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!