Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Schlock...


I came up to my desk prepared to write about my inaugural treadmill run, complete with lousy pictures of sweaty Sara to offer up as proof that I put my money where my mouth is (apparently my mouth is at Push, Pedal, Pull...because that's where ALL of my money & some of my dad's is...oof, treadmills are pricey).  In lieu of what would have been mediocre & not that edifying to me personally, I offer this:

Real-time crying pic...thank goodness it's back lit!
"Sara, I have been reading your blog for a little while now. Megan told me about it and I was interested to see what you had to say. Usually I just read what you say and (through laughter or tears - which happens a lot) I think "How is it that she knows exactly what I am thinking/ feeling?". Then I go about my day as usual until the next post. But today I really felt like I had to leave a comment. 1. It was so great to see you last weekend and see in person how ridiculously amazing you look (I am still coveting that sweater coat!) 2. Thank you for congratulating me on my own weight loss without going so over the top that I got uncomfortable 3. But mostly, just thank you... thank you for being brave enough to say everything that you are feeling and allowing the rest of us to feel like there is someone else out there that is going through the same crap and feeling the same way and that it is totally normal. I am coming up on my own 100 lbs mark and I know that I owe it to you, if you hadn't started your journey then Megan wouldn't have started when she did and I know that I would be sitting here eating a super sized value meal for lunch instead of my protein bar and fruit. Apparently, I just decided to save up all of my posts for one long post now. Sorry about that, but I wanted to make sure that you know what a difference you have made in my life and I am sure other lives as well. Again, THANK YOU!!"

Excuse me while I go get a SECOND fistful of tissues (also, as an aside: this made Dave cry at his cube at work--sucker!).  I'm not posting this to brag on myself & hopefully the commenter (who is someone that I know in the "real" world) doesn't mind, but I was absolutely knocked to the ground with emotions & I knew I had to say this...

I would lose every pound again, I would have this process take two MORE years on top of what I have already done, I would struggle & slog through every bad habit & every bit of negative self-talk to think that I could really have had even a fraction of that impact on another person's life.  Across the board, the comments & encouragements on Monday's post have overwhelmed me with joy & hope & something brand new: purpose.  Yup, I'm about to lay down some philosophy. 

I believe that individual lives have purpose & finding that purpose--that thing that lights your fire & sparks your soul--that's what life is all about.  Everyone has a different purpose & most people have multiple.  This is one of mine & I just had that a-ha moment this very second.  Thank you (all of you who have waded through this with me) for giving me the gift of purpose.  I can't say enough how much it means to me...& there I go crying again.  At least in my line of work my "office mates" think crying is part of a regular workday.  Chalk it up as a rather unglamorous albeit appreciated perk of being a stay at home mom.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Swear to Tell the Whole Truth...


I'm struggling.  You know how you can tell I'm struggling?
  1. I haven't been blogging.
  2. I haven't been tracking.
  3. My peanut butter jar shows the stabby marks of diving into the jar rather than the smooth surface of one that has been carefully scooped with measuring spoons.
  4. I missed a month of being measured & skipped my monthly picture on Saturday (even though my hair was awesome).
I'm tired.  I'm the kid in the back of the van whining an endless chorus of arewethereyets.  I'm blue about my progress over the last year & even more specifically over the last couple of months.  I am angry at myself for rallying & falling--yet again.  How many times can I have an epiphany & think I'm ready to push through to goal?  I have been at this for so long & I'm still. not. done.

Before the harpies descend, I know that I'm never really "done," this is a lifestyle, blah blah blah. Heck, I preach that all the time.  But sometimes, on a cold November night, it just feels like there should be an end.  A rest.  The grind of working toward an illusive goal is wearing on my heart.

On Friday night, Dave & I did our duty & "cleaned up" some of the leftover Thanksgiving wine.  After a couple of glasses I started flapping my gums & my eyes started leaking & I opened the floodgates.  I told Dave that I am angry that I lost 100 lbs last year & have struggled & clawed my way through less than 25 this year.  I told Dave that I have contemplated changing my official goal so that I could just be done already.  Most importantly, I told Dave that I have been avoiding my blog because I felt guilty for harboring ANY negative feelings about my progress.

Lately I've held back, & when I didn't think I could hold back, I just stayed away.  I love Old Sara.  I remember how her heart ached when she heard a "skinny" girl say that she wanted to lose 10 lbs & while I knew it wasn't personal, it sure felt that way.  If Old Sara heard New Sara say that she had only lost 25 lbs this year, she would have been puce with envy.  If Old Sara knew New Sara was wanting to change her goal to achieve artificial success she would have thought that New Sara was an ego maniac.  If Old Sara read New Sara whining about the last 10 lbs she would have cried for days.

But, this is my truth.  It's where I'm at right now & for all that it appears selfish & cold & unfeeling, it is how I feel.  I'm just plain angry.  At myself, at life, at genetics, at Krispy Kreme, at pants sizes, at loose skin, at shiny new treadmills being delivered to my house tomorrow, at well meaning people who ask me if I'm at goal, at well meaning people who give me a compliment, at perfect strangers who don't know where I've come from, at twisted ankles, at people on their own journeys who are having success, at cold weather, at myself. 

Here's what I'm left with:
  1. This is a great reminder to me that shedding pounds doesn't "fix it."  Life can still be slimy & gross no matter what your body looks/feels like.  This is a mental process with a physical manifestation.  I need to mind my thoughts with the vigilance of last year if I want last year's results.
  2. As Olivia from last season of BL said, "This isn't about a number on a scale, it's about finishing what you start."  The goal is so much more than a number.  This whole process has become one of me learning to be a do-er & ceasing to be a quitter.  Recognize, New Sara.
So I have to/want to slog through this.  My preference would be sooner rather than later, but I guess I can wish in one hand &.........or I could just do something about it.  The leftovers are gone, the treadmill will be here tomorrow, it's game time--again.  I guess it's most important that it is game time one more time than it's rallying time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Living History Farms (or Have I Lost My Blinking Mind?)


This is my friend, Ryan:

He & I have known each other since we were young pups of 16 (ish) & became good friends in college.  You'll never meet a warmer, louder, or more genuine person in your whole wide don't even try.  I think he's the cat's pajamas, even though he nearly killed me on Saturday. 

For reasons all his own (& completely separate from anything that I like to prattle on & on about) it was a big deal for him to run Living History Farms this year.  When he asked me if I would join him (Dave was a foregone conclusion, but I took some convincing) I said yes (click here to see what I was getting myself into), but secretly hoped that everyone would just forget about the whole thing.  No one forgot. 

As time got closer, I failed to get nervous about my impending doom, which was a really bad thing all around because I was kind of cavalier about the whole thing.  Then Saturday rolled around & the reality hit that I had to do 7.2 miles, let alone 7.2 miles sprinkled with creeks & 6 foot banks & hay bales & Iowa-style mountains that required ropes & tree roots to maneuver.  I wasn't as prepared as I should have been.  It was miserable. 

I've put off writing about the race because I wanted to be able to say, "It was awful, but I would do it again in a heartbeat!"  However, that would be the tallest of tall tales.  I wouldn't do it again--once is plenty for me to say, "I've done it.  Period."  Everyone said that this year's conditions were the absolute best this race has had in years; I simply won't risk that it could be WORSE than what it was.  I was floundering & flapping & I completely flopped myself across the finish line in a manner that can only be described with the adage "what the cat dragged in."  If you don't believe me, see for yourself (big thanks to my brother-in-law for snapping this picture & not immediately dropping to the ground in uproarious laughter).

However, here comes the big but (snicker, snicker): BUT, when Ryan gave me a hug at the end of the race (he ROCKED it, by the way) he whispered to me, "No way either one of us could have done that a year ago."  And he is absolutely right.  It was cold, it was wet, it was muddy, it was hard, but once again, I proved to myself that I can do hard things that I never would have thought possible.  And for all of my distaste for the cold, wet & muddy, there was one good take away from the race.  In the last mile I had the realization that if I didn't have to worry about all of the shenanigans & stopping & starting through obstacles & being wet (I can't overstate how much I hate to be wet--I don't even like to take showers), that just maybe longer distances wouldn't be out of the question for me, with a little more dedicated training.  Perhaps that epiphany is enough to make it worth it.  Nope, it's not...but this is:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Sara Becoming...Sara


After I got married there was a surreal moment when I realized that I had made acquaintances & grown new friendships with people for whom I would always be known by my married name.  When they heard my maiden name they thought, "Huh, that doesn't seem like you."  Given that my prior name was a pretty ingrained part of my existence for 25 years, it was very odd to me that it wasn't just apparent that I had been called something else prior to being married (side note: this is in no way any sort of commentary on the merits or downfalls of changing your name at marriage--I don't give a flying Fig Newton what other people chose to do with their monikers & can't imagine why anyone ever would care about any person's name other than their own...& their kids'...& their pets'...& the stage names of drag queens, but that is just a form of art appreciation). 

I've found myself in a similar situation again.  Lincoln started preschool this fall.  Along with being his first large group experience it also happens to be my first new group interaction in which no one knows Old Sara.  No one knows that I've lost nearly 125 lbs.  No one knows that I've worked so hard to examine myself & cull out the toxic habits, thought patterns, & choices.  No one knows that I used to be the woman on the peripheral who was simultaneously hoping that you would talk to me & ignore.  No one knows that they are meeting New Sara...I'm just Sara (on a good day, let's be honest I'm really just "Lincoln's Mom").  It is bizarre.

This process has been/is the single most defining event in my character to date.  That's not to say that being thinner is my most defining character trait, but the process of working toward goals, achieving goals, pushing on through struggles, & constantly reexamining myself & my motives has made me a different person.  I used to balk at the idea that I was somehow different because I've lost weight, but I've come to realize that it's not the pounds but the process that has changed me.  That being said, I was still me before all of this & I love that me because she is the me that got me here.  She was pretty brave & more than a little smart (at times) & she made some tough choices that got me into this body & more importantly this head space...& all of these new preschool people don't know her.  They don't know that Old Sara ever existed. 

There is an odd sort of grief in that knowledge.  I don't want to BE Old Sara--ever, ever again!--but I don't loath her & I certainly don't want to forget her.  If people don't know she was there, what does that mean for New Sara--or as new folks call her, Sara?  It's like meeting a new person & not telling her that I'm a mom.  It's that integral to who I am.  But who sticks out their paw for a handshake & says, "Hi, I'm Sara.  I've lost nearly 125 lbs.  I like your sweater."?  I'll answer my own question: freaks. 

Just as when I got married, I'm sure this is a feeling that will abet with time.  I'm sure as I become comfortable in my body (which I certainly am not yet) I'll forget that I ever gave this a second thought.  For now I'm stuck in a world where I have to constantly self-censor for fear of alienating myself & others & bringing shame on my son in the highly political world of preschool.  No one likes the kid who's mom greets you with "Oooh, cool Thomas the Tank Engine shoes...did you know I used to be twice as big as I am today?"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting Carded


My Favorite Card Photo: December 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year...time to write my Christmas letter.  I'll be the first to admit that I am an absolute nut for the good old fashioned, annual recap Christmas letter paired with a dopey family picture.  I adore everything about them--getting them, sending them--the whole process is a thrill.  In hindsight, our 2005 (the year we were married) Christmas letter was probably my first blog post in disguise.  That was the year I hatched the idea to do a Top 10 list in lieu of a traditional letter.  It was an idea born in laziness (as all of my best ideas are)...why write a whole letter when I can just write 10 little blurbs?  Also that year, I stumbled upon the generic holiday cards that have a little sticker spot to attach a 4x6 photo--another lazy win.  Thus our card tradition was born.

I start writing our letter in January.  I've got post-its & scraps of paper & un-sent email drafts to myself with ideas & phrases that I find amusing (to heck with everyone else, I do this for my own enjoyment).  In November I start gathering all of my tidbits in one place & see if I can patch together 10 interesting things from the past year.  Order 100 prints of a passable picture of the family & it's done.  I've got it down to a science, but this year I'm hitting a bump in the road...the picture.   

I feel like this year's picture is my cotillion.  There are quite a few people on the list that I haven't seen in a long time...there are quite a few people who haven't seen the fruits of my labor.  This picture has to be just right.  A body shot, but not OBVIOUSLY a body shot.  A hot outfit, but not so hot that I look like the woman who forgot that she's a 30-something with two kids, a mini-van & a Costco membership.  Oh, & I guess the other three people in the picture should look ok, too.  It's a tall order.  Dave jokes that we should just send a picture of me & get it over with--we can catch people up on our kids next year.  I laugh, but only because I secretly think it's a swell idea.  I can't focus on sucking in & smiling the right smile to minimize my sagging face skin when I also have to make sure that Lincoln isn't sticking his finger up Coraline's nose (true story). 

I realize that by posting this, I am opening myself up
to being put in one of those email forwards about bad
family photos--please be kind.
I feel a little bad about my narcicism, but not bad enough to try to curb it.  So, until further notice, I will be subjecting my family to all manner of weird photo ideas until we come up with the right one.  My last idea (at left) had me sitting the kids on a dresser like some sort of weird tchotchkes.  There's a story behind the dresser, but it's not good enough to warrant this creepy photo.  Back to the drawing board...or dark room...or perhaps I need the Cave of Wonders & Robin Williams.  *sigh*  Sounds easier than just taking a simple picture.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Goal Goal: Weekend Update


I've been quiet this week, but let me start out by saying that I was quiet with was a 3.6 lb week!

Here's what I was doing while I was being quiet:
  • taking a multi-vitamin every day
  • Bless you, Ikea, for making shoe storage fun!
  • drinking 90 oz of water every day
  • going for my longest run ever on Monday...5.14 miles!!!
  • turning my ankle Monday evening
  • ignoring my turned ankle & walking Ikea all day on Tuesday
  • eating meals out of our freezer so I wouldn't be tempted with the excuse that I was too busy to cook
  • tracking every B.L.T. (bite, lick & taste)
  • visualizing my mini-goal of 1.875 lbs for the week to keep me on track for The Goal Goal
  • overseeing the assembly of my newest love, Hemnes the shoe cabinet
  • re-purposing a previously re-purposed microwave cart into (what I hope will be) the best birthday gift my son could ever want
  • eating a reasonable/pre-planned meal at Hu Hot with good friends
  • focusing on good food choices while I nursed my ankle
  • staying surprisingly calm about my impending 7 mile off-road race
  • measuring everything I ate
  • eating a reasonable treat (half of a king size Snickers with Almonds...4pps!)
  • organizing my junk drawer
  • organizing my bulk grains, beans & pastas (it's ok if you think I'm a geek)
  • day dreaming about what I will wear on New Year's Eve when I'm at goal
When I was in sales, on months that we had a big goal, we would try to be about two thirds to goal by the half way point in the month.  I don't know if that is realistic, but I would like to be more than half way to my goal by the end of Week 4.  That would be less than 141.5 lbs by the end of November.  With the good start I gave myself, I think that's attainable, I just have to stay focused & keep planning ahead when it comes to all of the upcoming social events engulfed in food.  Planning & mentally rehearsing are the name of the game.  Week 1, I owned you.  Week 2, welcome to the jungle.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Goal Goal


Another 2.4 lb gain...not nearly so hard to swallow as my previous turn at the same gain.  I think by the time I stepped on the scale I had already faced the music & the weigh-in was just a formality.  I've been mulling over my plan of attack for the last few days & here is what I have come up with:
  1. Though public, timed goals make me queasy with anxiety & fill me with fear & raise my obsession level to an unhealthy level, they also work.
  2. In retrospect, most of my major milestones have come at the end of a goal with a specific time limit.
  3. I am 15 lbs from goal.
  4. New Year last year was absolutely magical, marking the end of obesity.
  5. There are 8 weeks until New Year's Eve (which just happens to fall on a Saturday/weigh-in day).
Any guesses where I'm headed with this?  *gulp*  I want to be at my final, end, glorious goal of 134 lbs by New Year's Eve.  This breaks down to a weekly goal of 1.875 lbs lost per week.  Lofty?  Incredibly.  Impossible?  No.  I'm calling it The Goal Goal--because it's the goal to...goal.

Over the course of my journey I have had SCADS of mini-goals that have propelled me over the bulk of the 135 lbs that I will have lost by the time I get to goal.  Those are the bread & butter of this journey.  However, the magical milestones (end of obesity, 100 lbs gone, healthy weight range) were all at the end of a push where I gave myself a specific timeline & declared it publicly. 

So here's to The Goal Goal, may it be challenging but not impossible, focusing but not all consuming.  Cheers!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A BAD Recipe


Recipe for disaster:
Mix 2 parts stress with 1 part complacency.  Shake well.  Serve chilled in a sudden cold snap.

Blurg.  It's awfully hard for me to keep my motivation up these days.  The nagging feeling that I've done "enough" persists & on top of that I've found myself in a stressful situation that I don't know how to fix.  Then the weather got cool & I got munchy...then scroungy...then bingey. 

So, this is me, fessing up to some abysmal food choices & assigning myself some motivational self-reading as seen here & here & here.  Then, I'm defrosting a dinner out of the freezer rather than go out to eat (since my original dinner plan was an epic fail).  And finally, I will go for a run after the kids are in bed. 

I don't know if any of the above is the recipe for renewed success, but it certainly can't hurt.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Voodoo Tuesday: Know Thyself


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...

Know Thyself
This is the companion to last week's "There Are No Off-Limits Foods."  The condensed version of that idea: if I forbid myself from ever eating something that I really enjoy, the desire for it will consume me until I consume waaaaaay too much of it--whatever "it" is at the time.  There are no off-limits foods, just off-limits portions. 

Unfortunately, I'm still a food addict.  I still have the ability & propensity to over-indulge in the blink of an eye, set off by a bad day, a good day, a mediocre day, or a full moon.  *sigh*  So, while I give myself the latitude to eat anything I want in moderation, I also have to be realistic about myself.  I know that certain foods make me all giddy & tingly inside to the point where I throw caution to the wind.  Those foods (trigger foods) do not have the key to the club.  They do not get to be in my house.  They are not welcome to live in my cupboards. 

That is not to say that I won't eat those foods.  I just purchase them in single servings & don't allow a big package or whole batch to linger in my home--because the lingering would be just a brief layover on the way to the bingeing. 

Now for the Lasso of Truth: This Halloween I did an abysmal job of knowing myself.  As I did last year, I bought candy that I don't like to pass out to the neighborhood ghouls & goblins...unfortunately my neighbors did not consult me before making their own treat purchases.  My kids came home with far too much of the good stuff (read: chocolate, chocolate/peanut butter, chocolate/caramel, etc).  I am very thankful that they are still so little that they don't have the eye of the tiger when it comes to trick-or-treating, so their haul is somewhat limited, but still dangerous.  What I PLANNED to do was let them have unfettered access to candy for one night & then toss the remainder.  What I ACTUALLY did was let them have unfettered access to candy for one night & then forgot to tell Lincoln that I was tossing the rest, so I justified keeping it around in the name of good parenting.  Over the course of Monday I fished out all of the delectable bits in a steady stream of chocolaty madness.   Monday was a Know Thyself Fail.  Today I made the remainder go away but for one treat for each of the kids--what I should have done yesterday--& made myself write this as a part of my penance.  Now time to go say my Hail, Spinach.