Blissfully Happy

I've said before that I don't think anyone got overweight/obese by being blissfully happy with their life.  But I don't think I've really gone in to the corollary to that -- which is that many people who are overweight/obese are unhappy and don't own up to it.  Rather than admitting and living through their unhappiness, they stuff it down.

So it's with that in mind that I want to say two things, in reverse order:

1. Thank you and I appreciate it.
2. But if I'm going through a funk, it doesn't necessarily mean I've given in, or that I need rescue.

Ask anyone who has successfully lost the weight and kept it off:  in order to be successful with this battle, you need to be familiar with your emotions.  You don't need to spill your guts all over the internet, but you need to be on a first name basis with the negative emotions you (most of us) were trying to bury with food.

It's healthy to say "I'M ANGRY" or "I'M FRUSTRATED."  It's even healthy to say "I FEEL A LITTLE LOST."  It doesn't mean you've given up, doesn't mean you're failing.  Just means you know where you are.

And in order to climb out of the pit of despair (as it feels sometimes) you need to be able to take the first step and call a spade a spade.  And then climb.  And climb some more.

Like I said in a previous entry, "Here, I very clearly understood that all emotions (not just anger, and not just the positive emotions) have their place, have their time, and have their own needs."  So when I'm expressing frustration, anger, feeling lost, etc., I don't need a "cheer up" or "you're doing well," I need to hear "ain't it a bitch" or "I've been there."  Remind me that saying the words STAGNATION or WISHY WASHY, or UNFOCUSED are ways of naming what I feel, and it's better than running to the refrigerator.

Worry more if I say "don't worry, I'm fine" or "it's okay, I don't want to talk about it."  That means I'm shutting down and giving in.

I haven't done that yet, now, have I?

I needed to hear this....

Thank you (1) Glamour's Twitter feed and (2) Emily Ley:

A Big Fat Failure

This post must seem odd coming off the heels of being nominated as one of the Top 50 Most Inspirational Healthy Tweeps, but I feel like a Big Fat Failure.

I'm not being falsely modest or humble, I'm just calling it like I see it.
Why do I feel like a failure?  Well for starters I'm sitting here writing this post while eating Cheetos (something I haven't done in almost a year) out of a bowl as if it were cereal.  But that's not really it.

Reason 1:  My Big Brother's Wedding

This isn't one of my normal "woe is me" rants in which I vent about being single

I felt like a Big Fat Failure because, without singling anyone out, my family's health isn't the best.  There used to be a time when we were active as a family, playing football in the yard, basketball, or even t-ball (with Catholic families it's easy to side two teams).  But now? Not so much.  We've slowed down a bit and enjoy good food/drinks too much/too often.

It just struck me while at my brother's wedding:  how on earth can I be an inspiration to anyone else (hello internets!) if I can't get my own family on the right path towards health and away from all the co-morbidity factors associated with being overweight/obese. 

There's no doubt that they notice the change in me but I don't think it's enough.  They know I've lost the weight, but they didn't see it happen in real time.  Sadly, I'm 250 miles away, too far to show them (by example) the day-to-day business of being more active and managing intake.  You can't really discuss weight loss and healthy lifestyles once or twice a year over Thanksgiving dinner or at a funeral, can you?

Still, how can I possibly say I love my family members if I'm standing idly by while they are living such unhealthy lives?  That first starts with making a judgment:  "You are unhealthy."  That never flies too well among family, does it?  I'd intervene if I saw a family member with a drug or alcohol problem, but it's almost verboten to not talk about how many of my family members are overweight and inactive.  And then secondly, how can one of the babies of the family convince the elders that I know better? ...that I can help them?

For right now the only answer I know is to be (1) present in their lives (2) honest about what losing the weight has done for me and (3) honest about my fears of losing them to preventable diseases associated with obesity.

Reason 2:  Willful Stagnation

I've only marked off two of the goals I wrote down at the beginning of the year.  The one that is bothering me most is "see what 185 looks & feels like."  Why?  Because at the beginning of last November, I was 188.  185 was 3 measly pounds away.  I'm around 192 again.  I say "around" because I think that's what I am (because that's when I fit into size 12 pants and the size 12 still fit) but I haven't bit the bullet and mounted the scale.

Now, I know I'm active and that I shouldn't look at the scale to judge my progress, but I should look at my actions to judge my progress.  Well.... those aren't good either.  I'm not exercising as consistently as I was back then.  I'm not hitting my #GoTheDist targets.  I'm not food logging.  I'm seeing some of my trigger foods creep back into my life.  I'm seeing my focus wane.

I know part of that is that I've been battling some recurring injuries -- my back (as always) has been giving me some crap from boxing, my knee (from running), and my shoulder (that was new!).  I find it hard to have that much mental fortitude all the time with everything else going on in my life.  The problem was that I saw it as a "get out of gym free" card.   Not exercising because you're actually injured is a good reason to abstain from exercise, but not exercising because you've lost momentum or are afraid of re-injury is really the wimp's way out.

If you've ever met me, you know I'm not a wimp.  But I'm a Big Fat Failure because I've let everything else get in the way of what I *know* to be something I want:  to live a healthy, long, active life.  I'm a Big Fat Failure because from the outside looking in, it looks like I've given up.

I know both of these things really fall under "Tend to Your Own Garden" theme-- e.g. work on your own life before trying to help/fix other people -- but, the thing is this:  time and time again, I've come to realize that admitting my faults, showing my struggle, and renewing my resolve to fight is how I tend my garden.  

[I contemplated a cheesy line about you all being my flowers, but you're all a bit more badass than that.]

Fighting Spirit

I'm surprised that i haven't blogged about this before, but one of my favorite phrases is "Even on your worst day, you can be someone's hero."  It's a double-edged phrase:  (1) don't beat yourself up for being imperfect and (2) you still have value to share with other people.

The news of having to rehab yet another body part put me in a bit of a bit of a tailspin (I have many of those) and I had a few bad days of pain/soreness, and then feeling sorry for myself when I got an envelope in the mail.  Jack Sh!t had asked me for my address and for my willingness to participate in a secret project.  With such vague details I thought to myself, "only good can come of this."  It never crossed my mind that it could be all a part of some nefarious kitchen experiment.  But no, he had to go and do something sweet, humbling, and meaningful.  That envelope arrived on a day when I felt like I was a failure as a blogger, a failure as someone looking to improve their heath and wellbeing, and when I was feeling the impending doom of turning 30.

If you go all the way to the bottom of his "Putting It All Together" post, you'll see a photo of little ol me:

"The Fighting Spirit of Robby at FatGirlvsWorld"
Gawww.... shucks, Jack....

That little index card is now in a place where I see it every day.  It reminds me that other people see how much I fight for myself.  It reminds me that people that I love and respect see that I don't give up or give in when things get tough.  Truth is that sometimes I feel like I can't live up to the SuperHero image I've created for myself.  But the thing is most SuperHeroes are human in one way or another (either in their secret identity or their foibles).  The humanity is what we identify with most.  If Jack Sh!t has taught me anything, it has been that (much like Cyrano) laughing at yourself doesn't have to be self-deprecating and debasing, sometimes if you laugh at yourself it means you love yourself beyond compare with a full, but light heart.  Being joyful and silly can help restore us even on our worst days.

Even on your worst day, you can be someone's hero.

And sometimes that just means you being who you are -- imperfect, in-progress, honest.
And sometimes that just means you should check the mail to see if Jack Sh!t has sent you something.

Thanks, Jack!


My mom used to joke that I was always 13-going-on-30 -- that I was too mature and serious for my age.  She also would joke that I would never survive to see 30 (i.e. that my mouth/attitude would get me in trouble).

Well, I made it to 30. 

Monday morning (6:30 am) found me a bit hungover (or still drunk?) from the weekend festivities.  I checked my phone (as it was still in my hand from when I came home the previous night and fell in bed completely dressed) and the emails, tweets, facebook messages, were already piling up.  My kittens noticed me rustling in bed and decided to join me.  The birds were singing outside.  My hip flexors were screaming bloody murder.  But I had survived my mom's prediction.
Now what?
I had previously spoken with my friend Faith about the feelings of panic that accompanied this landmark birthday.  I felt like I hadn't achieved the things in life that people achieve by age 30.  I wasn't married (or even dating), no kids (I love the cats, but they (as much as they try) aren't human), I didn't own my own home (I rent), and I hadn't taken over the world. She asked me to what I was comparing myself.  Don't most people compare themselves to their parents?  My parents were married and having a family before age 30.  Faith reminded me that our generation doesn't have the same social mores or timelines as our parents' generation.  She also reminded me that while I haven't been married or had kids, I also hadn't suffered some of the hearbreak that comes along with them (divorce, miscarriage, etc.).

A cloud hung over me for most of the current year because of my (lack of a) romantic life.  When I thought the right person had entered my life, I made up my mind to be open, honest, and willing to love someone.  I went all in and came up short in the cards. I wondered if I had squandered time and energy trying to force my life into an equation.  I learned there is no equation.  And while I don't want to harp on the past, I do want to say that it was enough to cause me to lose my way a bit.  That coupled with some injuries made me lose sight of why I was doing all of this (the blog, the journey) in the first place.  I felt I was lagging behind, or didin't know what everyone else knew.

So lying in bed on my 30th birthday, I sorted through my thoughts and tried to figure out what to say when invariably people would ask me "How does it feel to be 30?"

I'm thankful.  My family is awesome, my friends are amazing ("Dear friends, You are angels and drunks, you are magi.  Old friends, you stuck a pin in a map I was in, And you are the stars I navigate home by" Elbow), and I have 2 kitties to curl up with at night.  I have a job I love working with people I respect and admire, a regular paycheck, and great benefits. I'm able to provide for myself. 

I'm healthy.  How many people get to say that they're in better physical shape at 30 than they were at 16?  Sure I have aches and pains here and there, but given my diagnosis, I'm happy to say I have more good days than bad.  Not only am I physically healthy, but I'm more mentally and emotionally balanced as a whole.

I'm unencumbered.  I couldn't figure out the right word to describe what I mean, but at 30, I feel so free in my life.  I'm not bogged down by the emotional crap I was trying to figure out in my 20s.  I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone, not even myself.  I can make of the day or any situation what I choose to make of it.

In other words....

I woke up wanting to go to boxing, go to work, thank everyone for remembering my birthday, and celebrate the life I have been lucky enough to have.

"How does it feel to be 30?"
"Bring. It. On."

Oh, and if you saw on twitter how I wrote that all I wanted for my birthday was for former New York Giant Kevin Boss to unblock me (why he blocked me we'll never know).... well... wishes do come true.