Sunday, October 30, 2011



We're that family.  You know, the ones with the themed Halloween costumes.  Dave & I started the tradition in college:

Kept it going when we were just a couple of young married kids:

And then dragged our kids along for the ride:

Last year, the Pirate Year, Lincoln had two loves that we contemplated when making our costume choice, the obvious pirates &...superheroes.  In the summer of 2010, Lincoln started to enjoy the idea of supers.  The kid "flies" everywhere.  He can "sing" the Superman Theme.  There's something about the idea of good guys vs bad guys & supernatural abilities that just resonates with him (& now Coraline too, since she is his little shadow).  At the point that we started talking about Costume 2010, I had shed about 50-60 lbs & I was starting to feel good about myself, but not Lycra/Spandex good about myself.  So we chose pirates (thanks to this spectacular book) & I called my shot: "Halloween 2011 will be the year of Supers."  I kept it close to the vest.  There weren't many people that knew the plan, even the people that knew of Lincoln's Superman were largely in the dark about New Sara's plans.

I'd be lying if I said that this silly costume idea hadn't motivated me over the past year & a half.  We started talking up a Superman costume to Lincoln early on (just like I did with the garden, I knew that if Lincoln's heart was set on it, I would make it happen).  We mulled over the options.  My nerd lovely husband had to come to grips with the fact that we were going to have to mix superhero universes (I just couldn't put my baby in a catsuit, so that eliminated most of the traditional female options in either the DC or Marvel canon).  After much contemplation & debate, I present you with:

Wonder Woman, Superman, Bubbles & Wolverine

I planned & plotted the Wonder Woman year carefully.  First, I found a version that included a skirt (New Sara still has her limits).  Then I worked hard.  Key to me feeling comfy claiming Wonder Woman: the demise of Opal.  In the absense of surgical intervention, I don't know that she'll ever be gone, but I'm content being a middle-aged mom of two with a little jelly on the top of my muffin & I think Wonder Woman understands that concept.  Afterall, she is an Amazon can't tell me that in a community full of strong women there weren't a few bearing the proud scars of motherhood.  Knowing that Lincoln was counting on me to hold up my end of the bargain was just the kick I needed to send Opal to the curb & I can honestly say that I'm pretty comfortable in MOST shirts now. 

Once I started feeling like Wonder Woman could be a reality, I had to start gathering materials.  I'm NOT a sewer, but I'm a maniac with a glue-gun.  The key for me & costume making is to find the base materials that I can customize with felt (no frayed edges!) & glue.  Here are the non-weight related deets on the costumes:

Wonder Woman's Skirt: two clearanced window valances star stamped with potatoes
Wonder Woman's Bracelets & Tiara: clearanced cuff bracelets & a cheapy headband spray painted gold
All Boots: polyester socks with shoes underneath (they only have to last two wearings!)
All Badges: traced & razored out of cheap felt squares
Superman's Cape: clearance pillowcase
Wolverine's Belt: a strip of the red flat sheet from the clearanced set I got for the pillowcase/cape
Superman & Wolverine's Briefs: Victoria's Secret (probably some of the biggest splurges, but so worth it!)
Bubbles' Belt: a women's felt headband

Add a couple of leotards (yep, that's Dave in a women's leotard), some tights, & a blue dress along with some purchased details that were above my paygrade (wig, claws, Wolverine mask) & ta-da.  The great thing about all of this stuff is that I know my kids will play with it a TON, so I don't really feel that I've wasted anything.  And my kids were over the moon when they saw the finished product all put together. 

And me, I am over the moon that in a year's time I've gone from scallywag to Wonder Woman. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Put a Ring On It


Yesterday I got to be married again. 

I've been wearing string on my wedding/engagement rings for about a year (as seen here) to keep them from falling off.  Over the course of the year, I've added to the string (but never changed it--I know, I'm disgusting).  Prior to the addition of string, I never took my rings off, but in the post-string world I took them off all of the time, because who wants moldy, rotting string hands on their bread?  I've got hooks or dishes by all of the sinks & often I would forget to put them back on.  I've caught more than a few askance glances when I've been out ring-less with my kids (which is a sad commentary on judgemental strangers, but that is completely off topic). 

After a year of string & being within throwing distance of goal, I decided that my fingers will likely not get that much smaller & I took the plunge to have them sized.  It was an extremely exciting moment.  Here's what they looked like (the beautiful sunshine on that day doesn't do them justice--they were so disgusting that when I handed them to the fellow at the shop, I think he actually cringed):

The rings were purchased at a small local jeweler (if you're in central Iowa, check them out, all of there stuff is a-maah-zing).  When we went in to pick out our bands as dewy eyed youths, I had a vision of what I wanted: a wide band with small diamonds inset around the whole band.  I went to school with the woman that helped us pick them out, & she advised against putting the diamonds all the way around because, "it would be difficult if it ever needed to be sized."  I distinctly remember thinking, "when they need to be sized, I'll just stop wearing them."  Thinking about that girl, Old Sara, who was resigned to not wearing her precious wedding rings before she even had the state's permission to wear them breaks my heart.

Well, check out my precious now!  It's even so shiny that you can see the camera reflected if you look really closely.  I'm glad I took Katie's advice about not putting stones all the way around & am glad to put a ring on it & be married again.  And as a completely superficial side benefit to shedding pounds & getting thinner fingers: my rock looks bigger.  It's like getting a free upgrade.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bridge to 10K


Monday I started my B210K training.  I've been dreading it, digging in my heels & making excuses why I couldn't start.  The scary reality is that I'm signed up for a 7 mile off-road race the weekend before Thanksgiving & it's happening whether I'm ready or not. 

Monday I ran 4.07 miles, but subsequently realized that I had cheated some of the time & not done the full workout.  Today there was no scrimping & I dragged my carcass 4.75 miles.  I'm flabbergasted.  I've always resolutely maintained the use of the word "run" vs the pejorative "jog" (in PE they taught us that running requires a brief moment of time airborne...I will stake my claim to that regardless of how slowly my feet are moving in the process of achieving that airborne moment).  That being the case I wouldn't necessarily say I'm a "runner."  I usually say "I run," instead of owning the title of runner.  More evidence of the lag between mind & body, but today I'm feeling pretty confident about the mileage of the race (the creeks & ice & mountainous hay bales are another story). 

And as if that wasn't enough to get me feeling good about myself & running (still can't really call myself a runner), check out how I found my daughter last night:
...wearing my running kicks & all snuggled up with "Runners' World."  There's no better feeling as a parent than when you realize that you've engaged in a little piece of positive modeling.  Maybe that negates the fact that my son says "Oh. My. Gosh." like a 15 year old his mom.  Nope, that's still awful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Voodoo Tuesday: There Are No Off-Limits Foods


Voodoo Tuesday: My effort every week to remind myself of the million pieces of voodoo (also known as good habits) that are progressing me on my journey.  Today's voodoo...

There Are No Off-Limits Foods
In prior lifetimes of "dieting," I would get hung up on the idea that I "can't have that" or that certain foods are "bad."  The obsession would become crippling until I was forced to choose between breaking out of my self-imposed food imprisonment or living deprived (which would only last so long until I was ready to sell myself on the corner for a Swiss Cake Roll).

Food cannot be bad.  You don't see Mac & Cheese knocking off convenience stores or pushing little old ladies down in the street.  Pizza won't take your sister out on three dates & then never call again.  Fried Chicken can't call in "sick" & then go golfing.  There are foods that are better choices than others, but there isn't one single bite out there that is "bad." 

This time around I have worked really hard at ending the temptation to demonize food.  I try to focus on eating for fuel & making the best choices that I can.  Sometimes the best choice is a Krispy Kreme--not because it is nourishing to my body, but simply because those little minions tickle my taste buds.  New Sara knows that the entire box of Krispy Kremes is never the best choice, but sometimes one fudge iced, creme filled is.  Outside of medical reasons or religious/moral choices, I believe that there are no off-limits foods, only off-limits portions.

It's hard to shake the diet mentality.  Food packaging & social pressure has conditioned me to look for the light, reduced, or diet option if I want to lose weight--but I don't want to live a light, reduced, or diet life.  So I choose moderation with a focus on eating mostly real foods.  That way, when the Krispy Kreme urge hits, I can enjoy one rather than feel miserable (physically & emotionally) after six.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lil Manilow Power


Yesterday I put on my ruby slippers fuzzy boots & said with fervor, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home."  Our week-long trek across the Midwest came to a close & as I dragged my weary body out of our jam packed van & into our house I was hit with a wave of appreciation.  Of course there was the usual post-trip euphoria over the prospects of sleeping in my own bed, having access to my whole closet (such that it is), & peeing in my own toilet (yup...fills me with joy).  But new to this trip, in fact new to my whole life, I didn't feel like I was coming out of a food free-for-all from which I would need to spend the next couple of weeks recovering.  Talk about a reminder of the changes in my life. 

Previously I've used trips as an excuse to get buck wild & dreaded the return to reality for both the gut check of consequences & "giving up" vacation freedoms.  Parts of me that were less tuned in to the joys of sleeping in my own bed were always fearful of facing the music at the end of a trip.

But this time there just wasn't any music.  Something funny happened last week.  I ate a LOT of my grandma's lemon bars (ok, that's not funny), but I made adjustments in what I was eating the rest of the time to help compensate--subconsciously.  I wasn't really thinking too much about it, just listening to my body.  Eventually my body told me that if I ate any more lemon bars I was in danger of turning into a Lemonhead.  And then I stopped.

I think this week MAY have been a taste of life after goal.  I've been terrified that I won't be able to make a graceful transition into maintenance.  This season of life has been a very selfish & self-centered one in which a large percentage of my brain power & emotional resources are funneled straight into me.  My family bends to me (what does Sara want to eat, when does Sara need to workout, where does Sara want to go out) with the idea that this is a temporary situation to achieve a long term goal that is in the best interest of all of us.  Sometimes I worry that I will never be able to relax the hyper-focus.  This week proved otherwise, & while I did gain, it was a reasonable gain of 1.8 lbs...not an Old Sara 10 lb Vacation.  I felt in control.  I made choices as opposed to giving into impulses.  And 1.8 lbs?  I can swing that between breakfast & bedtime.  No sweat.

To capitalize on feeling in control of the moment, I FINALLY took the plunge into Bridge to 10K that I've been promising myself/putting off.  Turns out, it was awesome & I rocked out 4.07 miles with nary a hitch.  A new playlist on a new iPod (thank you, Sam!) had me flying.  And I know you're wondering, so I'll let you in on the secret: yes, I have Lil Wayne & Barry Manilow on the same playlist & yes, I think that is appropriate.  Bring it, Living History Farms...I've got Lil Manilow Power.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Normal (Insert Air Quotes Here)


When I get my measurements done at Curves every month, after the good old-fashioned tape measuring, my (now) good friend Peggy whips out a little gizmo that measures BMI & body fat percentage.  I squeeze the handles & hold it out in front of me & I assume it uses some sort of electric or magnetic pulse to work its figures.  I've read that such devices are only marginally accurate & BMI in particular is quite a controversial gauge of an individual's progress, but for right this very second, I'm going to suspend such nay-saying because...the gizmo says I'm "Normal."

Talk about validation.  It's sad, but true.  That little plastic thing-a-majig made my day.  Inaccurate or not, as a reference point against itself, it's progress.  When I started at Curves I was 43% body fat (keep in mind that is AFTER I had already lost 40 lbs) & had a BMI of 37.9 (down from my highest at 45).  Today, Senor Gizmo wasn't blinking "Very High" at me.  He wasn't flashing "High" in my direction.  He called me "Normal" at 27.2% body fat with a BMI of 24.4.

With curiosity piqued, I did a little comparing of my March 2010 measurements to my current measurements.
  • Waist: down 19.25"
  • Hips: down 16"
  • Thighs: down 12" (total, not each)
  • Arms: down 11.25" (total, not each)
I don't really believe in "Normal" as pertains to size, shape, or beauty.  There are too many variables in the human body to try to pigeon-hole anyone to a small set of numbers or standards.  I believe in healthy & I believe in comfortable & self-possessed, both of which can look all sorts of different ways.  However, I also believe in measuring my personal progress in a multitude of ways, both traditional & non-traditional (yes, my markedly decreased desire to stick-up a Krispy Kreme delivery truck is a measure of progress).  Today, a very traditional (albeit flawed) measure called me "Normal" & I'll take it at face value & appreciate it as just one sign that I'm moving in the right direction.  Maybe I'm not actually normal...but a little closer to fine.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Voodoo Tuesday: Pack Some Heat


Voodoo Tuesday: My effort every week to remind myself of the million pieces of voodoo (also known as good habits) that are progressing me on my journey.  Today's voodoo...

Pack Some Heat
By heat, I clearly mean food--a healthy girl's secret weapon.  My family is getting ready to go on a pretty big trip.  Luckily, I will have access to a kitchen at all stages of our trek (minus road time), which is a big help, so I'm planning on packing everything but the kitchen sink.  If I have a selection of foods that I know are good & good for me, I'll be better able to maneuver the inevitable vacation pitfalls & try to find some balance between splurges & fuel.  Planning is power. Here's a list of the food & supplies I'm taking (as of right now...I know there will be more once I go to Target tomorrow):
  • Fat-Free Coffeemate (I know, it's not real food, but gas station creamer isn't either & it's NOT worth the points)
  • "Squeezy"-sauce (my son's name for unsweetened applesauce that comes in a pouch for easy slurping)
  • Reduced Fat Triscuits
  • Cheese sticks
  • Grapes
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Water bottles
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried blueberries & cherries
  • Bananas
  • Whole wheat pumpkin bread
  • Beef sticks
  • As much coffee as I have Thermoses for
  • Milk
  • Measuring spoons, measuring cups & plastic cutlery
  • Lots of baby wipes, empty grocery sacks & a small bottle of dish soap to help clean-up
Good thing we have the van...we need it to haul all of my provisions!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mawage is What Bwings Us Togethew Today


Saturday was our sixth anniversary (side note to Dave because I know he will read this: I accidentally typed "sith" anniversary initially...are you Vader or the Emperor?).  Grandma & Grandpa watched the kids overnight, we went out downtown, I ate delicious seafood & creme brulee, we sipped coffee outside on a beautiful night.  It was marvelous, but all fairly boring for the interwebs, so I'll skip to the good, not that...

This is me in my wedding dress on my wedding day...

This is me in my wedding dress last finally fit again (& was a little baggy on top)...

This is me in my wedding dress this year...had to put a cami under it so that it wasn't NSFW...

Every girl, at every size, deserves a dress that makes her feel beautiful, & my wedding dress certainly did that for me.  Even though I was married at a size with which I wasn't comfortable, I felt beautiful that day.  However, this dress, at my current size, doesn't make me feel so hot (or maybe it was the schlumpy hair...).  Anyway, I got a new dress to make me feel beautiful at this size....

Someday I'll learn to use a photo editor, but for now, we'll just have to look past the off-center pic taken by hotel cleaning staff.  The shoes are a particular source of joy for me.  They were to have been my wedding shoes, but a weight related issue caused me to have foot surgery two months prior to the wedding, so I scrapped the pretty heels & went for more sensible platform flip-flops (so that I didn't have to get my dress re-altered).  My wedding shoes got their first use on our anniversary, awww...& then I nearly wiped out because the bottoms were still slick.  I may be all gussied up, but I'm still the clumsy bull-in-a-china-shop that Dave picked on purpose. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

5K Strong


Who's run two 5K's & feeling strong?

This girl.

As I said on Friday, food choices may be the engine of shedding pounds...but nothing beats the feeling that you've "leveled up" physically & can accomplish anything you put your mind to. 

We had a super-busy weekend that kicked off what amounts to a super-busy, fun-filled, crazy sprint all the way to Christmas...who cares?  I do, because I know my strong body can handle it.  Old Sara would get stressed looking at a full calendar & wonder when she would find the energy to pee, let alone make Halloween costumes or go Christmas shopping or catch a musical (can't wait to take Lincoln to "Beauty & the Beast!").  New Sara is still a little stressed, but not because I worry that my body can't handle all of the brew-ha-ha that the next couple of months entail.  Running has taught me that I KNOW my body can do long as my mind cooperates.

While beating my prior 5K time by 6 whole minutes certainly doesn't hurt my feelings, the biggest rush (& still novelty) is in the idea that I did it at all.  I love that I feel like my body is worthy of all of the things that I have to do, want to do, & need to do.  For so many years, my body betrayed me & failed me & limited me.  Now my body is 5K strong.

Friday, October 7, 2011

It Starts in the Kitchen


Since we're going to be busy tomorrow morning when I typically would go to my weigh-in, I went this morning.  My goal: lose the 2.4 lbs I biffed last week. 

Speed Bump on the Way to my Goal: my left knee has been hurting pretty steadily this week.  Monday was the only day that I exercised at all.  At all. 

So I was ultra conscious of tracking.  Even when I splurged on animal crackers with frosting, I counted & measured.  Who does that?  Freaks like me.  And this freak, was treated to a pleasant reminder that the effort to shed pounds starts in the kitchen--not in the gym.  Down 2.6 lbs.  Not only did I kick the 2.4 lbs from last week, but I lost 0.2 "new" lbs as the cherry on top. 

It's so easy to get hyper-focused on the exercise component of weight loss.  It's exciting, it's action packed, & it yields a sense of accomplishment that just can't be found in choosing celery over Krispy Kremes.  Imagine an episode of "The Biggest Loser" where they showed nothing but food journaling & meal prep & menu planning...snooze.  It's boring, but it's essential.   While exercise is vital to HEALTH, the foundation of weight loss is good food choices. 

Since my goal is both weight loss & health, I'm glad that my knee is starting to feel much better & I'm itching to get out & do my second 5K (get the blow by blow on my first 5K here) on Sunday.  The mother-in-law & I are going to rock us some arthritis research fundraising.  Watch out, 38'55"...I'm comin' for you!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Voodoo Tuesday: Plan to Succeed


Voodoo Tuesday: My effort every week to remind myself of the million pieces of voodoo (also known as good habits) that are progressing me on my journey.  Today's voodoo...

Plan to Succeed
Planning ahead is probably the single best/hardest habit that I have built.  Here's what works for me (read: what I should do & yet I sometimes still fight it & think I'll do fine "wingin' it"):

On Sundays I like to sit down & plan the meals for the rest of the week.  Mondays are always veg & Fridays are usually seafood of some sort (aw,'re such a sweetie).  When I'm REALLY firing on all cylinders, Saturdays & Sundays are pulled from the freezer which just leaves Tuesdays-Thursdays to have to really think about.  I use Weight Watchers' eTools for menu planning/tracking since I'm already paying for them, but I've heard great things about free software such as MyFitnessPal & SparkPeople.  Once I've picked my meals for the week & entered them on my tracker, I go through the recipes & figure out what I have on hand & what I need to buy.  My GOAL is always to go to the grocery store one time per week & Costco two times per month.  I rarely achieve this goal, BUT thanks to menu planning, we're not going to the grocery store every night like we previously were. 

Having my dinners planned allows me to work backwards on the day & know how many points/calories I have left for the rest of the day.  In the evening, after the kids are snugly in bed, I sit down & plan breakfast & lunch for the next day, working with the things I have on hand.  If we're going to be going out to eat the next day, I will take a few minutes to see if I can find the restaurant's menu, or better yet nutrition information, online so I can plan what I'm going to order.  Planning out-to-eat meals in advance of sitting with the menu in my lap & all eyes on me while yummy smells are hitting my nose is soooooo important for me.  If I've already decided that I'm going to have a salad without cheese & dressing on the side, it's much easier for me to actually order a salad without cheese & dressing on the opposed to a blooming onion & fried shrimp. 

My last big plan ahead endeavor involves produce.  If I have it on hand & it's readily available, I'll eat it.  And if I have it in large quantities, I'll be even more likely to eat it to keep it from spoiling.  To that end, I've always got Costco sized quantities of produce in my house.  At this very moment I have a 3 lb bunch of bananas, a 4 lb package of grapes, a 2 lb box of spinach, a 2 lb bag of asparagus, a 3 lb bag of carrots, 4 lb flat of peaches, a 2 lb bag of Brussels sprouts, 6 bell peppers, 4 bunches of celery, a 5 lb bag of onions, a 5 lb box of sweet potatoes, & a 3 lb box of plums in my possession.  That's called pressure.  There's a lot of cash tied up in all of that produce & if I don't want to dump all of that cash directly into my compost bin I better find a way to eat it & feed it to my family.  To get it all gone, I pre-wash & cut as much as I can on the weekends or right after I get home from the store.  One of the biggest hurdles to healthy eating is making healthy foods as easy as lousy foods.  If I've got a bowl of plums on the table that are washed & ready, it's just as easy to grab one of those as it would be to grab a Snickers. 

Menu planning & prepping takes a LOT of time.  But I've found it takes me progressively less time as I get better at it & as my kitchen has become better stocked for preparing fuel food rather than storing junk food.  The rewards are worth the time.  When I KNOW what I'm going to eat, I'm less likely to wait until the last minute & forage for crap because I'm starving & pressed for time.  And if that's not enough, I get to look forward to the great food I'm having tonight & on into the week.  I've been looking forward to tonight's Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken & Baked Garlic Brussels Sprouts since Sunday.  And no McDonald's ad or Ruby Tuesday flier is going to con me out of that.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

25 Reasons I'm Changing My Life


Last night I was so blue that I was cerulean.  Going to my weigh-in this morning was the hardest thing I have done in this process, hands down.  I hadn't really kept tabs on my weight with the scale throughout the week, but I had kept tabs on my behavior & I knew it wasn't going to be pretty.

In bed last night, I tried to think of every conceivable excuse to NOT go.  This list included such classics as "it's too late, I'll be too tired," & "we don't have Lincoln tonight so it might be nice to spend some time with just Dave in the morning before Coraline gets up," & (my personal favorite) "I probably have Bordetella & it's probably catching...better not infect anyone else."  I cried all the way there & sat in the parking lot contemplating all of the errands I could run while I was pretending to go to my meeting.  But I did go in & I faced the music, to the tune of a little ditty I like to call "The 2.4 Pound Waltz."  But then, wouldn't you know the meeting topic was "Motivation"--just like bathing, it doesn't last forever, so you just have to keep on doing it.

Pam encouraged us to think of a list of 25 reasons that we want to shed pounds & I knew immediately that I had to do just that.  So here, in no particular order, are the 25 Reasons I'm Changing My Life:
  1. I want to model healthy womanhood for my daughter.
  2. I want to kick my back pain to the curb.
  3. I want to feel worthy of walking into a sporting goods store.
  4. I want to achieve longevity.
  5. I want to achieve longevity with quality.
  6. I want to wear tall boots & high heels.
  7. I want to decrease my risk of breast cancer.
  8. Speaking of boobs, I want them to have a higher profile than my stomach.
  9. I want to order food in a restaurant without feeling judged by the server.
  10. I want to decrease my sky-high risk of diabetes.
  11. I want to wear tank tops.
  12. I want to shop for clothes in more than two select stores.
  13. I want to walk into a room of new people & not wish for a sink hole to swallow me.
  14. I want to sit in my favorite chair & not feel my hips rubbing both arms.
  15. I want to ride on an airplane without swapping butt sweat with strangers.
  16. I want to watch my hubby's races without feeling like I'm unworthy of being his wife.
  17. Speaking of my hubby, I want to stop worrying that others feel we're "mismatched."
  18. I want to maintain my awesome blood pressure.
  19. I want to try new foods.
  20. I want to set my children up with healthy habits.
  21. I want to get dressed without tears, the wiggle dance, or laying down to zip my pants.
  22. I want to wave & not worry about arm jiggle.
  23. I want my children to be proud of me.
  24. I want my husband to be proud of me.
  25. I want to be proud of me.
This week wasn't pretty, but it wasn't the end of the world.  As I turned off the car & wiped up my tears to walk inside, I said (out loud) to myself, "I am not defined by one s#!^&y week."  And I'm not.  I'm defined by 25 awesome reasons that I'm changing my life.