Same Dress, Different Time

May 11, 2011

September 22, 2012 with Ms. Bitchcakes!
You know that sinking feeling when you know (1) you've just taken a horrible picture and (2) when you know you've gained back the weight you fought so hard to lose?  Yeah.... that.

Then to make matters worse...the external self-judgment:

You know, I can be all "RAH RAH SIS BOOM BAH" about self-acceptance 'til I'm blue in the face -- but the thing is this -- I see "self" as a multi-layered construct.

I love myself beyond compare.  All the neurons that make me the loveable, wonderful person that I am, I love her without any hesitation.

It's this body I have issues with -- it's failing me.  When I look at the photo of me and the gorgeous Sheryl, all I see is my injury.  I see a person that is desperate to exercise, desperate to dance, and live.  This is how I can be hurt and frustrated with my injury while having an abundance of self-love. 

Make any sense?  I'm not being self-depricating or deletory to my own body.  I just think that you can love yourself while not accepting something that makes you less than healthy. 

KitchenAid Stand Mixer GIVEAWAY!

In 2010, I blogged about how my dad thought getting a KitchenAid Stand Mixer basically equated to cookies, cakes and all other sorts of calorie bombs.  But you can use a KitchenAid Stand Mixer for good, especially once you start using some of their fabulous attachments (such as the roto slicer that can shred a carrot in seconds)!

This Hippocrates quote "Let food be thy medicine; thy medicine be food" condensed the wisdom of the ages, that, if anything, working hard to make food from scratch would be the anecdote to years of eating processed, pre-packaged food.  If I wanted a cookie, I had to work for the cookie.  With the stand mixer, you are able to work smart!

So I bought my own KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  While I have made a few calorie bombs, I have also made some very healthy recipes using my KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  Standing in my kitchen listening to the whirrrrrr of the motor also reminds me of my grandmother and my mother, who both used their KitchenAid Stand Mixers to teach me the joy of cooking (sadly theirs died after 40+ years of use).

If you were at FitBloggin12, you know that I won a KitchenAid Architect 5 Quart Stand Mixer! But as I already had one I asked the kind folks that ran the #Good2Know reception if they would send the stand mixer to a raffle winner, and they said YES (in the USA or CANADA)!  (thanks to Alejandra Ramos for the inspiration of paying it forward!)

I also want to thank Unilever for providing all of the wonderful snacks at the Fitbloggin12 Reception (mmmmmhmmm mashed potatoes!) and The Zocalo Group for coordinating the mailing of the prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Product info from
Build a better kitchen with the KitchenAid Architect tilt-head stand mixer. This kitchen classic is updated with a new, sleek cocoa-silver finish and features 10 speeds of professional mixing power to help you tackle every task with epicurean enthusiasm -- from kneading to whipping to mixing and beyond. One-year warranty. 

•Includes flat beater, wire whip, dough hook, pouring shield and polished bowl with handles
•Easily accommodates up to 9 cups of flour
•Tilt-head design facilitates bowl and content removal
•67-point planetary mixing action covers entire perimeter of bowl
•5-Qt. stainless steel bowl with ergonomic handle
•Power hub lets you use any optional KitchenAid attachment
•Round power cord

Why let your shoulders bend?

This is dedicated to all of my beautiful friends at Fitbloggin that had the courage to speak up to the truth of what is going on in their lives (both good & bad).  I mean, I just wrote about what it means when bloggers go silent -- it means there's a storm brewing.

Never think that because I'm going through some physical/emotional stuff that I'm not going to be here for any or all of you.  While I'm not your psychologist/therapist, I'm part of your support system.
And if you feel like you can't talk to me, please find someone you can talk to.  You do not need to suffer in silence.

So many of us feel like we need to be the person with their shit together, or the person in our circles that helps other people because we're so strong and "with it" -- completely neglecting the fact that our friends want to return the favor, that sometimes we need to be gracious and allow other people to be a part of our lives (both good & bad). And if you can't talk to them, you can still lean on them in silence.  Let them hold you, let them comfort you even if the words aren't there.

And before I get to the lyrics for the song above, I just want to share that I've been in therapy off & on and as needed for the past 18 years (bereavement counseling, behavioral psychologist for anxiety/depression).  Sometimes it's just good to have 1 hour (or 2 hours) every week to talk to someone outside your immediate life that can be objective and not interject their own needs and issues into your story and pain.  Just like getting a massage or a pedicure, or getting our yearly physicals, it's just one of the things we do to take care of ourselves. 

It takes strength and courage to ask for help.

The Sound of Silence

(imho) There are a few reasons fitness bloggers stop blogging:
1.  they are fair weather bloggers that write when things are good, and clam up when things aren't going well;
2.  they feel they are being repetitive and/or have nothing new to say;
3.  they feel like they've lost their audience and/or don't just write for themselves; 
4.  they've decided their journey is at an end, or it's time to shut down the blog; and/or
5.  they're just on vacation, or they need to take a break.

Either way, silence in a blog speaks volumes. 

I've been feeling a few of these things.  I felt that when things were going well that I had much more to say, much more to share.  I am also aware that people look to these kinds of blogs for inspiration, not necessarily the nitty gritty.  But that's my niche, the nitty gritty. 

With Fitbloggin12 coming up this week, I must admit that I feel like a bit of a fraud:  (a) I haven't been exercising thanks to my lovely spinal injuries, my diet is all over the place, and my brain is unfocused and (b) I haven't been blogging because I'm 50% shutting down and 50% don't want to be repetitive. 

(a)  Spinal injuries are tricky to exercise around -- even exercises that are considered "low impact" (yoga, swimming, elliptical, bike, etc.) all have a positive and negative impact on my spine, especially because I have injuries in my cervical and lumbar spine (I can't isolate parts of my body to exercise without affecting one or both of the injuries).

I've always been of the mind "do what you can" and love my family motto of "if broken, still strong" -- meaning, focus on what you can do -- but even there I've dropped the ball.  I'm not focusing on my diet (notably, I'm drinking alcohol more often than I would if I were training) and I'm keeping the emotions of the injury at arms' length. 

The truth is that aside from the physical discomfort, I'm scared shitless about these injuries.  I'm frustrated.  Nothing the doctors can do will ever restore my spine to 100% functionality -- so I'm trying to determine which option gives me the best prognosis with the most functionality.  This is hard to do with all of my doctors in different practices and of different mindsets.  I wish I could host a "Save Robby's Spine" panel with all of them in one room.  What I want is simple (hah!) -- I will do whatever it takes to maintain the functionality of my spine (i.e., range of motion) while maintaining the best integrity of my spine.  Many people tell me what they've done for themselves, but every body, every injury is different.  I don't know what is right for me.

(b) I'm shutting down because I don't want you, the world, my dear readers, to know that I'm scared shitless, in pain, and having trouble seeing the light in all this darkness.  For a while I didn't even want to go to Fitbloggin because more than just feeling like a fraud, I didn't want to see people that thought I was strong seeing me in a weak and vulnerable state. 

I don't like my friends seeing me in pain either.  I was at a happy hour at a crowded bar on Friday and some random girl knocked into me.  I excused myself to go to the bathroom so my friends didn't see my eyes well up in tears.  I hid it with the smile and the drinking, but from then on out, I tried to keep my back to a wall.  The next day I was supposed to go to a bachelorette party, but fell asleep at 7 and woke up at 10.  Part of me was relieved to not go to a dance club. 

The other part is the repetition.  I know how much I dislike blogs that go on and on about one thing and lack diversity.  I would hate for my blog to be known as the blog where she just whines about her injury.  That's hardly motivational, eh?  I'd rather be known as the person that blogs while fighting like hell to get back to where she wants to be. 

And where do I want to be?  I want to wake up one day and not have to think twice about whether I can run 5 miles or not.  That day would be pretty bitchin.

I put it on Twitter that I felt like a fraud going to Fitbloggin12, as someone unable to exercise (but I'm going to try to repeat my hilarious Zumba dance moves from last year) and who feels like her blog is stagnant -- and the response was amazing.  My friends are amazing. You all reminded me that despite having being at a low point, that I was still part of this community.  You reminded me of one of my "Focus Correction" areas for this year -- which is to allow people to help me.  You also reminded me that while all of our injuries may be different, what separates us from the people that we used to be is that we're fighting for ourselves and our health now...we're not longer accepting defeat.

So if anyone at Fitbloggin12 (or even here) wants to vent about their injuries as a part of forgiving their injuries -- I'll be free for lunch on Friday (1pm) (or feel free to put a comment here).

Love y'all,

Handle With Care

(source here)
[Peyton ] Manning was not just frustrated that he had been cut off from the people in Indianapolis who knew his body best. He was also craving privacy. His arm had lost strength, his grip was soft, his triceps had withered after one of his earlier neck operations. It had all left him oddly vulnerable and isolated.

"I did not want people seeing me," he said. "It becomes a private, sensitive deal."  
For those of you who are counting (okay, I know some of you out there don't like football...), Peyton Manning is finally returning to football after missing a whole season and having 4 surgeries on his cervical spine in the past 2 years to correct a bulging disc and the related pinched nerves.

Sound familiar? It should.   

Exhibit A — my cervical spine (C5-6 has a mild herniation, C6-C7 has a bulge):

Exhibit B — my lower back (L3-L4, L4-L5, L5-S1 all have bulges) from a MRI in 2008 (needs updating, i know):

Peyton Manning had a spinal fusion and then revision surgeries. Of the surgeries available, this is the kind of surgery that I'm trying to avoid, but will most likely be encouraged to get because I have disc issues affecting mutiple levels. Fusion surgeries have high failure rates (i.e. they need revisions and/or don't actually alleviate pain). For my cervical spine, I've been trying to learn as much as I can about artificial disc replacement surgery. Seems like the jury is still out on it.  The technology is imperfect, but it seems like the sooner you do it, the better the outcome.

I hate feeling like I'm sounding repetitive here, but as I've written before, this is the biggest struggle I have in my weight loss/health gain journey.  Simply put, degenerative disc disease is a bitch.  Reading that story about Peyton Manning's struggles was a comfort in that someone who is a champion and other people's hero has struggled with this injury too. 

I can handle injuries (see, e.g., the time I tried out for tennis after having sprained my foot in two places).  I can handle emotional trauma.  What I am having trouble with is an injury that will never fully heal and the ongoing emotional distress that it causes.  I know there will be good days, and there will be bad days. The good days are awesome.  The bad days suck.  Having a good day and wondering when the next bad day will come is nerve racking limbo. Having a bad day and wondering when the next good day will be is disheartening.

And riddle me this -- how do you wrap your head around feeling sexy and/or young when you feel so broken/fragile?  I've been chatting with a fellow (from OkCupid) and have been rather candid about my injuries.  It's hard to explain to him that it's not necessarily about weight loss.  If I were the same weight and had a healthy spine, I'd feel much better about myself than I do right now.  If I were at my goal weight but still injured, I'd still feel the same anguish that I feel now.  That make sense?

I'm not looking to run a marathon anytime soon.  I just want a good night's sleep, the ability to go to the gym, and a full range of motion.  I want to be able to hug someone without having to warn them to be careful.  That would be enough for me.

Stress: a force that tends to distort a body

Yes... I'm alive.  Kinda.

On August 23, my building's water was shut off because of a crack in the watermain that leads into my building.  When they turned the water on, the increase in pressure caused 3 apartments in the building to flood from their bathroom faucets.  I received a call 45 minutes after the water was turned on that I was one of those lucky residents!  By the time I got home less than 10 minutes later, I could already tell it was bad:  the parquet flooring in my apartment had already started to bulge and warp.  As my landlord/condo owner was unreachable, I had to make the executive decision to have the building's contractors pull up all of the affected parquet (about 90% of my apartment) because the floor wasn't salvageable and mold would form within 24-48 hours.

I spent that night tearing my apartment apart -- trying to see what was damaged/destroyed (such as the area rug that absorbed lots of water and probably saved my bookshelves and couch or the ClosetMaid drawers I had put in my bathroom), what needed to be cleaned -- and then putting as much as I could in my dry kitchen for when the contractors would come in the next day to pull up the rest of the parquet and haul it away.  As you can imagine, this wasn't good for my back or my neck.  The next day, my landlord checked in and basically told me that it was my fault and to open my checkbook for a brand new hardwood floor (hah!) and/or that maybe I should look for another place to live (ugh!).  **raises an eyebrow** I won't go into the rest of that drama because this isn't the time or place to discuss it.   But for right now, know that there's a resolution in place -- the building is submitting a claim to their insurance (as they should) because this was a systemic problem. 

But it's two weeks later and I still don't have a floor or a plan to have a floor.  Right now I'm rocking some throw rugs and canvas drop cloths on top of mastic/cement.  I'm stressed because I'm living out of suitcases, my kitchen is not functional, I cannot clean, and the smell is horrible.  My little cat, Jack, is stressed out and scent marking all of his toys/furniture.

I could handle all of this stress if I had a release -- but I can't box (gosh I love hitting a heavy bag), there's no man in my life, so no cathartic sex to be had, and my body is telling me not to run (my neck is sore, and I'm experiencing neuropathy/weakness/weird sensations down my left arm because of the nerve being pinched).  I spent most of Labor Day weekend in my apartment feeling very trapped.  I'm doing my best to not use food/alcohol as a coping mechanism.  To that extent it is really great that Fitbloggin is around the corner and I get to focus on that.

Stress testing is when you push an entity to its breaking point, or subject it to extreme forces, to know how it will respond in a real-time situation.  The idea of stress testing made me think about the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse in 1940.  Engineers thought they knew how to build a safe suspension bridge and then something like the collapse happens.  Put to myself, sometimes even all the knowledge I have about myself and how I handle stressors doesn't matter when I'm pushed past the point of what was formerly thought as my breaking point.  It's just a quesiton to which I don't know the answer:  how will I respond?

I don't know, I really don't.  In the meantime I'm just trying to be gentle with myself -- full of compassion, forgiveness, mindfulness -- and snuggle with the kitties as much as possible.