Interstitial Space

At the end of last week, I posted this on Facebook:

Much to my surprise, many of you have been feeling the same way.  ((HUGS TO ALL)) 

It wasn't until I ran into a friend/coworker that I began to make some sense of it.  She said that I was in a interstitial space.  ("An interstitial space or interstice is an empty space or gap between spaces full of structure or matter.")  In other words, I wasn't adrift in a sea of nothingness, but I was between two points in my life.

It seems that ever since starting this blog (and indeed, for a little longer than that even), that I've been engaged in many struggles to overcome injuries, moods, habits, relationships, etc.  More recently, I spent the past two years with my neck injury and its rehabilitation.  And now, for all intents and purposes, I'm healed.

So... now what?

I think for most of my readers, they get to this mental place when they hit their goal weight (something that I've yet to do), and they no longer have something to fight against.  The new fight becomes not just maintenance, but how to live when every day isn't a struggle.  When we've spent most of our lives suffering under the burdens we carry, and then this period where we learn our strength and cast off the burden, we then have no clue how to live each day with the aim to thrive.

Now, you must be thinking that the path is cleared for me to go full tilt, to actively go for my goal weight, and that's where my mind is.  But I still feel that isn't a fixed point.  I've never been a healthy weight in my adult life.  Finding out my balance point is pretty much a crap shoot.  I don't know what that's going to look or feel like, and I think that's making me scared.  So not only am I in between two points, only one of those points is fixed (my past). 

I don't think I've overdone it.  I know some people absolutely kill it, meet their goals, and then suffer some sort of whiplash.  Though I've done a lot in the gym this past year, it was at a slow and manageable pace.  I didn't push my body past where it wanted to go.  I just allowed for whatever my body would allow for. In the same time, I think I got apathetic with everything -- gym, food logging, food preparation, life.

Kudos to all of you who go out there every day and fight the good fight.  I applaud your motivation.  I applaud your courage.  But man, even being that motivated requires so much energy sometimes.  It'd be nice to have an auto-pilot sometimes that will just take me where I need to go without having to think about it so much.

Primum non nocere

Growing up, I went to the doctor quite often and was prescribed medicine a great deal of time.  In my adulthood, I wanted to be more proactive with my heath, which meant having a strong relationship with a doctor that I trusted.  My no-frills-or-sugar-coating doctor (who told me many years ago (in case I didn't know already) that I was fat), Dr. Roche, decided to leave the practice, leaving me to find a new doctor. 

Dr. Fuisz
I took to my personal Facebook to get recommendations.  One name was recommended multiple times:  Dr. Alice Fuisz.  I booked my first appointment for 12/12/13 -- the one-year anniversary of my neck surgery.  In a word, Dr. Fuisz is awesome.  I especially love how organized her practice is.  They had me come in before my first appointment (my yearly physical) so that we could discuss diagnostic test results during the appointment. 

I also loved that I was fully dressed the first time meeting my new doctor.  So many times one is only wearing a flimsy cloth gown the first time they're introduced to a doctor.  She and I went over my patient intake forms, family history, and any preliminary concerns/questions that I had, as well as the results from my tests. 

We talked about the challenges of weight loss and my desire to continue to drop body fat, but also not knowing where my body is going to end up because I've been overweight since I was 8.  We talked about certain aspects of my blood tests that could be improved (such as my cholesterol). We also discussed the fatigue that I've been feeling, despite getting exercise, eating well, and having a good pre-bedtime routine (she pointed out that it's probably due to my cat getting sick in the middle of the night).

Dr. Fuisz also took copious notes for herself regarding things that she wanted to further investigate and subsequent tests that she wanted to run -- such as whether I've had an MRA scan (there are some schools of thought that believe aneurysms are genetic) as well as my ferritin and B12 levels (both were low normal and can be improved with supplements).  My Vitamin D is still  much better than it was than when I first tested for it in 2010.  I may do a sleep study to make sure that my fatigue is nothing more than being hypervigilant regarding Spike.  (Have I ever mentioned that I used to sleep walk and sleep talk?).

Then she came down hard on me -- giving me 5 reasons (with increasing guilt levels) as to why I should get the flu vaccination.  I was putting up a good fight until she mentioned that one can be a carrier/contagious without feeling sick.  I'd hate to get someone else sick (especially my niece).  She also told me that I was overdue for a tetanus booster.  She's been using a combo tetanus-pertussis booster because there are so many anti-vaccination people out there now that whooping cough is now a thing again.  I'm happy to report that I didn't faint, vomit, cry, or have a breakdown whilst getting the shots.  And I didn't do what my mom did, and treat myself to ice cream after.  Adults know that shots are just a part of life.

So, I have some homework to do and some choices to make (as to whether or not I want to do further diagnostics) and some referrals to use.  But I wanted to share all of this with you because I want YOU to get your yearly physical.  Make it a priority.  Many people who are overweight/obese avoid the doctor because they don't want to address their health and weight issues. You'll hear terms like "doctor shopping" and "weight bias" to explain why people search out certain doctors or why people avoid others. 

The bottom line is this:  neither your doctor or yourself are completely blind to what's going on with your health.  Your doctor should be the one person in your life telling you the plain and honest truth about what's going on with your body.  Glossing over the issues isn't going to help you address them.  So be proactive and ask your doctor to step up to the plate and help you make a positive change in your life.  Challenge them to rise to the occasion or to recommend another doctor that can. 

The great thing is that with a few modifications (some small, some bigger) you can see an instant improvement in your health.  How do your diagnostic tests change after adding a little more activity each day, introducing some new, healthier recipes into your diet, or going to sleep half-an-hour earlier?  Reap the dividends of a healthier lifestyle and have the lab results to prove it (no matter your weight).

Aim for the Stars...

1994 (age 13) was a rough year.
I have always had good taste in men.  Even the gay guys that I've had crushes on are exceptional men.  Even the guys that I loved as brothers were (and are) some of the most special people that I'll ever know in my life.  For the purpose of this blog entry, we'll ignore some of the shittier examples (like the guy that almost broke my neck).

As a 6 year-old on the elementary school black top (in a brand new town), I singled out the boy I'd have a crush for the next 11 years.  While I ended up being a bit of an outsider, he ended up being the captain and quarterback of the varsity football team, a great basketball player, an honors student, and an all-around nice guy. 

He taught me an important lesson:  I think he knew that I had a crush on him all those years (I have the subtlety of a sledgehammer sometimes) and he never once disrespected me for my feelings.  He was kind and gracious even when he didn't have to be (like the time I called him half an hour after finding out that my mother had died, and I just needed to hear his voice and have hope).  At a time when it was easy for everyone else to make fun of me, he never did (or if he did, he did it in a way where it never got back to me).

I think that I was keenly aware that from age 8 onward I was an overweight, pimply emotional wreck, though I was smart and talented.  I knew that I wasn't a catch or popular, and that I probably would never get a chance to date a guy like him.  I had a few other crushes over the years, but my crush on him was enduring and grounded me.  In a way, adoring him was a promise to myself to always aim high, to have standards, to not give up on myself.

This is my sexy face.
All of this is a very long prologue to what I actually wanted to say...which is... that it's ridiculously sucky that even though I'm a completely different person (that no longer resembles a goth Janet Reno), I'm still doing the whole "pining away for unattainable guys" thing.

But it was so much easier to swallow when I didn't think I even deserved a chance.  It was so much easier when I thought that I was dateless and unloveable when I didn't love myself.  Now that I've had a chance to know myself and love myself, I have no clue why guys aren't beating down the doors to love me. (It can't just be that I'm intimidating.)

Never once in my life have I had a guy relentlessly woo me.  I've never had a guy tell me that it would be the end of life as he knew it if I look his way.  I've never had a man stand under my window with a boom box (mp3 players just don't have the same gravity). No flowers sent to my office every day.

Thirty-two years spinning round the sun, and very little romance to show for it.  This makes me so very sad.  I've yet to experience the kind of person that I am or could be with reciprocal love under my wings.  I have the love of my friends (**hugs to everyone**) and family, but it's very different than romantic love, eh?

For many years, I think that I was afraid of loving someone because I know the absolute heart-wringing pain that losing that person feels like.  It's very natural to want to avoid pain like that, and so I did.  But all the same, I'm that foolish girl that runs straight at love, full speed, without slowing down to let it come to me.  I'm not afraid of my heart breaking as much as I'm afraid of living a life where it never gets to be used to its full potential.

I know that scares the shit out of boys.  Good thing I am looking for a man, right?

[Why can't we] "all just get along?" ~ Rodney King

The view from my Dad's place in Brooklyn.
Dad and Hannah being silly.
Go BIG BLUE!! NY Giants!!
My dad cooked an amazingly delicious Thanksgiving dinner for just he and I.  The next day we celebrated my Aunt's **mumbles**th birthday.  It was great to hang out with my family (I don't get to see them that often because they're mostly in the NY/MA area.  A few of us aren't central to that).  My uncle paid me one of the best compliments ever -- that he uses me as a gentle example of someone who has been able to address her weight and health issues.  I'm glad that I can be a force of positive change in my family.

On Saturday, Dad and I had a very long drive back to DC (there were a few accidents on I-95).  On Sunday, we had lunch with my brother, SIL and niece.  Last night, Dad and I went to the NYG v. Skins game (Giants won! And Bear Pascoe waved to me!!).  I'm kinda a zombie now at work and still have enough fortitude to resist doing any shopping.  I'm not religious, but my family does participate in gift exchanges.  I just really hate the whole commercial aspect of it that is thrust upon the consumer.  I'm going to shop and spend money if and when I damn well please.

Okay, I was in a bit of a media blackout the past week and the long weekend, but was clued into the continuation of the Maria Kang saga by The Bert Show and Tony (The Anti-Jared).  

I am loathe to even mention her name here but I will, on the off chance that someone finds my blog and gets a bit of perspective and hope from it.  My POV is this:  any time a person tries to define what a "real woman" is -- you marginalize other people (same with any other "real [this or that]").  It's a "realer than thou"/"healthier than thou" attitude that does nothing to serve or enhance relationships between people and communities.  It's not my place to define who I am by excluding anyone, and it's not my place to define anyone else by my personal thoughts and feelings. We are all real and deserve a bit of respect, compassion, and the freedom to live a life that doesn't impinge on the rights of others.

Kang vented on Facebook, but deleted it and reposted on her site, but not without a long-winded disclaimer (no, I will not link her site, I don't want her making any money off of my readership).  I want to side with her on some things -- such as there being lots of free resources for people looking to make a change in their life and that the journey begins with self-love -- but there are far better people out there saying the same thing without perpetuating the idea of what health/fitness looks like versus what actual health/fitness is (behavior, mental well being, blood tests, etc).  And most importantly, I can't side with her because she breaks New Rule #4 as well as NR4(a-c):

    4a.  I will not let someone else's judgment of me change how I feel about myself. 
    4b.  I am on this journey because of the courage I had when I took the first step.
    4c.  The journey is not a competition; it is a community, a movement, a calling.
The other part that really annoys me is this:  a photo of a person is just a slice in time.  And yet we load on a ton of presumptions about that person based on the photo.  We see the beautiful model, we don't see her sucking on juice-soaked cotton balls (something Crystal Renn wrote about in her book Hungry).  Even Kang makes the point about saying that her photo may look like she's got it together, but then gives a gazillion examples of how she's the every woman.  So then why can't we look at a picture of a larger person and make the assumption that she's taking care of herself?  We assume that fat equals neglect.  We assume that fat equals self-harm.  However, while she goes to great lengths to discuss the obesity epidemic, she says very little about the epidemic on the other end of the spectrum:  kids are getting eating disorders and are practicing self-harm at younger and younger ages.  We've infected them with our own self-loathing, and more than that, we (as a society) endorse it. 

When I look at a photo of myself in bra/underwear or a bikini (and no, I'm not going to post it here), I am proud of all the work that I've done -- work that started with an obese version of myself mustering up the courage to love myself no matter what anyone else said, and especially in spite of what other people would have me think about my own body.

I think about many of my friends here and on Twitter/Facebook that are still overweight/obese but are radically different people than they were before they had the epiphany.  Are they fitness models? No, but they're the model of fitness -- dedicated to exercising, good nutrition, and working on their emotional and mental landscapes.  I don't think Maria Kang gets that.  I don't think she ever will.  And the saddest part of all of this is that her crappy attitude is getting her attention and making her money.

IT Finally Happened!

What "IT" am I talking about?

I've often talked about wanting to be part of the pack.  For the longest time, I thought I was relegated to the elliptical, unable to put foot to ground because of my bad back. But then the craziest thing happened:  I ignored the doctors and listened to my heart and mind.  I asked myself "but what if I can?" And an amazing thing happened:  not only could I, but it didn't kill me. I was fairly good at it. The last time I had raced (10k) was before my injury, and that was at an average of 13:42/mile.  Many years and injuries later, as well as a spinal surgery, I was expecting 15-minute miles and ended up between 10 and 11 minutes. 

On Tuesday, I woke up in the morning, fed the monsters (as well as myself), got myself dressed, and gave Spike his insulin.  I set out for a run.  I have been using different variations of the same route because I like the slight uphill/downhill and I know that the ground is fairly level.  But I really go for the view.

As I'm rounding 2.5 miles, I see the first other early-morning runner passing me.  
I nod. 
She nods back.

IT happened.

With the simple return of a nod, I felt like one of the pack. A subtle shift in my little heart, in my mind, towards knowing that I'm not approximating running:  I am running.  I may not hold any world records, but I am doing something that doctors didn't think I'd ever be able to do.

In a world where people are looking for "FitSpo" (fitness inspiration), I hope this inspires you to fight for yourself, to listen to your body, and improve upon what you did yesterday.  It may not be a photo of a half-naked female fitness model with a pithy quotation superimposed on it, but I want to leave you with this thought: 

Tricky Treat

This valiant woman in North Dakota has taken it upon herself to inform her neighbor's children that they are overweight/obese by giving them a letter instead of candy this Halloween.

Some initial thoughts: 
  1.  She's giving the letters to kids, but addressing it to the parents.  This, in my mind, is spineless, cowardly, passive aggressive, and just plain cruel. If the woman is so concerned about how a person is parenting then she should have a face-to-face conversation with the parent.  (You know, she should be willing to get punched in the face for what she believes in.)
  2. She's not a doctor.  She's not a pediatrician or a pediatric dietician.  She's just a person with an over-reaching opinion and a sense of entitlement. 
  3. If she doesn't want to contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic, she could give out "treats" that aren't food -- stickers, toys, glow sticks, etc.
  4. This completely ignores the other epidemic -- kids are getting eating disorders at younger and younger ages.  Having a stranger comment and criticize your weight is a very good way to start cultivating a negative body image. 
If you know my full name,
you know why this is funny.
In 1991, my grandmother died.  That was the very start of my weight gain.  Every year after that, I anguished over not being able to fit into all the costumes designed for kids.  My mom tried her best to find something that was age appropriate, that would fit, and that I liked, but it really soured me on the experience.

I knew I was bigger than all the other kids.  I didn't need some asshole neighbor telling me just how much I didn't fit in with all the other kids.  I didn't need some asshole neighbor to add insult to the injury.  And if some asshole neighbor had given me that letter to give it to my parents (1) I would have read it first (cause you know kids can read nowadays) and (2) my parents may or may not have asked me where that person lived.

I'm not saying that this lady should give out candy.  That's her choice as to what to do -- but if you don't have enough to share with the whole class, don't bring in the cupcakes.  Kids are very sensitive to being excluded and ridiculed.

Watson & Crick in my Neck

I think a question that many health gain/weight loss bloggers get is "If you could change anything about your body, what would it be?"  Some people interpret it as a "where do you want more muscles/less fat?" question, some interpret it as a plastic surgery question. But why limit yourself to aesthetics? If I could change one thing about my body it would be this little mofo:

Disclaimer:  I love certain aspects of my genes, and the things that make me uniquely me.  I also realize the futility of this exercise.

So why am I hating on my genes?  (1) my greatest challenge and foe is a hereditary condition (**shakes angry fist at degenerative disc disease**) (2) No matter how hard I try, there are just some things that I cannot change with good diet and exercise. (And don't worry, there are many parts of my genes that I would never want to change...)

Case-in-point:  Last Wednesday, my employer had the annual health care expo and screenings.  You can get assessed for stroke (I didn't do that one), osteoporosis (my bones are very strong! I have a T-Score of +2.5!), body fat (that one came along with a sales pitch to a gym that I didn't want to join), blood pressure (it was high before the blood draw and normal after, per my usual re needles), and a fasting or non-fasting blood test for cholesterol and blood glucose. I also shocked and awed the health screener by knowing my BMI on the dot, but then dismissing it as a poor measurement of health.

Here's where things get fun -- I had a case of the blarghs last week.  My stomach was off, I wasn't eating much, didn't really go to the gym much at all.  Total blarghs.  So I wasn't surprised when my non-fasting blood glucose was 93 (this is in the "normal" range for fasting, but way below normal for someone that just ate--I attribute that to the blarghs).  What I was surprised by were my cholesterol numbers.

Lipid PanelNormal Ranges
Cholesterol, Total100-199
Triglycerides (want lower)0-149
HDL (want higher)> 39
LDL (want lower)0-99

My total cholesterol was 163 (2012 physical was 142), my HDL (good cholesterol) was a 41 (2012 physical was 44), which puts my LDL + triglycerides (bad cholesterol) at 122 (2012 physical was 81).  So the total was within "normal" range, but the ratio of HDL to LDL was off.   Good news is that I won't die anytime soon (considering my maternal grandpa died from a heart attack this is good to know).

It gets better from there -- a very nice person from the health screening company sat me down with a concerned look on his face:  my cholesterol was distressing him.  He asked me "So, do you know what kind of foods cause high cholesterol?"  Okay, fine, we're going to play the "fat person needs to be educated because they clearly don't know how to operate their body" game **eyeroll** "foods that are high in saturated [animal] and trans [packaged foods] fat....but it is more complex than...." and then he cuts me off to say "Cheetos, Twinkies, and McDonalds."

But since this was at my place of employment, I didn't let my inner snarky person go to town and educate the educator on health care bias OR how feeling sick can skew a test.  Granted, I do like some Cheetos once in a blue moon ( moon beer), but I never put crap like Twinkies or McDonalds in this high-performance machine.  Don't look at me, see someone who is overweight, and assume that I do, okay? Then he threw out the possibility of meat being the issue.  I'm not a vegetarian/vegan, but I don't feel the need to eat meat at every turn and in massive quantities.  [I will say though, that if you love red meat, think about trying some buffalo/bison.  It's much better for you than beef because bison are angry sons of bitches that will tell you where to put it if you take their grass from them.]  So I whipped out my phone, went to my Google Drive where I keep all of my health records and showed him the past few blood tests and shut him down.  It really was the blargh skewing my numbers.

This is why I got so mad at the "fit mom" story -- you can't rely on one photo, or one blood test to make a definitive determination as to a person's health or fitness.  Case in point--a friend of mine at work had a cholesterol reading a bit higher than mine but she's a marathoner with an amazing resting heart rate. On the other side of the spectrum are people with amazing blood test results but who aren't physically active and eat things other than rabbit food.  It's about metrics/blood tests, behaviors, and being able to outrun/outfight the zombies.

So much of how our body operates owes to how we are hard coded.  We can work within the parameters that our DNA allows, but some things just can't be overcome.  If you have a family history of something like high blood pressure, you can exercise all you want and you can decrease your blood pressure, but it will always be an issue and a consideration for you.  So, if you can, talk to your family candidly about your shared health risks.

[After the health educator, I got into it with the ergonomics people giving bad advice about how to sit in chairs.  One of the people, who was also a physical therapist, also agreed with me that passive vs. active sitting is an issue that their pamphlets don't address and that she was encouraged by my rage.]


After a busy short-week, including running around helping my boss with an alumni party, I was absolutely spent/tired/used up.

I could try to explain this, but this says it all:

And to put it in context?  This was the day of the party:

I've also been bad and not food logging. I should do that, eh?

So do you ever just need a weekend on the couch doing a whole lot of nothing to recover from a busy week?

"What's your excuse?"

This morning, I was listening to the tail-end of The Bert Show's discussion on the Maria Kang photo below:

He asked the question "...What's YOUR excuse for not being in shape like her? Does she have a point...or is she bullying/body shaming?"

Now, I don't think that's something that could be answered in a 140 character tweet, or even in a Facebook status message/reply.  So I'm going to address it here:

1.   You have to go to her Web site/Facebook page to know anything about her.  Did she lose weight? Is she maintaining weight?  What did she look like before the kids?  Does she have help?  Who's watching the kids while she's exercising?  Considering that many people won't investigate, I feel that it is important to say that FitSpo photo lives in a vacuum. There's too much left up to the viewer's perception, and thus can be perceived as bullying by some and inspiration by others. I think people should be more inspired by a person's struggle and/or process than by any particular result. 

2.   Sometimes the "excuse" is actually a very good reason.  Many times I've written about how I believe that most people are obese because of some sort of trauma.  For some people it's emotional, for some people it's physical.  In the case of emotional trauma, normal coping mechanisms have failed and are replaced by things that flood the brain with serotonin (food, alcohol, drugs). The "excuse" is that people haven't confronted these issues in a safe and nurtured environment.  Some people aren't ready to do that.  In the case of physical trauma, such as my bad back, exercising isn't always an option.  Even now, there are limits to what I can and should do.  Sometimes the reason is that there are other parts of a person's life that are more important than making sure they are aesthetically pleasing.  People should not feel guilty about taking care of themselves the best way they know how, even if it means not being in a gym every day.

3.   Thin doesn't necessarily mean healthy.   If her goal was to encourage people to be healthy (she has a fitness non-profit), she'd post her blood tests, as they're the most accurate gauge of a person's health.  I would HATE for someone to look at me, assume that I'm lazy and unhealthy just because I'm overweight, when my own doctor lauds the improvements that I've made on the inside of my body.  I've worked very hard to be overweight (instead of obese) and I still don't look like her (nor do I want to).  I also know that there are plenty of women and men out there that are getting positive feedback on their bodies as a result of eating disorders.  If you read anything about her, you'll find out that she struggled with eating disorders.  Is her desire to drop the pregnancy weight so soon after giving birth the healthiest thing for her to do? (see below)

4.  Mothers should not be shamed into losing their pregnancy weight immediately after giving birth.  I've never had a kid.  I know many people who have.  And some people have lost the weight easily and returned to their pre-pregnancy body easily and while many others have needed more time to get their pre-pregnancy body back.  Some women actually enjoy the "permission" to enjoy their post-pregnancy body.  It's the first time in their life that they are able to lose their food rules, get off the treadmill, and enjoy their body.  They're also taking time to enjoy motherhood instead of scheduling their time at the gym.  Again, that's a choice, not an excuse.  And dare I even mention the rise in stories regarding the pressure for moms to drop the weight triggering eating disorders?

5.  Fitness is her job.  It was to her benefit to lose the weight -- as she's a fitness model, runs a fitness non-profit, etc.  She makes money off of her image.  The controversy is just getting her name out there ("there's no such thing as bad press").  Imagine if the quotation was "What's your motivation?" instead of "What's your excuse?" -- we'd very clearly assume that aesthetics and profit are her motivation (wouldn't it be nice if her kids were her motivation).  Not everyone makes money off their body (not everyone wants to).  

Now, she's replying to the media storm over the photo, and I don't really buy it.  She did a "Sorry, I'm not sorry."  But I'm glad there's some dialogue happening about why her picture with caption was so misguided. I'm glad that people are talking about why FitSpo photos and slogans are negative to all the hard work that people are putting into body acceptance in their own lives and in the world.

What say you?

Stage Fright

So I have been working on that whole running thing...

I've been having an on-going conversation with a neighbor about fitness and running.  The first time we talked about it, he tossed out the idea of being run buddies.  That sent me into full panic mode because I still think that I look like QWOP when I run:

When I really look like this...

Am I the fastest runner in the world?  No.  Especially when contending with stop lights and French tourists asking me where the nearest Capital Bikeshare location is. I'm not the fastest person when I took a little break between miles 3 and 4 to chat with a woman that was walking along the Potomac (she was around mile 13 that day) in preparation for walking an entire marathon. I'm not the fastest person when I stop to take photos.

Key Bridge between miles 2 and 3
Flood Gates along the Georgetown Waterfront
But I think that's what I was getting at in my last post.  I have this fear of not being good at something (*ahem* or at not being the best at something) and therefore hiding it away and not letting my friends see it.  Okay, I may not be the best runner, and may not be able to keep up with my friends that run 8-minute miles, but maybe they don't want to me to run their pace, their race.  Maybe they want to run my pace, my race. Maybe I wasn't giving them the benefit of the doubt that they wanted to show me how to shave seconds off my time, or how to be more consistent, or how to work through foot pain (seriously, right foot? what was with the cramps?).

So this weekend, I asked my neighbor what his normal mile time was and he said "Low 10s with a weighted vest."  Zomg... weighted vest?? 30-40 additional pounds?  Wait what? 10 minutes?  You mean that I could probably run a mile or two with you and (1) keep up and (2) not look like death doing it? And so I said "let's make this happen." 

That person is a far cry from the FGvW who was afraid to ask her friends how to start running, what she should be feeling, how to adjust gait, etc.  That person is a far cry from the FGvW who is stuck in a rut on the elliptical.  That person is the FGvW that isn't letting doctors scare her in to worrying about possible injuries when her body is asking for something. 

Last night he sent me a text and asked me if I wanted to go for that run.  Unfortunately, I was asleep (at 6:30 pm) with a doozy of a migraine.  But I'd like to think that I would have said yes.  That's growth. Not bad for a girl the doctors didn't think would be able to stand up straight.

Everybody Hurts.....(sometimes)

I've written about the D.U.F.F. before (Designated Ugly Fat Friend).  In that post I kind of alluded to what I want to talk about here -- I said that in a group of girls, there's a good chance that each girl feels like the DUFF in one way or another -- or insecure in some way that makes them feel less attractive or worthy (of their needs, thoughts, opinions, etc.).

For instance, The Truth About Cats and Dogs:  Smart woman is insecure about her looks; beautiful woman is insecure about her intellect.  Cyrano De Bergerac:  Christian is a beautiful idiot and Cyrano is a soulful poet with a big nose. 

But somehow we seem to never be able to get past our own insecurities to realize that other people are feeling the same way.  We see the beautiful person walking down the street and think they have everything they want (and the things we want as well).  They see us and long to know the satisfaction of the soft serve ice cream cone with sprinkles that we're holding. 

I have sold and sell my friends short in thinking that because they were/are thin and beautiful (and they were/are) that they had no care in the world, and more to the point, that they couldn't sympathize or empathize with me.  My misery had no company.  It would take many years and getting over myself to realize that my friends had their own issues and insecurities (though I won't expose them here). 

Not everyone is going to understand what it's like to live with and inside an overweight/obese body.  Not everyone is blessed with this opportunity for personal growth and character building.  There are things that my fellow obese/overweight friends will understand a little better than my "normal"-weight friends but even then everyone's experience is different.

Everyone suffers.  Everybody hurts.  We may not experience the same flavors of suffering, but we know what suffering is when we see it.  I think there's a substantial amount of grace in allowing someone to try and understand how you feel.  It might be easier (on some level) to say that no one else understands what it's like to be you, in your skin, with your problems, and with your hurt, but that's a very lonely life, eh?

I'm not sure whether this post is an apology to my friends for pigeonholing them, a lighthouse's beacon for people who feel like their adrift and alone, or a call to action to allow people to be vulnerable and insecure without needing to be changed, controlled, or fortified.  Heck, I'm not sure that I even had a point in writing this.

Okay, well after leaving this alone for a few minutes I realize that I do have a point:  don't make assumptions about other people based on your perceptions and what you observe.  That's your filter, your bias, your narrative.  But do get to know people...they may just surprise you. 


I'm nowhere from the "final part" of my story, of my life, but there's so much of me that wishes that I had a crystal ball, that I could see how all of the threads of my life are supposed to weave together.  I think deep down everyone wants to know that any struggle or suffering they've had in their life served some purpose -- to learn or grow, or to reveal a universal truth.

It's hard to think about purpose when you're in the middle of the darkness, when you're struggling.

I recently wrote about the 19th anniversary of losing my mom, and how the "growth" came at the steep price of losing my mother. Would I give up the person that I am now (who I think is pretty awesome) for a chance at having a few extra years growing up with mom?  Emotionally, I'd say yes.  Would it mean giving up some of the parts of myself that I'm most proud of?  Probably.  It's impossible to know how changing one detail will effect everything (and no, I've never seen the movie the Butterfly Effect.)

I've been struggling lately.  From the outside looking in, there's a benign tedium to my life.  But living through the tedium ad nauseum is maddening.  I know something needs to change.  I know that for "something" to change, first I need to change.  I also know I've been here before.  The only excitement seems to be the cats getting sick (FLUTD for Jack, pancreatitis for Spike) and injury for me. 

This time around, I'm going to work on coming up with a better plan to get myself out of the rut.  The guiding principle is going to be "well, what you were doing before didn't work, so why not try something else."  I'm hoping that it opens me up to the possibilities of what could be versus trying to control the outcome, the denoument.  Maybe life isn't a "choose your own adventure" -- sometimes the adventure chooses you.

I've been reading "Choose More, Lose More" -- and while I'm not a fan of some concepts (i.e., I don't think food should EVER be a reward, as it creates an emotional relationship with food), I dig the idea that by living with integrity (keeping our promises), we maintain our dignity and self worth.  So I'm going to make some promises.

Some initial thoughts:
1.  I'm willing to give carb & calorie cycling a try.  This will require me food logging to a more consistent degree. I need to sit down and learn how to meal plan.
2.  Finally going to let @amandap show me what she loves so much about Epic Yoga.
3.  Finally going to get back in the saddle and let @Zanewicz take me for a ride at @RevolveDC
4.  A coworker told me that she loves going to PureBarre.  She said she got muscles in places where they never existed before.  I'm intrigued.  And it's a few blocks away.
5.  If I go out to a bar with friends, I'll make it a point to meet a new guy.  Gotta be in it to win it.
6.  Going to get back into volunteering at the animal shelter.  That helped bring me more joy.  I'm also going to play more with the cats.  More crumpled up pieces of paper and catnip!
7.  I'm going to let go of some of the physical things that have been weighing me down and stifling me.  I don't like a messy apartment, and it will feel good to streamline.  Clean space, clean mind.
8.  I'm open to suggestions.  If you were my life coach, what would you have me do?  If you were my personal trainer, what would you have me do?

At a price

You cannot create experience. You must undergo it. 
~Albert Camus

Many brilliant people that have come before me have made the distinction that we learn by watching and that we gain experience and wisdom by living.  I won't try to be more profound than they are, or ride their coat tails by repeating/analyzing those quotes.

I mention this to say that people have always say to me things like "You're very wise for your age."  Well, for some things I'm completely useless.  Don't ask me about haute couture, the top 100 ways to keep your married sex life fresh, or to explain Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time entirely in pantomime.

But there are things I know, and those things came at a price

1.  Be thankful for every day you have with the people you love.  The trite thing to say would be "there are no guarantees of a tomorrow." And while that's true, my POV is that by being thankful, and by practicing grace while you're living those days, you're consciously building good memories for the days and moments you'll have to live without the person you love. ... and part of being thankful and graceful is being able to ....
2.  Let go of as much as you can.   Even if you've spent 23:59 hours of the day arguing, use the last second for loving and forgiving, or asking for love and forgiveness.  Anger is one of the most useless emotions. Sometimes we're so entrenched in our self-righteous anger that we forget to come up for air.  Trying to control situations, outcomes,'s all so exhausting. Sometimes that means you need to let go of situations, outcomes, and sometimes it even means you need to let go of people.  ... but of the people that remain, you need to be able to ...

3.  Ask for what you need.  That requires the self-awareness to know what you need, but it also requires the knowledge that you can't do everything yourself.  You can't fix everything yourself.  Sometimes you need to lean on friends and family.  It doesn't mean that you're weak, it means that you trust them to share the load of a heavy heart. ... and even if you ask for what you need, you need to remember that....

4.  Time doesn't heal all wounds.  Life is messy.  Life is hard.  Sometimes you just have to learn how to live the best life you can with the scars you have.  That's courageous--to choose to go on as best you know how.  But there's also courage in knowing that some things may never be the same, and adjusting for that. I'm not talking about managing expectations, but moreso talking about coming up with creative solutions and shifting your perspective. ... but even so....

5.  You can still seek out joy....  Life is messy. Life is hard. Find joy wherever and whenever possible.  Don't seek out joy as a distraction, but as a path.  Let light flood the darkness. ... and reflect joy.  Remember that though life is messy, and life is hard that you have the ability to be the light someone else needs. 

and more specifically to my situation, and to many of the emotional/binge eaters that follow me...

6.  Food doesn't fix anything.  Use your words.  Food fills the stomach.  That's it.  It doesn't mend the heart or ease the mind.  If you think food is duct tape for the soul, you're in for a wake up call one of these days. Instead, use your words to name the hurt, the fear, the joy, the sorrow, the needs, the wants.  Words succeed where food fails.  Whether you're keeping a blog, talking to a therapist, or just saying these things aloud to yourself in the bathroom mirror, you need to get emotions out of your body sometimes in the form of words.

19 years without mom.

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes I forget that I'm not good at everything. 

I went for a run Friday night and ran the first 2 miles in 21:56 (average of 10:57/mile), took a break to stretch my knee, and ran the last 2 miles in 20:42 (average of 10:21/mile).  On the elliptical, my PR is 8:23/mile and my average is 8:40/mile.

Sometimes I forget that there's a learning curve to trying new things.

I know that running outside and running inside on a treadmill is different.  I know that running outside and running inside on an elliptical is apples and oranges.  But all the same, I'd really like to wake up one day and run outside and be awesome at it.  I'd look graceful and feel strong.  I'd bounce in all the right ways. Somewhere, deep down, I know that to take time off your run requires patience, practice, and perseverance.

 Sometimes I forget that the process is just as important as the progress

So once again, I take this occasion to remind myself (in my blog, and as a person) that STRUGGLE isn't FAILUREIt's all about how we respond to the challenge.  And I'm going to keep at this.

Healthy to the Core

Thanks to all who entered my BodyMedia prize package give away!  My apologies for not declaring the winner sooner.

First of all -- the data.... Of the 140 (!!) people that responded.....

So it seems to say that many of the people who responded to the survey don't have a 100% accurate picture of how many calories they burn, and that's what they'd most like to know.

Well, that's the BodyMedia's forte.  It has consistently topped techie lists of most accurate devices.  This is because the device is in contact with your body.  It measures the heat coming from your body (calories are a measurement of heat).  It just so happens that it gathers a whole bunch of other useful information that you can use to help transform your body.

Also cool?  It plays nice with third-party applications like MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper.  Pretty cool, right?

My condolences to those who didn't win, but the silver lining is that they have a 25% off sale going on right now through their Web site.  And that includes three free months of their Web dashboard service.

Which brings me to the winner.... Congrats!

It's the small, ridiculous things... that remind me of how lucky I am to have the friends I do

I'm a bad blogging friend -- I had a TON of blog entries piling up in my Feedly queue.  One of them was Roni Noone's Good Morning America appearance wherein she talks about having her progress photos stolen by a company in order to hawk diet products.

Well shame on me for waiting this long.  Because at 0:31, I saw something very special and that reminded me of just how much I love Roni.

Yep.  That's my famous sign from Fitbloggin 2012.  The one Roni decided to keep after the 5K:

I couldn't run the 5k because (1) my back doesn't like the compression from hard ground and (2) at the time, it had been about 15 years since I tried to run even a single mile on hard ground.  Little did I know that a year later, I'd start running on hard ground as a way to second-guess the narrative that I've been telling myself.  It still hurts to run on hard ground, but no more than it does to do any sort of workout.  And I have to do it in moderation and at a lower distance than I can the elliptical.

Anyways.... seeing that sign in the video just reminded me how much we give to each other in this community -- little slices of ourselves as keepsakes to the other to remind us that we're not alone, that we're a family, and not only that we're loved, but we're beloved.  


I've blogged about how when I was in elementary school I would dread the day that we'd do the presidential fitness test. You see, I was naturally athletic (playing sports like softball or volleyball), but horrible at these arbitrary tests.  Part of me felt that my peers, these kids, received some sort of secret ninja/spy training when they were younger that prepared them for these feats. I would try my best and fail miserably at most of the tests; but I'd fail none so spectacularly as the mile run.  The fastest kids would finish between 6 and 7 minutes.  Me and the slowest boy would run/jog/walk/run/jog/walk/jog/walk/walk/walk/walk/walk somewhere between 15-16 minutes.

So this past weekend when I walked into Pacers Running Store, part of me was worried that because I didn't know the secret handshake they'd know I wasn't a runner.  Yes, I know.  I'm being ridiculous, but there was still a part of me that felt like I didn't belong there.  But I had money and a need for sneakers (I knew my sneakers were not just dying, but actually dead).
Luckily, I caught the attention of a salesperson (Tripp) and he took great care of me.  I brought my old sneakers with me (Saucony Pro Grid 3s) and I think he immediately recoiled because they were just so worn down.  (Don't worry, I donated the offending sneakers.)

He put me on their treadmill and recorded me running for a few seconds at pace (I went for 10:00 minute miles cause I don't normally use a treadmill).  Good news was that I didn't supinate as much as I thought and I was pretty well aligned from my ankle to my knee.  What this meant is that I didn't need a shoe with arch support (I have naturally high arches) or a shoe that has motion control (to fix how my foot was landing). 

The Saucony ProGrid3 was a good neutral shoe, but Tripp thought we could do better than the most recent iteration of that shoe.   He also surprised me with one little tidbit -- I actually needed a size 10.5 running shoe.   He explained that most people come in needing a half-size to a full size bigger because (1) their feet swell when running and (2) to provide enough room in the toe box so that when you land, your toes have somewhere to go.  All of this seems so obvious, but I thought the 10s I brought in were big enough (I also have the same shoe in a 9.5).

The Brooks Ghost 6s were the winner.
Tripp brought out a few models for me to try (if I were a better blogger, I would have taken photos, but alas...):  (1) Nike Zoom Vomero+ 8 (I felt like my heel was going to come out no matter what I did); (2) New Balance 880v3s (which fit, but felt heavy on my foot); and (3) Brooks Ghost 6.  During this process he also gave me a short tutorial on how to make sure a sneaker is on right -- to tap the heel into the ground to make sure it's all the way back, and then pull the laces tight at the middle, go forward, and then go all the way back again to make sure that your midfoot is secure, and that your heel is going nowhere.

I also picked up some other goodies:

(1) CEP progressive calf sleeves -- to help my calves with recovery (after my first run, I was walking a little noodly for a day or two) and they'll come in handy as the weather gets a bit cooler;

(2) SPIBelt high visibility belt (and yes, I was amazed that my GalaxySIII fit in that tiny little pocket); and

(3) Amphipod stretch reflective bands, cause well.... you can never be too safe.

In sum, I had a great experience at Pacers Running Store, I learned a little bit about how I run, and the kinds of shoes that I need to look for and all that was left to do was take my new sneakers on a run. But before I went, I asked @RunPacers if they had any advice for an elliptical runner going to the ground: 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge as seen from Georgetown Waterfront (notice how sweaty my hands get? Ew!)

Outtake:  Spike and Jack confer regarding the new sneakers.
After two short runs, the sneakers feel great and I'm not feeling the same pains in my calves that I did after that first run.

However, I'm not going on long runs.  I'm still a bit hesitant and want to see how my lower back responds.  My neck is doing great. 

I will mix elliptical and running outside for a while until I get a better feel as to how the compression is affecting my spine, and also to meet my #GoTheDist goals.

Tell Me A Little About Yourself.... and a Giveaway!

Doctor:  So, you know you're fat, right
Me (thinking):  I may be fat, but I'm not stupid.
Doctor:  [silence]
Me (thinking):  Okay, now what? 
Doctor:  [silence]

I left that appointment knowing no more than I had walked in there knowing.  No recommendations for a dietitian, or a weight loss counselor. So I needed to do some research, homework, and digging of my own.

I recently addressed exercise in my post "start with the joy." 

While I've talked about foundation (educational, emotional, environmental, personal relationships/support) I want to link to this post and this post that point out the mental processes needed to take the leap of faith into making your health a priority.

Most of my blog posts about recovery are about healing from injuries, and so they don't quite fit.  But what I mean by recovery is more along the lines of cellular regeneration.  Changing your body composition is a very labor-intensive request. You need to have rest days (not the same as a "cheat" day, a term that I abhor), you need to sleep (this is different for everyone), and you need to have balanced/counterbalanced exercise (i.e., not doing the same workout every day, not working the same muscle in one direction every day) in order for your body to make the changes that you're asking of it.

I've often talked about diet, but I don't want to harp on it here except to say "do what is right for you" but that the CDC says that people who food log are more likely to lose weight and keep it off.

What tied this all together for me was the BodyMedia armband. I bought mine in February of 2010 and have been wearing it ever since (I do take it off for special occasions, when I don't want a tanline, and when I need a break from "the journey").  I have found that more than anything else, the armband has taught me so much about not just my behaviors, but my own attitudes -- how I relate to food and my body.

Unlike other devices, the BodyMedia armband measures (vs. estimating) my caloric expenditure, steps taken, and my sleep patterns with remarkable accuracy (as clinically tested).  I can have confidence that the information that the armband gives me is an accurate reflection of how I live my life.  When I add food logging to the equation, the armband and the dashboard basically spells out my health for me (and my doctor, because you know I brought in the reports/data to my follow-up appointment to show my doctor just exactly what I was up to).

I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone that I come across as one of the most valuable tools when it comes to weight loss and health gain.  Why?  If you know how many calories you are burning, you can start making better choices about how you live, how you're eating, and when you should go to bed.

With that in mind, how would you like to win a BodyMedia Armband and some other fun accessories?  My awesome friends at BodyMedia reached out to me because they wanted to send me a t-shirt for all of my tweeting and I asked if they'd consider including something for me to give away.  Lexi and the BodyMedia team sent me a whole box of goodies to give away!

Included are:
It'll all go to ONE lucky winner who fills out the following entry form:
[form removed]