February Update and March Announcement; Going the Distance

First things first -- #FebGTD is coming to a close.  How did you do with your mileage goals?

Consider answering the Going the Distance summary questions I've listed in this page (which I will be updating soon!).

I would *LOVE* to see your love letters to yourself (and I hope to post mine tomorrow) as well as link to them through my blog. 

It's never too late to update the #FebGTD spreadsheet!

Like I said in the Half-Way Point update, the whole challenge has been...well... challenging.  Not only did I start the month in a mileage defecit, but I found it hard to make the things I love about myself actually about myself versus things that I loved outside of immediate skin (such as my life, my family, my friends, etc.).

Drumroll please.....  

Grab the logo for yourself (copy and paste HTML into your blog)

You'll notice a few things....

1.  The consensus is, in an effort to make transitions from month-to-month easier, to make the hashtag a consistent #GoTheDist (not to be confused with #GTD (Getting Things Done)!

2.  A funny little play on words -- Growing the Distance.  I was trying to think about themes, and I was thinking about Spring:
  • It's a time when things grow.  (We've planted the seeds of change with a few months of the Going the Distance Challenge, and it's time to step it up -- work towards increasing distances, or setting personal records.  It's also a great time to seek to learn more -- learn a new exercise, ingest some more knowledge, try a new recipe, etc.)
  • It's a time of renewal and change.  (Especially in the wake of the February #GoTheDist Challenge, I think it's a great time to look at ourselves honestly and compassionately and seek to improve not just our weights, but ourselves, our lives.  Think about this when considering your non-food reward!)
  • It's a time of Spring Cleaning.  (Think about how much stuff -- emotional, mental, physical -- we carry around.  Isn't it time to let go of a few burdens?)
3.  I've changed the Summary page on the March #GoTheDist spreadsheet a bit.  I've made it so people who are doing 2 modalities can track on the same individual page.  Not all miles are created equal (think about it:  it's much easier to bike a mile than it is to swim a mile, right?)  Now it's a bit easier to separate those modalities.

And while this is NOT a change, I do want to mention this:  March is the SIXTH month of the #GoTheDist challenge.  There have been people who have participated in every month, some in just one or two.  But suffice it to say, we're no longer novices.  We are strong and capable enough to be leaders.

To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: 

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

#GoTheDist is the trail I have left for everyone who has needed a trail.  Have you brought someone on the journey with you?  Have you left a trail of your own? 

How to Join:

1. Click on the SUMMARY PAGE (bookmarking it would be a good idea as you will be using it often)
2. Fill out a line on the "Summary" spreadsheet (do not use Columns F or G, J or K -- they automatically calculate)
3. Find your correlating individual tab (it should be "@[line number where you entered your info]") -- make sure your information from the "Summary" tab has been pulled onto this sheet (and not someone else's information -- if so, contact me).
4. Rename the tab "@[twitter name]" or if you don't have Twitter "[nickname]"
5. Fill out the sheet as you wish.
6. Update your own individual page as needed. The total mileage will automatically be updated on the Summary tab as you report on your individual page.
7. Follow #GoTheDist on Twitter for support if you need it or to support others when they do, to announce achievements, and find new/old friends!
8. PLEASE DO NOT DELETE LINES OR TABS! Do not SORT.  If you want to add columns, please add them to the RIGHT of the page.  Please do NOT move your page around! You CAN bookmark your individual page using your browser to find it easily.


I've written before about how I believe that many people become obese (not the casual overweight) because of some sort of trauma in their lives.  I won't rehash what I wrote in the linked entry, as I believe it adequately describes my thoughts. In that way, the excess weight isnt merely pounds to be lost, but scars to be healed.

I've also written before about some of the trauma in my life--my maternal grandmother ("Nana") dying (1989), namely my mother having three miscarriages (1989, 1990, 1991), and my own mother dying (1994).  But it wasn't these events that necessarily were the trauma, but the context and/or manner in which they arose.

In 1987, Nana had a massive stroke and was partially paralyzed.  We found her a nursing home close to where we lived and she stayed there for close to two years.  In December 1989, we went to visit her the same day we put up the Christmas tree.  My mother and I went inside the nursing home to visit with my grandmother while my brother and father were outside in the car.  I don't know what was special about that night or that moment in particular, but my mother began talking to Nana about Nana's husband, John.  He had died in 1966.  My mother spoke softly about how Nana probably missed John, and that John missed Nana.  My mother softly stroke my grandmothers white hair neatly away from her face.  In a very short time (under 20 minutes?) my mother was able to give my grandmother permission to as well as coax her into letting go.  It is a profound experience for a 8 year old to intimately witness the death of a grandparent.  It was an experience that was never put into context, and I was never able to express my confusion and hurt of that experience.  Why did my mother insist that I was there for that moment?

By 1989, I think I was old enough to comprehend what a miscarriage was -- maybe not the word, but the concept of "mommy lost the baby."  I saw her crying, I saw her depression and anger.  I knew something was very wrong.  When she was pregnant the second time, I tried my hardest to be help her and be careful with mommy so that she didn't lose the baby.  I don't remember being told about the third baby until after mom had lost it.  One day when mom was trying to explain it to me, she told me that "maybe if you were more helpful around the house, mommy wouldn't have lost the baby."   It took many years to pinpoint that comment as the actual trauma -- it wasn't that mommy lost the babies, it was that she insinuated that there was something I could have done to prevent it.  As an adult, I realize just how ridiculous that was, and that I had no control or impact on her ability to carry a child.

On September 5, 1994, my mother woke in the middle of the night throwing up in bed.  My father enlisted help to take care of and tend to mom while he changed the sheets.  By morning she had no recollection that she was sick in the middle of the night.  But the headache she woke with never went away.  The doctor she went to did a cursory examination and said that she had a sinus infection.  They gave her some prescriptions and sent her on her way.  Over the next few days she was sick enough that both my grandma (my dad's stepmother) and my mom's former teacher/friend, Eileen, tended to her bedside while we were at school.  The headache wasn't getting better.  They took her to the hospital.  The initial diagnosis was a severe sinus infection.  The ache in my gut told me that it wasn't the case.  My brother and I knew something was wrong in her head.  People seemed to glance over the most important detail--something that stood out to both me and my brother at the time--that my mother didn't remember getting sick.  The third night she was in the hospital my mother had a massive seizure and went into a coma.  It was too late.  The aneurysm in her head that had been causing the headaches, the nausea, the memory loss, had ruptured.  My mother never awoke from the coma.  On September 27th, my father returned from the hospital to my grandparents' house (where we had been going after school) to tell us that our mother had died.

One could see how that alone was a significant trauma to a 13 year old -- but even looking back, that wasn't the trauma that caused me to overeat and shut down into a stoic, angry teen.  It was once again the details and the context:  my mother had not simply died.  They had done two tests to determine that there was no brain function.  The first one was a few days before my father had decided to remove her from life support.  The anger was because for days no one told me that my prayers were futile, that my negotiations with god were wasted breaths.  The hurt was because no one warned me that it might be a good time to say goodbye.  My father robbed me of the chance to kiss my mother's warm cheek and tell her that I loved her.  His selfish decision to have those moments for himself were the hardest thing for me to forgive.  You might say that he was doing what he thought was best for his children, but please don't.  I know my father better than you do.  I know his mental process.  I've even discussed this with him.  The idea of including his children (one who had already witnessed the death of a family member) in this decision had never crossed his mind.  He had days to prepare himself for the inevitable, whereas it hit me like a sack of bricks.  I can still feel the sensation of the wind being knocked out of me as I fell to my grandparents' light blue living room carpeting, screaming desperately that I had been wronged by the universe.

The injury continued when my father did not let me speak at her funeral.  The injury continued when my father's grief (the dredged up grief from his past as well as the current grief) overshadowed my own.  The injury continued when I was forced to grow up and deal with things beyond my emotional capacity without any guidance or comfort from my father. Instead, the roles were switched -- my father asking his child for comfort, seeking guidance from his child.  I was only able to deal with my grief and my issues once I was out of the house and in college, and only then was I allowed to experience my grief and feelings as my own.  ((Just FYI -- my dad and I have discussed all of this, and I've been able to find forgiveness in my heart for most of this, however this is a huge scar in my life and the healing will take and has taken a long time)).

Last year, in April, my dad's stepmother, Janet, passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's (my father's biological mother passed away in 1957 as a result of a heart defect).  My father called me at work to tell me this news.  It was expected, but it still dredged up all the history, all the feelings of what it is like to lose someone you love, and that loved you.  Since then, my grandfather's health hasn't been so great. 

And well, I'm bracing myself for the inevitable storm.

The hardest thing for me to deal with in all of this is trying to carve out a space for my own feelings -- not having to defer to someone else's feelings or be inundated by drama, logistics, or anything else.  My grandpa is my last living grandparent.  He is the champion of my romantic life.  In his old age he has mellowed out (in some ways) and become someone I can have inside jokes with and gently tease.  When he is sick and everyone is talking about the medications he's on and which doctor he's seen, I'm the one that asks him how he's doing and tries to get him to laugh.  Being 200+ miles away is hard, but we chat on the phone (when his lungs are up to it) and email frequently.   My relationship and experience with my grandfather is my own little treasure.

I'm not writing this post looking for sympathy (and I'd actually prefer if people didn't comment on this entry).  However it's something I needed to write in order to move forward.


align·ment  1: the act of aligning or state of being aligned; especially : the proper positioning or state of adjustment of parts (as of a mechanical or electronic device) in relation to each other
i.e. wheel alignment in a car, vertebrae alignment in your back, the alignment of the stars. 

As humans, we like to see patterns.  We like to draw lines through things, and from one thing to another.  We love symmetry. 

It's no wonder when we're malaligned or something is misaligned that we feel out of sorts.  Even the tiniest bit of being misaligned can make our whole universe feel off kilter.  

I studied the Alexander Technique as part of my training for being a singer (opera).  The goal of the Alexander Technique is not to always have perfect posture or alignment, but instead to know what alignment feels like and how to return to it.  Alignment was the effortless "ahh" of your body not straining.

I am going to venture a huge guess here that most people reading my blog have at one point had an alignment problem -- not regarding posture, but regarding diet and exercise.  
For most of us, something was very off kilter before we began our LCJ.  And worse of all, we did not know we were off kilter until we perhaps did something regrettable (a binge, overexercising, taking it out on our body some other way).  Most of us did not have the tools to return to a healthy stasis.  
Or in the case of many people, there was a "well fuck it" attitude, and if you were going to go a little off balance, why not go all the way off balance.  You feel bad about eating 2 slices of pizza, so if you're going to feel guilty, why not eat 3.  You feel bad about not going to the gym one day, so why put it off another day? 

But the thing is when you are unbalanced like that, often the corrective measure is just as extreme.  If you go a little off balance and are able to note it, the correction is much smaller.  The guilt is much smaller.  The fall is not as far.  The climb back is not as treacherous. 

I just wanted to say this about alignment -- take the time to know yourself.  Take the time to figure out where your alignment feels right -- in your body, in your mind, in your diet, in your exercise plan.  Constantly check this alignment (HINT: it is NOT measured on a scale) via a quiet meditation on the state of yourself.  Like a good friend calling someone they haven't heard from in a few days, just check in.   Make subtle corrections as needed and without judgment.  

There is much peace to be had in knowing all is right, or within a few degrees of being right.

My Very First Vlog

There's a lot I wanted to say here, but never really got it all in the video.

Long story short, Emily had me in her apartment showing me a few moves I could do outside of the gym and a few of them were really hard for me.  She told me that she'd often tell herself "I can do anything for 30 seconds."  Those words really stuck in my head -- that it was a mental challenge, not just a physical one.  I just needed to stick with it and get myself through the panic, the doubt, the fear and on the other side of all of it was someone that was remarkably capable.

So when I was running the 2.5 miles on the treadmill (something that scares me and is hard for me) I imagined Emily right there next to me saying I could do it.  Once I believe her voice telling me I could do it, I started saying it to myself (out loud, the the mirror across the gym) -- "You can do anything.  You've got this, Robby."

Sometimes if we can't trust in ourselves, it helps to have someone who believes in us begin the mantra.  I trust Emily.  I trust that she's been through all of this.  I now trust that I can and will see myself through to the other side.

#FebGTD -- Half-way point

In the #FebGTD announcement I asked a deceptively simple question:

"what it would take to love myself right here, right now, as I am?"

Turns out it's pretty hard to do on a continual basis.  We may have moments here or there when we are full of love and adoration for who we are, but it is often interspersed with moments of doubt and dread.  The challenge becomes a bit more complex -- how do you love yourself through those moments of doubt, not in spite of them?

Thich Nhat Hanh once described anger as "a howling baby, suffering and crying. The baby needs his mother to embrace him.  You are the mother for your baby, your anger.  The moment you begin to practice breathing mindfully in and out, you have the energy of a mother, to cradle and embrace the baby. Just embracing your anger, just breathing in and breathing out, that is good enough.  The baby will feel relief right away."

The same can be said for almost every single negative emotion -- doubt, fear, anxiety, hurt, etc.  The more we ignore it, the more the suffering grows.  To be able to invite doubt, fear, anxiety, hurt, etc., into your heart is a profound experience.  Negative emotions need as much (or even more) nurturing than the positive ones.  Negative emotions need a place to exist and feel safe until the moment has passed.  Your heart and mind are strong enough to hold and understand both the positive and negative aspects of life without any dissonance or discord.  Your heart and mind can reconcile these feelings.

If we can invite ourselves into our heart (instead of to some food) in the moments when we feel unlovely, unloveable, or unloved, we find a vast expanse of compassion there.  This is where the seed of worthiness is planted.  If one is able to "make love of [one's ]self perfect" we find the patience and space to work through these feelings -- to figure out what is real and what is perceived.   When we connect to ourselves, we may feel vulnerable, but in the end it is often how we connect to each other, and in turn feel loveable and loved.

Bright Fame

The meaning of the name Roberta is "bright fame."

It's also the title of Jerome Kern's 1933 musical -- known for the song "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" -- later made into a movie with Fred Astaire, Irene Dunne, and Ginger Rogers
Roberta was also the robotic secretary for the Fab 4 (in comic strips).
Roberta Flack killed a bunch of people softly.
Billy Joel also wrote a song about a prostitute named Roberta.
There even was a band in DC called "Fat Roberta"

I call "Roberta" the international Fat Girl name because one too many times I'd watch a tv show or a movie and the fat girl (or the crazy girl) would be named Roberta.  She was the butt of the joke.

If you pronounce it with a hard American accent you get Ro-burr-duh.  It sounds heavy.  (It get sexier if you add a little roll Rrrrobearta.)

Sometime in middle school I had an aversion to my name as well as its many splendid nicknames such as Bert or (Big) Bertha.  Bertie and Bobbie were mildy annoying.  More annoying was when people would call me Rebecca, Robin, or Rob/Bob.

It wasn't until college when I was dating D, and he came up with the nickname Robby (after I added a "Mr" in front of his name because he was a bit older than I was).  We decided then and there that it would be Robby, with a "y" not an "ie."  One person is allowed to call me Bert, by special waiver.  My father even apologizes when he calls me Roberta.

I'm not the fat, frumpy, sometimes-crazy Roberta as tv/movies/lifetime specials would want me to believe, but a Robby of her own making.  I still sign my name Roberta, but that's because legally it is still my name. 

Everyone at work calls me Robby. I introduce myself as Robby.
It's who I've been ever since that first utterance of "yeah, that sounds like me."

Where do I want to be in 6 months?

I'm at 192 lbs right now (yeah, I know... 4lbs over my low). 
In 6 months I hope to be at 175.

I hope to be blissfully happy.

And the thing is this -- I know that I can commit to making the choices required to achieve both things.
I can choose to have a positive attitude.
I can choose to open my heart to the world.
I can choose to put in the work because I'm worth it.

In 6 months, I'll be celebrating my 30th birthday.
It's going to be a very good year.

Truth, Frogs, and The Future

This post is dedicated to Kendra, who has inspired me to, just this once, really bare it all in a way I haven't before. Not only is she hilarious, but she is one of the bravest women I know when it comes to examining herself and sharing herself with her followers.  It is also dedicated to my many followers who have allowed me to be honest and vulnerable without judging me.

[WARNING:  To my friends & family that may read this -- there are some really personal things in this entry.  Please don't read this if you can't handle reading about my (past) sex life.]

"The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely" -- Carl Jung

So the main aspect of the Going the Distance challenges should be familiar to most of you (even if you haven't participated) -- to set a distance goal and achieve it.  Some of us reach our goals, some of us don't, but what we're learning along the way is that (1) setting a goal is an indication we expect something (greatness?) from ourselves, (2) we can push our our minds and our bodies beyond what we had formerly expected, and (3) we can feel a sense of accomplishment even if we come up short. 

But #FebGTD has introduced a terrifying (to borrow from Carl Jung) aspect to the challenge to some people:  to find ourselves lovable -- on both good days and bad.  At the end of February, I want everyone to write a love letter to themselves, but I thought it'd be much easier if they had a list of 28 individual things they love about themselves.  I can't wait to see what people come up with.  Already there seems to be a few different angles -- people loving a part of their body because of what that body part is capable of, people who pick a part of themselves because they love how that part makes them feel, and people who go under the surface and talk about who they are instead of what they are.

Loving myself has often meant that I have to correct a wrong from my past.  Either I've hated on myself, someone else has made me feel bad about my body, or society in general has tried to make me feel less than because I am one thing and not the other.

My mother was one of those people who made me feel bad about my body.  It took many years and lots of patience for me to realize that it wasn't out of malice that she was doing this, but that she had deep insecurities about her own body.  It is with great compassion that I am trying to reshape many bad memories, for her benefit and my own.  Her main critique of my body was not that I was fat, but that I had hips and breasts.  She didn't have the hourglass shape that her mother had.  That I have.

These hips came in handy this morning when my cat threw up 6 times, and would meow at me until I picked him up and balanced him on my hip.  One front paw would go on my boobs, the other around my back, and his head against my shoulder, his rear legs balanced on my butt and stomach.  Something about being held like that reassured him that I was going to take care of him.  I can only imagine what this would be like with a human child.  Hips weren't these lascivious things that my mom was worried would catapult me from childhood to adulthood, but they were the vehicle through which a mother could connect with her child.  I could hold Spike and brush my teeth at the same time.

I understand now how hard it must have been with 2 young children and no hips.  Women balance all things on their hips from the attention of a man, to children, to laundry baskets.  They are tools of our trade.