weigh me to see how much I had lost since I had last been there. That would have sent me into a frenzy before. Weighing in the middle of the day after lunch, with clothes and shoes on?!? Absolutely not! But it honestly didn't freak me out now.

Until recently, I had been on what seemed like the longest weight loss plateau known to man. I know now that part of that was due to not eating enough calories. But I also kind of believe that part of it was due to how much thought and worry I put into what the number on the scale would be. It could make or break my whole week. Some people say that it is only when you accept what is and let worry go that things will change. I believe that that is what happened here. I didn't suddenly decide I just didn't care about losing weight anymore; I just decided that what I weighed didn't deserve such an important place in my thoughts. I thought to myself, "Am I healthy? Am I fit? Am I happy?" I answered yes to these things, and began to truly believe that if I focused on living a healthy and active life as a whole, my weight loss would eventually follow of its own accord. It's like when you stop obsessing about forcing certain things to happen, they just happen on their own, naturally. I have been proven right so far. I haven't been losing massive amounts of weight, but I have been steadily losing, aside from the whole kidney stone/vomiting/starvation/dehydration/resultant lowered metabolism thing. And that metabolism seems like it's finally making a rebound thankfully.

So yeah, I feel pretty proud of myself for conquering this crazy scale obsession. I mean, I'm not going to completely forget all about numbers and start saying I'm a "size fabulous" like I'm in a Special K commercial or something, but I'm letting the numbers occupy a much lesser (that sounds weird, but is apparently grammatically correct) percentage of my thoughts and time. Yup, that's just how I roll, mental breakthroughs busting out of me every day...hahaha.

****ADDENDUM****So I wrote this blog post Tuesday night and then went to bed. I always read from my day by day thought book before bed and was surprised to see that the entry for that day was called "Making It Happen." It was like it was tailor-made to go with this blog post...weird! Here's a little excerpt; you'll see what I mean:

Stop trying so hard to make it happen. Stop doing so much, if doing so much is wearing you out or not achieving the desired results. Stop thinking so much and so hard about it. Stop worrying about it. 

Making things happen is controlling. We can take positive action to help things happen. You can do your part, but do your part in relaxed, peaceful harmony. Then let it go. Just let it go. Force yourself to let it go if necessary. 

Seriously, too weird.