Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Iron Deficient!


I am ridiculously excited to say, "I am iron deficient!"  I suppose I should back up.

I have been having a handful of funny symptoms for a while...some of them for a long-enough-to-get-"the"-look-from-my-doctor while.  It got to the point where I decided, much like trying to avoid weighing in when I know I've made poor choices, not knowing what was going on in my body didn't change the fact that something was going on & I had to go get checked out. 

I won't go into what the symptoms are, but I will say that some of the potential diagnoses had me a bit rattled for the last week--not because they were life threatening, but because they were self-worth threatening.  Of my doctor's two primary theories, the first seemed implausible because I hadn't exhibited the primary over-arching symptom.  While a little scary sounding, I just wasn't that concerned.  Her second theory was a thyroid issue. 

Many people struggle with thyroid problems & many of those are able to get treatment & be quite happy.  Here was what had me shaken:  What if I have a thyroid issue that would have caused me to lose weight?  What if I lost my weight as a symptom of a medical condition rather than a symptom of hard work? 

I was pretty inconsolable for a couple of teary nights.  At first I was just beside myself at the possible explanation, but then I was upset for being upset.  Had I really pegged so much of my self-worth on being thinner?  Had I pinned all of my feelings of purpose on shedding pounds?

Not exactly.  As I picked through my feelings & wiped up my tears I realized that it's not specifically about the weight as a physical thing, it's about the weight as an accomplishment.  For years I was a can't-do kind of girl, a quitter.  Tackling my food demons & reigning in my weight marked the beginning of an all-new can-do me.  The success rippled into other areas of my life until I was trying cooking & gardening & re-purposing & exercising & running & racing & dancing &...

The cornerstone of New Sara is that I acknowledged that I have a problem after which I made & consistently executed a plan to fix it.  What if the execution wasn't me at all?  What if it was a wonky thyroid?

I'll never know how I would have actually responded, but I had gotten myself to a relaxed head space that was more ready to accept that there may have been a piece of the puzzle that was out of my hands but that doesn't change the other 99 pieces that I worked hard for.  My thyroid didn't make me fill my fridge with produce.

Instead I have to take iron supplements--plain old, ordinary iron supplements!  I also have to lay off the blood donation, so someone out there--yup, I'm talking to you--needs to start donating to pick up the slack for me for a little while.  It only takes an hour & you know you've felt like you should, so do it already!  Some kid in a car accident this weekend will thank you.

Though admittedly awful, my best Popeye face.
As for me, I'm going to channel Popeye & go "eats me spinach"--& an iron supplement, too.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Happiness is...


...taking my daughter to swim lessons & not feeling distracted because of swimsuit anxiety.

Of course there are things I would like to change about this ever changing body of mine (sagging extra skin, an Opal resurgence), but the big difference between Old Sara & New Sara is that I'm not consumed by the fear of the swimsuit, the attention to angles, the sprint between towel & pool.  With all of that extra mental space, I was free to enjoy some one-on-one time with my daughter & watch her joy at being in the water. 

Old Sara (I am ashamed to admit) stopped taking Link to Water Babies at the Y because there was a girl that I vaguely knew from high school in the class with her daughter & I couldn't stand for her to see me in a swimsuit.

New Sara was so care-free that I even stood rump to the wind & put Coraline's cover-up on her before I dove into my towel at the end of class--without even thinking about it!

The final joy of swimming for New Sara?  A cheap swimsuit!  Plus-size suits are ridiculously expensive, especially ones that are remotely flattering & almost all of the good ones are only available online so you don't really know what you're getting until you've mortgaged your house to pay the shipping.  Every year I played that game because I was willing to pay any price for even a shred of comfort in the pool.  This year, I got a cheap-o from Old Navy.  It's not gorgeous, but it's sufficient & I was able to try it on before bringing it home.  Talk about happiness! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Off Track


Confession: I haven't regularly tracked my food for over a month.  A MONTH!  Tracking is critical to me because it helps me be mindful of what & (more critically for me) how much I'm eating, it gives me information & power. 

When I started thinking about coming clean about my transgressions, I thought it had been a couple of weeks.  I was shocked when I pulled up my tracker--dusty from lack of use--to find that it had been 5 weeks since I had done any kind of regular tracking.  I can blame some of my dalliance on our South Dakota Adventure & some on eating out & some on eating in others' homes...but frankly that doesn't matter.

It's not that I've eaten particularly poorly or made bad choices or binged (although I did steal the brownie that my step-mother sent home for Dave...he's not a big dessert person & its yumminess would have been wasted on him).  To the contrary, I have been pretty content with my tracking-free progress, but therein lies the problem. 

Contentment, in relationship to self-improvement, is just a whisper away from complacency.  Complacency is teetering on the edge of apathy & apathy, for me, is a readily accessible Krispy Kreme drive-thru & 269 pounds.  Time to reign this puppy in. 

The tricky thing is that not tracking is a lot like when I learned to swear.  I vividly remember the first time I ever cursed.  I was in third grade & we were in gym class.  Dear Mr. Balentine gestured over at a rope suspended from the ceiling & calmly explained that we were to climb it.  My 9 year old self quaked in fear & practically without thinking I whispered, "J**** C*****."  It was the most horrible, awful thing I could think to say at the most horrible, awful task at hand & I KNEW beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord was going to smite me down for my blasphemy.  And what happened?  Nothing.  The world didn't come crashing down on me & I wasn't smitten (but I did have to take a stab at that stupid rope, a fate worse than being struck dead, if you ask me).   No one even heard me, so there were no consequences in the slightest.  And what happened, then?  I started testing the waters a little more & a little more until I was a punk little girl with a mouth that would have made George Carlin uncomfortable.

Lest I start sliding down another slippery slope besmirched with four-letter words, let me publicly state that I am going to track my food again.  I am not going to wait until the beginning of my week (tomorrow), rather I am going to start with the next bite that goes in my mouth.  Tracking is one of the pillars of the success that I've had & I'm not going to let it go out of laziness.  I have previously said that I will track my food until the day I die...since I didn't die 5 weeks ago it's probably time for me to regroup & starting tracking. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Glass(es) Half Full


I've been wearing my glasses this week.  Slow news day...

So, who really cares?  Probably no one, BUT I realized that I haven't worn glasses during the day in a LOOOONG fact, if I hadn't run out of contacts, I probably wouldn't be wearing them today.  I used to wear them fairly frequently, so what gives? 

I used to try to hide my face behind my clunky frames.  I thought if I broke up the visual of my face it might seem a bit smaller:
Full Disclosure: a) I am exactly 94 months pregnant in this picture & b) I absolutely love this picture, puffy face & all.

It's not that I consciously decided that I didn't need to do that anymore, I just gradually stopped feeling the need to hide & so I stopped wearing my glasses on a daily basis.  For comparison:
I hadn't given it a second thought until my procrastination got the best of me & I realized I couldn't wear my old lenses for another day without risking some sort of eye rotting disease. Related side note: contacts are expensive.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Woman Without A Country


When I was a kid in Vacation Bible School we sang a song, "I've Got Peace Like a River."  I've had it in my head, with some slight lyrical modifications all week.  It goes something like this:

I've got snot like a river,
I've got snot like a river,
I've got snot like a river, in my nose (in my nose!). {Repeat into infinity}

I've been humming it, whistling it, dancing to it & singing it on repeat as it is clearly the anthem at our house.  Just as one of us gets over this goopy gloppy cold, a new one of us picks it up. 

Thankfully I got to feeling better just in time to share my story for an open house at my local Weight Watchers this afternoon.  I was incredibly flattered to be asked & was looking forward to pushing my boundaries a little by talking with my mouth rather than my keyboard.  What I wasn't anticipating was how much I would get out of the experience. 

For a while I've been struggling with the idea of being "a woman without a country."  No longer enveloped in the camaraderie of overweight women, but an oddity (or worse) to those for whom weight has never been a struggle, I've felt pretty isolated.  Likely, the root of the issue starts in my own head, but it's a nagging feeling that I just don't belong--an outsider no matter where I am.  I'm so extremely grateful for how far I've come, but I wasn't prepared to feel lonely because of it.  *sigh*  I sound like a melodramatic teenager.

Today, at the open house, I met TWO beautiful women who are part of my country.  Ridiculous as it may seem, chit-chatting with women who have lost 100+ lbs gave me a feeling of companionship.  Even though I don't really know them, I feel like I know something about their story...
  • Maybe they struggle with lose skin or drastically whacked out body image or shame about how they let themselves get "that big" or shame for feeling shame at all. 
  • Or maybe they have put on a shirt & wondered if it was appropriate/attractive for their current bodies or been confused about what their current bodies actually look like because of all of the crazy changes. 
  • Or maybe they have felt that moment when someone that used to be kind is suddenly cold or a warmth from someone that was previously distant. 
  • Or perhaps they've been confused when someone gave them compliments & qualified every thank you with "but I still have a long way to go."  Maybe they have felt guilty about that, too. 
  • Maybe, sometimes simultaneously, they have felt the glory & the burden of their accomplishments & wished that it could just be "easy"...whatever that means.

On multiple occasions I have tried to capture my thoughts about being "country-less" without sounding cold or callous or ungrateful or shallow or uppity.  Today, emboldened by my unknowing countrywomen, I feel just brave enough to acknowledge that I probably sound all of those things, but I know I'm not alone.  Surely someone else was thinking it...I just SAID it. 

And now, as a celebration of my bravery, I'm off to wipe some more snot from some more noses.  Thank goodness, too!  Nothing like a little hard, cold reality to get my head out of the clouds & back into the bio hazards.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Gym: an American Horror Story


I am deathly afraid of "the gym."  I don't know if it's the mirrors or the purposeful people with their purposeful sweat gleaming on their purposeful brows or maybe it's just the smell.  I get very, very intimidated by anything that even remotely resembles a gym & just thinking about it now is making me a little queasy & a lot twitchy, in fact I'm having trouble thinking of another commonplace thing or place that scares me more.  Sad to say, but 100+ gone & I still struggle to feel like I belong in a traditional gym setting.

I found myself longing for the closet "fitness center" of my prior hotel running adventure when this weekend's accommodations were complete with mirrors, sweaty towel bin & two of which was occupied.   It was a mini-gym.  Blarg.

I stood with my hand on the door knob for about a minute trying to psych myself up.  Doesn't seem like a long time?  Try it...on a windowed door...where a stranger can see your creepy reflection in a ridiculous amount of mirrors.  Awkward.

It could have been a victimless crime.  The continental breakfast was open & there were newspapers laid out.  I could have sipped some coffee in solitude, sat for an appropriate amount of time, gone into the pool area to splash a little strategic water on myself & viola...Dave wouldn't know & I wouldn't be terrified. 

OR I could suck it up, open the door & run next to a man that looked to be about my age while watching the Today Show.  Blast you, Matt Lauer & your impish grin.  I had to go in.  Just as I took a deep breath to open the door, I noticed something.  My running mate was running in his swim trunks.  This wasn't some hardcore athlete that was going to judge me.  This was a dad on the Great American Wild West Vacation just trying to squeeze in a little moment of self-improvement between Mt. Rushmore & Wall Drug Fudge (more on that in a second).  The "gym" may be scary, but the people in it are just trying to do something good for themselves.  I plodded out my run, we exchanged a little small talk & we both went about our vacations feeling just a little bit better for having accomplished something good.

I'm HOPING the "good" that I did equals a wash in my overall healthy living karma for the weekend.  Grab & go, snack=y vacation foods were my Everest this weekend...& rather than climb over the obstacle I sat down at base camp & enjoyed the fudge.  Mmmmmm....fudge.  Thankfully, Dave & I blasted through all of it in two days, so there's none lingering around to be a temptation later in the week.  Vacation Sara is so thoughtful.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Sara & the Deathly Hollows


I look tired.  I'm not tired (not any more tired than any other mother of small children, at any rate).  Yesterday I looked REALLY tired & I was feeling fine.  My mother gave me that mom look, "you look pekid, are you feeling all right?"  I could here her eyes clucking over me.

So why is it that I look like I just pulled an all night-er with Charlie Sheen & the Gosselin Sextuplets?  The fat has drained out of my face leaving dark hollows under my eyes.  But rest easy, the fat under my chin seems to have a death grip on my jaw, so I won't be completely lonely.

What a funny process this is.  On a slightly less funny note, I've come to a really comfortable place in regards to my sloooowww progress of late.  I touched on it in another post...almost as a toss away, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.  Ready for a truth bomb?

The way I eat, the way I exercise, the way I expose myself to perfect strangers (te he he): it's all a part of the way I LIVE now.   As such, the scale becomes a side effect (like diarrhea or shortness of breath, only a little more pleasant).  If I wouldn't be doing anything any differently, it doesn't matter how long it takes to get to "goal" weight.  It will happen when it happens & in the meantime I'll just keep living my new life.  Huh.  Weird.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dam, Girl!


Now that I have had an evening of chillaxin' with the family & a delicious sleep, I'm beginning to wrap my brain around my Dam to Dam 5K experience.  So here goes...

June 3, 2011
Dear Diary,
I almost punched a kindly older gentleman in the mouth today.  I might have an anger issue after all.  We were walking into packet pick-up & there he was, all portly & jolly, handing out fliers to promote some worthy cause...and do you know what that piece of poo did?!?!  He patted DAVE on the back as we walked past & told him to have a good race in the morning.  JERK!  To be fair, Dave was wearing a Tri shirt & we had our two kids in tow.  It is somewhat reasonable to assume that in any set of good parents there can be only one racer...but what if we're not good parents?  Or what if we have awesome parents ourselves who are willing to schlep kids around downtown while we run?  And what if, in assuming that Mr. Fit is the only runner, you send Ms. Dumpy into a funk?  Sails - Wind = Big Droopy Mess = Me.  I moped my way through pick up & faked a smile with my bag in order to get the heck out of there.  Dave had to remind me, very gently that "this is my anniversary gift & I want to enjoy it so put a smile on your face, dammit & forget about that stupid old man...but really honey, I understand that was hard & I know you'll do great, he just didn't know."  Dave is so bad at tough love! 
I feel like I'm clearly ill-prepared & don't belong.  Over a year of hard work to shed weight, 8 weeks of training to run & I still can't accept that I'm "good enough" to deserve to go tomorrow.  It's the shoe buying debacle all over again.  So. Frustrated.


June 4, 2011 (pre-race)
Dear Diary,
Forgive me, Dear Diary, while I fight the urge to besmirch your pages with vomit.  I've put that little old man in a box in my brain & I'm feeling pretty good.  I spent a minute thinking about how far I've come since my first run for a little added perspective.  The ambulance parked at the starting line isn't making me feel very optimistic, but I have worked hard & I DO deserve to enjoy this event with my family--if only my stomach would settle down.

June 4, 2011 (post-race)
Dear Diary,
I ran the whole "dam" thing!
It was touch & go.  Just prior to 1 mile, I thought I was going to have to walk.  The humidity was stifling & there was no breeze.  There were people everywhere & I was having a hard time navigating through the walkers & then I saw a girl wipe out--completely.  Some good people rushed over to help her, so I kept going & in her pain I found the distraction I needed to keep going & wound up on the first downhill with a breeze to boot! 
Looking for my friend, Hilgy, in the crowd of runners going the opposite direction kept me nicely distracted through the 2nd mile.  I realized after the race that what I thought were 20K runners finishing up were actually the fast 5K runners zipping along waaaaaayy ahead of me...not a chance Hilgy was still running at that point, a fact which Dave hid from me until much later. 
When I got to the 2 mile mark I nearly had a breakdown.  We were turning around & in that moment I panicked.  Isn't 5K 3.1 miles?  If we're turning around & going back doesn't that mean we're only half way?  If that is the 2 mile mark & we're only half way, that means we're going 4 miles?!?!?  I'm out.  Dave saw my wild eyes & frantic breathing & assured me that the course veered off & we weren't going all the way back. 
I refocused on 26 minutes.  I could do it...I could do it...I couldn't do it...2.3 miles & I was cashed out.  We had just entered the "wall of sound"--bands spaced along the route to keep us moving.  Some teenagers playing "Enter Sandman" had perked me up & an accordion playing duo with a mechanical monkey were a nice distraction.  Maybe the next musician would help me power through.  When what to my wondering ears did appear?  But an acoustic guitar & a saxophonist playing slow jams.  I was the kid in the 90's that played sax in band because of Kenny G, so I'll admit that he has his place.  It is NOT at 2.5 miles into my first 5K.  I wanted to take his Kenny & shove it up his G, but I didn't have the strength. 
"Time?"  I gasped.  "28 minutes."  I had made it.  I could give in to the soothing sax strains & walk.  Or could I?  On the "graduation" screen of my Couch to 5K App, it says "Congratulations, you can now go for a 30 minute run whenever you want."  Not exactly the reward plan I had envisioned, but in that moment I knew that I WANTED to go for a 30 minute run, or even--gasp--finish it. 
I wanted it, but I couldn't have done it if not for the Isiserettes.  They may have performed for the inauguration of the President, but in my opinion, their most important performance was getting me to 400 m with a perfectly paced groove.  As soon as I heard their drums I locked in on the beat & just kept time with them until I could see the finish line.  They were my knights in shining snare drums!
No exaggeration: the sun came out as I crossed the finish line.  There were no tears.  My body didn't have enough liquid left to spare on such frivolities.  My father-in-law weeded his way through the crowd so that Lincoln could say, "Good runnin', Mom!"  I collapsed in a puddle, but just for a moment.  I actually felt better after my 5K than I did after Grand Blue Mile!  I walked, I talked, I drank some body repairing chocolate milk (I nearly started a riot with my son for not getting him any).  It was a perfect ending to a surreal leg of my journey.  I ran a 5K with my husband as my family looked on & I lived through & thrived in it.  Whoa.

June 4, 2011 (post-post-race)
Dear Diary,
Steak is good.  That is all.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Can't Believe I the Whole Thing


Better late than never: Honey, your anniversary gift from October has been delivered.  Happy 5K...1K per year. 

What a day!  I'm feeling a little swirly in the head yet & really haven't processed it all, but I did it & I exceeded my expectations.  I wanted to:
  • finish under 45 minutes (40 if I was really "flying")
  • run for at least 26 minutes straight (beating my previous record of 25 minutes)
I did that & more.  Unofficial time off of Dave's Garmin is just under 39 minutes & I didn't walk once.  Not that I didn't want to...oh, how I wanted to. 

I think the blow by blow post mortem will have to wait for another day because my head is just too discombobulated, but here are some pictures to prove that I didn't just skip out & have a cold one at the High Life Lounge while Dave did all the work.

Packet Pick-Up
Lincoln Doing "Blue Steel" in My New Shirt
Before--Overcast Skies!!!
After--Sunny & Bright

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why I Run: A Love/Hate Letter


On the eve of my first 5K (my rambling accident notwithstanding), I've been thinking about my adventure in running & what it has done for me over the past 8 weeks...yup, I've only been running for 8 weeks.  Here is my love/hate letter to Running.

Dear Running,

You're a tricky little minx.  You have this persona that is so tough & inaccessible, but really you're just fast walking with a hop in the middle.  There's nothing tough about's what bunnies do, for Pete's sake.   And yet people are--I am--so afraid of you. 

What if I look stupid?  What if I can't do it?  What if I trip?  What if I can't do it?  What if someone sees me?  What if I can't do it?  What if I'm really slow?  What if I CAN'T do it?

But even my one year old daughter can do I to be outdone by a person who can't even say the word "running?" 

Maybe.  About 20 minutes in, I know that I will die.  I know that Running is my Everest & I am not its equal.  The aching legs, the taste of blood, the gasping & the panting will be the last things I ever experience.  The casual observer will see me, creeping at my snail's pace, & wonder why I look so rough for going so slow.  At 25 minutes in, I hope that I will die.  And yet...

I run because...I have never felt more alive than in those first few steps, early in the morning when the neighborhood is still sleepy.  I have never felt more powerful & at the same time feminine than when I'm really getting going & the sweat starts to pool on my lip & in the small of my back.  I have never stood so tall as I do when I get to the top of a hill in preparation of "flying" down.  I have never felt more clarity & peace in solitude than when I take a deep, full, nose-flaring breath to calm down my heart & stretch out my chest as I slow to cool down.  I have never felt more accomplished than when I return to my front porch to the strains of "Man in the Mirror" knowing that I am making a change. 

And, pragmatically, I've never felt more efficient than seeing my calorie burn in half an hour to be unsurpassed by any other activity.

I didn't set out to become a "runner," yet in my laziness I found running.  Running, you hurt me.  I dread you & I desire you.  I hate you & I love you.  Maybe it's the hate that makes the love so sweet? 

Whatever it is, I'm so glad that I accidentally found you & look forwarding to hating/loving you for years to come.

New Sara

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Baby Got Back


I had a delicious realization about my back yesterday--no, not Sir Mix-a-Lot style, my ACTUAL back. 

I have had back pain to a greater or lesser extent since I was in middle school.  Probably started because I got boobs, was exacerbated by my bad posture & then kicked into high gear because of the extra weight.

As an illustration, it would be so bad on a regular basis that I would have Dave put the dishwasher detergent in after I loaded the dishes because it hurt too much to bend over with the box of powder & maintain control of the box & my pain.  If he wasn't around I would brace myself on my knee while I poured, holding my breath the whole time.  As I effortlessly poured flakes into my dishwasher last night I realized that I had been doing that for a good long while without even thinking about it.  Now, when I do have pain, a little heating pad & a couple of aspirin do the trick just fine until my body warms up to the day's activities. 

Lest I take it for granted, my daily life is better in innumerable minuscule ways that add up to one heck of a big change overall.