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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Talk About The Weather?

It really annoys me when people talk about the weather!

Why do you feel compelled to pretend you are the local meteorologist and give me a play-by-play breakdown of the temperature and wind velocity?

Did you not know that I could access the weather channel any time I wanted and could find the current sun status of Timbuktu?

If I place a call on my dime it is because I want to find out how you are and what you've been up to.  Don't bore me with something so neutral and unfeeling as the weather report.  If I'm giving you my time and show interest then indulge me with your views and concerns with things that matter.  Tell me a story about something of substance.

Just don't bore me with the weather.  Leave that to the professionals.

Lucky 13

Thirteen years ago today we purchased our home in Raleigh, North Carolina.  I have never been back to Stamford, Connecticut since and don't miss it at all.

Today, I woke up at 5:05 a.m. to help my youngest get ready for his first day of tenth grade.  He's basically grew up in Raleigh, NC but there's no evidence of a southern accent.  His demeanor is pure Connecticut-snob.  He gets that from me; poor kid.

Just came back from a summer mini-vacation.  Had a good, relaxing time despite the 90% rainout.  No tan for me but I was able to enjoy the ocean and time with my mom and son.  I even worked out with Nicolas at the hotel fitness center.  Yay for me and my new, healthy lifestyle.

Now that we are back to the grind of early mornings and the demands of high school it is time for me to tackle some projects reserved specifically to address my needs.  I'm planning to make a list of goals for the next couple of months so I can have somewhere to direct my energy.  I'll keep you posted.

Had a weigh-in at Curves almost a month ago (8/1/12).  Down a total of 38.7 pounds and many inches.  My body feels better and I am able to walk and expend more energy during the day.  I average working out at Curves three times a week and would like to increase that to four times per week.  I'm due for another weigh-in in the next week or so.  I knew this journey would be long and I figure if i can keep my average weight-loss at one pound a week, I have a better chance of keeping if off long-term.

Random thoughts...
I suck at taking pictures.  I always forget to take my camera when we go places and I don't understand how to get the right light.  I have not taken a picture of myself in years and do not see myself posting a current picture of myself in the near future.  I give mad props for people who have the confidence to share their current state with the world.  I guess I am just a weak person with little confidence when it comes to appearance.  My nose is so big and pointy (which didn't really bother me when I was younger but is one of my sore spots as an adult).  My skin is discolored from years of sunbathing and ignoring the advice to take care of your skin.  Pro-tip...take care of your skin!  Even if you think it's too late, it isn't.  Get thee to a spa!  Have your skin analyzed by a trained professional.  Get a chemical peel (if needed) and take care of that shit.  Your skin is the largest organ of the human body.  Why are you ignoring its needs for proper care and nutrients?  My son (the aspiring actor) has received treatment recently for acne and I must say it is the best remedy for a teenager in the midst of hormonal warfare.  Don't let your kids walk around in their teenage years with a blatant defect.  Kids can be cruel.  Avoid physical and emotional scars and nip that situation in the bud.  Get thee to a specialist, dammit!  Take all that fucking money that you spend on stupid shit (junk food, non-essential stuff) and take care of the person.  God, sometimes our priorities are fucked-up!

I grew up a fat kid.  I am a morbidly-obese adult.  I'm working on changing that but it's taken 47 fucking years!!!  Please, please, if your child is overweight, please get them help.  Nip that shit in the bud.  The parents set the example for their children.  It is so important to teach your kids good, healthy eating habits.  You only have one body in this lifetime, treat it well.  Never mind the emotional scars of being called, 'fatso, chubby, plump, overweight, obese' and any other derogatory name in the 'fat' thesaurus, the physical scars of carrying extra weight can be irreparable.  You may offer the excuse that it's hormonal or a phase but that's just an excuse.  You may say it is temporary or genetic but you are kidding yourself.  Please, please don't let your kid grow up with this terrible burden of being fat.  It can (and does) ruin your self-esteem which is so important in living a fulfilling life.  My biggest regret is that I let my weight get in the way of me actually LIVING my life.  I am always self-conscious of my appearance and have made decisions which effected my overall happiness and fulfillment because of my weight.  While my kids never had the weight problem that I do, thank God (and knock on wood), I am so pissed at myself that as an obese mother I effected their life choices and happiness.  Maybe I was too lazy or scared to be in public and take them to a soccer game or go with them on a roller coaster or travel on a plane.  I limited their life experiences by being a morbidly obese parent.  I regret having this negative impact on their lives.  They may not realize it now, but they will some day.

More rants to follow.  I've gotta get this shit off my mind, damnit!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Walking Away From Opportunity

I AM the biggest loser!?

This past Saturday I spent a total of five and one half hours sitting/standing in line to audition for The Biggest Loser.  And then,...I walked away.

I arrived at the audition facility at 7:30 a.m., chair and Starbucks in hand (no breakfast).  There were 312 aspiring contestants ahead of me.  Yes, I was number 313.  The auditions didn't officially begin until 10:00 a.m. but clearly I wasn't the only hopeful wanting to arrive early, excited at the opportunity that lay before me.

I assessed my fellow competitors and the over 600 more that would follow me and take their place in line to gain one of 20 spots on the popular reality show.  For the most part, we were all obese.  Some more morbid than others.  It was the one place where you could surely find at least one (or hundreds?) bigger than you.  It wasn't necessarily a secure feeling.  It was a sad feeling.  I quickly realized that there are many more people in the world worse off than me.  I started feeling guilty about my place in line.

I struck up a conversation with George who was behind me in line.  He drove down to Raleigh, NC from the DC area (Alexandria, VA).  We shared some stories, family pictures, and holding each other's place in line as we needed bathroom breaks and water replenishment.  George is a very positive person and his determination was inspiring.  He has a beautiful, young family and I found myself rooting for George and praying that he can get it together so that he could participate in life with his boys.  I started wanting it more for him than for me.

I started my journey back on January 25th of this year.  While I haven't made amazing progress, to date I have lost 35 pounds and have regained the energy, stamina, and ability to incorporate a fitness program for the last six weeks.  I thought being a contestant on The Biggest Loser would help me get over this plateau and accelerate the shedding of pounds.  In the back of my mind I was concerned about the effect of my adrenal tumor on taking on such a rigorous workout program.

Before you can even step in line to become a contestant for The Biggest Loser, you have to pre-register online.  There are some thought-provoking questions and before you know it you are delving into your painful past and conjuring up events which you have tried to cover up (with food inhalation) for the last 40 years.  It is an emotional process.  Also part of pre-registering is the submission of pictures of your face and a body shot.  I avoid cameras like the plague and while reluctant to take a photo, I had to comply with the rules.  After the photos were uploaded to my computer I had to come face-to-face (so to speak) with my profile picture.  I am one ugly, fat, and pathetic son-of-a-bitch.  Damn!  The tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks as I realized I really don't look much different than when I started this journey back in January.  My son tried to console me but I knew the truth.  And, damn, it hurts.

To prolong the agony and really bring you to a dark place, there is a nine-page application which needs to be filled out as well.  And, boy, were there some doozies.  I was asked about my accomplishments, passions, and sacrifices.  Who is my hero?  Do I volunteer?  What life events have impacted my weight gain?  How motivated, athletic, and competitive am I?  Health questions, typical background check questions, and even legal questions were covered.  I was asked to provide names and numbers of potential character witnesses and friends.  Funny enough, these last few questions stumped me the most because I basically have no immediate, close friends.  Part of the reason is that I've been stuck in my house for ten or so years.  The other part of the reason is because basically (and my family would agree) I am:  rude, emotional, opinionated, cranky, obnoxious, and self-pitying (that was one of the questions, too, by the way).  Nonetheless, I forged ahead and was determined to at least try to audition.

At about 9:00 they handed out yet another application and each prospective contestant was asked to complete it.  It was only four pages.  This is when I found out I was number 313 in the process.  So, as the line moved up outside of the complex, the heat of the day blossomed.  By the time 10:30 a.m. rolled around we had reached the door of the building and I had to give up my chair that I had been dragging along.  The building was cool and conditioned but once we ascended the stairs to the third floor (Can you imagine all of these morbidly obese people trying to climb stairs after standing outside in the heat for three hours?  Not a pretty sight.  I was convinced this was a tactic used by TBL production team to weed out the really weak ones.) the line stopped.

By 12:30 p.m. my toes and calves were cramping.  I felt a little dizzy and oh, so aggravated.  It didn't help that they had a bunch of skinny, fit people running around and clapping trying to get the crowd excited.  I was ready to strangle them.  My attitude took a nose dive and I talked about giving up.  George tried to offer a little encouragement but basically he probably was happy at the prospect of negative Nelly taking her leave.  I couldn't sit down at this point for fear of not being able to get up or worse yet getting a cramp and having a spasm while I was on the floor.  I was not in the mood to become everyone's entertainment.  I told myself to try and stick it out for another half hour and then check to see where they were with the line and the interview process.

At 1:00 p.m.  I walked down the line in front of me and occasionally asked people their numbers...252...207...it looked like the line ended at number 175!  I did not see myself holding on for another two hours.  Besides, I told myself there were so many more people worse off than me who haven't even started a healthy lifestyle plan like I had in January.  Besides, I would rather see someone like George be a contestant than myself.  When it comes down to it there is really nothing special about me that would make me a better contestant than others.

I convinced myself that if I stick with my plan and tighten up some of my habits which have slipped since January (like:  writing every thing I eat down each day, eliminating salt, and eliminating butter) I could gain control and get back on the right track.  It may take longer but at least I will know that I did it on my own and at my own pace.

While I did walk away from an opportunity to audition for The Biggest Loser, gain control of my life, and possibly win $250,000, I know in my heart that I freed up a space on the show for someone who needs it more desperately than me.  I guess I am kind-hearted and therefore,  the biggest WINNER!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Playing Pretend Inside The Actor's Studio

If I were to ever visit James Lipton Inside The Actor's Studio, following are my answers to his questions:

What is your favorite word?  
I appreciate the vast array of words that surround me.  My best friend is the dictionary and my alternate is the thesaurus.  I have a penchant for alliteration and get giddy when I can marry words together to maximize descriptions and expand explanations.   VERSATILITY.

What is your least favorite word?
As we develop and learn language we find words that evoke an emotional response.  If a word elicits a negative response it holds power that directs repercussions with damaging results.  My least favorite word to say is the 'n' word.  My least favorite word to hear is NO.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
What excites me the most is an intelligent, in-depth conversation, one-on-one, with someone I care about and whom I can learn from because they are forth-coming and sharing a real part of themselves with me.

What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
People who are ill-equipped or unwilling to communicate and share their authentic selves with me do not deserve my time nor respect.
.
What sound or noise do you love?
The sounds of nature offer a peace and tranquility that can not be replicated mechanically.  The songs of the birds brighten my day and remind me of the spirituality and fragility of life.  The sound of water (whether its the ocean, waterfall, or running stream) reminds me of our ability to renew our lives, cleanse our palates, and change direction if we so choose.

What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound or noise which I most fear is the sound of a crash or vehicle accident.  It connotes a negative change in someone's life even if it is only property damage.  There are consequences and someone is at fault.  Perhaps someone was neglectful, irrational and irresponsible? 

What is your favorite curse word?
I grew up in a family who used curse words in normal every day conversation and, on the other end of the spectrum, to hurt and humiliate each other.  I am no stranger to the versatility of a good curse word.  It can be used for emphasis, as a noun, or to express great surprise.  MOTHERFUCKER.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Since I don't really have a current occupation I see the question more as what do you want to be when you grow up?  When I was young I wanted to be a Playboy bunny, model, artist, actress, writer, singer or lawyer.  I still would like to be these things.  Realistically, I would like to be a successful artist and writer. 

What profession would you not like to do?
The profession that I'd least like to do would be a mortician because I have a fear of death.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Come in.  All are welcome!

Monday, June 25, 2012

FINAL INVOICE

Well, it's been almost a month since my last post.  Partly due to avoidance and partly because I don't have much to say...until today.

My need to purge usually comes about when I've bottled up all of my feelings and thoughts and let them simultaneously combust at the most inopportune time.

My friend Lisa has pointed out to me that what we think of others is a reflection of how we see ourselves.  Harsh but true.  I must keep this in mind as I am enveloped in this cloud of negativity for going on three weeks now.  On a positive note, I've come to some very unflattering revelations about myself.  Sad but true.

The following statements, while on the surface are directed at another person, are in reality about me (according to Lisa):

  • I resent that I cannot be myself when I'm around you.
  • I hate stepping on egg shells so as not to hurt your feelings or offend you.
  • You make me feel fat, unattractive, obnoxious, annoying, and as if I remind you of my father of whom you dislike or even hate.
  • I think it's sad that you did not acknowledge my hard work of trying to adopt a healthier life along with smart eating choices and exercise.
  • Instead of lifting people up, you put them down.
  • You are a cold bitch who has no idea of how to communicate warmly with others.
  • Your holier-than-though attitude is so tired and old just like the wrinkles on your face and silver hair.
  • At one time I loved you and felt like you genuinely liked me as a person.
  • I believe your love for me changed when I fell in love with a black man.  You did not approve.
  • Can you stop loving someone?  Did you ever love me?
  • I choose not to subject my kids to your cloud of negativity. 
  • I will not allow you to make my children feel the way you make me feel.
  • I'm not sure who you are trying to impress with your life of denying yourself:  pleasure, fun, and happiness.
  • YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN A NUN!
  • If I could add up the entire monetary value of all the birthday gifts, Christmas presents, anniversary gifts, home down payments, money just because, vacations, souvenirs, and any other expenses that you have paid for under my name, I would take that amount and repay you in full.  The cost to suck up to you for your approval has left me: guilty, resentful, and used.
  • You make me ashamed to be who I truly am.
  • I am a selfish, immature brat at times.
  • I feel entitled to enjoy every day of my life even if it means I will be poor, miserable, and judged.
  • I know you don't approve of my choices to stay at home and not work.
  • I know you resent me, judge me, and disapprove of me.
  • I feel sorry for you.
  • You are a hard-worker when you want to be or when you want to put others to shame.
  • You judge people and their choices for how they choose to exercise their spirituality.
  • I don't like how you look over my shoulder, stare at me when my eyes are averted, shake your head in disappointment, or shrug your shoulders in indifference. 
  • Your denial of the current state of societal norms and your choice to cling to the past coincide with your inability to submit yourself to what the world has to offer.
  • I don't like the fact that I delayed my birthday vacation at the beach (even though I will go as soon as you leave).
  • I don't like that I reluctantly catered to you by biting my tongue and thinking before I speak just because you cannot handle confrontation.
  • I don't respect you because you refuse to tell me to 'go fuck yourself'.
  • I don't like how you use me as a pawn by having me be mediator and middleman between you and your sister because you lack communication skills.
When I win the lottery, and the payoff is big enough, I will pay my FINAL INVOICE so that I am no longer indebted to you.

The freedom to be myself will be my biggest win ever (even though my wallet will be empty) because I will then have the FREEDOM TO BE MYSELF!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger?

Stronger.  A current hit pop song by Kelly Clarkson.  Taken from the old adage, 'What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger', a proverbial truth as I enter week three of my body transformation. 

Phase one of my journey to a healthier life involved a 'quick' start with a weight loss program sans exercise.  You see, I had to lose some weight first so that I could muster up the energy and confidence to move my fat ass.  Down thirty or so pounds after three or so months, mission accomplished.

Phase two involves incorporating exercise into my new healthy life regimen so that I may accelerate the weight loss process and tighten up the muscles and loose flesh that tends to remain on a (formerly) morbidly obese person.  I joined Curves two weeks ago and began working out at least three days a week for thirty minutes.  After getting reacquainted with the machinery I am feeling 'the burn' after each session and working up a sweat.  So far, it hasn't killed me.  I feel stronger.  When I get into 'the zone' I am intense, breathing, and always pushing for at least one more rep.  It is a good feeling and builds confidence as I conquer my goals and push harder.

Phase three may involve pushing myself to add another day at Curves, incorporate a neighborhood walk on the days I don't go to Curves, and/or exploring a new weight-loss program to 'jump start' or, again, accelerate weight loss.  I would love to play tennis, golf, and do some kind of water aerobics in the future as well.  I can't do it all at once, I realize, but as I become stronger I hope to treat these activities as enjoyable time rather than a way to lose weight.

In the meantime, I take it one day at a time and realize that I own the power to make healthy choices in my life.  Losing weight and adopting new healthy habits is all in the mindset.

DREAM it, DESIRE it, FOCUS on it, ACCOMPLISH it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Merely knowing what to do does no good if we don’t do it. Don’t procrastinate, do it now!" –Joyce Meyer

A quote that spoke to me this morning so much that I shared it on my Facebook.  So appropriate and relevant to my life as I took another step toward my journey to a new, healthy lifestyle.

I wrote about what I know I needed to do as I faced the end of going to a weekly weigh-in at a structured weight-loss program.  Back in March I promised that we would join Curves or Weight Watchers as we continue our quest to become healthier versions of ourselves.  Although it was delayed for almost six weeks, we 'bit the bullet' and signed up with Curves yesterday.  My buddy and I, my mom, endured the process and got introduced to the equipment.  We contemplated our motivation and set goals for the next year.

It has been six weeks since I've had an official weigh-in.  The good news is I did not gain weight.  The great news is I lost weight!  This is a new scale to deal with and I weighed in with my sneakers on my feet.  So, mentally I must resolve the continuation of my progress and how it is evaluated.  I've decided to take into account the 'hiccup' of the last six weeks and use the date of January 25, 2012 when I commenced my new way of life.  As of May 15, 2012 I've lost 27 pounds.  Now that I have committed both financially and mentally to incorporating exercise to my program by going to Curves for the next 12 months I hope to lose an average of ten pounds per month.  By June 21, 2013 I hope to weigh less than 175 pounds.  Now, to most people that sounds heavy for a 5'4" female.  And, it is.  But, I never said my journey would be over by then!  I must continue going (HOW EVER LONG IT TAKES!) to be healthy, confident, and comfortable with myself.

It is peculiar, though, at one time I went to a nutritionist and they did their body fat analysis and caliper test and told me my ideal weight was 175.  In fact, when I did Nutri-System years ago and got down to a size 14 I felt pretty damn good.  But, when I was in high school and went down to 125 (my same weight in 6th grade!) I looked hot.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to go quite that low this time around but my goal is to be healthier and more confident.

I reserve the right to adjust my goals at any time as I see fit because, after all, this is MY journey!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Test-Run in Asheville

It's been a while since I posted.  Or, at least to me, it seems like ages.

I changed (improved?) the look of the blog while I was experimenting one day and had time to kill.  When I view my blog now, I get a calm and serene sense of energy.  Under the old format and appearance it felt stern, serious, and a bit cold.  I hope this new face of my blog reflects how I'm feeling these days.  I trust that it does.

Spring Break seems like ages ago although it's barely been a month.  Going on vacations while you are in the midst of changing your lifestyle can certainly pose a challenge for those still new to establishing a new routine and adopting a new (healthy) habit.  Here is a summary of what transpired.

We left for Asheville, NC on a Wednesday.  We began our journey stocking up on our favorite, non-fat designer tea and coffee.  We needed the fuel for our four-hour journey to the mountains.  Halfway through our trip we stopped at a rest area since duty called (especially after inhaling our beverages).  I must say that the rest areas in North Carolina are truly a treat.  Yup, a treat!  They are clean, organized, informative, and might I say, restful.  You'd be hard-pressed to find such a rave review about the same in New Jersey.  But, North Carolina does have its good points at times.  Around lunch time we stopped at the chain restaurant, O'Charley's, and indulged in a delicious dinner meal of salad, salmon, and broccoli.  Surprisingly delicious.  We arrived in Asheville just around check in time and were pleasantly surprised with our room.  Not too bad for under $70 per night.  Thank you Best Western!  We decompressed for a little while and after checking maps and such we endeavored off to downtown Asheville.  Asheville, is a mountainous artsy community that maintains its efforts to shop locally and use produce grown locally.  There are over 250 privately owned restaurants in Asheville so finding a grub-spot with a flavorful menu was not a problem.  We found ourselves exhausted from our long drive and rather than keep searching for a restaurant we fell into the restaurant called, Solace.  It was on the corner, convenient, and had a lovely patio outside.  We chose to eat inside which sported lovely contemporary art with bold colors, tables with white linen table cloths and napkins, pleasant music, and helpful waitstaff.  I chose their vegetable plate and while it doesn't sound too exciting let me tell you, it was artfully assembled, aromatic, and absolutely delicious.  I would definitely order it again!  Got back to the hotel room.  Had my apple and fudge bar to top off the day.  Day one on vacation was a diet success!

Thursday was spent at The University of North Carolina in Asheville.  A mere 10 minutes from our hotel and downtown Asheville, the university sits on top of a hill and is one of the best laid out campuses I've seen.  While my son is only in ninth grade I feel it is never too early to put the seed of college and planning for one's future in the brain's of our children.  While he accompanied the family on my older son's college visits I want to show him the spectrum of possibilities for his college career.  I asked him to do some research on www.collegeboard.com and find two colleges in North Carolina and a 'dream' college out of state that would suit his criteria.  In the next few years I hope to visit the schools so he can choose the one that's right for him.  We'll also be visiting Wilmington and Yale University in New Haven, CT before his senior year.  UNCA is the only liberal arts college in the UNC system.  It is one of the smallest and least expensive.  It has a student to teacher ratio of 19:1.  The buildings have a modern and contemporary flavor.  We were signed up for the tour of the entire campus which was scheduled to last over one and one half hours.  I wasn't sure how far I would make it but I was willing to try.  When I realized how many hills, mountains, and stairs I'd be climbing I became less hopeful.  Then the rain storm came...I wanted to go through the tour not only for my son but for myself.  I wanted to prove that the weight I had loss thus far had meant something good.  Had meant that things had changed for the better, even a little.  My son and I ventured on the tour.  Up stairs, through puddles, soaked clothes, flattened hair, down steep hills.  At least three times I seriously contemplated texting my mother to have her pick me up.  I thought about turning back.  But, then I thought about pushing through the pain.  Through the challenge.  The pleasure, pride, and satisfaction of reaching a goal no matter how insurmountable it seems.  I soldiered through and made it!  My son was my inspiration.  My mother was tearful with pride.  I felt great.  We celebrated our long, wet day at Red Lobster.  With a salad, shrimp, and lobster (no butter, no biscuits, no croutons) day two was also a diet success!

I had read that Early Girl Eatery was a favorite jaunt for some of the cast of 'The Hunger Games' and on Friday we had an early lunch at the famous eatery.  We waited for thirty minutes and killed time walking the streets of downtown Asheville.  Asheville attracts a myriad of different folks:  artsy types, families, mature citizens, and even hippies.  It is not uncommon to see a musician on the street corner displaying their talent.  We stopped by Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe.  Nicolas was psyched to grab books #3 and #4 of the Game of Thrones series.  We walked back to EGE and I enjoyed an omelette, whole wheat toast and their potatoes.  Everything was fresh and delicious.  The staff was very friendly as well.  We hit the Asheville Chamber of Commerce which sports lovely views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a nice array of lawn sculptures.  You do see quite a bit of sculptures adorning homes throughout Asheville.  We caught the Red Line Trolley Tour and it is a must do for any visitor to Asheville.  Our guide, Uncle Ted, was fantastic.  Some of the highlights of the tour include:  Montford, The Grove Park Inn, Downtown Asheville, and the Biltmore Estate district.  As we headed back to the hotel we stopped at Outback and I indulged in prime rib with broccoli and a small dinner salad (no croutons).  Day three of dieting while on vacation was also a success.

On Saturday we headed back home with a stop over planned in Greensboro to see Justin and pick up some of his items to bring home.  We checked into our favorite, conveniently located Best Western, and then drove to pick up Justin.  We took him to our favorite restaurant, Darryl's.  I ordered my salmon with veggies.  Very tasty.  We took Justin to Food Lion so that he could stock up on his favorite items for the last four weeks of school.  Picked up a six-pack of Fiji water which, while extremely expensive, is probably the best, damn-tasting water around.  Listen, if you are not a drinker and are on a strict diet anyway, why not treat yourself to the best?!  Later in the evening we each got a delicious deli sandwich from Jimmy John's.  We made healthy choices so there was not much (although there was a little) guilt involved.

On Sunday we enjoyed BW's complimentary continental breakfast and hit the road for home.  We always like to make a stop at a last restaurant before we walk in the front door of our homes after a vacation.  So,  by the time we hit Raleigh we stopped at Ruby Tuesday.  The grilled salmon under their 'fit & trim' menu was divine and made so by the addition of grilled zucchini and roasted spaghetti squash.  Amazing.

In summary, my trip to Asheville was a success on many levels.  I was inspired by the artsy culture, home-grown thoughtfulness, mountain scenery, and the people I was with.  I conquered my default behavior of quitting in the face of a challenge.  I stuck to my plan of making healthy choices.  I feel more confident that the effort to be healthy is becoming more of a habit.

Kudos to me!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Little Ditty to Myself

This morning I was going through some papers on my desk trying to get organized and to consolidate important information written on various post-it notes and what not.

I came across the following 'poem' that I composed for my older son a couple of months ago when he sounded stressed out.  I wanted to hug him but being that he's away at college I tried to do it through words:

Every time I think of you,
Tears well in my eyes.

I realize that you're on your own;
It is no real surprise.

To be a success in life,
You have all the tools you need.

The decisions you make
Are yours.

You must own them
From the start.

But I am here
For you.

Forever and a day.

'Cause I will always love you.
I will not fade away.

As I read it today, I feel as if the words are written especially for me.  It is a message from me, written in the past, to me in the future.

As I go through my personal transformation I have to recognize and acknowledge the 'me' of the past.  I had the opportunity to confront the real me of the past.  It is strange and difficult to even explain what I mean as I write what happened.  I was going through old pictures to locate some photos for my son's school project.  Innocent enough.  As I fumbled through a couple of hundred pictures I saw a few of myself.  There were only a few because I am 'camera shy' because of my weight.  It is a damn shame, I thought, as I rifled through the old photos of my past.  In the pictures I saw my beautiful boys growing up and changing.  Almost 20 years of memories.  Yet, this re-hashing of the past made me sad, angry, embarrassed, and guilty.

This type of dysmorphia is like an optical illusion.  It is also like a mental delusion.  I look at the pictures now as a person going through change and I don't recognize the me of the past.  Or, maybe I do FINALLY see myself as I truly was and I cry for her.  This person that I was.  Living in sadness.  Living with pain.  Why else would someone choose to abuse themselves so publicly?  Morbid obesity is not something you can hide.  It is visible, evident, and tangible.  It is a free pass for strangers to make an initial assessment of that person based on appearance alone.  It is the truth.

I am sad, angry, embarrassed, and guilty.  I am sad at the person I was at the time.  Unable to see what I was doing to myself.  Unable to see how others saw me; strangers who didn't give me a chance to get to know me.  I am angry that I could not see what I was doing to myself.  What I was doing to my family.  I was bruising their childhood memories.  I am embarrassed that I selfishly walked around in public exhibiting my pain.  I am embarrassed that I shamed my family.  I stole happiness from my son's childhood.  By making myself physically incapable of movement and enjoyment I ripped life experiences from their grasp.  I am guilty that I couldn't see what I was doing to myself.  I am guilty of living in denial.  I am guilty of making my family victims of my selfish behavior, pain, and denial.

I want to apologize to my entire family for mistreating you the way I mistreated myself.  Because I refused for so many years to deal with my pain in a different way, I robbed you all of happiness.  You got sucked into my behavior and because you all love me so much made yourselves co-dependents.  I understand you didn't want to hurt my feelings.  You tip-toed around my moods.  It is unfair that you became embroiled in my disease.  And, I truly apologize.  I hope you will forgive me but if you don't, please don't forget how much I love and appreciate you all.  You did what you thought was best at the time.  I realize now that no one else could change me, except myself!

In reading the words I wrote to my son I find that it is a message meant for me.  I know that I already own all the tools I need to succeed in life.  Whether or not I do it is my decision.  Ultimately, I am the one in the driver seat and will be with myself until I die.  I find comfort in the words as I read them today.  It is an acknowledgement to myself.

How did I know that I could use a hug today?  I must be psychic!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Progress Report

After nine weeks of attending my weekly Diet Center consultation I can report the following progress:

  • 23 pounds lost
  • 32 inches lost
  • Confidence gained!
I plan to continue practicing all of the good habits and healthy eating plan that I learned at Diet Center.  After Easter, I will join Curves and incorporate a weekly fitness program into my journey.

You see, my local Diet Center is closing and our consultant has retired.  The closest office to us is not very close nor convenient.  However, I feel confident that I can follow the healthy eating plan.  I just need a place to 'check-in' once a week and make sure my weight-loss journey stays on track.  I joined Curves a couple of years ago and stopped going for financial reasons.  This time around I must keep in mind that I am worth the investment of time and money into a fitness program.  This time around I will have my best buddy, my mom, to accompany me and continue our mutual support system.

I have learned that in order to grow as a person and to understand who you are in life it is imperative to be honest and share your experiences with others.  While my success is not a recipe for everyone wanting to change their life there are certainly people who will benefit from the details of my story.  The difference in success in anything is MINDSET.  I could give you all of the diet advice and 'secrets' that have helped me but unless you adopt the frame of mind that you DESERVE to be healthy, the following will be just words.  Every one has their own, individual journey and this is mine...

My daily caloric intake hovers between 1100 and 1300 per day.  I am a much larger woman but this amount has allowed me to lose an average of 2.5 pounds per week with no exercise!

Every morning I have fresh squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon) with warm water.  I take calcium, a multi-vitamin, an anti-oxidant, and vitamin B complex.  I also have a large cup of green tea with honey.

I write down every single thing I consume each day including vitamins and amount of water (a minimum of 64 ounces).

I limit the amount of salt, butter, and drink no alcohol.  I enjoy using non-stick cooking spray, garlic, Mrs. Dash, fresh ground pepper, and herbs for seasoning.  When I have a salad I use:  olive oil, vinegar, or balsamic vinaigrette (no more blue cheese).

I am 'allowed' the following each day:

  • 3 Starches @ about 60 calories each
  • 5 Vegetables @ about 25 calories each
  • 2 Fruits @ about 60 calories each
  • 6 Protein @ about 55 calories each
  • 2 Dairy @ about 90 calories each
  • 2 Fats @ about 45 calories each
  • 2 Additional @ about 20 calories each
My favorite starches are:  brown rice, wasa, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and whole wheat pasta.
My favorite vegetables are:  broccoli, lettuce (all kinds), Brussel sprouts, zucchini,  tomato, mushrooms, spinach, peppers, carrots, and cucumber.
My favorite fruits are:  bananas, grapefruit, strawberries, and apple (must have at least one per day).
My favorite proteins are:  chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, shrimp, scallops, and lean beef.
My favorite dairy is:  cottage cheese, fat-free cheese, yogurt (Greek and non-fat) and Diet Center fudge bar.

I try to vary my routine throughout the day but there are some things which work for me.  A large salad at lunch or dinner.  An apple, dairy, and butter-free popcorn (on nights that I'm still hungry).  I have my good days and bad days like every one else but I realize I have to treat each day as a new opportunity to live a healthy life.

It's all in the MINDSET!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Concentrate on the Positive

While this week has not been monumental in the weight-loss department (20 pounds after eight weeks), I choose to focus on the positive things that happened this week.

  1. I did not gain weight, I lost it.
  2. I received an unexpected package in the mail from a dear friend who saw something and thought of me!
  3. I had more energy than I've had in the last two years and accomplished some spring cleaning and reduced household clutter that has been laying around for years (literally, years).
  4. I saw my cardiologist and he praised me for my weight-loss success and gave me an 'A+'.
  5. I do not have to see my heart doctor until next year.
  6. My blood pressure has improved.
  7. Some clothes that I purchased are too big; a catch-22 since I like them but I won't be able to wear them. 
  8. Goodbye 3X, 2X (almost), and XX-Large (Old Navy).
  9. I am consistently writing a blog post at least once a week to document my journey and progress.
  10. I am looking forward to gardening and yard work which I have been unable to do for two years.
Another big item I've been considering is getting rid of my vinyl album collection and old stereo.  On the one hand I want to keep it because it brings back memories and I enjoy reminiscing about the past.  On the other hand, I am on a mission to simplify and de-clutter my entire house.  The albums and stereo have become an eyesore to me.  If I had a space dedicated to all things music and entertainment I could compartmentalize so many items like:  records, video game consoles and equipment, and guitars and a piano keyboard.  Unfortunately, we just don't have the extra space.  I've always thought about converting the garage to a 'playroom' but that would require funding and besides, the garage is my husband's domain.

So, to discard my music collection is a huge step for me.  Holding on to these items is like me clinging to the past.  I don't want to regret this decision.  I know there are some vinyl aficionados out there that think I am crazy to even entertain such a move.  I've thought about listing my collection for sale on Craig's List.  But, deep down getting rid of this history and joy would be like losing something you love.  In times of desperation, I have sold things I've collected and appreciated on E-bay.  I needed the money at the time.  But, looking back, I regret some of these decisions.  Music has always given me joy and hope.  Music can alter my mood and bring me out of a funk.  It is a type of therapy.  So, I had about 150 cassettes that I collected (mostly in the 1980's) and sold that collection.  I had over 100 CD's and sold them. 

When I first began my record collection it was only a few years ago.  While I grew up with vinyl record albums the ones I had as a child were lost somewhere between college and moving on to adulthood.  I happened to spot a stereo with a number of crates of record albums at a yard sale a few years ago.  Immediately, I had the bright idea to 'invest' in this collection as a way to make money on E-bay.  I continued to frequent yard sales and add to my collection.  I learned about the potential value of vinyl through sources such as the Goldmine guide.  E-bay and vinyl became a profitable hobby at one time.  But, after getting burned a couple of times on E-bay I decided to keep whatever was left of the collection to myself.  Most of my collection is classical, opera, and a mix of 1970's soft rock.  When I visit our local used book store and more I always check out their clearance vinyl.  It is just a fun thing to do.  Again, a hobby.  But, as we know from watching shows like 'Hoarders', hobbies can get out of control.

So, this week I continue to struggle with the big decision of what to do with my collection that has been my coping mechanism and part of my 'therapy' these past few years.  I have to decide what is more important to me, getting rid of eyesores or holding onto things that make you feel good.  Perhaps there's a happy medium somewhere in there?

My mission this week is to find that place!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Vision, Revisited

It's quite ironic that as I make my way through spring cleaning and a general organization frenzy I should come across my vision board that I created last year.  And, it was just around this time last year (March 24th to be exact) that I wrote about it on this blog.  The funny thing is is that I have embraced my vision without it even being in my line of sight.  Unfortunately for me, it had been folded up and shoved in between some bags on the bottom of my hall closet floor.  I must say that today I took the time to locate the push pins and place my vision board right in front of the computer where I happen to write my blogs.  Even though this happens to be in my son's room it is in my field of vision and Nicolas is pretty agreeable and supportive of my ventures to self-improvement.

I was never really a doubter of the potential power of  a vision board, if I were I would never have spent the time collecting the images and phrases and strategically placing them on the blank, white canvas.  I also would not have considered placing my vows and vision statement in writing and including them on my board.  I did spend thoughtful time putting this tool together last year so I would consider myself a hopeful believer in the power of 'The Secret'.

But, back again to the irony.  So, I created the board last year.  It had many aspirations and goals emblazoned on its surface.  It was placed out of sight for a year (not my doing but I think I know who the culprit is).  And, the funny thing is, a year later, some of this vision has 'come true'.

Here are some examples:

  • I traveled to Carolina Beach, North Carolina and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina;
  • I put money in my savings and I have more money in my pocket;
  • I started to get in shape without setting foot in a gym;
  • I eat delicious, healthy meals that are balanced and nutritious;
  • I stress less and relax more;
  • I found my own identity which feels great!;
  • I own what I am:  independent, intuitive, smart, straightforward, pretty, and sexy;
  • I love every day;
  • I bought some great lingerie and have more romance, desire, and happiness in my life.
These are ongoing life changes that I've embraced in the last year thanks to my vision board.  Out of sight, out of mind?  Not necessarily.  Once you set your mind to something and 'put it out there in the universe' you will be heard.  There is still quite a bit to be accomplished from my vision board and every day is another step towards getting everything I want and deserve.

Total pounds lost after week seven:  19.6!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ageant Saboteur

It happened last week.  It was inevitable, of course, but it came as a surprise nonetheless.

Ageant Saboteur knocked on my door.  He tested me with questions.  And he questioned my motives.  He tested my will.  And he tempted me with his nonchalance.   He did it with such cunning and prowess.  He had masterful skill.

After six weeks of adopting a new, healthy lifestyle I am 16.8 pounds less than I was when I started.  But, more impressive is, perhaps, the total inches I've lost:  22.  It is a combination of measuring:  neck, upper arm, upper chest, bust, rib cage, waist, hips, butt, thighs, knees, and calves.  So, it averages to about two inches for each measurement.  I have noticed a bit of a difference and while I only lost one half a pound last week, knowing that I am losing inches helps to push me along my journey.  I will be going to Diet Center until the end of the month when the local office closes.  That gives me another three weeks to lose at least a total of 20 pounds.  It sounds reasonable but we'll take it one day at a time.

So, getting back to my little sabotage incident...

My older son, who is home for spring break, accompanied us to dinner at Applebee's.  Applebee's has a pretty decent menu selection for folks watching their calories so it is on our list of frequented restaurants.  I mentioned that I no longer order appetizers but that he was free to indulge.  And, he asked me why.  I said something like, "You didn't notice I lost a little weight or that I'm trying to eat healthy?" And his reply was, "No."

This kind of threw me for a loop since he hasn't seen me in a month and you would notice if I wasn't eating my daily bagel or having a bunless burger.  But not him.  He's in his own little college world.  He then proceeded to order mozzarella sticks and upon their arrival to the table, he offered me one.  Hello?  Did I not just finish telling him that I was eating healthy?!  He didn't quite insist I eat it but then he proceeded to question my motives for trying to become healthier.  I reiterated that:

  • I want to live longer so that I may see my grandkids one day.
  • I want to feel better.
  • I want to look better.
  • I want to be able to wear a bathing suit on the beach and not embarrass the people I'm with.
  • I want to lose weight.
  • I want to be able to move more.
  • I want to be able to travel if I need to.
To me these all seem like quite justifiable reasons to indulge in a healthy lifestyle.  But my little ageant saboteur was not the least bit impressed.

It was a difficult lesson for me to learn that even some people you love (and who love you) will not always buy into what you choose to do with your life.  There will be a 'devil's advocate' to question your motives and make you sit back and contemplate the reasons for your actions.  I realize it is not a bad thing to be around someone with opposing views because it can reinforce your convictions.

So, I say, 'thank you', to all the folks who will try to sabotage or put obstacles in my way.  I will come out stronger and a winner (or at least the biggest loser)!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

4 Times 5 Equals 20

Today I am trying something different and am expressing myself with a math equation:  4 x 5=20.  No, it is not how much weight I've lost in five weeks (although I must mention that I am down 16.2 pounds after five weeks!).  The number twenty represents the number of years I've been married to my spouse and friend, David.  If you were to count the actual number of anniversaries we have had it would more accurately be five due to the fact that we got hitched on Leap Day, February 29, 1992.

So what, who cares, right?  Well, normally I don't get all crazy and sappy with these occasions but I would like to take this opportunity to explain why it is significant and to share a little of our 'love' story.

David and I met in early 1990.  We were both unemployed at the time.  We met at a bar, Sam's in Port Chester, New York.  Not the ideal place to meet your future mate but I am sure I am not the first one to fall into this trap.  He was a nomadic blue collar roofer; running from his past and toward an ambiguous future.  I was in the midst of a family in chaos; my parents were in the stages of divorce.  And with us all living at home I was searching for any excuse not to be caught in the drama.

I think what attracted me most to David was his energetic smile that exuded a wide grin, manly giggle, and expressively crinkled eyes simultaneously.  His presence drew me in.  It didn't matter what he looked like, in fact, he wore a red bandanna, dirty work clothes, and heavy work boots when I first saw him.  The thing that was irresistible about David was his energy and the attention he gave me.  The eye contact was sincere and powerful.  It didn't matter to him that I was a 170-pound, size-14 woman.  (Which is funny now because I would die to be that size again!).  We just had a connection.

There was so much stacked against us from the very beginning.  We had nothing.  He lived in a room in a boarding house in Port Chester, NY with no means of transportation.  I was unemployed and living at home in a very tense situation.  No jobs.  But, we found each other.  After getting to know David in a very short period I believed he was such a special person and someone who could give me the support I needed to get my life back on track.  It was emotional support; something you just can't put a price on.  On the same level I was excited to help him get on track with his life.  I knew he had such great interpersonal skills and saw him doing much more than laying a tar roof.  He was under-utilizing what 'God' gave him.

Our situations improved.  I found employment and he got a different opportunity.  We pursued our relationship for months even when it became a long-distance affair.  I drove every Friday from Stamford, CT over the Tappan Zee Bridge to Monroe, NY.  At the end of the weekend I would drive directly to work on Monday morning.  We did this for a good six months.  David moved to Stamford, CT and eventually we moved in together on Warren Street.  Not a great neighborhood but affordable at the time.  In the mean time I was moving up the corporate ladder in the insurance industry.  And with a little encouragement and self-esteem building David secured a bank-teller position and then became office manager at a liquor importer.  Our love was the foundation that helped elevate each of us in our working lives.

Eventually, I envisioned having a family with David.  I was NEVER the type of girl to dream about the day that her father would give her away at a huge wedding while walking down the aisle in a flowing, white wedding dress.  That was never important to me.  But, being in love with David changed that.  He made me want to have a family.

Things were going great for both of us when I unexpectedly became pregnant.  I remember the day I found out.  The doctor called me at work and right after sharing the news the nurse said, "Do you want to keep it?!".  There was no doubt in my mind, I would keep the baby.  It was difficult telling my family especially since they had doubts about our relationship from the beginning.  I would not call them prejudice, per se, but they did not envision me being with a man of color.  Which is funny to me because I've always been interested in people who are different than me and have had friends from many different backgrounds, cultures, and religions.  Needless to say, the odds were stacked against us.  At least in the eyes of my family.

You see, I must reiterate that I never saw my husband as a 'black man'.  He was and is a kind person who cares about me.  I am a bit oblivious to the world around us.  I just know that we are good people and if society does not care for us based on our skin color and the fact that we are in a mixed marriage then that is societies' problem.  But, realistically, this was another factor whose odds were against us.

The one thing that I was adamant about was the fact that I would require marriage.  There was no way I would give birth to a bastard, illegitimate child.  I won't say that I made David marry me but he really didn't have a choice.  I chose to get married on Leap Day because it was a unique occasion and it only happened once every four years.  So, the pressure was off David to have to acknowledge it every year (although he does).

I was six months pregnant when David and I exchanged vows in front of a justice of the peace.  My mom was there as the only witness.  I wore a teal and black maternity outfit.  We exchanged matching, gold wedding bands that we purchased at J.C. Penney for under $100 each.  It was a simple ceremony with a few Polaroid snapshots taken for posterity.  No white dress.  No church.  No guests.  No father of the bride.  No band.  No videographer.  No headache.  We exchanged our vows out of our simple love for each other.

We had a reception in April where we met, at Sam's in Port Chester, NY.  There were about 40 members of our friends and family who celebrated with us.  And, of course, my mom treated us to a beautiful wedding cake that fit the occasion perfectly.

My point in sharing my story is that even when every thing is against you, you can still come out on top.  Love does not require wealth and fanfare.  Sharing your life with someone is all encompassing and is enhanced with highs and lows.

Having a diamond ring isn't important to me.  After 20 years I still wear the gold band from J.C. Penney's as a symbol of commitment to my husband and friend, David.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reasons to Move

I didn't really have high expectations after the fourth week on my weight loss journey because, frankly, I thought I gained (menstrual) weight.  I tend to bloat big-time during the week of monthly hell when my friend pays a visit.  Yep, even at my increasing age Flo says 'hello'.  But,...

I'm down 12 pounds after four weeks of following the Diet Center program.  That averages to about three pounds a weeks which is still good especially considering my lack of exercise.  Yes, every week I vow to start moving my fat ass and every week I fail.  Now that the weather is warming up and spring is in the air I am running out of excuses but I am coming up with reasons to incorporate at least a daily walk into my routine:

  • Walking will help my weight loss.
  • I can enjoy the blooming buds on the trees and daffodils near the mail box.
  • The weather is warmer so the sweat will be sweeter.
  • I can enjoy the birds singing and the ducks quacking near the creek.
  • I have no excuse not to go outside.
  • Walking will get me in shape for all of the yard work I plan to do this spring.
  • Fresh air does a body good.
  • If I recruit a buddy I will have a partner to help motivate me.
As you can see, there really is no valid excuse not to at least walk in my neighborhood a couple of times a week even if I just start with ten minutes a day.  Oh, and another one I forgot to add to the list...it's FREE!  I thought about perhaps joining Curves (again) but since I don't have access to a car during the week joining is not cost-effective.

I am kind of bummed to find out that the center I go to will be closing at the end of March and the closest office to me is in Cary which is easily 40 minutes away.  I'm not sure I am able to do this on my own quite yet because I enjoy the support from my counselor, my weekly weigh-in by a third party, and the access to their products (which are not required).  I still need a source to hold me accountable for my choices and to steer me in the right direction.  Well, at least I have a month or so to come up with a strategy.

I enjoy real food so Weight Watchers may work for me but the other (two) times I went I ended up pregnant; probably no connection but nonetheless ironic.  But, if I went to a weekly meeting and weigh-in I would get the accountability but no one-on-one counseling.  Nutri-System and Jenny Craig?  Too expensive and I really don't like the pre-packaged food.  Learning how to eat real food and to conduct yourself in real situations especially at restaurants is so important.  Besides, these pre-packaged foods must have chemicals and preservatives in them and I really want to avoid that.  Sensa, again a chemical, seems hokey.  Herbalife never worked for me and living on protein bars is not filling enough for me while I'm feeling deprived.  Doctor weight-loss clinics (like Medifast and Physician's Weight-Loss) seem too expensive.  And, finally, surgery?  Definitely NOT for me!  So, we'll see what I come up with.

"See less of you next week!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feeling Good So Soon

When I arrived home last night from my weigh-in I tried to play a little game with my husband.  And since it was Valentine's Day, we made it interesting.  The deal was, if he could guess my total weight loss to date to the exact tenth of a pound then...well, you can figure it out.

Do you believe that bastard guessed it right on the mark?!  I couldn't freakin' believe it.  I insisted he cheated; looked it up somewhere or even called my counselor.  Which, he did not.  But, he was that good, right down to the last ounce.  Total weight loss after three weeks on Diet Center,...11.2 pounds!  And, that is without exercise.  Just imagine what will happen (hopefully) when I actually begin to move my fat ass!

Upon arrival to the DC office and before facing the scale I experienced a sense of dread and trepidation.  I felt that I had succumbed to some old habits last week.  Like, some pita chips with hummus.  Cooking a pot roast with mashed potatoes for Sunday dinner.  Going out to eat at least three times last week can also leave you susceptible to sodium overload.  There were a lot of unknowns.  The thing that helped me keep everything balanced was writing down everything I consumed in my journal, even if it wasn't 'on program'.  I was psychologically preparing myself for a weight gain but, surprise, I lost.

This brings me to something huge that I am beginning to master on this journey to a (hmm) bikini body (hmm, again).  Living your life without deprivation is the only way to live.  Life does not have to stop when you begin to eat healthy.  In fact, it seems that life becomes a rebirth when you are reteaching yourself about what your body needs and wants in order to live and thrive.

For years I became one of the many followers of the belief that 'faster and cheaper is better'.  In fact, faster and cheaper can kill you faster (not sure about cheaper, though).  I now realize that when you look hard enough and contemplate the quality of food that you put in your body sometimes it is worth the cost.  But, it is always more fun trying to find the best and highest quality for the cheapest price.

Aldi is the answer for me.  First, I am very familiar with the layout of the store and I can get a weeks worth of groceries for under $50 in less than 30 minutes.  It has the least expensive fresh fruits and veggies bar none.  There isn't as much variety as say, Lowes Foods where I happen to buy my kale and brussel sprouts, but Aldi can't be beat for broccoli or peppers.  I also like their lean chopped meat and chicken tenders.  One of my favorite quick meals is using the frozen wild-caught salmon at less than $5.00 for a pack of four three-ounce steaks.

So, all this good, healthy food makes me realize that this is how we should treat our bodies every single minute of every single day.  We are all worth the extra effort and the extra dime.  Being selective about what we choose to put in our bodies should be taught from the very beginning.  It takes at least 30 days to break a habit and 30 days to adopt a new habit.  It's a shame that a lot of the obese Americans will never get the chance to learn the lessons I am at this very moment...

Part of living without deprivation is treating ourselves to something special.  I did that at least three times last week.  On Tuesday we went to Shucker's, a fine seafood restaurant, for lunch.  Besides it being a little cheaper at lunch, the portions are still generous.  I started from the moment we sat down and explained to the waitress we (my mom and I) are on a special diet and we immediately declined the hush puppies.  We ordered unsweetened iced tea with lemon.  Two green salads, no croutons, with balsamic vinegar.  Mom had the broiled scallops while I had the grilled shrimp.  We doubled up on the veggies (her with broccoli, me with mixed veggies) and we eliminated the starch.  We were so full and satisfied at the end of our meal that we took enough home for another meal.

My second treat was our typical Friday night out.  Yes, every Friday after a long, hard week we go out and celebrate the upcoming weekend.  The entourage includes myself, my mother, and my son(s).  Prior to the commencement of my journey we would typically hit our favorite local Italian restaurant, La Foresta, where we would indulge in their appetizer sampler and their white pizza.  Lately, we've been trying other restaurants and this night included Chili's.  Before we went out I Googled "Eat This, Not That" to see what would be the best of the worst items on the menu.  I went with the fajitas (no tortilla wraps) while my mom doubled up on the shrimp skewers and broccoli.  It was very enjoyable but I do worry about the salt content of food prepared by others especially in that type of restaurant.

On Saturday, before we went to see The Artist (an excellent movie), we took a chance at a place called the Lynnwood Grill.  This is your typical sports bar and family restaurant that serves everything from wings to pizza.  After taking a serious gander at the menu I was delighted to see a variety of salads in which you could add your choice of protein.  I had a Greek salad with grilled chicken.  Hold the croutons.  Balsamic vinaigrette on the side.  I was excited to see quality lettuce being used like spinach and arugula.  Unsweetened tea with lemon and we were all set.  Yes, you can choose something healthy even in a sports bar.

The bottom line is treat yourself the way YOU DESERVE to be treated.  We are only on this earth once (as far as I know) and in order to live a long and healthy life we must pay attention to how we fuel our bodies.  Making yourself BELIEVE that you are worth the extra money for the fresh vegetable or exotic fruit or organic chicken (if you so desire) is half the battle.  Adopting a healthy lifestyle is a MINDSET.  It is not easy and it takes a lot of training to keep you focused on the benefits of making good choices.

It is something I have to do each day for the rest of my life!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Revelations

First, let me begin with the 'good' stuff.  I am eight pounds less than I was two weeks ago!

Second, the things I did 'right' this week are:  vitamins with hot lemon juice, writing down everything in my food diary that I consume during the day, and eating an apple a day.

Third, what I need to work on for next week is:  incorporate at least 10 minutes of exercise or walking each day, listen to my body when it tells me it's full and don't finish what's on my plate just because it's there, and use less butter and salt in cooking.

Finally, this past week has brought a number of revelations to the forefront.  Very important realizations that have most likely assisted in the state of my current physical situation.  Also known as the reasons why I am morbidly obese.

1.  I am the way I am because I eat too much.  It is my fault.  I take ownership of my situation.  There is no one to blame but myself.  Food is how I chose to deal with my pain.  I am no different than an alcoholic who seeks solace in the bottle or a sex addict who frequents adult websites or prostitutes.  Food is my addiction.

2.  I cannot be fully 'healed' until I come to grips with the pain of my past.  I watched Dr. Oz this week which is not my ordinary habit at 3:00 p.m..  But, I am glad I did turn on the television at this time.  One day Dr. Oz was interviewing Rosie O'Donnell.  Now, I have been a fan of Rosie O'Donnell on and off from the time when was a v-jay comic on VH-1.  I don't currently watch her show on the Oprah channel because I don't have fancy cable.  During the interview she appeared to finally have her shit together.  She's not as manic as she was five or so years ago.  She attributes her turn-around to bio-identical hormone replacement therapy promoted by Suzanne Somers.  She is also in a new relationship and has incorporated some healthy eating habits.  What struck me most about her interview was her honesty with Dr. Oz.  She said she was avoiding talking to him because of her weight.  She also revealed that people who have been abused use food to comfort themselves and cover themselves.  Acting as a mask, belly fat that hangs over your waist is hiding your genitals.  It is disguising the source of your pain so you don't have to look at it and be reminded of your sexual abuse.  Wow, very forthcoming and interesting.  I love the psychology behind that;  Freud might put his stamp of approval on that one.   Definitely food for thought (pun intended).

3.   I don't realize just how big I am because I see myself as me:  intelligent, creative, and kind.  I did not realize that other people first assess me as the obese lady or fat woman.  In a way it doesn't make sense that I would not know that this is how people see me.  It is not how I see myself so how could I know that others see me in a different way?  What's even funnier (or worse) is that I have assessed people the same way, just by their appearance.  I have put labels on people without knowing them personally.  It is shameful.  It is part of this body dysmorphic disorder.  I don't feel like I'm morbidly obese or over 300 pounds on the inside but in reality there is no hiding my physical appearance.  I guess I have to start seeing me the way others do to help me realize I am not healthy.

4.  90% of my life I have been:  chubby, fatso, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.  In a way my entire life's journey has been stifled by my physical handicap.  My life decisions have revolved around my physical size.  I have altered my dreams and aspirations to accommodate my physical shortcomings.  I came to realize this while reading a friend's blog about her recent vacation to Asia.  The account of her travels and observations about people in different countries and cultures gave me a taste of what my life could be if I were free to explore the world without reservation or inhibition.  I dream about a gondola ride in Venice or a stroll over the famous bridge in Prague but then I'm reminded of the impossibility of transporting my body from this place to there.  Never mind the fact that I'm afraid to fly...but then I wonder, am I afraid to fly because of my size?

5.  After an in-depth, heated discussion/argument with my spouse in which we attack eachothers sore spots and sources of sensitivity I came to realize that while I am responsible for my obesity I do have loved ones who are enablers.  While they may love me and do things for me out of the premise of loving me unconditionally, some of what they do or who they are has 'allowed' me to be the way I am...morbidly obese.  My mother, my husband, my sons have all expressed concern over my health but rather than piss me off because they know how I'll react they continue to love me and (probably) pray that I will make changes on my own volition.  Until then they decide to continue loving me no matter what.  While this may help overall, it also hinders.  I'm not blaming them, I am just recognizing the pain I've caused them over the years.  To love someone so much and worry about their health and how long they'll live is stressful.

As I continue with my weight-loss journey I am eagerly awaiting more revelations.  While I anticipate facing my pain I also know that this is a critical step in becoming a more healthy person.

My motto for the coming week:  One Day at a Time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Biting Off a Little At a Time

It's been one week since I began my new journey toward bikini land (or somewhere in the vicinity).

Great news!  There is 6.8 pounds less of me today than there was last week.  Yay for me!

It was not easy.  I happened to start this adventure just when Aunt Flo came to town and, as usual, I was not a happy camper.  Add to that the mere fact that I was going from 2400 calories a day to 1400 calories a day.  I was a miserable bitch at times.

Getting into the routine of it took a day or two.  I begin each day with my vitamins taken with hot lemon juice and a cup of herbal or chai tea.  Then I have a fruit and or protein.  I seem to be eating about every three hours or so.  This keeps my blood sugar at an even keel and I don't necessarily feel like I'm depriving myself or that I am on a strict diet.  I just have it in my head that I am eating healthy and making better choices.  I'll either have a large salad with protein at lunch or dinner depending on the day.  I've eliminated cooking with salt and have restricted my butter to less than a teaspoon a day.  My salad dressing choices are oil and vinegar or a vinaigrette.  I bake my naked chicken breast (no skin nor bone) with salt-free spices and lemon juice.  I use non-stick cooking spray when I saute or make an omelet.  I have at least one apple a day and if I get famished at night I save at least one starch allowance for my 94% fat free popcorn.  Obviously, I drink at least 64 ounces of water or more.  Needless to say, the bathroom and I are close buddies.

My family has been very supportive.  My son has been eating (and enjoying) the 'new' way I cook dinner.  He likes to try new things anyway and this makes it very easy for me.  My husband is encouraging me by basically staying out of my way and tolerating my bossy ways.  My mother went for a consultation this week and will try a similar program for five weeks.  Having the people closest to you cheer you on is super important when you are trying to make a life change.  I am so lucky that I am loved.

I keep the ideal image of me in my mind when I contemplate how difficult temptations can sabotage good intentions.  So far, I'm proud of the decisions I made.  For instance, last night when we went out to dinner (yes, we continue to live and enjoy life) I took the time to speak with the waitress and really think about the best choices for me.  I was upfront from the start and said I was on a strict diet and had to avoid salt and butter.  I ended up getting a garden salad and steamed shrimp.  It was excellent and I felt proud of myself that I took the time to 'be good'.  The only temptation was skipping the blue cheese but eventually I'll get over it. 

My immediate goal is to take one day at a time and not to beat myself up.  So far, I am scar-free.  But, I'm not going to kid myself.  My journey is long and will have many twists and turns I'm sure.  Adopting these new habits like writing everything down and filling in boxes will help me realize the quantity I consume.

My mission to cut my size in half, thus, my caloric intake must match that as well.  Let me clarify my goal.  Overall, yes, it's true, I hope to be half my size at least 18 months from now.  But, in order to keep my sanity and motivation I must chip off that number in bits of 25 pounds.  So, I am allowing myself 13 weeks to be down by 25 pounds.  And as time goes by and weight is harder to lose, I hope to lose about 10 pounds a month.  But, I will continue to take it one day at a time and I reserve the right to restructure my goals as my journey continues.

Goal for the next week:  Incorporate 30 minutes of exercise.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Transforming My Dream Into Reality

The other day, after a restful sleep in my new king-sized bed, I woke up and realized that I am ready for my new mission.

It began the previous night as I shut off my light and tried to prepare my brain for sleep.  Sometimes I just have to refocus my brain on something pleasant so that I can have a peaceful rest.  I started thinking about the things I am addicted to OTHER THAN FOOD.

For a long time, and even before I started to sell AVON, I enjoyed experimenting with makeup.  I probably started wearing my first eye make-up in middle school.  My first eyeliner that I can remember was the Maybelline kohl eyeliner in Navy.  I admit I've had my bouts of being too made up especially in high school and then again after I graduated college and worked in my early twenties as a single girl.  During college I was sporting a tan so I left make-up for the evening or special occasions.  And, once I had kids?  Well, if you are a mother, you pretty much can agree that you just didn't have the time or desire to put your looks on the front burner.  But, even in those times, I always made sure I had something on my lips.  Whether it was lipstick, lip gloss, or lip balm I would not leave the house without it.  Lip gloss is my mainstay cosmetic.  I am addicted and most recently I've expanded my own personal product cache with the mark. product, also sold by AVON.  I just love the 'hook-up' cosmetics that are portable, interchangeable, fun to wear, and are among my favorite to wear.

As I began to go into my slumber I also thought about my vast array of sandals in my closet.  No, not shoes, but specifically, sandals.  Sandals are the reason why I started to sell AVON in the first place.  One day, almost three years ago, I was at my mom's house and browsed through an AVON catalog that she offered to me since she was planning to make a purchase and wanted to know if I saw anything.  In my mind, I thought AVON only sold cosmetics, jewelry, and perfume.  But, when I realized that there was a cute array of clothes and accessories including shoes and handbags, I was sold.  From that point, my mission was to be able to shop and save money as a representative.  Signing up to sell AVON was inexpensive and easy.  I really just wanted the discount.  Let's just say, my closet is overflowing with my favorite footwear, sandals, thanks to AVON.

The third thing I realized, as I was trying to fall asleep, is that I am addicted to bathing suits.  Or, swim suits.  This penchant for swim wear began way before AVON.  It probably began when I was at college in Florida.  Back then, I actually had a figure to wear a bikini if you can believe it.  I was not skinny by any means.  But, I was confident enough in my body and curves (and year-round tan) to sport the two-piece in public on the beach.  There were times I would even have a male approach me, flirt, and ask for a date.  I was probably a size14 back then.  I had a very cute purple bandeau-top bikini, a light pink-striped bikini, and a multi-stripe bikini.  For years I kept these in a box along with my sexy lingerie and teddies that I wore when my husband and I were dating.  I only got rid of this box four years ago but I still reminisce about the contents and regret that I did not keep it.  It was supposed to be a motivation tool.  Well, that never really panned out, did it?  Or, did it?

The other night I continued to think about all of the bathing suits I've acquired over the years.  A lot of them unworn and purchased with the intention of motivating me to do something about my appearance.  Whether it was from Newport News clearance online (a very affordable resource) or Old Navy closeouts at the end of the season, I've accumulated many pieces of swim wear.  Some are bikinis, some are sexy one-pieces, mono-kinis, and I even have a sexy zebra one-piece that I got for 97 cents last year from Old Navy.  There was no way I could pass that bargain up!  Sadly, I've never been able to wear about 80% of the suits I own.  I believe I faced my reality last year when we scheduled a vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC and I realized there was not a bathing suit in my closet that I could adorn in public.  We made a last-minute purchase from an online store with women's-sized one piece grandma suits.  It wasn't terrible but in no way did it make me feel like the cool, hip mom that I feel like inside.  I felt fat and frumpy; basically, the way the world most likely sees me on the outside (because they don't know the real me; the person I am inside).

Anyway, I woke up with a mission!  I am ready to face the way the world sees me from the outside and I am ready to change that perception to how I feel on the inside.  My goal is to fit into a bathing suit by the summer that will not embarrass me or my family when I hit the beach.  It will realistically be a one-piece but by next year I hope to be sporting something sexier and maybe even a two-piece or mono-kini. That would be awesome!

But this is quite a goal and I realize the road is long and winding and perhaps even never-ending.  Making such a change will require an entire life change.  Changing mind, body, and soul.  I finally realized that I want to live!  I want to be with my family and see them achieve their goals.  I want to be healthy and feel better.

So, on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, I signed up at the Diet Center to weigh in and make a 12 week commitment to lose 25 pounds.  I have much, much more than that to lose but I must break it down into increments of 25 pounds so that I keep motivated and can celebrate each goal as a step in my journey to transform my life and LIVE!

I'll keep you posted on my progress...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back to Life, Back to Reality

So, it is three days into the new year of 2012 and real life begins, again.

I'm up at 5:15 a.m., gathering the tubs of dirty laundry from upstairs and dragging the entire load down the stairs, one step at a time.  While the kid is in the shower, I begin to sort by color:  greens, reds/purples, black, greys/beiges, blues, and whites.  I end up with a total of seven loads not bad for a family of four over five days.

The bagel is made, the lunch (already made the night before) is placed near the book bag, and I open a cup of yogurt.  By 6:10 a.m., I grab my big grey sweater and greet the 20 degree early morning with a shiver as I unlock the car door.  I'll warm up the car for a few minutes before I drive the kid to the bus stop.  Kids are spoiled these days.  In my mind I find myself saying (to myself), 'back in my day, I had to walk to the bus stop and wait for it to come no matter what the weather; even in rain and snow.'  But, there's only three and a half more years left until he graduates so why stop now?  I think we agreed this year that we would drive him to the bus stop in the morning if it was raining or under 40 degrees.  So far, we've been blessed with a mild winter, knock on wood.

I restart the boiling pot filled with the leftover chicken carcass from our Sunday dinner.  I plan to make homemade soup today, using the bag of spices and vegetable soup mix that my mom gave to me over the holidays.  After the meat cools and I pick off the meat and shred it I'll prepare the carrots and onion.  I'll also add some diced tomatoes and great northern white beans for texture and flavor.  The chicken broth already is permeating throughout the house.

By the time I'm done folding my first load of laundry I am peeling a grapefruit.  My neighbor gave us some beautiful fruit for the holidays.  So, while I didn't specifically declare losing weight as a New Year's resolution it is kind of a no-brainer that I will adopt a healthier eating regime with the promise of a new year and fresh start.  The grapefruit was pink, plump, and delicious.  I already feel 50 pounds lighter.  Ha!

Okay, now to weed through my 'in' box.  Sorting receipts from the last couple of days and gathering the most recent stuff to add to my pile of 2011 tax documents.  Working on the tax stuff is priority one this week and next.  I hope to have my spreadsheets completed by next week so that when we get the W-2 I can get to H&R Block, file, and then complete the FAFSA so that my kid can continue to go to university.  No pressure.  Ha!

I've got an entire Sunday newspaper to go through today in between cooking and laundry.  Read, go through coupons, cut coupons, organize coupons, and file coupons.  Yes, organization is really not a problem for me.  I've got some thank you notes to do, birthday card to sign, and then back to taxes this afternoon.  Load  number five is in the wash and I have a hankering for something warm.  How about a hot chocolate with marshmallows?  Of course, and don't forget the pumpkin spice muffin that we got from Mimi's the other day.  Delicious on a cold winter's morning!

Other stuff on the horizon this week?  Organizing the linen closet to accommodate my new linens for my new KING size bed that was purchased on New Year's Eve.  Yes, we are super excited since we never owned a bed of such stature.  Plus the fact that it's been over ten years since we had a new bed of any sort.  We had a fun time searching for some bargains yesterday when I hit the retailers with mom:  Marshall's, TJ Maxx, and Home Goods.  I hate spending money but I love getting a bargain, if you can call it that.  I got two different comforters(one is Ralph Lauren, yay) and three sets of sheets.  I will be preparing our room in the next seven days to welcome the new addition.

Later this week I'll be heading toward Greensboro to drop off our eldest back to his dormitory for his spring semester.  Before I get to that point I promised myself to devise a budget for him and a daily time management calender so that he can begin with his best foot forward.  As parents, we have to give our kids the tools they need to succeed.  The rest is up to them.  I will continue to nag, support, and encourage.  Oh yeah, and pray.  A lot.  And, crossing my fingers wouldn't hurt either. 

Dr. Phil is on now, as background noise, while I think about everything that kept me from a good night's sleep last night.  I may have gotten a full two hours of sleep.  I'll see how long I last today and whatever I don't finish today, I'll finish tomorrow.  Hakuna Matata...it means no worries.  Yeah, right.  Actually, I am off to a great start so far.  I am proud that I had such an ambitious list of things to do as I hit my reality head-on.

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