Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grand Blue Mile


Pre-Race: Smiling Like a Chump
Yesterday I ran my first road race.  It was a whopping--no, make that GRAND--mile at The Grand Blue Mile in DSM.  It was scary, it was fun, it was an incredibly big deal for me. 
Dave & I decided to do the race late last week & then promptly were besot by the plague.  Prior to being sick, my goal was to run the whole mile without stopping or walking--a first in my life.  With my current 5K training consisting of intervals (Dave says runners call them fartleks--no joke!), I've been covering more than that distance with running & walking, but I haven't worked up to running that long at a stretch yet.  My thought had been that it would be nice to do a small race prior to Dam to Dam, but with intestinal trauma a mere two days in my past, I nearly backed out last night. 

But, I DIDN'T back out...a victory that should be celebrated in its own right.  Old Sara...well, there's not even a comparison.  Old Sara just wouldn't have even been registered.  My only prior brush with anything resembling running a mile were the 1980's Presidential Fitness Tests.  I think I managed to finagle my way out of the mile all but twice in my educational career & if memory serves me, I never finished the mile in less than 20 minutes.

Clearly a Genuine Action Shot
I'm sure I committed about a million running etiquette faux pas & I don't have a grasp on what my time means in running terms, but I do know this, it meant everything to me to be able to run the whole thing, with my husband, as a peer.  And yes, I cried...TWICE...this is getting to be a disturbing trend. 

My first tear fest was about a quarter mile in when we passed my BL crush, Rebecca Meyer, spurring on one of her Whip It 180 contestants.  We had seen her earlier in the evening when we were walking to the starting line & I wish more than anything that I had stopped & said hi.  Meeting her is becoming an obsession & I'd like to get it out of my system before I start camping out in her bushes & fishing her used straws out of food court trash cans.  I just feel grateful to her for being vulnerable & genuine & I want to say thank you...& take a picture.

My second tear fest was at the finish line, as I expected.  I put on a little burst of speed for the last 0.2 that felt a little ridiculous...even at the time I remember thinking "what is this business all about?"  Turns out it was all about getting me in "sub 11," but I didn't know that at the time.  My official chip time was 10:59:52.  I have no idea what that means, but under 11 seems nice. 

Post Race: Smiling Like Someone Who Didn't Die
Dave was one step behind me the entire way.  He's good like that.  I knew without a doubt that I could have stopped dead just shy of the finish & he would have stood there with me & not crossed until after I had taken that step.  In a funny twist, he still officially finished before I did...10:59:33.  He blames a longer stride than mine; I think he's secretly just another guy who can't stand to be beaten by a girl. 

Now, in my mental post-mortem of the race, I'm really happy with the whole evening, but I've realized that I am TER-I-FIED of the upcoming 5K.  I nearly dropped dead at the end of one mile...what's going to happen when I add another 2.1?  Apocalypse.

Monday, April 25, 2011



I've been thinking about my declaration of goal weight: 134 lbs.  I had hoped that picking a finish line would give me a boost & perk up my waning enthusiasm of late, & it did.  I'm pretty excited about it & feel renewed energy to get to the that I know what the end is. 

It's a pretty random number, 134.  I Googled "134" & learned about Form has something to do with immigration.  I also learned about IBEW Local can pay your dues online.  Wiki told me about the Year 134...a law was passed in Rome that improved conditions for free workers...wait did they have free workers in Rome in 134?

Anyway, all of my new useless, skin-deep information aside, why did I choose 134 lbs?  With a starting weight of 269 lbs, it's the closest whole number to half my starting weight.  Why is that important?  Here goes...

Like many young ladies, I used to feel that no plane ride was complete without a fresh stash of fluff magazines.  One particular plane ride (it was either in late high school or early college...loooong before I reached 269 lbs) my stack included a "People" magazine.  It happened to be their annual "Half My Size" issue.  I remember sitting on the plane & reading the article & thinking "someday, that will be me."  But I wasn't looking at the smiling "after" pictures & visualizing a fit healthy me.  I was looking at the glum "before" pictures, expecting a life of obesity before it even began. 

Over a decade later, I want to reclaim that moment & say "that will be me" for all of the right reasons.  I'd be lying if I said I hadn't ever fantasized about being in the issue--it's one of the mental images that pushes me when I'm drooling over a Krispy Kreme or wanting to flake out on a work-out--but honestly, it's not about that, it's about that moment, that girl on the airplane & her plans & expectations for her life.  I want to redeem that moment & that girl.  That girl will be an "after," no longer a "before."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Things I Have Learned as a Parent: Illness Edition


For once, the size of my posterior hasn't been the main thing on my mind.

There are all kinds of things that you learn when you become a parent--things that you wish someone had warned you about in advance.  I find that I am still discovering these gems after three & a half years on the job.  In honor of one of the longest, most grueling weekends of my life:

The Things I Have Learned as a Parent: Illness Edition

  • Children don't care if you are on a toilet with a bucket in your lap, praying for the sweet embrace of death: when they want to hear "Knuffle Bunny Too" for the 80 millionth time, they mean now.
  • Children don't understand the phrases "highly contagious" or "communicable disease" so don't try to use them as a deterrent from cup sharing.  It also will not quell requests for bites of your toast.
  • Speaking of toast, children do not respect when their own bodies are too sick for food, so why would they understand when yours is?  There will be a riot if you try to sit at a table during meal time & don't consume an acceptable amount of food.
  • If you think that you'll be fine feeding your children chicken nuggets while you sip your broth, think again.  The smell of those cursed nuggets will waft all over the house & you'll feel just as sick as if you had eaten them yourself.
  • It takes a lifetime to raise a child that will choose active play over a "Super Why" DVD.  It takes exactly half a day to undo all of that prior effort & create a zombie for whom the only acceptable activities involve remote controls.
  • Children, like many animals, are highly attuned to the emotions of their captors & are adept at exploiting them.  When you've just gotten to sleep after a harrowing battle with your illness, your child will wake up & need something you wouldn't normally allow.  For this very reason, my son is now sleeping with a ziplock bag of dirt.
  • After lovingly & painstakingly preparing homemade meals for your children day after day, week after week, it only takes one day for kids to revert to drooling over Lunchables & Nutrigrain bars.
  • Children are adorable, but they are useless when it comes to doing laundry, making soup, or doling out drugs.  If you thought you could get your 1 year old to change your sheets for you, you would be wrong.
  • The phrase "please be quiet" triggers some sort of instant opposite-day scenario among young children.  When paired with the phrase "Mommy/Daddy has a headache," the results are likely to break noise ordinances in most neighborhood settings.
  • A child will be unable to find a "lost" toy that is laying at his feet...& yet somehow be able to find & try to eat the single Imodium capsule that you dropped in the middle of the night & left for dead in desperation.
  • "Lord of the Flies" isn't a work of fiction, no matter what the librarians might say.  It is real, very real.  When the kids are in charge, Piggy gets it & you just better hope that they don't think you're Piggy.
I am happy to say that Dave & I appear to have come out on the other side of intense intestinal trauma without being sacrificed for our glasses & sincerely wish that we are NEVER sick at the same time again.

Yesterday, I whined, "I wish we had a nanny & a housekeeper."  To which Dave replied: "Why, so they could be sick, too?"  Me, "I wish we were the Jetsons...Rosie never got sick."  So if anyone is looking for a gift to give me, I would like to be the Jetsons for one week, complete with the use of Rosie...this house is a disaster!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Me & My Shadow


As a kid I spent countless hours watching Mary Martin's "Peter Pan" crowing about the wonders of his/her shadow.  As an adult I spent countless hours avoiding looking at my own.

As an obese/overweight woman, I learned how to avoid full length mirrors, reflective glass & clear lakes, but I could never seem to shake my shadow.  And though it was sometimes distorted, it was always there & it was always a horrible reminder of my body's burgeoning shape.  For some reason my eyes couldn't really see in the mirror what was obvious in a shadow--the bulges, the lumps, the girth.  The shadow never allowed me to lie to myself the way a mirror did.

I was at the park with my kids the other day (& yes, my three year old & one year old both mastered the slide that very same day) & I realized that I love my shadow!  It may have been the lengthening from late day sunlight, it may have been the jeggings that have just the right amount of support, but whatever it was, I was enthralled.  If my shadow had been a pond, like Narcissus, I would have drowned. 

I hadn't actively thought about hating or trying to avoid my shadow, but now that it's reflecting a new me (one that is now distorted the opposite direction in my mirror), all I can say is "I've gotta crow!"

Sunday, April 17, 2011



I live in a hilly (Iowa hilly, not real hilly) neighborhood, but somehow I managed to line all of my running segments up with downhill stretches...all except the last 30 seconds of my last run.  Up until that point, I was feeling pretty confident, pretty powerful, pretty awesome.  When those last 30 seconds hit, I thought I might fact, Bon Jovi was telling me quite emphatically that "I ain't (cringe) gonna live forever."

As I was running uphill, with my cemetery "dead" in front of me, I realized that that exact moment was an image of where I'm at right now in my bigger journey.  My rate of loss has REALLY slowed down.  There are all sorts of factors contributing to that, not the least of which is that it just naturally becomes harder the less you have to lose.  Stupid science.  As I'm hitting the tail end of losing I have to work so much harder for each ounce & it's getting frustrating.  I soared through the lion's share of my pounds feeling confident & strong & that confidence is waining a little.  These last "30 seconds" are my Everest. 

As a way to push me through, I spent last night making an ugly & uninspiring page of my progress.  I am committing to update it with new weights weekly & new measurements monthly.  After all of the compliments & kind words from friends, family, & loving strangers, it's time to kick up some scrutiny to bust through my budding complacency. 

I'm also ready to do it...I'm ready to set a final goal weight.  I am going to weigh 134 lbs.  My hope is that I'm close enough (28.2 lbs) that it will be motivational, rather than insurmountable.  I'm not setting a time limit, I'm just setting a finish line.  It may take me another year to finish these last 30 seconds, but I'm going to do it--just like I did it this morning.  And then, like this morning, I'm probably going to cry.       

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Goodbye to THE Jeans


Goodwill Run!
I don't know what's more depressing: that I had this much clothing that doesn't fit (the fourth such trip to Goodwill that I have made) or that we've spent this much money (& so much more) on diapers.

It feels good to be clearing out items that I can't wear anymore & I have fantasies that the people that find these things will be excited--of particular note, THE jeans that heralded my first time shopping in "regular" sizes in 10 years.  I thought about hanging on to them, but to what end?  They aren't my "before" pants & I can't wear them any more & goodness knows I have plenty of pictures of them (they are the ONLY pants I wore from November-January...if you saw me then, I was wearing them!).  Ultimately, it seemed better to let someone else get the remaining wear out of them. 

Run free, first skinny jeans.  I hope you find another girl who will love you like I did...& maybe out-shrink you, too!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Less Cheeky


I just got back from a doctor's appointment & I got something much better than a lollipop. 

Yeah, my blood pressure is good.  Yeah, my weight is down.  Yeah, I got to bask in the looks of shocked appreciation on the faces of my doctor & nurse as they surveyed a patient that had actually listened to them & made a lifestyle change.  All of that is small potatoes...

The gown went all the way around me...on both sides...with overlap under my tush!  Gone are the days of trying to tuck one side of the gown under the cheek closest to the door, leaving the other side--& cheek--haphazardly swaying in the breeze.  It's the little things in life that make an annual visit oh so much fun.

Sunday, April 10, 2011



"It's kind of fun to do the impossible"  -Walt Disney

I'm not usually much for quotable quotes, but this was staring at me from my C25K app this morning & it made me oddly happy.  I never would have thought that I could run & now that I'm doing it, there is fun to be had in overcoming the perceived impossibility...if not in the running itself.

W2D1 is comprised of alternating 1.5 minute runs & 2 minute walks.  I was comfortable with the increase in running time, but I wanted the recovery time to be shorter.  I was feeling twitchy.  I could have ignored the prompts & gone rogue, but I decided that my experience & scientific training was probably insufficient to make the call.  Once again I'm choosing to trust the plan.

Here are a couple of other unrelated musings from this morning:

1.  Marching band is bad for your health.  To say nothing of the social implications in high school, participation in marching band was detrimental to my long term health.  I am incapable of running/walking to music & not trying to get in step.  You try doing that while running on uneven ground.  It's just a matter of time before I wipe out, but at least I'll be in step when I do it.

2.  I might not look as ridiculous as I feel.  Because I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping in until 6:30, I came across my first pedestrian observer this morning.  When I first noticed him walking his dog on the path ahead of me I was sure he was going to laugh openly as we passed...he didn't!  Now, that could have been because his "dog" was actually an enormous puppy who decided that running with me would be way more fun that ambling with his owner.  The poor guy had to really knuckle down to keep the puppy with him & I don't think that left much time for guffaws. 

3.  When I'm feeling down, I need to remember that it could always be worse.  I saw quite a few robins out this morning, bellies swollen & about ready to burst with the eggs to be laid.  They looked ridiculous & awkward & I couldn't help but think about the process of egg laying.  At least my babies were squishy.  Not that I'm feeling down, but it was a good reminder nonetheless.

4.  Sixty degrees is hot & I need to apologize to my neighbors for the strip show I put on at the end of my run.  It might be time to get some shorts...but that is a discussion for another day. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What Makes Us Special


A couple of weeks ago I was at the tail end of a slump.  A lot of factors that I've already yapped about put me there & a lot of things came together to snap me out, most notably my husband telling me that I'm not special.  If you need reassurance that he's not a big meanie, check out this post, but the bottom line was that my struggles don't make me unique...everyone has a cross to bear.

I received a comment on that post from a very dear friend as follows:  After seeing literally hundreds of patients in clinic and having to attempt to convince them to change their lifestyle or face the consequences I will attest that you actually are quite unique. You're amazing.

That put me in a bit of a pickle.  I could see what he was saying & sincerely appreciated the complement, but what to do with it?

After chewing on it for a week & thinking about the people that I think are truly special, here is what I came up:  The things that happen to me don't make me special or unique; it's how I RESPOND to those things that makes me who I am.  When I was in high school, I had an English teacher that had his walls papered with students' "Golden Ideas"--little one-off quips that hit you hard with the message stick.  I was never very good at authoring those blasted things & was envious of my classmates who excelled at the greeting card schlock that usually fit the bill.  I'm pretty sure that this would have made it up on the wall & I'm definitely filing it mentally among the mantras that I use on myself & my kids--this is one of my core beliefs.

I can't change the past & erase the extra weight.  I can't rewire my brain to correct years of emotional, binge, or otherwise harmful eating.  I can't waive a magic wand & become the girl who goes on a run for fun.  Many people have the same struggles, the same vices, the same things they wish they could change.  That isn't special.  What makes me the woman that I am (what defines all of us as individuals) is what I do about it, how I respond.  For years I responded with denial, anger, sadness, frustration & bitterness.   It may have been easier to be bitter, but it is so much better to be positive & pro-active.  I will not choose the bitter life for myself anymore.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Hippie Mom


My mom was a hippie mom.  I used to affectionately make fun of her for baking our bread & making homemade fruit leather (okay, I wasn't affectionate about the fruit leather--I was spit-stomping mad that I couldn't have Fruit Roll-Ups like every other normal kid in the 80's). 

Now, this is what I have sitting on my kitchen counter:
That's applesauce on the left (something I've been doing since Lincoln started eating solids) & yogurt on the right (something I started doing last weekend).  So here I sit, the next generation of the hippie mom--or is that hippy mom?  Both, I guess.

The first time I did WW, I ate "Smart Ones" frozen meals three times/day, lost 10 pounds & then gave up.  Part of my process has been thinking about what I eat & what I feed my family.  Having nothing to do with my gender & everything to do with how Dave & I have chosen to split up family tasks, I do the vast majority of the cooking.  It is my responsibility to make sure we are not only fed, but nourished as well.  It only makes sense that the more real food we eat, the healthier we will be, the better we will feel & (unrelated side benefit) the cheaper it will be. 

So, here I am with applesauce & yogurt in the crock pots & a Google window open with bread making info.  I asked my hippie mom if she would be willing to part with her mill & she said it was mine if I wanted it...if I'm going to bake the bread, I might as well grind the flour, too...right?  Just call me The Getting-Little Red Hen.


Sunday, April 3, 2011



This morning I started my official Couch to 5K training with Week 1, Day 1-- & I had a blast!  Who saw that one coming?  Not I, said the red-faced Sara.

W1D1 is 1 minute of running followed by 90 seconds of walking with a 5 minute warm-up & cool-down.  Do-able!

Key to my success/enjoyment was a C25K app that overlays your running & walking intervals with your music.  I'm such a rule monger that I needed a way to know that I was doing the right intervals or I would use inaccuracy as an excuse to quit.  Last night I laid out my gear & made my inaugural playlist--& what a playlist it was.  It was a thing of beauty.  As though I had planned it, Bon Jovi was wailing "It's My Liiiiiiiife..." exactly at the beginning of my first running interval, ACDC was screeching "you've been...THUNDERSTRUCK" exactly at my halfway point, Cee Lo was urging me to "forget yooou" exactly when I turned the corner onto a busy street & became acutely self-conscious, & there was Michael exactly at the beginning of my cool-down crooning "I'm starting with the man in the mirr-rah, oh, yeah."  I'm getting chills just thinking about it...or maybe I'm getting chills because I'm still sitting here in my damp running clothes, writing when I should probably be showering & investigating a date with the washing machine.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my fitness level is decidedly above "couch."  A couple of times I was tempted to run longer than my appointed times, but decided to work the program as is & see what happens.  The last thing I want is to hurt myself & then give up.

On the list of things that were NOT surprising: yes, I got lost running in my own neighborhood & ended up running along a busy street that I would have sworn was no where near me.  The only thing worse than my ability to control binge eating is my sense of direction.  The upside of my wrong turn was that I got to run past "my" little cemetery & that made me happy.  There's something about a cemetery that I just love.  I don't know if it's the headstones, the quiet or the deceased, but it was really nice to run & celebrate life with my favorite unknown dead.

I was crying during the first run & crying again when Dave found me sitting on the step at the end.  I'm just so grateful for how far I have come & so excited for what it means for my family.  At 5:57 on a Sunday morning, I went for a run.  At 6:30, my husband took his bike out to do a brick workout.  It's not a big deal or an event, it's just my new life.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Time for a Little Less Hooking


I'm in love.  With a girl.  Named Kayla.  With whom I went to 2nd base (minor leagues--yes, I'm that lame that I had to Google what 2nd base was & subsequently learned that there is an altogether different set of bases for the "major" leagues).

Today I finally screwed up my courage, walked into Victoria's Secret & asked a perfectly lovely perfect stranger to measure me for a bra.  Kayla was probably all of 21, working her part-time job & miles away from having any clue about the ravages of baby-havin' or weight-droppin' on one's bosom, BUT she was very kind & very helpful. 

I tried on about 15 different bras & came home with 4 (multiplying my wearable bra selection by 4).  The big news of the day: I'm down to 2 hooks...2 HOOKS!  Kayla gave me a vague stare when I squealed with delight at the clasp, but previously I was a mandatory 4 hook kind of girl.  *Insert obvious hooker joke here*

Even better than my hooks, my band size went down more than my cup size--a relief for any girl, hooker or not.

I spent such an unholy amount of money that I got a delightfully subtle, pink striped umbrella with Victoria's Secret emblazoned on it.  I can't wait to take my kids puddle stomping with it...all of the moms at the park will be jealous...or think I'm an unfit mom.  Devil may care--did I mention that I'm a two hook girl?!?