Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yes, I'm a "Program" Girl


The Director of my local Weight Watchers called me early this week to ask if I would be interested in sharing my story at an employee function today.  While I can prattle on for eons in a blog post, the thought of speaking in front of a group fills me with terror (funny side note: I went to college in the era of transition from human based records to computer based records & my Intro to Computer Science class (ComS 103) was accidentally coded as a speech class (SCom 103) & I weasled my way into a BA from a D1 school without fulfilling the speech requirement!).  Anyway, I decided to write it out as a post.  It's a little longer than most for me, but it's something I haven't talked much about.  While I haven't made it a secret that I follow the Weight Watchers plan, I haven't really written much about it because I view it as a tool that has helped me into other, more important, things.  However, it is an important tool (for me--there are no silver bullets or one-size-fits-all solutions) & Weight Watchers more than deserves a few chicken scratches on topic.  Speaking of chicken scratches...

When Dayna called to ask me to come tell my story I was literally in the middle of frying six pounds of chicken nuggets.  FRYING.  And my first internal response was to feel incredibly guilty.  What Weight Watchers Success Story fries anything?  Shouldn't there be some sort of un-greased lightning coming down from the Weight Watchers gods to smite me or something?  But that's just the point of what Weight Watchers is to me.  It's about choices, control & no. more. guilt.

I originally started Weight Watchers in January of 2009 at 239 pounds.  After weening my first child, I had put all of my pregnancy weight back on & I was tired & in pain all of the time.  I owe a lot to a friend that had success on Weight Watchers.  Seeing her spurred me to "give that diet" a try.  Up until that time I was a habitual dieter--soups, juices, lemon/cayenne/maple concoctions--I had half-heartedly tried them all in my quest to "get skinny."
December 2008: 239 Pounds
I lost 30 pounds by rigorously following the plan & staying away from things that I wasn't "suppose to" have.  When I got pregnant with my second child I told Pam that I would see her again in April of 2010 & I skipped out the door.  "Pregnancy Cakes" (a yellow boxed cake with chocolate frosting eaten over the span of 2-3 days) soon followed.  All of the foods that I had disallowed came back into my diet with a vengeance & I justified it because I was pregnant & I would take care of it "after the baby came."  I had a 60 pound pregnancy & a 7 pound baby, but something had changed.  When the doctor said "It's a girl!" in the delivery room, I knew that I had a responsibility to break the obesity cycle that has been plaguing the women in my family.  I knew that my daughter wouldn't grow up with the assumption of obesity that I had.  I knew that if that were to be the case I had to model how to be healthy so that she would know that as an expectation, not a pipe dream. 
February 2010: 269 Pounds

I was 269 pounds when I came home from the hospital.  I lost 15 pounds on my own but was absolutely giddy to be starting back up with Weight Watchers when my daughter was six weeks old.  From there I started looking at how I got to be obese, how I use food, & what is going on in my head when it comes to food & body image.  I learned that I was a volume eater & used the Points system to help me reprogram what a healthy portion looks like.  I used the Recipe Builder for everything I cooked to help me figure out what each ingredient was doing to my food & analyze how to make each meal work harder for me.  I trained myself to go to Power Foods first for snacks & cravings & tried to re-frame my mindset that food is fuel, not a friend.  I started realizing that it wasn't about getting skinny, it was about being healthy & living a life where longevity with quality was an attainable reality.
April 2010: 254 Pounds

When people ask me about Weight Watchers I always say that it is ONE of the invaluable tools that I have used on this journey.  Weight Watchers, for me, is primarily about figuring out how much to eat by utilizing the PointsPlus system (& yes, I eat ALL of my Points) & giving me the support & accountability that I need along the way to doing that.   Weight Watchers is not about telling me what to eat or having me deprive myself.  It's about helping me change my life to one that is sustainable, where yes, I eat chicken nuggets that I fried in oil.  But now they're fried in a skimming--of heart-healthy oil--coated in whole wheat bread crumbs--made from bread that I baked--with flour that I milled.  As of this morning, I've lost nearly 105 pounds with Weight Watchers (120 in total) because I have learned how to make choices that are right for my body & the bodies of the people I feed.  Not by eating a set of pre-determined, regimented foods, but by making conscious & informed decisions through the knowledge the plan has given me.  For that, I will forever be grateful.
April 2012: 151 Pounds

Thursday, April 19, 2012

From the Outside, Looking In


I'm having a moment.  From the outside, it's easy to see the changes that I've made as they manifest physically in the size of my tush.  But from the inside, I'm just a mom of two little kids, living every day life--just trying to keep my sanity through potty training & muddy shoes & drama filled temper tantrums. It's really easy for me to forget how everything has changed over the last two years until something makes me step outside of myself & look inward. 

A quick little FB post last year after running the Grand Blue Mile (my first ever race/mile run) turned into event promoters asking me to make a video promoting this year's event.  In making the video & now watching it, I am just. so. thankful.
  • I'm thankful for my girl who changed my life in more ways than a normal child should have to change a parent.
  • I'm thankful for my hubster who is the perfect blend of support & encouragement & patience & intuitively knows when to push me & when to shut up.
  • I'm thankful for my mom who reminded me that all parents want their children to do "more" than they themselves have done & in doing that children honor their parents' hard work & sacrifices.
  • I'm thankful for my friends who have had to listen to me prattle far too much about all things weight related.
  • I'm thankful for a friend who unknowingly kick started an exercise revolution in my life with the gift of a pair of shoes.
  • I'm thankful for my Weight Watchers leader, who is hysterical--& in my opinion hilarity is the BEST way to face any problem, weight related or otherwise.  It was also her idea for me to write my list of 25 Reasons I'm Changing My Life (write one of your own if you need a motivation boost!).
  • I'm thankful for my very favorite Curves employee who measured me every month...even when I didn't bother to shave my legs but wore Capri pants anyway.
  • I'm thankful for good friends who don't treat New Sara any differently than Old Sara.
  • I'm thankful for the agog looks of people whom I haven't seen in a while.
  • I'm thankful for people that I don't know in the real world, but bolster me up every day on the interwebs.
I've put a lot of work into my 120 lbs removed, but today I'm blown away by all of the work that those around me have done & I'm very very thankful.  Y'all saved my life--thanks!

And all of that came from watching this:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Weight Loss = MC Squared?


Recently I've had a few people ask me some variation of, "What is more important for losing weight: eating right or exercise?"

*sigh*  It's such a loaded question, usually packing the asker's predisposition for the "right" answer.  I don't suppose there is an ACTUAL right answer--if there is, I'm certainly not qualified to know what it is. 

For ME, weight loss looks a little like this: 60% what's in my head + 30% what's in my mouth + 10 % what my feet are doing.  Taking out the main element of the mental & emotional component, food is the critical piece of the equation.  This morning I came up with an analogy.

When I was in high school I took Physics to fulfill my school's science requirement.  Physics & I fought a LOT.  It didn't come intuitively to me & I didn't enjoy it, which made it a struggle.  I faithfully went to class every day but when it came time to do the homework, I often shirked it & I NEVER studied. 

Going to class is like exercising & studying is like eating.  My success in Physics was mitigated by my refusal to give my mind the fuel it needed to process what I was getting in class.  Similarly, my weight loss is hampered when I am in periods of giving myself low quality or low nutrition fuel, regardless of how much I am working out.  Without the proper fuel, both efforts are wasted. 

I passed Physics, but I don't want to squeak by with my body.  For me & my weight loss progress (note: when it comes to my overall HEALTH, I think exercise takes a more pivotal roll, this is just specific to my weight loss) I have to focus on the food I eat--high quality, whole foods not low calorie, processed junk.  When it comes to my body I want better than a C-.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Jump Shout Boogie


My very first ever race/mile run was at last year's Grand Blue Mile.  It's an awesome local event meant to help average people think about health & wellness through a simple one mile run/walk.  When I started running last March, I never dreamed that it would be something I would still be doing (more on the ridiculous way I roped myself into running here), but I can honestly say that I ALMOST enjoy it now.

As Grand Blue Mile is just around the corner (April 24th for you locals...come know you want to), I've found myself setting a totally new kind of goal for myself.  I have run exactly four races & each time, my goal was to finish come hell or high water (both of which DID come at Living History Farms).  This year, I want to run that one single mile for a specific time.  Last year, for my very first mile I ever ran straight (I trained with Couch to 5K that uses intervals) I finished with a time just under 11 minutes.  There is no way I'll ever be more proud of a finish than that.  That being said, this year I'm gunning for a 9 minute mile, & here's my secret weapon (skip to 7:19 for my secret weapon or give into all of the Manilow-y fun for a bouncing good pick-me-up to your Friday slump):

Me + Jump Shout Boogie = perfect 9 minute mile pace for my stride.  As a former marching band geek, my feet practically go on autopilot when they find a driving beat & this just makes me move.  Plus, it puts a smile on my face EVERY time...but I'm not sure if that's because of the peppy song or the image of Barry's flowing locks.  Good times.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My First Feat of Strength


Lately I've found myself doing a lot of reflection on my journey & today I was thinking about one of the unsung factors in my success.  This is your fair warning: I'm about to talk about childbirth which may either a) gross you out or b) offend you.  Every word hereafter is meant merely as a reflection on my own experiences & in no way is intended to impart judgement on anyone else's experience.  After all, anyone who has read anything about pregnancy & child birth can tell you: "every pregnancy is different."  So, with that little proviso out of the way...

Linkavitch Chimovsky
It's no secret, I've got some hippie tendencies.  When I was pregnant with my son (5 years ago) I went into the delivery room all dewy eyed & expectant of an un-medicated, uncomplicated, peaceful birth.  Lincoln had other plans.  One induction, 15 hours of Pitocin-ful epidural-less labor, one prolapsed cord & one very emergency C-section later, I was a mom.  No matter how many times Dave chanted "Healthy baby, healthy mom...that's all that matters," I still felt like a failure.  I wanted so badly to experience a natural birth & even though there was absolutely nothing I could (or would) do to change it, I chalked it up as just one more thing my body couldn't do.

I literally started talking VBAC with my OB the very next day.  It became an obsession.  When our local hospital stopped allowing them, I vowed I would drive an hour to a provider that would (thankfully we moved before it was an issue).  I made my plans for a VBAC known at my very first prenatal visit for my second pregnancy (three years ago).  At each visit, the doctor reminded me of the risks & each time I said I understood the risks & wanted the opportunity to try to deliver naturally.  I was a dog that wouldn't let go of a bone, tenacious & resolute.

Sweet Coraline
Another induction, more Pitocin, no epidural.  My labor started stalling at 5 cm dilated.  I was in a panic.  This was the same point that I had my C-section with my son.  What if my body couldn't go any farther?  What if it was a waste to keep trying?  Through my cursing & moaning, I had to make a choice.  I could compromise some of my expectations for the sake of an end goal or grit through & hope for the best.  I chose to compromise & get an epidural with the hope that I could relax & let my body do its thang.  I had my baby girl 45 minutes later. 

What does this have to do with making a change in my life?  I was never an athlete.  Aside from dance lessons as a child, I wasn't in a single physical activity or sport.  I had never asked my body to do a anything beyond the daily activities of life.  Labor & child birth are tough & I made it through; past the fear, past the self doubt, past the pain (with the help of an anesthesiologist on a white horse).  On the other side I found a daughter (who has motivated me in ways that I will never be able to fully express--more on that here) but I also found something far simpler: I found physical accomplishment.

Intellectually I know that the manner in which I brought my babies into the world has NO bearing on me as a person, woman, or mother, but being able to set my mind to completing a physical task was something entirely new to me & it changed me.  It could have been bench pressing a heavy weight or running a long distance, but for me it was having a baby the same way skillions of women have babies every day.  I pushed my body in a way I didn't think I could & I came out on the other side stronger.  That taste of physical accomplishment was the first of many I've experienced along this journey & I'm so thankful to have had it. 

While laboring, I remember having a distinct mental image of a father & his pre-school age daughter walking down the hall in the maternity ward to visit her new baby brother for the first time.  She was skipping happily with an "It's a Boy!" balloon in her tiny hand.  It was a beautiful moment in my mind that was surely ruined when she skipped past my door & heard what could only be described as a sailor woman being disemboweled "Braveheart"-style.   I felt guilty for ruining their (imaginary) moment, just as I feel guilty I have likely ruined your lovely Tuesday afternoon with talk of VBACs & dilation.  This is why I'll encourage my daughter to take up a discussion of her first feat of strength needn't come at the expense of someone's appetite.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Last Week on "A Weight-y Life"


I was all fired up.  I was excited to blend some of the great habits I have learned in my 2+ years of shedding pounds with the new passion for whole foods.  And then it happened...illness.
When your job is stay at home parent, the sick policy is really lousy.  It goes something like this: "You have a 103 degree temperature & you're seeing purple oompa-loompas doing a may pole dance on the bed post?  Tough.  Go make breakfast."  That was me last week.  A fever that high does some crazy stuff to your brain & once you're better, you're still a little addled & ridiculously tired in the days that follow.  "Lucky" for me Lincoln was sick at the exact same time.  We laid motionless in my bed & watched "a furious amount of TV"--as Lincoln put it--& prayed that Coraline stayed alive.  At some point she found a pen & explored the possibility of becoming a tattoo artist.  I had no idea until Dave asked me about it the next day.

All of this is to say that I was excited & on track, I had strung together a couple of good weeks of loss, I was running again & then...I didn't let it derail me!  This is a victory of major mental proportions.  So often I have a good stretch going & then life does what life does & I let it get to me.  This week I took charge & reminded myself that I am the only one that makes my choices.  I let it inspire me to look up a new Zumba class that works perfectly with our schedule & budget.  I let it push me to get back out & run during some (more) of our ridiculously great weather.  I let it fuel me to try to make good food choices because my body needed nutrients to recuperate from fever damage. 

Some genuine observations from the clouded haze of my fever addled brain:
  1. I'm the only one that makes choices for me.
  2. I am not an observer in my own life, I am the play maker.
  3. I am DONE letting fear make a choice for me--inaction is the same thing as a negative action.
  4. I am dealing with my food demons because of how they affect my life, not just my pants' size.
And one not so genuine observation:
  1. When any one member of a family is sick, the house erupts in an explosion of filth rivaling an episode of "Hoarders."  When two members are sick, it's time to 'doze it & start over.