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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A cardio queen converts

Okay, first a little update to my "poor me" blog from last week. Seriously, as soon as I finished writing that blog and had really committed to making things happen for myself, I started talking to 3 guys on eHarmony. Weird, but you know some people say that coincidence is God winking at you. So I'm feeling much better!

Last week my gym was closed for a couple of days due to getting new cardio equipment. This kind of left me in a pickle (I love that saying) because I already run before dawn, and I didn't really want to just add more running. The truth is that I really need to get more strength training into my routine. I am an absolute cardio addict. The thing is, at the gym I'm often pressed for time so I tend to just automatically head to the cardio machines for the greater calorie burn. And yes, I do know all the stuff about how strength training gives you a longer calorie burn, but old habits die hard. So I tried to use my apartment gym, but it just wasn't happening for me. I literally went for like 10 seconds on the elliptical and just couldn't deal with how crappy it was. So that left this fitness trail at my apartment. It consists of 10 "fitness stations" that go around a 1 mile circle throughout my apartment complex. I have lived here for 7 years, run by all the fitness stations every day for the past year or so, and never tried it out. Unfortunately, many of the stations turned out to consist of elaborate stretches, which wasn't really doing it for me, so I modified many of the stations. After that first day, I was drenched in sweat and totally hooked. I haven't done an entertaining minute-by-minute recap of my thoughts during a workout for a while, so here's my workout for Sunday (a.k.a. the day I really should have worked out earlier because it was insanely hot):

1130: Walk outside and am immediately slammed in the face by crazy humidity and heat. Hey, at least I'll get an even better tan. Although not my legs...they will just stay white like always :(

1131: Walk up to the first station and see that it's a stupid stretch. Lay down and do 3 sets of 15 sit-ups. Also am vaguely aware that I am right by the pond with alligator in it and hope that he is sleeping. Am much more aware that my butt is facing the street and hope that no one drives by.

1136: Run to the station 2. Take a wrong turn somehow and end up circling another pond. Oh well, more calories burned. More stretches! How many can you possibly need to do?!? I do 3 sets of 15 side leg raises on each side instead. Reflect on the fact that I am giving the apartment in front of me quite a show.

1141: Run to station 3. Jumping jacks. No problem.

1145: Station 4. More stretches, so I guess it will be burpees instead. Why am I purposely putting myself through this torture?!? I hate burpees. They are the devil in exercise form.

1150: Station 5. Stretches again, so I do this weird ab exercise from the gym that reminds of me a crab for some reason. Feel something bite my arm (days later, I see that it was a fire ant. Guess I got lucky not to get more bites!)

1154: Run to station 6. Unknowingly splash through puddle hidden in grass. Am momentarily distracted by mud on my pretty shoes, but then move on. This one is actually for sit-ups and there is a narrow wooden bench to do them on. As soon as I start on that bench, I lament my newfound lack of padding in my posterior. My tailbone is taking a beating...ouch!

1200: Run through a pretty wooded area to station 7. Blessed shade! poor arms. For some reason, they got all fancy and instead of just doing push-ups on the ground like normal, they added a metal bar to hold low to the ground. Metal bar touching hands+hot day=problem. Although on the plus side, I did unintentionally add a level of difficulty to the push-ups by only holding on the bar with the tips of my fingers because it was so hot.

1205: Run to station 8. Pull-ups...haha, yeah right. Pull-ups were always my downfall in the Presidential Fitness Test in elementary school. Modified pull-up, okay I'll give it a try. I'm supposed to leap and hold myself above the bar for 15 seconds. Or in my case, leap and hold myself above the bar for less than a second. Fail. Okay, they have another modified reverse pull-up for weenies like me. Hold the bar underhanded and lean as far back as possible, then pull yourself up to the bar. Got to work on that arm strength!

1209: Run to station 9, the balance beam. Going forward is no problem, but then I'm supposed to go backwards. That would again not pose much of a challenge if it was straight, but the beam is shaped like a Z. It's tricky.

1206: Run to the last station...more stretches. I do leg raises instead.

1211: Like I could give up cardio completely. Time for a 3 mile run!

1225:'m...gonna...hurl. I am not used to running this late in the day. The heat is killing me.

1240: Start fantasizing about water. Almost home.

1247: Home! Well, slower than normal, but I had done a full workout right before. Guzzle 20 million gallons of water.

I've kept up this workout (albeit earlier in the day) and it's really broken me out of my fitness rut. Plus, I don't feel guilty because I'm getting strength training AND cardio in...a win-win!

Friday, July 11, 2014

I guess my Prince Charming got stuck in a traffic jam

Yes, it's time for another update concerning my eternal singleness (singletude? I'm not sure of the correct word here). It's been on my mind all week anyway and sometimes the words just have to come out. It's scary to be vulnerable sharing some of the not-so-flattering or embarrassing stuff, but I think it's important to be real. Life doesn't magically become perfect when you lose weight, and my dating life is a prime example of that.

I've written before about how, even though I knew it wasn't realistic, part of me did expect things to be perfect or at least pretty close after I lost the weight. When you've been overweight your whole life, it just becomes natural to equate being happy and having everything work out right with being skinny (or at least pretty normal-sized). The ideal story would go something like this: girl loses half her body weight and magically comes through that with no loose skin or stretch marks, pens a best-selling book about her journey, joins eHarmony, has men immediately recognize her impressive wit, intelligence, and beauty and fall all over themselves wanting to date her, falls in love with one of aforesaid men, marries him, and rides off into the sunset on a white horse (horse being optional here; I mean, I'm not picky). Apparently my fantasy is disturbingly similar to a 10-year-old girl's (minus the weight loss and best-selling book).

I don't know who the girl in the above paragraph is, but I just know she's not me. I would like to meet her and get some advice though (and also ask why she rides on a horse as a means of transportation)! Seriously though, I'm not as unrealistic as the above paragraph is, but I definitely did have some expectations concerning my love life when I lost weight and joined eHarmony that have not been met. My one year membership is up next month and during that time, I have had exactly 1 date. And yes, that does make me feel like a loser and a freak. And yes, my first thought is that it's because of my weight, that it's because I'm not a size 2. It's like my automatic thought whenever I feel rejected. It's really kind of interesting because I may see of a picture of how I look now and think that I look normal, but in the way I relate to the world and the way I see myself in the mirror many days, I look more like this:

As you can see, I see myself as a good 75 lbs heavier than I actually am. When I shop for clothes, I even start out shopping for that bigger size because I will think my actual size is too small and couldn't possibly fit me. I see all the really sweet and positive comments on things like my 2 year pictures last week, and I just wish I could see myself the way other people do. I'm working on this though.

But what's even worse is maybe if my rejections are not related to my weight. The little thought worms its way into my mind that I am not only undatable, but also just generally unlovable. That there is just something fundamentally wrong with me that makes me unworthy of the opposite sex's attention, something wrong with me that I can't change or fix. That I am destined to become the crazy cat lady spinster (I mean, I do have 2 cats now, and everyone knows 3 cats is crazy cat lady territory). Those are the dark thoughts that enter my head at night before I go to sleep sometimes. The truth is that the world pairs off two by two, and some people get left out. A little desperate part of me that I kind of despise wants to be like Meredith Grey from Grey's Anatomy and scream, "Pick me! Choose me! Love me!" That little part of me wonders why I don't get to fall in love and have someone fall in love with me when it seems like everyone else on the planet seems to be able to have that happen for them. And I don't want to be that girl. She evokes pity, and pity is something I do not want people to have for me. Because truthfully, for the most part, I am okay being alone. Despite how it may appear in this post, it's not like I spend my days despairing over my lack of a boyfriend and crying in my bed or something. I am not one of those needy girls who has to have a boyfriend at all times (let's face it, I would be pretty screwed if that were the case). It's just every now and then, like this week, that I find myself having these dark and self-pitying thoughts. And even though I know it is so very much a cliche, part of it probably stems from the fact that I am turning 30 in two months.

But with the dark and cruel voice in the back of my head also comes the voice of reason (thank goodness for that!). The one that tells me that I am very much worthy of being loved. That just because it hasn't happened for me yet doesn't mean it won't. If I'm I'm honest and objective (which it can be hard to be about yourself), I know that part of my problem is that I haven't really put myself out there. Yes, I did join eHarmony, but in real life I don't place myself in situations where I can meet anyone really. I spent a long time trying to be invisible when I was heavy. Obviously, invisibility is the far better choice than risking having somebody make fun of you. That mindset doesn't magically go away when you lose weight. It's still somewhat of a foreign concept to me to try to get a guy to notice me or to put myself in situations where I would be noticed. And when I do attract attention, my automatic reaction is that it must be negative attention. A prime example would be a couple weeks ago when I was out for a run. Some guys in a car whistled at me, and my first thought was that they were making fun of me, the fat girl trying to run. I did redeem myself somewhat since my next thought was the rational one, that they thought I looked good, so I did smile at them like a normal person.

So I'm really trying to make more of an effort. I can't expect Prince Charming just to knock on my door one day (although if some guy in a crown did knock on my door, I would probably just be like "What the hell?!?). Scary though it may be, I have got to put myself out there. I need to make things happen for myself instead of just waiting for them to happen. And I think that to some extent, I just need to fake it till I make it as far as confidence goes. I know the whole thing about how confidence comes from within, but I think it would be really helpful to my confidence level if I could feel like even one guy found me attractive. But hey, act confident and maybe I will eventually feel confident.

This is life after losing weight. It's not all inspirational before and after pictures. Not all sunshine and roses. It can be painful and scary getting out of your comfort zone. But is it better than hiding away from the world and becoming a prisoner in my own body? Without a doubt.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Year 2: I bring the party!

Full disclosure: there is no party. I mean, what would one eat at a party celebrating weight loss? Carrot sticks and celery? With scales hanging as decoration?

All right guys, I had to deal with another kidney stone and a kidney infection, so this particular post had to wait a bit. But my traitorous kidney has recovered and I am finally well enough to acknowledge my 2 year anniversary of when I started losing weight and changing my life. I mean, I guess I could have taken pictures while I was sick, but I don't know how inspirational me sitting on a hospital gurney with an IV in my arm would be, even if I have lost a lot of weight. But I'm all back to normal now!

Year two has been quite different from year one. After year one, I could say I had lost a huge amount of both pounds and inches. Year two? I can't really say the same thing. Honestly, sometimes that upsets me. But then I got to thinking. I started the year with around 37 lbs left to lose. I have lost 16 of those pounds, with only 21 lbs left to go. I weigh 161 lbs, which is a weight I haven't seen since the last millennium (that sounds more impressive than it actually is lol), around 7th grade or so. I've also lost 22.7 inches this year. Grand total for both years, I've lost 167 lbs and 164 inches. I've lost more than half my highest weight of 328 lbs. That's not too shabby if I do say so myself. Year one and year two have been two totally different beasts to tackle. I'm not going to say that year one was easy. There's nothing easy about losing 150 lbs in a year. What I will say is that year two required a different kind of strength. Year two has been all about me getting used to not having huge amounts of weight loss to motivate me. I had to keep going even when the scale said I lost only 0.2 lbs that week or even when I trained hard and ate right and would inexplicably gain weight for whatever reason. It's hard to do some days, but when it comes down to it, that's what is preparing me for the rest of my life as I close in on my maintenance weight.

But while we're talking about numbers, let's talk abut something other than weight. I just recalculated my body fat percentage, and I was pretty psyched to see that it's now at 23.6%. That's not just average, that's in the fit category!! When I first saw that, that negative voice in the back of my head couldn't help but think that that couldn't be right, that I could never fall into the fit category. But you know what? I know that is right. I work out almost every single day of my life, and there's absolutely no reason I shouldn't fall into that category after all that hard work. Other important numbers this year? Absolutely stellar blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. A waist size that is well below the all important 35 inches, when I still have vivid memories of not being able to wrap a 60 inch tape measure all the way around my waist. Running times that are getting faster and faster when it wasn't that long ago when I couldn't run for 30 seconds without feeling like I was going to die.

I've also done a lot of things this year that I never would have tried, or actually even couldn't have physically done when I was over 300 lbs. I tried surfing for the first time and actually stood up (albeit with my hands over my head like a weirdo). I went on a ropes course without having to worry about the weight requirement. I joined a soccer team even though I hadn't touched a soccer ball in over 10 years. And I went kayaking without having to worry if I would sink the boat.

I also thought it might be cool to show some of my progress pictures. I take them every month, but in the interests of not making this the longest blog entry known to man (as if it isn't long enough!), I'll just show a picture of about every 3 months.

The Beginning, June 2012:

Month 3, September 2012:

Month 6, December 2012:

Month 9, March 2013:

Month 12, June 2013:

Month 15, September 2013:

Month 18, December 2013:

Month 21, March 2014:

Month 24, June 2014:

Wow, it's a shame I don't have any other workout clothes to take a picture in. Haha, just kidding. Looking through these, I'm glad I can actually see a difference between this time last year and right now, besides a better tan of course. It may not be a huge difference like in the beginning, but it's still there!

And now, just like last year's anniversary entry, I have taken quite a long time to get to the main event. And also like last year, to that I will say, it's my party. I'll do whatever I want! Anyway, today I went out to a local park and had my 2 year pictures taken by my mom, who has been my photographer throughout all of this and has done an amazing job, both with her photography and putting up with my OCD photo requests. Luckily, there were not many other people at the park. I got a few weird looks from the ones who were there, probably because it's not every day you see a random girl getting her picture taken while holding a picture of herself. It looked pretty narcissistic I guess, if you didn't know the reason behind it.

This may be hard to understand if you've never been heavy or lost weight and had to deal with loose skin, but I was very proud of myself for wearing a strapless dress for my pictures today and showing my arms. When you lose almost 170 lbs, there is no way you are not going to have some loose skin to deal with, no matter how much you strength train. I'm still coming to terms with mine, and showing my arms is a major milestone for me. I struggle every day to accept that skin as part of my journey (duh, you know I had to insert the word "journey" in here eventually). It's part of me and where I've been. I'm not ashamed anymore of who I used to be, and I'm through being ashamed of some of the after effects of that, like loose skin. I know my arms aren't my best feature, but they're also not so bad I should feel like I need to hide them all the time. I've still got the whole legs/wearing shorts thing to deal with, but one step at a time. Anyway, without further ado (what is ado anyway?), here are the best of my 2 year pictures:

I was pretty thrilled with how these turned out. Sometimes it's still a shock to me to see a picture of how I look now. It's like a part of me still expects to see someone morbidly obese in the picture, and it comes as a surprise to see someone that, if I'm objective, looks normal. Even better, I can look at these pictures and actually think that I look pretty. Self-confidence like that is a new thing for me. 

So what does year 3 hold in store for me? A dozen donuts, of course! Well, not quite. I have much more confidence heading into this year than I had last year. I have never been able to maintain a weight loss even close to this long before. It makes me feel better to realize that even just maintaining my weight after losing such a huge amount, much less losing some more like I did, is a victory in itself. The sad truth is that many people do fail at the maintenance portion that comes after losing weight, especially if they have gone on some extreme diet in order to lose the weight. But I feel confident that this is how I live my life now, not just some passing phase. I expect to meet my goal weight this year, but I know that that is just a small piece of my journey. I hope to keep gaining confidence in myself and keep challenging myself to try new things. 

I've been thinking about this blog entry for days, and of course with that came thoughts about what I have and have not accomplished this year. As readers of my blog will know from previous entries, I can be quite hard on myself at times. I thought it was quite apropos (yes, I use fancy words sometimes!) that I came across this just yesterday in a daily meditation book I read every night:

Take time to celebrate. Celebrate your successes, your growth, your accomplishments. Celebrate you and who you are. For too long you have been too hard on yourself. You are a child of God. Beautiful, a delight, a joy. You do not have to try harder, be better, be perfect, or be anything you are not. Your beauty is in you, just as you are each moment. Celebrate that. 

Quite a coincidence to read that just when I needed it most. I do need to take a moment to celebrate all that I have accomplished. Am I perfect? Far from it. Could I have done better or tried harder some days? Without a doubt. But that does not take away from that fact that I have accomplished something really wonderful. I have changed my entire self, body, mind, and spirit. That's not something that happens just every day. 

I hope all of you will keep reading as I head into year 3! Your comments and support mean the world to me and really help keep me going.