Friday, June 18, 2010

The Makeover: Photo Edition

The "Before" Shot

June 18, 2009 -- Facing Three Bills -- 296.4 pounds

The "After" Shot
(Though the journey continues . . .)
June 18, 2010: 193.4 pounds -- 103 pounds gone in one year!

New body, new hair, new dress, new shoes.
Every girl needs a RED dress and a pair of killer spiked heels!

The Happy Dance . . .

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Makeover

So, it's been too long, Blogworld.

Since March, to be exact. Does this make me a slacking blogger or a blogging slacker? Slogger or blacker? Pfft . . .

Well, I'm back now. With good news.

Today, I get a makeover. I've needed a makeover since sperm met egg back in 1974, and today, I'm finally getting one. Okay, so what most people call a haircut, color, wax and bra shopping, I'm ambitiously labelling a "makeover" but this is my blog, so I get to define the terms.

As I pulled into the driveway after a five am workout this morning, the term "makeover" was lolling around in my addled brain.

What exactly IS a "makeover" anyway?

When I see them on TV, they're packaged in neat little 30 minute episodes, with appropriate time allocated for commercial interruption, product placement, and promotion of future episodes. They can involve anything from a simple cut and color to a complete surgical overhaul, but they're always done in a half hour. Heck, even a "home makeover" from wrecking ball to welcome mat only takes an hour.

If only it was that easy . . .

What strikes me about the "makeover" I have scheduled for today, is that it's really more of a moment of pause for recognition -- celebration, maybe -- than a start-to-finish project.

The real makeover began over a year ago. And I'm not just talking about my body.

Perhaps you presumed by now -- or read, ad nauseum, on any of the other social networks I've used to hold myself accountable -- that I made the 100 pound goal in less than a year. Nine days less, to be exact. Last Wednesday, I woke up at 4:15 am to get ready for a 5 am kickboxing class. I weighed, as I do each morning. 196.8. Just .4 from the goal.

When I got to kickboxing, I asked the coach to kick our butts. "I need to sweat off this last .4," I said.

"You're not supposed to be weighing yourself," she replied, "but since you asked for it . . . "

(Note to self: NEVER ASK A KICKBOXING COACH FOR AN ASS-KICKING! I suppose this little piece of wisdom might be obvious to some, but I've been slower than most for a LOOOONG time.)

So, she did as I asked. And, after mopping my lifeless body off the gym floor, I raced home, stripped down, and there it was . . .


I stepped on the scale again.


I blinked. Held my breath. Got a tiny mist in the corner of each eye. And weighed again.


"Three times must mean it's real, " I said to my just-awakened husband, congratulating myself for remaining so calm and cerebral at the "official" moment I reached this goal.

Then I just walked to the bed. Sat down on the edge. And the floods began . . .

"What the hell?" my husband asked. "Why are you crying?"

(Men just don't get it sometimes, do they?)

"I don't know," I admitted.

And I really didn't know. Sure, there were tears of joy. I really was happy to have reached my one year goal nine days early. But there was more to it than that. I sat there, trying to remember the last time I had accomplished a single weight or body related goal I had set for myself.

Not a single one came to mind.

Sure, I've lost weight before. Ten, twenty, thirty . . . sixty pounds, even. But something always derailed the plan. Pregnancy. Laziness. Stress. Boredom. Sadness. Whether a major life event or just a poor excuse, I always seemed to let something throw me off, and the weight piled back on again. And usually . . . no, ALWAYS, it brought friends.

Which, of course, begged the question, "Now what?"

"Where do I go from here?" I thought. And honestly, I wasn't sure.

I thought back over the last year.

I beat the treadmill demons.

I walked about a million miles.

I learned to eat for fuel and nutrition, not love or hate or anger or boredom.

I jogged. A lot.

I ran a 5K and a 4 mile race without dying.

I conquered cake. (Well, for the most part.)

I even taught my kids a thing or two. (A few nights ago at dinner, the two of them actually argued over who got the last brussle sprout. Who ARE these children??)

Despite my general objection to homicide, I even "killed" the fat girl. Sort of. She still hangs out in my brain a lot. She confuses me when I'm trying to buy clothes. She tells me I can't cross my legs, wear shorts, or fit into airplane seats very well. She makes me feel a bit like I need to tell "my story" to everyone I meet, lest they mistakenly think I'm a "real" normal person, not just the chubby I am, trapped in a slightly thinner body, hopelessly posing as average.

So, I suppose there is work to be done. Much of it physical. Much more of it psychological and spiritual, I predict.

I've set new physical goals:

25 more pounds in another year
100 "real" sit ups
100 "real" push ups
Continued good nutrition

Maybe even a 10K with a friend of mine who is proudly battling her own demons and has recently taken up jogging.

It's the psycho-spiritual goals I'm not so clear on. How do I get to that place where I'm neither paralyzed with the fear of falling into my old ways nor deluded enough to think I can "handle it" while eating what I want and skipping workouts? How do I get to the place where the fat girl in my head isn't doing my thinking for me? How do I balance the need for forgiveness when I make a few poor choices with the accountability and intentional self-ass-kicking necessary to keep from going soft?

I guess it's all part of the makeover. The body's getting there. The mind is too, I think.

But in the end, I know this can't be a 30 minute deal. Life is not an Oprah episode. I simply can't make over in 30 minutes what it took 35 years to make in the first place.

And so, the challenge remains. And I think the most important lesson I've taken from this year's progress is the power of persistence plus patience. As alluring as instant gratification can be, the long, slow, steady burn of persistent work toward a goal brings much greater reward.

And a personal strength I never thought I'd see in my body or my mind.

May the makeover continue . . . .

June 18, 2009: 296.4 lbs
June 17, 2010: 193.4 lbs

Total loss to date: 103 lbs

Monday, March 8, 2010

Outwitting the Scale and Other Ninja Moves

I am currently engaged in a war of wills with my bathroom scale.

I'm pretty sure the scale is winning.

This morning, appropriately ENRAGED! at its numbers, I sat on the end of my bed, looking out the large window that overlooks our back yard, and did the mental physics.

Here's the word problem:

A 220 pound, more than slightly perturbed woman needs, desperately, to hurl her bathroom scale to its untimely demise from the second story of an ugly multi-level mid-1980s ranch. The trajectory of said scale, at its highest arc, will require the penetration of one, large Anderson window, at a distance of approximately five feet from the source of aforementioned hurlage. The woman has been working out, consistently, for over nine months, with significant weight reduction in the bustular and facial regions, but with little discernible effect on the mid-abdominal "Michelin Tire" territory. While her biceps are far from sundress ready, the feat will be fueled by sheer force of frustration.

Given these facts, please respond, in full sentences and with appropriate mathematical proofs accompanied by labeled illustrations to the following questions:

1. Exactly how many calories will this woman burn in the hurling process?
2. Into how many pieces will the giant window shatter?
3. How many stories will this woman need to concoct before arriving at the correct combination of ridiculousness and believability necessary to convince her husband that this incident was a freak accident?


So, I've hit a plateau.

A big, fat, ugly, plateau.

In early February, I hit 75 lbs down.

I've been jogging my fool fanny off ever since, but the scale keeps TOYING with me.

Seriously, it's like this evil piece of household equipment has taken on a malicious, sadistic personality all its own.

I swear I actually hear it laughing sometimes.

The numbers have been bouncing around between 218 & 223 for a month!

Last week, I thought I finally had it beat when I woke up to a 215. 8. I even announced the 80 pound mark to facebook world!

Now, this tool of Satan has made a social-networking-liar of me.

Really, though, I think the scale is finally catching on to some of my stealth, Ninja, weigh-in tricks, and has finally decided to fight back.

For the first 50 pounds or so, the weigh-ins were easy. Step on scale. Note weight loss. Smile. No. Problem!

At 50 pounds down, I started jogging. At first, the pounds continued to drop, but the losses began to slow and now here. I. sit.

Only I'm NOT SITTING! I'M JOGGING MY ARSE OFF! (Well, in reality, I seem to just be continuing to jog my boobs off, with my over sized arse still not-so-firmly in place.)

So, I'm relying on an age-old strategy: DECEPTION

After a long period of trial and error, I've found the "sweet spot" in the bathroom floor.

You know? That one spot where the gravitational pull of the Earth isn't quite as strong and a few ounces magically melt off the digital readout?

Once the scale is strategically positioned on the sweet spot -- a process that can take up to five minutes in the morning, since this requires laser-like accuracy -- I step on with ONE foot, whilst gripping the door jamb.

Safety first, right? I MUST use that door jamb for stability.

While the scale numbers bounce around a bit, I contemplate whether or not to actually drop the second foot to the surface of the scale. Usually, my lack of balance prevails, and I do, but I do my best to avoid upsetting the "daily low" until it has locked in on the digital screen.

Then, ever so slightly, I remove my hand from the door jamb and cross my fingers that the numbers don't change.

This whole process can take time, but it has become an important morning ritual.

A ritual my husband finds wildly amusing, mind you.

"You know, you can't TRICK the scale into making you any thinner," he chided one morning.

And that's how the secret got out. I'm firmly convinced that the scale actually HEARD my husband's comments, and has been fighting my deception ever since.

My husband SOLD ME OUT in our very own bathroom.

It's okay, though.

After all, he's the one that's gonna have to pay for the new window.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Here Comes the Final Lap!

After hitting a plateau for the last three weeks -- losing and gaining back the same four pounds -- I FINALLY hit the 75 pounds lost mark today!

Granted, I realize this may not "stick" but the number itself is a major mental boost.

It feels like I'm entering that "final lap" of a long race.

After a couple of shaky months, I have a renewed sense of confidence that I. Can. Do. This.

The numbers:

June 18, 2009: 296.4 lbs

February 4, 2010: 221.2 lbs

Total lost: 75.2 lbs


Thursday, January 21, 2010

35 Years and a Little. Black. Dress.

So, I turn 35 today.

And I couldn't feel better about it.

I am in better shape today than I have been in the last 10 years +.

This morning I weighed in at 225 lbs. That's 71.4 pounds less than I weighed seven months ago.

I've been jogging -- JOGGING!-- three miles a day for a couple of weeks now.

And I'm NOT dead!

But, best of all -- and I realize how trivial and narcissistic this may sound -- but, I ZIPPED THE DRESS!

One of the key "mind tricks" I've been using as motivation throughout this process is to keep one piece of cute clothing, in a size ONE size too small, prominently displayed in my bedroom.

Shortly after Christmas, I found a cute little black cocktail dress in a size 16.

I have not been a size 16 since I was age 16. Maybe younger.

(Hey. I'm old now. My memory is fading.)

Anyway, the dress -- which, by the way, was a STEAL at just $3.40 at Target -- became my new "goal" dress. I didn't even try it on in the store, knowing full well that it could be months before it would actually fit.

When I brought home THE DRESS, I tried -- REALLY tried -- to try it on. This process involved a series of contortionist moves envied by full time circus performers. I grunted, squealed, and -- of course -- SCREAMED at my husband when he "just couldn't" zip it.

I was eyeing a can of WD-40 when I finally decided to give up.

The damn thing just. wouldn't. zip.

"Easter," I thought, "This dress WILL. FIT. by Easter."

And I hung it in the closet and hit the treadmill again.

Three miles a day for the past two weeks.

This morning, it zipped!!

(Without the help of my husband, by the way! Nothing says "I am woman. HEAR. ME. ROAR!" like being able to dress myself! YAWP!)

I still won't wear it in public, but I'm shooting for Valentine's Day. It's sleeveless, and we'll be in Arizona, so perhaps this will work.

Granted, we'll be with the kids, so I may be the only crazy woman in Chuck E. Cheese sporting a black cocktail dress, but, HEY, it's THE. DRESS.

Sure, by tomorrow I'll be one day closer to age 50 than I am to age 20, but the view from this "peak" is looking pretty good.

And -- if I do say so myself -- SO. AM. I!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

3.2 Miles and a Meditation on Moderation

This morning I did 3.2 miles of treadmill jogging at a pace of 4.2 mph. I promised myself that when I could jog over 3 miles on the treadmill, I'd sign up for a 5K with a friend of mine. Why do I make myself such promises, anyway?

I am under no misconception that this is a remarkable human feat, as any hack jogger can tell you it's really not that amazing.

But, for me, this is a milestone. 3.2 of them, actually.

Six and a half months ago, I was completely convinced that I could NOT exercise.

I couldn't even stand upright on my husband's NordicTrak. ONE minute on the elliptical trainer -- aka "The Albatross" -- and I felt my lungs collapse, my heart implode, and my legs buckle beneath me. And I still shudder when I recall the ramifications of the first time I attempted walking on the treadmill while simultaneously listening to music. While I'm thankful that my grand tumble off the human conveyor belt didn't result in any permanent damage, the image of my children hovering over my near-lifeless "corpse," covering my head with a blanket, declaring me dead, and then STEALING my iPod has left a tiny rift in the parent-child bond that may never properly heal.

But today I RAN 3.2 miles on that beast.

(Okay, so I use the word "ran" loosely. Were I on the plains of Africa, the lions would long since have made a hearty meal of me, so I hold no delusions of Darwinian grandeur. However, I was, most decidedly, NOT walking. Perhaps "jogged" is the fairest term?)

So, the miles are slowly stacking up; it's the moderation I'm struggling with.

I'll just admit it. Christmas was hard.

I was doing pretty well in the weeks leading up to the actual holiday. I did virtually no Christmas baking and managed to get by with just one moment of fudge-related weakness when a well-meaning co-worker offered some. I was feeling pretty proud of myself, really, until Christmas Day came and I rediscovered potatoes.

I have a long and sordid love affair with potatoes. They were present at virtually every meal of my childhood. Seriously, I once remember my mother preparing spaghetti with a side of potatoes for supper. I'm pretty sure the prevalence of potatoes in my childhood diet had a lot to do with my mother's incredible gift for thrift -- a valuable and necessary virtue for any woman raising 13 kids on a family farmer's income. Add to the potato as a source of cheap sustenance the fact that my ethnic heritage is approximately 50% Irish (give or take a few French & German genes) and there you have it. Potatoes are sacred stuff.

This blessed simple carb has, thus, earned its status in my gastronomical world as the ultimate comfort food. One bite -- no matter the preparation method -- and I'm a psychological infant again. Not a care in the world, save where my next bite of potatoes will come from.

And then came the cheese. And the sour cream. And the garlic. And -- as if you even had to wonder -- the BUTTER.

(I've decided there's a good reason the root word of "butter" is "butt.")

They simmered in the Crock Pot all Christmas Day long, and by the time the kiddos were snug in their beds in a post-holiday haze, so was I, having hit the carb-crash with an empty Crock Pot soaking in the sink, and a blood sugar reading somewhere in the stratosphere, hitching the last sleigh-ride home to the North Pole.

(I always used to sarcastically joke with people that "I'm not diabetic, but I'm working on it." or "I'm not diabetic . . . yet." but, on Christmas Day, as my pancreas will surely submit, I was testing fate.)

I'd love to report that this was a momentary lapse in judgement, perhaps brought on by holiday cheer, exhaustion, the overwhelming scent of fresh pine, or the ill-effects of Holly Nog, but it only got worse from there.

We travelled home to Northeast Iowa to visit family, and I simply lost all resolve. I even PLANNED to eat my way through the home visit, knowing that resistance was futile. I had pizza (more than once!), kolaches (My mother-in-law bakes kolaches that should probably be considered a controlled substance. They're THAT good.), cookies, cookies, cookies, and BREAD - lots of it! Topped, of course, with "butt"er! -- LOTS of it!

We stayed for four days, and I'm surprised I wasn't rolled home on a stretcher.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit it was worth it. At least a little.

Now, I thought I'd be better by the time I got home. I'd be back in my own environment, I reasoned, with all the self-control and mechanisms for forced moderation I'd worked so hard to achieve over the last six months.

Not so fast, Potato Queen.

The temperatures dropped to the sub-possible-why-the-hell-do-human-beings-live-on-this-part-of-the-planet-anyway range. We got another six inches of snow, on top of the 24 or so already on the ground, and my kids had not one, but TWO snow days from school.

Here were my options: Give in to the uncontrollable URGE -- NEED?? -- to bake copious amounts of warm, sugary treats -- OR -- murder one of the children.

I chose to bake.

(I know, I know. One should never joke about child homicide. It's called sarcasm. COPE!)

Anyway, I baked. And then I baked some more.

And then I ate. And then I ate some more.

The results were not pretty. For the first time since this saga began on June18, 2009, I gave up stepping on the scale -- just too depressed by the rising numbers.

"I'm giving myself a scale-free week!" I promised. And so I did.

A week ago, just after the four day soiree into the "no exercise, feeding frenzy" of a trip home, I weighed in at 235 lbs -- over seven pounds up from my pre-Christmas weigh-in of 227.8.

So, I gave up the scale. BUT I got back on the beast. And I ran. A lot.

Today, I weighed in at 229, just two pounds over my pre-Christmas low.

I can work with that.

And, I have a renewed New Year's resolve to re-embrace the concept of moderation.

I've always heard that it -- much like it's close cousin "balance" -- is a healthy thing to strive for.

Of course, I've NEVER been accused of either virtue.

I'm more of a "both-feet-first, no-holds-barred, ask-forgiveness-rather-than-permission, you-can-sleep-when-you're-dead" kind of girl.

BUT I'm getting older.

I've heard it has a mellowing effect.

Perhaps year 35 -- that number of shortly impending doom -- will be the year of moderation.

But I'm still gonna kick ASS in that 5K!