Thursday, July 23, 2015

The only people who love curly hair are the people who don't have it

A haircut is probably not a big deal to lots of people. But for me, as my boyfriend Brian put it, getting my hair cut was an "event." I've had pretty long hair for most of my life, but every now and then I get sick of dealing with all that hair. Because I have an crazy amount of curly, thick hair. So much that I will never have to worry about going bald. My hair can be an unmanageable, frizzy monstrosity, but it can also be gorgeous when I take the time to deal with it. My hair has been my security blanket because even when I felt my most fat and ugly, I knew that I had great hair. It felt like could cover up all the ugliness with that one thing.

The last time I cut my hair was when I was right in the middle of dealing with hard times in my life primarily by devouring every pizza in America and gaining 80 lbs in a year. I cut it kind of as an act of desperation. I hated how I looked in the mirror more and more every day. Losing weight didn't seem possible because I couldn't give up the comfort food, but I could change my hair. So I dyed it dark and cut it pretty short. It wasn't flattering, but at least it was different. And I badly needed different. Here is that haircut:

This time when I decided I wanted to get my hair cut, it wasn't because I didn't like what I saw in the mirror. It was because I decided I didn't need my hair as a security blanket anymore. Well, also because it is approximately 10 million degrees outside and I was sick of dealing with that sweaty, frizzy mess. And also because my hair is so thick that it literally took 7 hours to air dry. And maybe also because while my hair does look great when I take the time to style it and wear it down, during April-October it is also so humid that it only looks good for about 15 minutes before it morphs into a gigantic afro, and I resort back to my ever-present side braid or ponytail. Okay, so I guess there's a lot of reasons I wanted my hair cut. I wish I could show you the horror that my hair can be after air drying in all that humidity, but I have wisely never allowed myself to photographed in that state (that I know of). So here is a different before/after shot than the ones I usually post here:

My hair looked this good for maybe 10 minutes after this shot was taken.

New do

My hair feels awesome and light now, and most importantly, I can still put it back in a ponytail for the gym (seriously, the woman at the salon probably thought I was a gym obsessed freak because I emphasized this point like a thousand times). I can wear it curly or straight or somewhere in between. I've got a lot of changes in my life coming up in the next few months, and even though it may seem silly, a new haircut helps me feel like a new person and like I can handle everything coming up (without shoving pizza in my mouth at an alarming rate). 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Back to the basics (and the foam crown man)

I came across a quote this week that has really stuck with me: Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods. As of late, I have not been super flexible. Yes, I did give up the scale for 3 weeks and saw that I did not magically gain 10 lbs, and in fact, lost a little bit. But I keep doggedly running day after day, despite my lack of progress on the scale. Mainly, this is because I really love to run. And that's cool. I can still run. My problem is that I usually do nothing else. That has to change. I seem to have forgotten that it's not necessarily how long or for how many miles you work out, it's what you're doing to work out. Not exercising longer, but exercising smarter. I was about to wear out my body the way I just kept adding mile after mile to my running regimen.  I lost a lot of weight last year when I combined running with the elliptical, and also did strength training at the gym. So I am giving that another try. I am also trying to eat more protein and less carbohydrates. Not really carb cycling per say, but more like being more mindful about the amount of protein and carbs, since that is not usually something I track.

I haven't been the gym since I think about October of last year. I've been running outside (or when the weather was too cold in the winter, riding my bike inside) exclusively. It felt strange yesterday to go back to a place that once felt like my second home. I devoted numerous blog posts to this place, such as Foam crowns, free weights, and a flasher: Alliteration at its very bestSweat, decapitation, and Tigger: All in a day's work at the gym, and the ever popular Up in da gym, workin' on my fitness. It was odd at first because I had some feelings similar to those I had when I first went to the gym at over 300 lbs. Like are the employees going to recognize me (because I was seriously there every single day, usually twice a day) and judge me because I haven't been in so long? Are they going to assume I've fallen off the wagon and gained weight (even though I'm pretty much exactly the same weight as I was in October)? It didn't help that when I went in and gave them my member number, the girl gave me a weird look and was like, "We use barcodes now."

But then there were some very different feelings even from the last time I went to the gym, being at a relatively normal weight. Back then, I still felt like I didn't belong sometimes. I still felt like the fat girl. I didn't feel like that way today. Even being away for about 9 months, I felt like I belonged there. I felt normal. It was nice to see the old regulars there, even the odd ones like the guy who wears a helmet with a foam crown on his head. I even remembered that last summer I refused to wear tank tops and tight running pants to the gym. I opted for baggy shirts and yoga pants every day.  I wore one of my running tank tops and pants today without a second thought. So I guess I have made some mental progress even since last October.

The elliptical kicked my butt. Anyone who thinks that the elliptical is just something you do if you can't hack the treadmill obviously has not been on the ellipical for any length of time. It just apparently works different muscles than running because I was soaked with sweat after an hour. I was glad to see that though. As far as strength training goes, the plan right now is for my boyfriend Brian to sign up at the gym tomorrow so we can start doing that together. Because while I may have pretty awesome self-motivation skills as far as cardio goes, I can't say the same for the strength training. I think being accountable to someone else will help that.

I'm pretty excited about these changes. They're not super big changes, but I have always believed that small changes are best because you can stick with them. Hopefully I will see some significant weight loss by the time I turn the big 31 in mid September.