With Love

The ever awesome YumYucky reminded me of something that I may have forgotten: 
It's go time, baby! As your imaginary trainer, I command you to do what you love in a safe way.  But here's the kicker... you have to give it your all.  100% commitment and daily dedication to the process.  That is what this fake trainer requires of you.
People ask me all the time where to start the weight loss and health gain.  I've learned through experience that attitude is the main difference between people who are successful at weight loss/health gain and those who are not.  The people who succeed base their whole journey and experience in joy.  The people who fail base their experience in punishment and self-loathing (yep, those people exist).

On Friday, my neighbor had me over to show me his new setup:  a 150lb heavy bag in his living room.  Like a giddy little kid, I went over to his place with my boxing gear.  I threw a few punches, he threw a few punches.  Not only did I forget how much I like boxing, but I also forgot how much I liked giving people feedback on what they were doing.  I pointed out how my neighbor didn't get all the torque out of his punch that he could and made a few adjustments.  Apparently the adjustments worked -- within minutes we had knocked the bag off of its mounting.

Did I forget about this fierce fighter?
But that feeling of glee... oh dear readers... I had completely forgotten what that feels like, or rather, I had forgotten to cultivate and nurture that feeling of joy in every movement, in every meal, in every sweet dream.

In talking to my neighbor, I realized that in the year after my neck surgery, I hadn't even shadow boxed.  My body had recovered but my mind was lagging behind.  I think part of me abandoned the thought of ever being able to throw a punch again without ever even trying.  Though the doctor had cleared me, I had held myself back.

I wonder how many people out there reading this are afraid to start their own weight loss/health gain journey out of fear that they may not be the best at something, completely forgetting what Josie asked me to do -- to love what I do and be 100% committed to whatever it is.  As my first voice/opera teacher once told me, if you're going to sing the wrong note, sing it "strong and wrong." 

Have conviction in whatever you're doing. 

And yes, I'm giving you permission to have a dance party

It's Go Time

I've had "See what 185 looks & feels like" up on my white board for over 2 years now.  You see, soon after I started this blog (2009), I got the focus that I needed by way of needing to fit in a bridesmaid gown. And by the time my friend's wedding rolled around (November 2010), I fit in the dress and weighed 188lbs (my lowest adult weight). 

Though it felt great to be at my new lowest adult weight, I also felt burnt out from running 100-120 miles a month and logging every little bit of food.  So I gave myself a break.  ((Did your stomach just flip flop over reading those words cause you know what follows??))Thus started the backslide.  But I also convinced myself that I could get back into it at any time and undo any damage that I had caused.

Boxing (starting March 2011) helped me get my focus and joy back. Slowly but surely I was losing weight and gaining muscle (my arms looked AWESOME).  More than that, I was pushing my mind and body more than I ever had.  And then I started feeling numbness in my hand (July 2011) and realized that it was a herniated disc and had to stop boxing at the end of 2011. 

2012 started with me getting an epidural steroid injection in my neck (if you've ever been on steroids, you know what that does to your body, appetite, mood) and ended with me having an artificial disc replacement when the conservative approach didn't work.

Most of 2013 was spent recovering and playing it safe (I was glued to my elliptical for 852 miles).  I'll be the first to admit that two things weren't optimal:  (1) I drank more alcohol than I should (hangovers when you're over 30 suck) and (2) I didn't pay enough attention to my diet (quality and quantity). 

So it's no surprise that now that I'm over the bronchitis/sinus infection that leveled me this past December/early January that I see this: 
I know some of it is period weight/bloating, and the rest is entirely on me.  I did this.  I let this happen while I chose to not look.  But now I know.  Now I'm tuned in. 

In one month (February 22), Alton Brown's Edible Inevitable Tour comes to the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore -- and I  have my front row ticket.  I have a dress in mind. 

It's go time.

I mentioned above that post-surgery, I've been hesitant and stayed safe. 
What do you want to see me doing? Be my trainer!

That Time of the Mouth

My mom once told me

PMS is NOT just premenstrual syndrome (a dis-order), but also stands for an internal "warning system" which alerts a woman that the (order-ly) changes are occurring inside her body.  Those symptoms prepare us to be ready for the monthly cycle and all that it entails: some times moodiness (not rage), a bit of water retention (bloating), maybe a mild back ache or headache, even sometimes a craving for a certain kind of food.
**raises an eyebrow** "Even sometimes a craving for a certain kind of food."


Mom was a habitual undereater.
I'm an emotional eater/chaotic grazer with binge tendencies.

When I PMS, I don't necessarily want a certain kind of food;
I want to try all the food groups. 
Sometimes twice. 
Sometimes together.
Sometimes til I feel sick.

Yesterday, I knew that I was PMSing.  On the way back from a lunchtime walk, I stupidly stopped in a CVS.  These came home with me:

When it comes to PMS there's already this sense of "Well, I'm going to get bloated anyways, might as well stuff all the food in my mouth and deal with the fallout the other three weeks of the month."  Or "Since I have to deal with this horrible thing that happens every month, life owes me this small comfort."

But none of them scratched the itch that I was feeling.  Even so I felt that if I kept them at my desk, that I would eat all three bags by close of business.  So in a panic, I brought them to my friend/coworker's desk and was like "....help....me..." (luckily she works by 3 guys who never seem to gain weight)

This is what binge eating is for me:  the ability to consciously and logically realize that food won't fix what I'm feeling, but the absolute emotional panic of not being able to stop myself.

Fortunately, I don't always feel this way.  I know that it's worse when I'm PMSing and when I'm under stress.  I just need to remember that I am not the binge.  I am better than the binge.  I'm worthy of actual nutrition... and a heating pad.


My dad often loves to tell me that maybe I'm single because I'm in DC -- that perhaps I'd fare better in some hard-working Midwest city full of college-educated lumberjacks that like to build log cabins and rescue river otters in their free time.  Dad may have a point.
Dating in Washington, DC is "especially hard."
DC is one of the worst places to be single.
DC daters lie their pants off and everyone is an exceptional catch
And even if you've managed to date in DC, that long-term exposure might have dire consequences (okay, not so dire).
But even so, I found myself in a Google Hangout (albeit a little late thanks to a partially-frozen wifi hotspot) organized and hosted by Mary El (@CupcakesDC) with a special guest appearance by professional dating coach David Wygant (@DavidWygant -- YouTube videos).  In the chat were many of DC's most lovely eligible ladies -- @SmallTownGirlDC, @SassyMarmalade (I can personally attest to her sassiness), @MangoTomato, @NikkiRap, @Frijolita, and @KahRitzTyne.

Now, I've had some run-ins with "dating coaches" that were more like "pick-up artists" (ahem, assholes) that try to manipulate (ugh, negging) women into doing what they want (i.e., casual sex).  David wasn't like this -- his overall sentiment was to reinforce authenticity and self-awareness (i.e., don't change who you are, just notice how you are). He wanted us to approach dating with our eyes and hearts open.

Rather than go point-by-point on everything that David said, I just wanted to hit on a few points that specifically are applicable to me.

"You are not as approachable as you think you are"
David said that even the most approachable woman is not 100% approachable...and he doesn't blame us for having our guard up (it's the residuals from all the douchebags that have attacked us with cheesy lines and grabby hands).  However, we can help our cause by putting down the external barriers to being approached such as our cell phones. Distractions like phones (and constantly checking them like we do) prevent us from scanning the room and seeing who is looking at us (rather, for us).  If we put down the phone, it creates a situation where we can make eye contact, flash a smile, and invite a guy to walk over to introduce himself.

The thing is this:  women are intimidating even for the most confident guy.  We have the power and ability to tell them that they are not enough. We must wield that power carefully.  We don't have to raise a white flag and surrender to men, but we can lower our cannons and have a parley.

Cultivating openness takes practice -- "Spend 5 minutes people watching in every place you go. Make it a game. Have fun with it. It will open you up."  Notice how people react and interact with you. Throw out some fishing lines and see if the water is friendly.

"Ask open-ended questions:  if you tell a guy what you want, he'll tell you what you want to hear"
Sometimes it's easier for a guy to parrot back what you said to him rather than (1) expose his true feelings/intentions (*gasps* vulnerability!) or (2) actually consider what he thinks/feels (*gasps* sincerity!).  I love the point that Patti Stanger made in her book "Be Your Own Matchmaker" -- that there's a difference between interrogating a guy and gathering intelligence on a guy.  A guy with an open-ended question will reveal himself (and sometimes hang himself) faster than when you're directing him towards an answer. Take notes, ask follow-up questions. Let him ask you questions, but don't volunteer an encyclopedia.

Most women (and men) have some sort of checklist of what they want (and don't want) in a man, and we use a first date to see how the other rates.  The thing is that dating (even online dating) isn't like online shopping where you can find the perfect product, read up on reviews, and even do personalized modifications.  People can surprise you if you let them.  And sometimes when you allow people to be who they are (i.e., give up control a little bit), they go beyond your wildest dreams.

"Sometimes you need to hit a man over the head with a brick"
Subtle is cute and sometimes you can get away with it, but more often than not guys don't pick up on the subtle cues that women throw out.  Men aren't just oblivious, they're just not always tuned to the same frequency as us.  Women need to know what they want (in a self-aware and thoughtful way) and know how to communicate those wants in a compassionate and constructive manner. 

....but that brick isn't sarcasm...
"Sarcasm comes across as bitchy in a woman..."  Again, don't be a passive doormat, but know how what you say (and the tonality of what you say) is being received.  Be nice, be charming, be sweet. Be direct. Guys will appreciate the refreshing honesty and constructive dialogue.  And if he doesn't, he's a dick.

"If someone's not able to give you what you need/want, let them go"
I think this is a lesson in grace and self-awareness.  I've always said that I'm "not in the business of changing men" to become what I want without realizing that I was always trying to change myself to be what a guy wants (or, rather, what he thinks he wants based on what everyone else is telling him).  It's okay if you've given it the good old college try and it just doesn't work.  Try to end things as amicably and compassionately as possible.  You never know who this guy knows.  Who knows? Maybe one day you'll fall for his friend and he'll say "Oh, I dated her, she wasn't right for me, but she's a really great person."  Karma, dolls, karma.

In summation....
I think what David was telling us was to be authentic and sincere, but most importantly to give guys a chance.  They're not all your ex-friend that done you wrong; they're more like puppies that just want open arms and positive reinforcement. And if what you want is a relationship, you have to be willing to provide what he needs as well as him providing what you need.

[Oh, and to address a Twitter comment that the problem in DC is "All the 6s thinking they're 10s" -- everyone is a 10 to the right person.  We're not trying to mold ourselves to be attractive to every person.  We're trying to find the enzyme to our substrate, the key to our lock, the Robin to our Batman.  Suggesting that we look for someone that is our counterpart on some subjective scale sells everyone short.  We should all have a high opinion of our authentic self -- both inside and out.  It's not vanity, it's not delusion.  It's self-love and confidence, and that's always attractive.]

Recap & Renew

The #GoTheDist challenge theme for 2013 was "Rebuild Yourself."  For me, it was a very tangible theme after having surgery on my neck.  Not only did I need to recover from the injury, but I needed to recover from the stress and uncertainty of what being injured meant to me.

In the end, it meant running (elliptical + outside) 851.95 miles (that's 51.95 miles over my goal), and taking almost 4.3 MILLION steps (4,283,066 steps logged with many days not wearing my BodyMedia armband).

Towards the end of the year, I got sick (bronchitis & sinus infection) but also felt very lost.   Turns out that when I asked you all about it, we all kinda lost our mojo towards the end of the year.  Ask anyone who is trying to redefine their life -- it's hard/exhausting work!  It's not always about making huge renovations, but even maintaining the small changes become arduous over time.  This is when we need to lean on each other the most -- to remember why we're doing it and to infuse the joy back into the process.

 I've been racking my brain to come up with a #GoTheDist theme for 2014 -- and either I'm landing on what you all are already doing (such as @RoniNoone's #WYCWYC/what you can, when you can) or what I've already done in the past.  So I thought about opening it up to you all.

What do you want your 2014 to look like, and
how do you want to inspire others? 

In the meantime, I have "Something Sparkly" to shop for (my full-year reward for 2013) and some planning to do.  500 miles of running outside is a HUGE goal for me. 


How to Join #GoTheDist 2014

1. Click on the SUMMARY PAGE (bookmarking it would be a good idea as you will be using it often).

2. Fill out the next available line on the "Summary" spreadsheet.  You are responsible for filling out your biographical information (columns A–D), your tracking modality and goal (columns E and F), your quarterly goals (columns G, J, M, and P), and your half-year and full-year rewards (columns U and W).  

3. **CREATE YOUR INDIVIDUAL PAGE** (The information you have entered in step 2 should auto-complete to an individual page.  Check your line number and then look at the bottom of the page.  Match up your line number and double check that your information is correct).

4. Rename the tab "@[twitter name]" or if you don't have Twitter "[nickname]" 

5. Fill out the sheet as you wish.  See step #8.

6. Update your own individual page as needed (if tracking is too hard, consider printing out your page and filling it out by hand and updating it online once a week). 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.



New Year's Eve 1999-->2000 I was in Times Square with a few thousand of my closest friends.  The mood was celebratory, but a little tense.  No one knew what Y2K would do.  Would nothing happen or would there be a massive failure of all the world's systems ensuing in panic, rioting, and a police state?  Some people brought gas masks in case there was rioting, other people brought flasks.  We just didn't know.

I had gotten there many hours early so I could spend my first NYE in Times Square with a view.  I was supposed to meet up with my college friend Romy, but because he got a later start, he was unable to reach the area where I was.  Alone, I had no choice but to make friends with the people around me.  A very handsome guy from Wisconsin named Andy decided that every hour on the hour, he'd celebrate by kissing me.  I think we celebrated the New Year in six time zones, and few of the in-betweens.   (**waves to Andy, wherever he may be**)

I was thinking about this last night as the final minutes of 2013 were ticking down.  I've done the crazy NYE in Times Square.  I've done the NYE at home in pajamas with the cats and a half pound of shrimp.  I've been surrounded by family and friends.  I've also spent many New Years completely asleep.  How did I want to end 2013 and begin 2014?  

I looked around the room and there were plenty of random, unattached men who I could borrow for a few seconds.  There were friends I could hug and kiss on the cheek, but in the end, I took out my cell phone and decided that I wanted to reach out to the largest group of friends and acquaintances that I have:  the Tweet began like this, "May all of you come to know in 2014 the place you hold in my heart..."

Before I could finish the Tweet (...Like a Tardis, my heart may be small, but it's bigger on the inside.") and send it in the last seconds of 2013,  some random guy that I didn't know walked up to me.  As 2014 began, the bar erupted into a kissing frenzy.  He looked around, raised his glass to me, shook my hand and said "To the New Year's rejects."

I walked away when I should have slapped him across the face.  I walked away when I should have read him the riot act and told him to not include me in his pity party. All the good will, love, and gratitude that I had felt in the end of 2013 (I blame Love Actually) drained from my body, and I began 2014 like this (weird timestamp though): 

Instead of starting out 2014 the way that I wanted to (broadcasting a message of gratitude and love) I reached out to social media, my friends and my acquaintances alike, because I was just trying to keep a brave face (no one likes the crying girl in a bar). 

For as much as I am a brazen, ballsy, strong person, I'm still a woman with feelings.  And man, I had all the feels.  I spent the next few minutes reading your kind Tweets reminding me that, in fact, boys are dumb and that he was projecting his issues onto me.  He assumed that because I was on my phone at midnight, that I was unloved and unwanted.  You all reminded me that that is the furthest thing from reality. 

I retreated to the only safe place a woman has in a time like this -- the women's bathroom and had myself a good 30-second meltdown.  The girls in there were so sweet and funny.  They offered to find him and beat him up.  I told him that he doesn't deserve that much attention from so many beautiful women.  They patched me up and wiped away the Alice Cooper effect I had done to my eyes, and told me to not let one dumb boy ruin the new year. 

Even so, I figured that was my cue to say goodnight to my friend/host of the party, Steve (who I have known since middle school).  He asked me if I was having a good time, and as he was saying that, he noticed how red my eyes were and he asked what was wrong.  I told him the story.  He offered to throw the guy out of the bar personally.  Then he pulled me into a big hug and said "He doesn't know you like I do and how far you've come. You are not a reject.  Far from it."
This time it was happy tears.  For as much as I wanted to send out a broadcast of love and gratitude, in the end I was the recipient of the message. 

May all of you come to know in 2014 the place you hold in my heart.  Like a Tardis, my heart may be small, but it's bigger on the inside.