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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 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!