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Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Way

Where did time go?

How did I get here?

Is "here" where I want to be?

Have I been living MY life up until now?  Or someone else's?

Is this where I thought life would take me?

If not, what can be done about that?

As I sit here and contemplate the universe and how I fit into it all, I am bombarded with these questions and more.  This isn't the first time these questions have come up.  But there is an urgency now like never before.

I have mentioned before (but not discussed) that I lived through two abusive marriages.  In both cases, I deferred the majority of my wants and needs in favor of keeping the peace, in favor of getting through another day with the least amount of conflict possible.

That translated into burying many of my dreams.

Example #1:

I once owned a business.  A very successful one, at that.  Unfortunately, I was forced to choose between my entrepreneurial dreams and saving my marriage as he was jealous rather than supportive.  I chose the marriage, only to escape it two years later.

Example #2:

I got a job teaching at the local community college and was able to take courses for free.   I had dreams of getting a college degree.  I enrolled immediately.  Unfortunately, my trying to better myself created conflict at home.  My then-husband made things incredibly difficult.  The only place I could study was to take my things and go to the local diner and sit in a booth working on my homework.  Very hard to do with two children at home.  He would not shuffle his schedule one bit to provide me study time. And what time I stole for studying was rubbed in my face like I somehow "owed" him for it (and he surely made me pay  up.)  I ended up packing in the whole idea because it created too much stress and made life unbearable.

So I could look at it all and conclude that I was "stuck" living out someone else's life for years while my own dreams kind of faded away.  While that's partly true, I cannot deny that those were my CHOICES, too.  I chose to be married. I chose to let my world get smaller and smaller until I was living in a little box.

Well, I left all that behind me in 2005 and have been making many, many new choices since then.  Before I "escaped" my marriage, I truly clung to the Shawshank Redemption quote when Andy Defresne said it was time to get busy living, or get busy dying.  I chose to get busy living.

From that moment forward, I made the decision to start living life MY WAY.  My Life.  My Way.  Not perfectly.  Just....making deliberate choices that brought me back into the forefront of my own story.

When we make choices, they either bring us closer to who we are, to who we were born to be (toward who, I believe, God made us to be), or further away.  Well, I choose to move toward that light nowadays.  I wish I knew years ago what I know now:  That there is nothing on this earth to feel shame about.  It's an artificial state of being.  It is an imaginary place.  It exists only in our minds.  Shame is that big lie that says we are not good enough.  That who we are is irreparably flawed.  Well, that's bull.  I am good.  I am good enough to merit living out my dreams, just like you, just like anybody!

I deserve to live a happy life.  I love that saying that we can't go back and create a new start, but we can always start now to make our happy ending.  Damn straight!  I can't go back and be a popular high school girl.  I can't go back and go to college right after high school.  I can't go back and undo a bad marriage.  But I surely can make choices today that are in line with who I am and where I want to be.  (Wisteria Lane anyone? teehee)

I won't allow myself to detour any more from my goals and dreams.  When I die, I want those who knew me to say I lived authentically, true to who I am.  I want folks to say I did it My Way.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Bye Bye Sixty

What do the following things have in common?
  • 12 Five-pound bags of potatoes
  • 240 sticks of butter
  • 60 cans of Crisco shortening

They all represent how much weight I have lost. And they are all things you won't see me lugging around all day. I look at that in amazement. Imagine picking up 12 bags of potatoes all at once the very moment you woke up, and carrying it around all day until you went to bed. It's hard to believe I was carrying that equivalent of body fat and that it's now gone.

As you can see from the photo, I'm not done yet. I have a long way to go yet. I'm not quite ready to talk about where I started and where I am headed (plugging in actual weight or sizes.) That's still too scary and upsetting to post about. When I get a little closer to the goal I'll start quantifying it all. It's staggering.

I took my son to the Cheesecake Factory over the weekend and had that amazing Pear and endive salad. My son ordered dessert - a white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake. I ordered some coffee and took about 2 forkfuls of his cheesecake. I realized something at that moment. When craving something like the cheesecake, two bites is all I really need.

When eating decadent things like that, the first bite is always the "oh mmmmmmmmm this is sooooooooooooooo good" bite. The last bite is always the "oh mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ahhhhhhhhhhhhh that was sooooooooooooooooooooo good" bite. I had the two best bites of the entire dessert! I mean, all the bites in between are just the same old same old anyway, right? :-)

I am happy. I am losing at a really healthy rate. Each week has been around 1.8 pounds (some a little more, some a little less) but overall nice and steady. I don't feel deprived in the slightest. I eat often and eat well. I am never hungry.

I really think, no I really believe, that I now understand the "lifestyle change" concept of healthy eating. I am living it. And I think the way I'm doing it is sustainable for the long haul. I could not be more pleased with the results.

One more thing.

I am glad I am losing slowly. As I go, I am becoming a new me. I am attracting new attention that I am not used to. I catch men looking at me sometimes. I see women even eyeballing me, taking note of what I'm wearing, or my hair, or maybe those that know me are looking at my weight loss.

Whatever the reason, this is new and requires some adjusting on my part. It's sometimes not comfortable. It sometimes goes straight to my head (I'm too sexy for my hair, too sexy for my clothes lol) In the past, not knowing how to deal with the attention has led to poor choices or a sense of being overwhelmed. I was still "fat Carly" inside someone else's body.

This time I want to take my time, feel the feelings, figure out what I'm doing, and make deliberate choices for my life based on my own values. It's quite a process, and there's no need to rush it. Living a day at a time is a good thing.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Who's Nuts?

On the way to my son's baseball game this weekend, we stopped at McDonald's for breakfast-on-the-go.  I opted for the oatmeal (no brown sugar, thank you) and a yogurt parfait; my son got a breakfast sandwich.  Though we didn't order one, they also put a hash brown in the bag.  My son doesn't like them and I wasn't going to blow the calories on it.  So I kept it in the bag, added the oatmeal and yogurt containers, folded the bag and tossed it in a trash can at the ball field.

About an hour later I walked back to the car to get something, when I spotted something on the ground (if you click on any of the pictures they will enlarge):

Apparently a squirrel had gotten into the trash, opened the bag, dug to the bottom, retreived the whole hashbrown, and managed to get it several yards away to the bottom of the tree.

I saw him grab it and then try several times to climb the tree with it.

I was pretty impressed with his persistence.  I was also impressed at how the hash brown stayed together.  Whenever I try to eat one it falls apart the second I pick it up!

After a few tries he made the trek up the tree and stopped on a high branch.  At this point I'm not sure if he was more annoyed with me walking around the tree, laughing, taking pictures....or with the process in general.

At some point he just stared at me as if to say, go ahead, take your silly pictures, I'll just sit here and munch, thankyouverymuch.


The whole thing was funny, but I kept thinking....I feel your pain, buddy.  I know the lengths I would go to in order to eat what I wanted.  I would work hard at it, too.  And if possible, I'd climb way up to the highest branch so no one could see me or bother me while I was eating it, also.

See...we can learn from nature.  Persistence pays.  Oh yeah, and one man's trash is another squirrel's treasure.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cheesecake Factory

We took a coworker to lunch yesterday and she picked The Cheesecake Factory.  I really wanted to eat healthy so I checked out their menu online before we headed out so I had some solid options in mind - that's part of "fail proofing" my day.  I didn't want to get caught up in the moment and choose badly. On the menu I found a cobb salad.  It's always my "go-to" at any restaurant so I figured if all else fails, I'd choose cobb.

What I chose instead was probably the single best, most tasty, most awesome salad I have ever had!

Weight Management PEAR AND ENDIVE SALAD. (Under 590 calories)

Grilled chicken
Butter Lettuce
Roasted Pear
Blue Cheese
Candied Pecans

Low-Cal Vinaigrette

I can't describe HOW amazing this salad was.  I'm not sure if it was the sweet vinaigrette, the combination of blue cheese and pear, or candied pecans with chicken, but I probably drove my coworkers crazy after every third bite extolling its supreme perfection.

I am a simple salad kind of gal.  Some lettuce, some tomato, maybe sliced cucumber or onion, and some ranch dressing and I'm good to go.  This explains why I get so bored with salad!  I seldom venture out off the plain and narrow path.  Cobb salad was my first big leap into the unknown.  This was my second.  Other than the dressing that comes on the Panera Bread cobb salad, I never get anything but ranch dressing, either.  That's about to change.  And this vinaigrette is available for purchase (take home) and is 13 calories per tablespoon!  Unbelievable.

So my new mission is going to be to seek out new salad recipes and experiment with combinations of foods and dressings for my salads.  The raw veggies are so good for you and I would like to have more salads as we come into the spring and summer.  If anyone has any good salad or salad dressing recipes, send them to me!  I'm on a mission now!

I'm just glad that the three Cheesecake Factory restaurants near me are all around 30 minutes away.  Otherwise I'd probably be eating there too often and burn out on it (like I did with Panera Bread.  I'm actually tired of that place!)

When it came time for dessert, I was also prepared.  I looked over the dessert menu and found they had a great coffee section that included a nice selection of lattes, capaccinos, etc.  I chose an organic dark roast plain coffee but asked for some extra cream.  That was my splurge and honestly, I felt awesome leaving there knowing I was full, satisfied, and made some damn fine choices!

Final note:  One coworker ordered some kind of Monterey burger with avocado, tomato, onion, maybe some chipotle mayo...anyway, we all were commenting that it looked amazing.  He said it melted in his mouth and was probably the best burger he ever ate!  What an endorsement!

I've been craving a good burger for a couple of months now, but decided to delay gratification on that until the 4th of July cookout with my family.  I may need to rethink that and save up points and calories to
try the Cheesecake Factory burger.   A person can only delay gratification so long before going completely mad, I think.  :-)   (Delayed anything is not my strong suit.  Patience has never been my strength lol)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Old Jeans, Meet New Bod

I have a pair of jeans I bought years ago but never wore.  I had been losing weight and they were too small at the time.  I bought them as incentive to help motivate me to keep on my "diet."

Sadly, those jeans still have the tag on them.  I never lost enough to be able to even button them, but I kept them around "in case."

When I started "The Year of Me"  I pulled them out and tried them on.  I could only get them up barely past my knees! 

Yesterday, I had a feeling I might be able to get them up past the thighs, but i wasn't expecting to be able to button them!  I buttoned them, zipped them, and strutted around my backyard like a freaking teenager.  I am so excited that they fit!

Well, "fit" is an exaggeration.  I had to lay on the bed in order to get them zipped and I can wear them as long as I don't try to actually sit down or all the seams'll split and the button might fly across the room.  lol   But who cares?  I am giddy as can be.

We're taking a coworker to lunch today to the Cheesecake Factory and I was going to have a little splurge type lunch.  Fitting into those jeans has invigorated me and strengthened my resolve and I'm going to have a salad instead.  I want to keep this momentum going!!!!  WOOHOO!!!

As an aside, check out the azaleas in my back yard.  I love spring in Maryland and I love my back yard!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Just a Quickie

Recipe, that is.  :-)

Saw this on Weight Watchers ( this week and it looks GOOD.  Funny thing is - I never knew pea soup was made with REAL PEAS.  lol  I am such a dork.  My mom always made it with split peas (dry) and it never occurred to me that real, fresh peas, could be used in pea soup!

First, here's the recipe (you can click on it to enlarge it):

Second, an endorsement.  I read an article in a fitness magazine recently that stated that pea soup is an excellent snack or food to help fill you up with good fiber and low fat.  Give it a try and let us know how it tastes.  (You be the guinea pig, k?)


I Am Not Fat

There has been a discussion for a couple of days on a blog I check into,  A Merry Life, all about "Fat: The Dirty Word."  It's been interesting and I have enjoyed the comments most of all as folks consider what the word "fat" means to them, how it has been used in their lives, and how much power it has.  If you click on the link above it will take you to the discussion.

Someone wrote:  "I am not fat.  I HAVE fat, but *I* am not "fat.""

It struck me profoundly.

Fat really IS used as a dirty word, a weapon, and a way of putting someone down.  "She's so fat" may imply to some people that she is lazy, doesn't care about herself, is sloppy, is messy.  It can be synonymous with "ugly" or "unattractive" or even "repulsive."

"I"m fat," when I said it, didn't mean the obvious (there was excess fat on my body.)  It was that plus, I am hopeless, I have no will power, and I am a FAILURE.

When I started this process I had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 45.91 putting me in a "super obese" category.  That meant that 45.91% of my body was fat!  I am currently at 37.59, putting me in a Class 2 Obesity level.  I will be at approximately 34% by this summer , 29% by October (Just 'regular' overweight) and 24% by December big goal....just having the "normal" amount (healthiest amount) of body fat.

Here is a BMI Chart to show the categories:

18.5 or less
18.5 to 24.99
Normal Weight
25 to 29.99
30 to 34.99
Obesity (Class 1)
35 to 39.99
Obesity (Class 2)
40 to 44.99.
Morbid Obesity
45 or greater
Super Obesity

What is striking to me, in all of this, is how my attitude has shifted about it all.  The term "fat" no longer comes with self condemnation.  It is a word to describe the state of my body and looking at it regularly (doing the BMI calculations) is a good measure of my progress toward my health and fitness goals.  

I am not fat.  I have fat.   (And That's OKAY!!!! It does not define me any more.  Yay!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

You Do Have A Choice

Very often we say we have no choice when what we really have is a very difficult choice. You've no doubt heard yourself or someone else say things like "I have no choice but to work 70 hours a week" or "I have no choice but to go to this meeting." In such situations, "I have no choice" really means "the choice is too difficult to make, so I'll pretend it doesn't exist."
Such thinking can be a trap. You can pile up one "no choice" on top of another until your life seems completely out of control. But no matter where you are, you do have a choice about almost everything you do.

You have chosen the path to where you are right now, and you have complete control over where you are going from here. Yes, the choices will indeed be difficult, but there's nothing to be gained by denying them. The next time you catch yourself saying you have no choice, stop and ask yourself if that is really true.

The way to improve your life is to make the choices which will take you to where you desire to be. Have the courage to look at those choices. Carefully consider their implications. Decide to take complete control and make the choices which will move your life forward.

-- Ralph Marston

I once lived in a box. Life had me boxed in. I was suffocating. My spirit was crushed. The longer I stayed in the box, the more I forgot what life outside the box was like. It was a pretty bleak existence.

The worst part was how I had given up all power and control over my life. I felt I had no choices, no options, no path out of the misery I was living in. Feeling as if you have no choices, I think, is the fast track to depression. Feeling hopeless and unable to change anything in your life is a pretty difficult place to be. Every time I tried to make some small, incremental change, it seemed it was taken away from me, or I was shot down, or sabotaged.

I have learned, though, that "hopeless" is an artificial state of being. WE ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE. ALWAYS. We may not want to make it, and even deciding to NOT make a choice IS choosing!

No matter how bleak our circumstances, or how big our challenges, we can choose to change our attitudes, our outlooks, our minds. We can choose to read positive things. We can choose to listen to positive music. We can choose to make very small incremental changes right now. Today.

If we can't change everything, why not at least change SOMETHING? That's how I got where I am now. Changing one small thing at a time until it almost becomes second nature, and then changing one more small thing.

If health/weight loss/fitness is a goal, then today, why not choose to drink more water as a first step? Every morning drink some water. Then later in the day, drink another glass. Do that for a week or two until reaching for water becomes second nature. Then replace one soda with a water. Do this for a couple of weeks.

People say to make small changes BECAUSE IT WORKS. They say take the steps instead of the elevator or park farther away from the entrance at the mall because a few steps here and there over time MATTER.

My little thing this week is drinking less cream/half and half/creamer in my coffee. I drink between 3-4 cups of coffee per day on average. Today, my first morning coffee is completely black. And it's OKAY. I actually am enjoying it. Later in the day at work, I am sure I'm going to use creamer. But this week, I'm making this one small change. It's not going to make or break my progress. It's not going to help me lose more weight this week or even this month.

What it does is give me a sense of control, a sense of choosing one more thing that will help my heart, my health, my life, over time. And it feels good to do that.

Find one small thing you can choose to do today to make yourself feel better, stronger, and healthier. You are worth the effort.

When we choose self care, no matter how small, our true self rejoices and we can't help but feel better. So why not choose THAT? :-)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Six Flags Humiliation

In the fall of 2009 I wrote to the President of Six Flags concerning something that happened earlier that summer. I am sharing it here because I know I'm not the only one who has had something humiliating happen to them, only to stuff it down out of embarrassment. This time, instead of silence, I decided to write the CEO and push past the fear, because it seemed like a next right choice. Here's the letter I wrote:

Dear Mr. [president of Six Flags],

I am writing as a concerned season pass holder at Six Flags in Largo.

The day I signed my son and I up for the season pass (the day of the 4th of July fireworks) is the first and last day I actually visited Six Flags. I thought you'd like to know why.

On that day, I spent the majority of time with my son at the water park side. I am an obese woman, and truly know my limits as far as where I could/should go and where its best to "sit it out." My son wanted me to ride the log flume ride with him and that seemed like a safe bet. I inquired before attempting to sit in the ride about weight limits and I was assured (as I suspected, really) that I'd be fine.

My son and I climbed into our seats. When the man on the other side of the seating attempted to latch the safety bar, it pressed down against my stomach. Realizing that it wasn't really a weight issue, but a size issue, I told him (and my 9 year old son) that it was okay, I'd get off the ride and meet him on the other side. The attendant said, "hold on a moment." (I guess he, in his own way, wanted to make this work for me.) Well, what he did was stand on the bar to try to get it to latch. And then jump up and down on the bar, trying to force it to latch.

Did he not realize he was, therefore, putting his full weight on my stomach? It hurt horrendously and I had to fight back the tears so as to not worry my son. I told the attendant to please stop trying, put on a cheerful smile (for my son's benefit) and said, it's okay honey, I'll just watch you and meet you at the exit. I got off the ride, went around the corner, and had a good cry - both for the pain I was in and for the absolute humiliation. With a person like that, he isn't a "bad person" - but at the same time, he had no concept that my fat is my body, it's ME, and that he was not slamming the bar down against something inanimate, but rather, a person.

I sustained bruising about 6 or 7 inches long all across that part of my abdomen that was crushed and the bruising lasted a good couple of months.

I am not planning to sue Six Flags, (that's just not how I was raised, and I truly believe the attendant was completely oblivious to the harm he was causing.) If you can track the when/where, it was at approximately 7 p.m. on July 4th at the log flume ride.

I think as CEO/President, you should be aware and when you update training materials, etc., you might include this incident to inform people. I don't know if it will do any good, the message might be "fat people shouldn't be here"; I don't know. But that was, for me, one of the most painful moments I have experienced since becoming obese. And I wanted you to know.

I have hesitated to write you, because of the sheer embarrassment. But I think it's important enough so that others are spared what happened to me. Maybe you could consider posting size limits in addition to weight limits where appropriate?  And train your employees to treat ALL park visitors with respect and consideration.

Thank you for your time in reading this.



I felt somehow profoundly stronger for having written the letter. I am sure I could have sued them, gotten documentation, blah blah. That's not what I wanted to do; I wanted to inform, not threaten.  Educate, not retaliate.

Being fat in this society isn't easy.  The mocking, ridicule, lack of compassion - is all so overwhelming at times.  The open jokes, the disgusted looks by total strangers...can make it pretty hard to walk tall and look people in the eye.  They're seldom looking back in your eye anyway, and it's painful to see their disgust.

I think everyone has their own personal issues.  Maybe it's smoking addiction, or drinking too much, or inability to overcome anxiety and panic, or depression....or any number of struggles....that they keep well hidden inside.  A fat person just happens to wear their struggles on the outside, where everyone can see.  And that can be pretty tough some days.

As an aside:  I wasn't even offered reimbursement for the wasted season pass.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Meet My Personal Trainer!

Meet Nina, my personal trainer!

Cruella deVille, the Battle-Ax, the Drill matter what I call her, she doesn't blink an eye or miss a beat!  "C'mon, Carly, 11....12.....13.....c'mon!"  I once called her the "B" word (it slipped out accidentally) and she just chuckled and said "I've been called worse."  :-)

I adore Nina.  She doesn't judge.  She sees in me abilities I don't see in myself.  She'll have me add leg weights and I just look at her like she's freaking crazy.  "I can't DO that!!!!!" I'll say.  "Yes, you can," she'll calmly reply while slapping these torturous devices to my ankles,  I'll get so mad at her for not understanding, and pour all that angry energy into the move, and by golly, I end up being able to do it, just like she said!

The thing is, I'm going to lose weight with or without a personal trainer.  That is a fact.  Nothing is going to shake me from my goals.

But I lack the motivation to push myself, despite my best intentions or deepest desires.  I'll hit the treadmill for 30-45 minutes, no problem.  I'll ride bikes with my son for two hours, without hesitation.  But I can't seem to do more than one rep of 15 of anything on my own for the weight training.  I need someone here saying DO IT NOW ya lazy lump!  :-)

I want TONED and DEFINED muscles as I am losing this weight.  I want STRENGTH.  I want BALANCE.  Sure, I can lose weight, but I want to end up shapely and curvy in all the right places!  That's why I need Nina....she pushes because she knows the goals and wants to help me get there!

If you are anywhere in the Baltimore area and are interested in a good, affordable personal trainer who can COME TO YOU....shoot me an email and I will pass on your contact information.  You'll be surprised at the results.  In 4 months I've lost 4 full dress sizes and frankly, the clothes I bought 3 weeks ago are loose, so almost 5 dress sizes!

Nina isn't losing the weight for me, or doing the work for me.  She provides information, techniques and motivation to keep me steadily working toward my goals.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

18 Months Ago I Quit Smoking Don't Quit Aone

Here are my statistics from this morning: 

545 days, 10 hours, 27 minutes and 18 seconds smoke free. (that's 18 months.)

18,000 cigarettes not smoked.

$6,621.61 and 4 months, 17 days, 11 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 11/1/2009 9:00:00 PM 

Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  I have smoked regularly since age 11.  By the time I quit I was up to 1-2 packs per day depending on the day.

After I quit, I gained 40 pounds.  I was already so big, it was demoralizing and discouraging on one hand.  On the other hand, I was completely energized by the fact that I was able to actually quit smoking.  It was hard, I had to learn to have a little patience, I had to learn to sit with my feelings, and I had to learn to live life without turning to nicotine to ease my emotions or fill up my loneliness.

But what I learned the most was that I am capable of way more than I knew.  I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to do. I learned that I am stronger than I knew.  And that doing the hard work to reach a goal really is its own reward.

Quitting smoking set me on a new path in my life.  It really did.  I can breathe so much better and can move so much more freely.  I can exercise now and not get winded.  I can walk, jog, ride a bike....and not feel like I'm going to pass out from a lack of oxygen.

But most of all, I now know that I don't have to be a slave to my past.  There was a prison, and I was locked inside it for decades, but I always held the key.  I just either didn't know it, or was afraid to use it.  Well, I'm using it now, and unlocking a future far better than I knew I could have.  One of true freedom.
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