Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Would You Say...?


Tonight my TV interview airs on our local evening news.  While I was sitting in my living room talking to the reporter a couple of weeks ago, I was extremely comfortable, but now that it is nigh, I'm a nervous wreck.  Seriously frightened. 

My biggest fear is that something I said without thinking it through could serve to discourage or de-motivate someone who is sitting where I sat two years ago.  I have hashed & re-hashed what I said & without knowing what will make the cut I'm just left pondering the coulda-woulda-shouldas. 

One of the last questions that Sonya asked me was something to the effect of "What would you say to someone that wants to get started?"  By the time we got to that point, I was getting tired & my mouth was dry & I was ready to be done.  It was the most important question of the day & I don't even remember what I said. 

I've thought a lot about it in the weeks since we taped.  What would New Sara want to say to Old Sara to spur her on & get her started?  This calls for a list!  This is what I would say to Old Sara, in fact Old Anybody who is wanting to take the first steps to shedding pounds.
  • You're worth it.  It takes a lot of time, energy, & yes, even money to shed the weight.  Prioritize yourself. 
  • The process is hard, but you can do hard things.  Anything you've ever REALLY wanted has probably been hard earned.  This is no different.
  • You cannot solve a long-term problem with a temporary solution.  If you're not willing to eat rice cakes & water for life, don't do it to shed the weight...it won't last.
  • Take the time to figure out why you got to be 269 lbs.  If you don't know what the actual problem is, how do you expect to fix it?
  • Know that losing weight is 60% what is in your head, 30% what is in your mouth & 10% what your feet are doing.
  • You did not become overweight or obese because you are stupid, lazy, dirty, ignorant or possess some other character flaw.  Stop treating yourself like a second class citizen because you have a medical/psychological issue.
  • Food is fuel; not entertainment, therapy, stress relief or comfort. 
  • Your body is meant to process food.  Give it a chance to do just that & lay off of the processed stuff--even things that are labeled "100 calorie," "light," or "diet."
  • Remember: there are no off-limits foods, just off-limits portions.
  • You don't HAVE to kill yourself in a gym to lose weight, it starts in the kitchen.  Exercise is vital for health, but weight loss is possible without it, so take your time & conquer your demons one step at a time.
  • If you have a moment of weakness, confine it to the moment & make the good choice at your very next bite--one bad meal doesn't justify a bad day, week, month, etc.
  • Sometimes ONE Krispy Kreme is a good choice in the grand scheme of things.  SEVEN Krispy Kremes never is.
  • The scale is a tool.  No really, a tool...in all its connotations.  You can flux 5 lbs in a day.  Find multiple ways to gauge your progress.  It's ok if one of those gauges is leering glances from skeevy pervs.
  • Treat yourself to at least one nice outfit as you drop sizes.  You deserve to feel good & flaunt the work that you've done, even when it's still a work in progress. 
  • If buying pre-cut veggies means you'll eat them instead of grabbing a Snickers, do it.
  • Know that if you're changing your life, you wouldn't be doing anything differently regardless of what the scale or tape measure says.  Just keep making the best choice at each "fork in the road" & it will happen.
That is what New Sara wants to tell Old Sara--what I desperately want her to believe.  It's my biggest fear that this gets lost in talk of smaller jeans & collar bones. 

Of course, my second biggest fear is that I won't look pretty in my smaller jeans--& thus there is balance to The Force.

Saturday, January 28, 2012



(Now I've got a lot)
(To get what I want)

It's Sara...Ms. Miller if you're nasty.  That's right with this little ode to Ms. Jackson (apparently I'M nasty!), I'm having another epiphany.  I didn't realize it until just this morning, but I've been out of control.  By ceasing tracking & "not paying attention" to what I was eating, I had been giving control of my life to food.

I was feeling weary of having to jot down every bite & analyze every choice, & I thought rationalized that I would be less controlled by food if I wasn't thinking about it so much.  Wrong-o. 

In the absence of conscientious choices, I wasn't starving.  I was still eating, I just wasn't making active choices, which often (but not always) leads to poor choices.  I was eating according to the mood of the moment, which is just a whisper away from emotional eating. 

This week I no longer ceded control.  I took it.  I made good & thoughtful choices (read: not all "healthy," but all appropriate & moderate) & I tracked every bite.  Food isn't controlling me when I'm thinking about it, it's controlling me when I'm tricking myself into NOT thinking about. 

I shed 2.6 lbs this week.  In 1.6 lbs I'll be working on "new" weight & in 12.6 lbs I'll be at goal.  Control.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Party Time


I've had a bit of a revelation this week.  This year's New Year's Resolution was "Organize 2012."  Organization is nothing more than a series of lifestyle choices...something that I know a little bit about.  So I went into it knowing I needed a plan.  I found this daily calendar that breaks down de-cluttering & organizing your home into small daily tasks.  Do-able!  Anyway, back to the revelation...

This week has been focused on storage areas.  So I've had big blocks of thinking time while I've rifled through boxes of stuff that I have been storing.  I realized that my process of getting close to goal & then sabotaging myself is like planning a party & then canceling it at the last minute.

My initial analogies were having a pregnancy & then no baby (not even close) or planning a wedding & then no marriage (still too grandiose).  I settled on party because a party isn't life changing, it's just a good time. 

I've worked hard for two years & I deserve the last hurrah on this leg.  Much like after a cancelled party, life goes on the next day.  There are some hard feelings & some bitterness, but business continues as usual, for the most part. 

I've had business as usual...now I want my party.  I know that the "journey is never over,"  & "the scale is just a number," but I need this closure.  I need to be able to say that I set a goal & I hit it.  I started something & I finished it.  Time to get to goal already. 

I took a peek-a-poo at the scale this morning & wouldn't you know?  Tracking & making good choices works.  My life would be a lot easier if I didn't insist on forgetting that from time to time.  Tomorrow is official weigh-in & then it's time to set a course for Party Time (figuratively, of course).  Much like my "Organize 2012" goal, I need a specific plan & manageable steps to get the job done...finally.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Last Call


As of this morning, in an effort to reign in some of the awful habits that we have developed in the last few months, Dave & I have instituted a last call for food: eight o' clock. 

We chose eight because that is the kids' bedtime.  I won't eat crap while little eyes are watching & if I'm really legitimately hungry after eight, we've allowed ourselves the option of "in emergency, eat produce." 

Being that this is the first night & my stomach is angrily protesting the rule change, I find myself wanting to gnaw on my own flesh & wondering just how many Weight Watchers PointsPlus Values my left hand has.  It has to be light meat, right?  Like a chicken wing?  One PointsPlus per ounce? 

I tried to distract myself with a little web surfing, but as far as I can tell, all of the Pinners that I follow are hungry right now too.  Pinning food on Pinterest is a form of cyber bullying.

I'm going to bed.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Love Internet


I love lamp...but today I am even MORE in love with Internet.  All of the SOPA & PIPA frenzy yesterday got me to do three things:
  1. Shut down my blog for a day to put my "money" (proverbially speaking, of course because I don't actually get paid to ramble like this) where my mouth is.
  2. Spam my illustrious team of elected good-old-boys, Boswell, Harkin, & Grassley (click here to find your Representative & here to find your Senators), to let them know how I feel about the issue.
  3. Think about what the Internet has done for me.
When I wrote my note to my officials, I decided to avoid the greater issues of censorship (which are truly huge!) in favor of a more individual & human approach.  Let's face it, no one is actually going to read it--it will just be filed with all the other "vote no" emails.  But it made me feel good & for once in my life I was concise!  Here is what I wrote:

Dear ________,
I am a constituent for whom the Internet served an integral role in saving my life.  Not because I accessed some bit of lifesaving information on a medical website or was able to look up first responders in an online phone book, but because I blogged.

In 2010 I weighed 269 lbs. I worked hard, I shed some weight, I hit a wall & then I found my voice. Through www.weightylife.com I tackled my demons & was able to dig into all of the issues that made me obese, unhealthy & unhappy. 

Under SOPA or PIPA I might not have been safe to find that voice. I get comments on a regular basis, comments that post links. Under your legislation I would be responsible for both my own content & that of others. 

As a would-be writer, I appreciate the value of intellectual property. As a now 140 lb, healthy mother of two, I understand that some things are more important.
Sara Miller

And then I started to really cogitate (Dave, consider the use of "your" word your loving gesture for the day), on what the blog means to me.  What if I lived in a world where sites like Blogger didn't exist because they couldn't afford to keep themselves afloat under the pressure of liability for their user content?  How does that change my individual life? 

When I started blogging I was in a quagmire.  I had lost about 70 lbs with a lot of hard work & dedication--& I was still obese.  I was upset, in fact I was sinking into a depression kicked off with a two week crying jag.  People were telling me how good I looked & what a great job I had done (all true!) but all I could hear bouncing between my ears was "And look how much farther you still have to go."  I had put in the physical time, but I hadn't really stopped to think about how & why I had gotten to be 269 lbs.  Without doing that work, I was just spinning my wheels & waiting for the relapse monster to come & get me.  When I received a few unrelated, unsolicited prods to start writing about it, something clicked.  The flood came rushing out & I started the process of fixing my brain & my heart to match up with my process of fixing my body.  I have no doubt that without my blog, my two weeks of crying would have extended on into months & then years.  The 70 lbs would have been forfeit & New Sara wouldn't be here today.  And I love New Sara--can't imagine life without her. 

Shedding pounds (in my own opinion, based on NO science in the slightest) is 60% what's in your head, 30% what's in your mouth & 10% what you're doing with your body.  Blogging helped me with 60% of my task. 

There are three posts (here, here & here) that I go back & re-read on a fairly regular basis.  These are my anchors.  They have pulled me out of slumps & on to "the next pound" many many many times.  Where would I be without them?  

I love Internet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012



Ah, Gluttony...my favorite of the Seven Deadlies...unless you factor in how lovely it is to say Avarice, then I might have to change my mind.  Any-hoo...

I was a freshman in High School when "Seven" came out in theaters & I loved me some Brad Pitt, so I went to see it.  I was so blindingly terrified afterward that I crawled in bed with my mother that night to fend off the pound-of-flesh-carving, hooker-stabbing, force-feeding crazies that were surely lurking in our quiet little neighborhood.  

I'm feeling blindingly terrified by gluttony again, but I don't think the solution is an awkward slumber party with my mama.  This weekend I had a no-holds barred binge--on purpose.  And it felt good.  Until it didn't & then it felt bad.  From Saturday morning at weigh-in to Monday morning, I gained 3 lbs.

The terror comes not from the gain, but from how easy it was to slip back into old habits & how simple & comfortable it felt to eat for entertainment.  I was 100% relaxed not having to think about every bite I took.  If ever I thought this was something I could master & check-off, I was wrong.  Gluttony still knows how to find me & whisper sweet nothings in my ear.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Fifteen Minutes


 In October, I wrote a little blurb for a Weight Watchers essay contest.  It was a short little essay & in all honesty I wrote it in 20 minutes...I've had a little practice at blathering about my journey.

In the first week of December, I found out that I didn't win the Grand Prize, but I did win one of the 100 First Prizes: a $100 Macy's Gift Card.  Said gift card disappeared in a flurry of after Christmas clearance excitement & I now own an exceedingly impractical Coach wallet.

In Mid-December I received a call from a WW PR person asking if I would mind being featured on a local news spot to talk up WW & my progress.  I'm a pretty open book, so I said sure, gave her some contact info & some general times that work well for me.  She said the spot would be in Mid-January & someone from our local NBC station would get in contact with me.

Fast forward to last week.  No one had gotten in contact with me & I assumed that I wasn't interesting.  No big deal...I have my wallet to validate me.  When the WW rep called me back to confirm that we were on for January 10, I nearly threw up.  Wires crossed, everyone thought the other had talked to me...they're coming to my house today to tape...something. 

I'm feeling a little apprehensive about the whole thing.  I take very seriously my responsibility to choose my words on the subject of shedding pounds.  I love blogging about it because I have a delete button & I can make sure that each phrase perfectly states my thoughts...or at least my thoughts at that very moment.  I remember being the 269 lb girl seeing a "success" story & thinking "Well, I'll never be able to _____, so why bother trying."  The idea that I might say something that seems flippant or disingenuous or impossible, causing another 269 lb girl to feel like there's no hope, is absolutely terrifying.

That being said, I've done some mental rehearsing & I've got a few phrases bouncing around in my head that are non-negotiables.  And even more important, thanks to my Facebook peeps, I've got a rockin' outfit planned. 

Last night I posted four options:


Going into it, my faves were #3 & #4, & Facebook seemed to concur.  As I was having my date with Ursula this morning, I think I decided on #3 for the following reasons:
  • When I was a tween in the early 90's, my mother tried to tell me that olive looked good on me.  I promptly vowed to never wear olive again.  This is my public apology to my mother for being a little puke.
  • More importantly, black is the signature color of all women overweight, obese, or struggling with body image.  Old Sara's closet was ready for a Goth Convention or a funeral or even a Goth funeral.  All black, all the time.  In all fairness, black & gray are still my absolute favorites, BUT for this, I think I want to wear color. 
I have no idea when they are planning to air this.  I have no idea what it is actually going to entail.  The WW rep said they will want to film me "doing what I do."  Well there's NO way I'm taking them down to the dungeon basement to see Ursula & taping me sitting at the computer tracking my food doesn't seem like riveting television.  Not my problem, though.  I'll post to Facebook when I know the air time (for my local friends) & I'll try to post a link to an online video if one is available for my out-of-town pals--should be good for a laugh 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dangerous Curves Ahead


I went into today thinking that this would be my triumphant-return-to-Curves post.  It has been about 3 months since I have gone in to work out & at this point it is more a mental battle than a physical one that is keeping me away. 
  • I feel stupid.
  • Everyone is going to ask where I've been.
  • I'm going to have to grapple with how much muscle I've lost.
  • I'm going to have to face the music & be measured.
This week I psyched myself up to get my butt in gear.  My lungs haven't been cooperating with my running, but I was excited to get back to Curves. 

Curves was an instrumental part of my process in Year One.  The informal atmosphere & the highly structured program were exactly what I needed to take my first baby steps into exercising.  I was clueless as to what to do, but if I just went around the circle a few times I would work all of the major muscles groups & I would be moving, which was something.  Gradually, the inches started to melt & I had muscles I never would have dreamed of.  I wasn't killing myself, pumping iron, but I was definitely sculpting in a realistic way.

Somewhere along the way I stopped appreciating that.  I got seduced by the bang-for-your-buck calorie burn of running & cardio.  Now I'm noticing the effects as my skin isn't tightening like it was & I'm not dropping inches like I was.  This was supposed to be my morning to get back into the routine. 

Then I got a meager three hours of sleep last night & the wheels came off of my day before they even had a chance to get rolling.  I gave in to the excuse of being tired.  Then I ate a lunch that was too heavy & didn't want to visit Ursula on a full stomach.  Then I jumped into a bag of Pretzel M&M's because my day was forsaken. 

Instead of triumphantly heralding my return to Curves & weight training, I'm saying that I miss it, I need it, & I'm headed that direction on Monday.  I'm looking forward to adding weights back into my regular routine: caution, dangerous Curves ahead.

Sometimes I'm a Crazy Cat Lady


I have a cat, seen here:

He was in my life before Dave, before kids, before dog.  We are quite convinced that he is silently seething, waiting for all of the pesky interlopers to leave so it can go back to the way it should be--just me & my cat.  He loves me & only me.

Like many of his feline counterparts, he can be a real a-hole.  Like many people who own cats, I sometimes try to decode what he would say if I would bother to learn how to speak cat (because clearly he would NEVER stoop to learning English). 

Gaston is crazy skinny.  On a fluffy day he weighs 6 lbs.  Last night, as he was sitting in my lap for the sole purpose of stealing my body heat, I was petting him & I said, "You're getting too skinny, we need to fatten you up so there's more for us to eat when the tough times come."  He turned around & gave me a look that said (beyond a shadow of a doubt),

"Not all of us have binge eating issues, Lady."

Apparently I'm NOT my own harshest critic.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'm Healthy & I Know It


The final nudge for me to start blogging came whilst I was sitting in a salon chair getting my hairs did in October of 2010.  It went a little something like this.

Sara: yammer yammer "I want to be healthy" blah blah "have lost 80 lbs" gabbity gabbity "getting my life back"
*snip snip snip* Rebecca (of Modern Strands Hair Salon if you're in the Ames area): "You really should write this stuff down.  Have you ever thought of writing a blog?"

Once again the darling Rebecca pushed me into a beautiful epiphany (& a beautiful fuzz free lip, thank you very much!).  She's a fellow (& much more acomplished) runner & healthy eating enthusiast, so we often talk "shop."  Today I was kind of spewing a stream of consciousness rant about feeling glum about my progress this year & something rather large clicked. 

Since February 2010, my ultimate goals through all of my life changes have been to get healthy & to model healthy womanhood for my daughter.  My ultimate goals were not:
  • to lose 135 lbs
  • to be a size 6
  • to be pretty
  • to be skinny
  • to be hot
  • to rock a smokin' blue dress on our sixth anniversary
Ok, so I rocked the dress, but it wasn't the end goal.  I wanted/want to be healthy & to model that health in a way that is relevant to my daughter (& son, too!).

I've been feeling blue about my progress in my second year.  In Year One I lost 100 lbs & 54 inches over my whole body.  I dropped 8 pants sizes.  In Year Two I now hope to be able to say that I've lost 25 lbs by the middle of February.  Given that my goal was only 35 lbs, it feels like it wasn't too big of a task & I failed.  But, I return to my stated goals.  As I was prattling on to Rebecca this afternoon, I realized that in Year One, I barely even touched cardio.  I started Zumba in the last two months of Year One & that was really my first taste of a good sweat.  I didn't start running until mid-March, a month into Year Two.  Year Two found me able to do 5Ks & slog through a little race called Living History Farms.  Year Two is when I got healthy.  Year Two is when my daughter started to say, "I wunnin' like-a Mommy!" (Disclaimer: Since Coraline's birth maked the BEGINNING of Year One, this statement is more than a little unfair, but it still makes my heart swell every time she says it).

Looking at my overall progress toward my goals--not just the number on the scale--makes me feel really happy about Year Two & where I'm headed.  I haven't decided if I'm still chasing my stated goal weight of 134 lbs or if that was just an arbitrary number, but I have decided that there is no room for any more blue feelings...just blue dresses.  I'm healthy & I know it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Logging: It's Not Just for Lumberjacks Anymore


Dave at the finish of his first Half Ironman
Here's a press release about my husband: he's going to be a Marathoner.  But for the occasional shout-out & this sappy swoon from a year ago, I try to keep Dave relatively blog-free.  But I'm pretty proud of his 2012 goal--for what it means for him, for what it means for our family & for what it means for me--so I can't help but say that he's pretty awesome & I can't wait to see him cross the finish line come May.  He has wanted to take this plunge for a long time & put it off for me.  Now, he feels like my life is less in the life changing stage & more in the life living stage & he can devote less time to being my safety net & more time to running...running...& a little more running.

When Dave takes on something new, the first thing he does is research.  For a jump-right-in-&-figure-it-out-on-the-fly gal like me, it is maddening.  In the old days he would buy books on the subject.  Now he reads blogs & listens to podcasts.  At least his exhausting exhaustive research has gotten cheaper.  After he soaks up as much knowledge as he can, purging his mind of superfluous details like his own date of birth or our anniversary, he begins the brain dump.  The brain dump is where I get to learn all there is to know on the subject at all hours of the day.  Dinner conversation, my inbox, hushed conversations in the minutes before I'm freed by sleep--all filled with marathon talk.  Wanna know something about marathon training?  Ask me.  I probably know (& no, there is no marathon in my near future). 

Sometimes, along the way, I actually learn something.  In getting my routine squared away, I've started sincerely tracking my food again.  It's not rocket science & yet I frequently "forget" how valuable it is to simply write down my food intake in order to help get it under control.  In Dave's training research, he came across a fellow who is simultaneously zen & pragmatic about training.  Tip #1: keep a training log.  Not just what/how much you did, but how you felt, what you thought about, what worked, what you did differently.  Though telling me about training logs was part of the brain dump, Dave realized that he & I have something in common: we're both working toward a huge long term goal.  So, he bought me a training log (no doubt paid for with the money he saved in doing the rest of his research via free online sources).

Now, in this house, we are logging our workouts & I am logging my food...maybe he should take a page from MY research & log his food?  I don't know, but what I do know is that we're a logging family working toward some pretty big stuff in 2012 & it just makes me want to sing...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

And We Will Call Her...


Wait for it...
The Treadmill's name is Ursula. 
  1. "The Little Mermaid" is my FAVORITE Disney movie & Ursula is my very favoritest villain.
  2. Can't you just hear me whispering "Ur-seu-la has pow-ers" just like the nasty eels?
  3. The theme song just can't be beat...this one IS longing to be thinner!
  4. She's clunky & she's nasty, but I have to admit that I still kind of love her.
  5. It may seem like she's trying to kill me, but really she just wants to help.
And now, speaking of Ursula, a note to my future self on Saturday morning.

Dear Sara at 6:30 AM on Saturday January 7,
You will likely be frustrated when you get on the scale.  You will be mad because you've done your carefully planned regular workouts & you didn't magically lose 5 lbs.  In fact, in all likelihood you will have a meager loss or *gasp* a gain.  This is your pattern whenever you kick up your workout intensity. Also part of the pattern is your amazing ability to forget this fact when you step on the scale.  Please remember that your body is a complicated machine & takes some time to respond properly to the shock you're giving it.  Please also remember that you wouldn't have to be remembering this if you hadn't been such a slacker recently.  You don't have to ramp it up if you don't let it peter down.  Just sayin'...
Hugs & Kisses,
Sara at 9:13 on Tuesday January 3