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Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Review

What a year.

In January and February I flatlined with my diet and exercise.  I didn't lose, I didn't gain, I didn't do much of anything at all.  Maybe I coasted a bit.  I did work out with a trainer but didn't really see any gains in weight loss (there were some definite gains in muscle strength.)

In March, we learned my mom was sick.  Stage 4 advanced untreatable inoperable unstoppable lung cancer.  In April I went to Maine and spent the next 7 weeks at my mom's side doing anything I could to love her, help her, and return even 1% of the love she showed me my whole life.

In late May, we lost her.

In June, I moved to Tennessee for a new job.

In July, August, September and October, I speeded through life.  Unpacking, downsizing, jumping into the new and challenging job, doing a ton of physically active things like white water rafting, zip lining, caving, and running a couple of 5K races.  Busy busy busy trying to outrun my mind and heart and when not successful, I ate down my feelings.

In November, my dad came to visit for the Thanksgiving holiday.  That was hard.  The first major holiday without mom.  Somehow the reality of it all knocked me over.  I paused long enough for all the feelings to catch up with me....and it consumed me.

From March to now I have gained considerable weight.  I'm not going to say how much.  There's no need to humiliate myself.  I just want to acknowledge it and refocus on tomorrow and forgive myself for yesterday.  I did what I needed to do and it's time to move forward.

In looking at what worked in 2011 when I was so successful, it was focusing on "The Next Right Choice."  Not worrying about where I had to be in 3 months or 6 months or what day I'd reach a specific weight goal.  Instead, I focused on making good choices now and near-term and let the good consequences come.  And they did.  I tried to plan my food out in advance, but if I found myself in a place without great food options, I'd make the best choice at the moment and get back on track the very next meal.

I was not "all or nothing."  I was all about doing what I could now and if I made a misstep,  acknowledging it and correcting as I moved forward.  Black and white thinking kills someone like me.

Well, now I'm looking forward to 2013.  I want to continue to grow emotionally and spiritually.  I want to continue to shrink physically.  And I want to do it out loud again.  Hiding does not serve me well.  Living out loud suits me just fine, and I feed off the attention (hard to believe, right?)  :-)

So here's to a positive 2013.  Come back along for the ride.  Better yet, toss on some running shoes and let's hit the treadmill together.  Regardless, no more going backwards or standing still.  We're on the move again.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Quitting and Change

I knew when I quit smoking in 2009 that my life was going to change. In fact, I dreaded it. I didn't know 34 months ago that quitting smoking would change my life in SO many ways.

I was a very heavy smoker for 32 years. I self identified as "THEE" smoker everywhere I went. I started at age 11, and so I truly had no other learned coping mechanisms. Eating and smoking were my defenses against all that life threw at me. I did not know how to exist without smoking.

I assumed I would quit smoking, create a huge void in my life, mourn and cry and be miserable for a long time until I was still miserable but no longer mourning and crying. I assumed it would be hard, and stay hard, but if I was just strong enough somehow, I could fight that battle day in and day out for the rest of my life so I could have a longer (and hopefully less miserable) life.

Well, you know what they say about assume, right (makes an "ass" of "u" and "me" ha!)

Here's what actually happened.

I was miserable (really really miserable) for the first 3 months. After that I was intermittently miserable and rather hopeful. After the 140 day mark I started getting rather surprised by how often I would go without thinking about smoking. Once I passed the year mark all "cravings" were reduced to simply "thoughts" that were easily pushed aside. By the time I hit the 2 year mark, I no longer associated anything with smoking. The only time I would think about it was when I saw smokers and then it was more a "poor fella...I wish he could quit" than anything else.

What else happened?

After I quit, I gained 40+ pounds in one year (and I was already obese). BUT..I also gained the ability to breathe without wheezing and I gained energy I didn't realize I could have.

So I started moving and becoming more active and after the first year of quitting decided to tackle the morbid obesity. I started this fitness/weight loss blog to document the process. 

Zip Lining along the Ocoee River, TN
After quitting, I KNEW I could do whatever I set my mind to do, and I proceeded to lose 90 pounds. I still have about 60 to go, but who cares? It's coming.

I also ditched the self imposed limitations in my brain. I didn't like the Baltimore DC crowded metro area but felt stuck there. I had no family there and was barely existing some days. But after quitting and losing weight I realized the only thing stopping me from really living was me.

So I found a new job near the Smokey Mountains, put my house on the market, grabbed my son, and moved (I'm a single mom...have been for 8 years). Since moving, this 46 year old woman has:

- gone zip lining

- gone swimming in the Tennessee River

- gone hiking, biking, rock climbing, caving

- gone whitewater rafting

In fact, I'm heading out today with my 12 year old to the mountains were we will rent a little boat, swim, fish, and on Labor Day we're hitting class III and IV whitewater rapids (at the site of the 1996 olympics).

Next month I'm doing a 35 mile Appalachian Mountain bike trip (mostly downhill, but STILL!)

And in 3 weeks I'm doing a Warrior Dash:

I was petrified 34 months ago that life was going to change in unknown ways once I put down the cigarettes. Now, I thank God that it has. You couldn't pay me to go back. No freaking way!!!  That was dying...this lis LIVING!  

Monday, August 27, 2012

In It To Win It, Dawg

I am pumping up and refocusing my energy on the mission.  It's really quite simple.

What does winning look like to me?

  1. I take the time to think out what I want
  2. I consider the path to get there.
  3. I start on the path.  
  4. I make choices throughout the day in line with the goals.
  5. I keep myself from straying off the path.
  6. I reach the goal.

Every single step is, in itself, a success, as it moves me forward.  Each step requires some action.

Without action, there is no hope of success. Thinking about it is pretty meaningless without getting up and doing it, right? Yet there are studies that show that people who think about their goals sometimes get the emotional rewards as if they had actually achieved the goasl.  I don't want that.  I want the achieve the actual goals! 

Let's put it into context:

1.  I have thought out what I want.  I want to be healthy.  I want to reignite the weight loss.  I want to physically complete the Warrior Dash.

2.  The path to get there requires eating less and moving more.  Expending more calories than I take in.  Eating healthy wholesome choices.  Getting enough sleep.  BEING CONSISTENT.  Being accountable.  BLOGGING.

3.  I started blogging again.  I went to the grocery store and got only healthy choices - fruits, veggies, coconut water (heard this is a good post-workout recovery beverage), chicken, salmon, milk.  Healthy, yummy, easy. I got on the scale, recorded my weight and set a goal.  I have stepped on the path,

4. All day I chose water instead of more coffee (I did have some, but not as much as usual).  I opted for no half and half at work.  At lunch, I walked a half mile for the heck of it.  I took the stairs instead of the elevator.  When offered brownies, I chose my goal over a temporary appeasement.  In other words, because I mapped out my goals and started down the path, I remembered to make choices in line with those goals!

5. I am too early in this rebound to speak to not straying off the path.  I will say, that accountability will be key.  My little sugar addict brain will want to sneak off in silence and darkness at some point to derail my plans.  At that point, I will have to not stray, and admit the desires so that they lose power.

6.  Winning never grows old, right?  Right.  

And I'm IN IT TO WIN IT!  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

To Do List

As I prepare for my plunge back into seriousness tomorrow, I am putting together the "to do" list.  These are things that I want to do and will do as a result of my healthy choices.

I believe in affirmations.  I believe in writing out what you want, thinking it, believing it, and being aware each day of your ability to achieve it.

If I take time to write out what I want, I am going to have a chance of reaching it.  If I don't take the time to think it through, I will flop haplessly along. I have strayed from my vision and goals lately, and it shows in my results.

To wit: (who says "to wit?" ha...nerds and obnoxious dorks?)

  • I will complete a 5K Warrior Dash September 22nd.
  • I will go caving in an authentic, private cave that requires some physical effort (and deep breathing to overcome the claustrophobia!)
  • I will go horseback riding in the mountains (I thought I was under the weight limit, but when checking it out, I am not.  I will do that next year.  No matter what.)
  • I will touch my freaking toes.
  • I will conquer the P90X Yoga X (until I lose more weight I just cannot physically get into some of those positions; there's too much "me" in the way.)
  • I will reach my goal weight.
  • I will have the skin removal surgery shortly thereafter.
  • And I will remain physically active during this whole process....and into the future because this is who I am and how I roll.
There.  Black and white.  Laying the destination will help me focus with each choice on the best route to get there with the least amount of detours.

That concludes the easy part of the "To Do" list. to start doing it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Just Do It Already

Somewhere along the line I stopped losing weight "my" way.  I tried it this way, and that way, and then after messing around a while, tried it someone else's way.  Then I ultimately ended up doing it no one's way.

Hence, I am sitting right now exactly where I was in JANUARY of this year.  I am mad at myself.  Frustrated.  Very, very frustrated.  Disappointed.  I could be at goal (or darn close) right now if I stayed the course from the beginning.

But I didn't.  Instead, I'm yo-yo-ing.  Up and down 5-10 pounds constantly. Ugh.

To keep things in balance, I have done an awful lot in my life during this time.  My entire life is upside down and different, from the house I live in, to the state I live in, the job I have, and the fact I am still struggling with grief after losing my mom.  I no longer have a gym.  I no longer have a personal trainer. I sold all my own equipment and no longer have my in-home gym.  Those aren't excuses.  They are my reality.

Also, when I was losing successfully, I was not putting pressure on myself.  Some people thrive under pressure.  I am not one of them in personal matters.  Slow and steady wins my race.  One next right choice, followed by another.  Deliberately thinking out the choices, honoring them, until they become second nature.  Once I start doing everything all at once differently, I lose the plot.  Well EVERYTHING in my life is different now.  And I have lost the plot.  

So I'm going to regroup and reestablish what works....for me.   Getting it out of my brain and in writing is a huge and very important step:

  1. I am going to get my food weighed, measured and unsloppified.  (You like that word?)
  2. I am going to work out first thing in the morning, no matter what.  When I was going to Gold's Gym to meet the personal trainer it was at 5 am.  That meant up at 4:15 - 4:30 and leaving the house at 4:45 a.m.  I did it and after a few days fell into a nice groove with it.  I was in bed at a decent time and felt well rested all the time.  This is CRITICAL to me...keeping a schedule.
  3. Accountability.  I need some.  Right now I don't check in with any regularity and have no accountability.  So guess what?  You guys are now my new accountability.  Every day before I go to bed, at a very minimum, I am going to let you know how the day went.  
A group of folks at work are having a weight loss contest. I know, I know, I know.  Competitions have never worked for me.  I joined anyway and it starts next week.  It's a way to bond with my new coworkers, having fun with the smack talk and, most importantly, getting in the groove of talking about health and fitness with people.  I haven't really had that since moving here and I think it's important.

I know I can do this.  I have done it.  I just need to....just do it already!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stepping Forward

I haven't posted since the last week in March and I have struggled to get back here and start writing again.  I haven't been sure where to begin.

After my last post in March I got a call that my mom was in the hospital in intensive care, 600 miles away.  My son and I flew up to Maine immediately (end of March).  On that April 6, 2012 (Good Friday) we got the excruciating news.  With no other signs or symptoms up until that point, mom was diagnosed with inoperable, untreatable stage 4 lung cancer with 6 to 18 months to live.  What landed her in the hospital in the first place were complications from the cancer including peri carditis (fluid around her heart) and they also discovered blood clots in her legs and lungs.

She went home on blood thinners April 7th and no other medicine, and we flew back home on Easter Sunday (April 8th.)  She was in pretty good spirits considering, and went back to a somewhat normal lifestyle (able to move around, cook, shop, etc.)...but that only lasted a couple of weeks.

Later in April we received the second devastating blow.  Mom was readmitted to intensive care on April 23rd.  This time her heart, liver and kidneys all shut down due to out of control INR levels (a result of the wrong dose of blood thinners, not the cancer.) Her blood was so thin it flowed through the lining of her heart until there was literally a liter of fluid around her heart which caused it to stop beating.

I threw some clothes and toiletries into the car and almost drove away.  But I just....I had a feeling I might not be coming back to Maryland before her funeral.  So I went back in and packed clothes I thought might be appropriate, got in my car and drove until we reached the hospital.  I parked the car, went up to the ICU, found my mom alive and speaking (though tired) and I sighed a huge sigh of relief.

The ICU had a built in cot/window seat, so I stayed there with my mom in the hospital.  That began a three week journey of living, eating, sleeping, talking, hugging, kissing, laughing and crying with my mother at her bedside.  There were ups and downs, highs and lows.  We laughed about crazy things.  We had a lot of "potty talk."  Those were times she'd get moved to the bedside commode and we'd talk for two hours at three o'clock in the morning. About anything and everything.  There were amazingly poignant moments that I was witness mother touched so many lives at that hospital with her huge heart, her grace and her strength.  I will write about all of that later.  I was honored and privileged to bear witness, and I feel like the least I can do is take the time to relay her story to others with "ears to hear" or "eyes to see."

Through many physical setbacks and surgeries, my mom had one major goal:  getting home, to her own home.  On Friday, May 11th mom got her wish and she went home....on hospice.  And on May 19th, with all of us around her, at 6:15 p.m., and her eyes wide open, mom took in her last breath....and never exhaled.

It's been a hard road getting back among the living.

Mom, painting with her pastels. She sure loved painting,.

I made funeral arrangements and visiting hour arrangements for both Maine and Massachusetts.  And tried as best as I could to help my father....who lost his bride of months shy of 50 years.  And in the midst of all that, I had to try to get my home in Maryland repaired and on the market.  I had to get packed and moved, because in March, just before my mom got sick, I had accepted a job in a new state with a new company.

Needless to say, during that whole time....I didn't watch what I ate.  I didn't exercise.  I didn't "stay the course" on my slow and steady progress.  In fact, I gained a substantial amount back.  I decided that once the move was final and I was in my new place, I would start working out again and get back on track.

On July 2nd, I started doing P90X in my living room each day.  I am eating healthy again and feel like I'm turning the corner once again and heading back toward the finish line.  In July I lost 9 1/2 pounds, so I'd say I'm doing okay.

It's been one hell of a year.  I don't know what the future holds...none of us do.  I miss my mom terribly, every day, many times a day.  But I also know her heart.  She wouldn't want me using my grief as an excuse to not keep reaching for my dreams.

So I booked a cruise for March of next year, A year after mom's diagnosis.  If I work steady, I will be at my weight loss goal by then.  I just celebrated 1,000 days since I quit smoking.  I am at a job I love, in a state I love, working with people I like a lot, and my son loves it here also.  

I dug a little deeper, and I found hope again.  And I'd like to start sharing the journey again, too, as I keep trying to make those next right choices.  Because it's what I do, right?  Right. And at the end of the day, when I see my mom again, I want to hear how proud she is of me.....still.......


Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Winnie the Pooh: [in a sticky voice] I must be going now. Goodbye, Rabbit. 
Rabbit: Well, goodbye, if you're sure you won't have any more. 
Winnie the Pooh: [turns to leave then stops] *Is* there any more? 
Rabbit: No, there isn't. 
Winnie the Pooh: I thought not. 
Winnie the Pooh: [tries to climb out the front door but is stuck] Oh, oh, help and bother! I'm stuck. 
Rabbit: Oh, dear. Oh, gracious. Oh. Well, it all comes from eating too much. 
Winnie the Pooh: It all comes from not having front doors big enough! 


I went to the gym today for my monthly weigh-in and measurements. I am the exact same weight I was one month ago.  My waist measurement is somehow up .5" (one half inch.)  My hips are down .5" (one half inch) but everything else is basically the same.

A tiny part of me feels like throwing in the the towel and gorging myself on every wretched thing imaginable.  That's the emotional and shame-based part of me.  Fortunately, the thinking/knowing/reasoning part of me knows I would suffer from that kind of choice miserably and it would accomplish nothing.  It would take me further from my goals. It's not an option.

So where do I go from here?  I examine what I am doing or not doing and make adjustments.  

For starters, I somehow slowed way down on my treadmill activity at home. (to like once a week, twice tops - and for 20 to 30 minutes instead of 30 to 45.  Big differences, really.)  I also stopped recording my workouts.  I don't even know when I stopped.  It wasn't deliberate, it just kind of fell away.  Recording works for me.  I can see what I'm doing and track my progress (or lack thereof).  To me,  accountability is a big problem.

My trainer also told me that the elliptical I have been using for a few months is probably doing me a disservice.  It's working my hips and legs, but I'm not burning the kind of fat I could be burning by doing intervals on the treadmill.  Okay...treadmill it shall be for a while.

I am so thankful I haven't had any net gains since last month.  Because I haven't been paying close attention to the details, they got away from me.  Well, back to business.  I don't have to do everything perfectly, but I DO have to actually DO everything!  (Eat well, exercise, get on the scale, record my progress, etc.) 

I don't feel too badly right now (though I felt so upset this morning.) I have had a lot going on in my physical and emotional worlds and managed to not gain weight this month.  I'll take that.  But I can do better, and so better I shall do.  I only have one more month with the trainer and by golly, I'm going to go out with a bang.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Milestones: What's Next?

Real Sign Post Near My Folks in Maine
It's been a while since I posted.  There's been a lot going on in my world keeping me hella busy.

For starters, I interviewed for a job in Tennessee, was made an offer and have accepted this position.  So I'm in the process of organizing, packing, putting a house on the market, changing my son's school, moving, and starting a new job in a new state.  It sounds pretty big when I type it all out and look at it, so I try not to really think about the totality of it and just keep it simple, like for today I am purging clothes I don't want and purging anything in the bathroom I don't want to move with me.  I absolutely refuse to move junk, or unwanted items, or anything that I don't absolutely need or love.

So to the topic of Milestones, ABBA singer Agnetha Faltskog (after already being hugely successful in ABBA) once said, “My path has not been determined. I shall have more experiences and pass many more milestones.”   I love it!  As successful as she was, she knew she hadn't arrived at some destination.  She was still moving along on the journey.

Reading that quote got me looking at my own life and journey. I'm chuckling to myself.  I have really had some pretty cool milestones and although I have made some rather enormous mistakes from time to time, I've also enjoyed some successes along a road less traveled.  Life has presented unexpected and amazing opportunities and I have jumped on them because...well, why not?  You only live once!

I guess my point is that when I consider milestones they are helpful in setting goals and priorities, and in guiding me along my path forward.  Once I hit one, and it is behind me, the milestone isn't really all that important anymore.  I'd say having my son was a big milestone.  THE big milestone.  Other than that, everything else was just another stepping stone to get me this far, and there will be a lot more stepping stones going forward.

Same is true with the weight loss.  Milestones are really goals: I am almost at 100 pounds lost, then I am going to reach the "I weigh under 200 pounds" mark, then.....who knows?  But once I reach the goal and pass by it, it's not so important.

We live life enjoying the moments, not the milestones.  Eating an apple today instead of an ice cream is a successful moment that I can experience.  Feeling someone so much closer during a hug because there is so much less fat there is a moment I can truly enjoy.  I want to keep making choices that bring me to places where I enjoy more moments.  That I am passing cool mile-markers along the way is just an added bonus....they are certainly not the destination.  I can hardly wait to see where I'm going next.....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

90 Pounds Down!

Once upon a time in a land far, far away......

Wait a minute.  This is no fairy tale and I'm no Cinderella.  There was no wicked stepmother and no mean stepsisters.  No pumpkin, no carriage, no mice, no horses and no glass slippers.

But there was a woman who decided that enough life had passed her by....enough pain had coursed through her veins.....and she'd had enough of putting her dreams on hold....hoping that "someday" she'd become the person she wanted to be.

That was me on November 1, 2009, when I smoked my last cigarette and decided it was time to let go of the crutches and start walking on my own.  It was the hardest thing I had ever done and I gained 40 pounds in one year after quitting.  I learned through that experience that I was capable of anything I set my mind to do, and in December of 2010, I decided the next thing to tackle would be my lifelong battle with weight.

It's taken 15 months so far, but I have now lost 90 pounds.  From August until the end of November I actually gained 20 pounds back, so I have technically lost 110 pounds in these 15 months.  Holy cow.  I am amazed and excited.

I have still a long way to go.  I started this journey at 320 pounds.  I am at 230.  I don't even know what my ultimate weight will be.  I'm moving into completely unknown territory.  Once when I was 19 I weighed 165 and went down to a size 12.  That lasted about 3 weeks and I climbed back to 185 and held steady there for 3 years without too much trouble.  I am keeping 180 as my possible goal, so that's still 50 pounds to go.  

For most of you, 50 pounds would seem so daunting.  It might have felt that way to me, too, but after tackling 90 pounds already, I feel very confident that this is truly my new way of life (eating healthy and working out) and I will get there.  I am not in a race.  I am not competing with anyone.  I am just living life and enjoying the process.

My life has taken many twists and turns, and there are still many more surprises ahead of me.  But I'm pausing this weekend and celebrating my milestone.  By the end of April I will have lost 100 pounds.  Wow.  

You know, the time is going to pass whether you make positive changes or not.  Don't find yourself a year from now regretting that you didn't get started.  There's nothing like the feeling of knowing you are caring for yourself in a way that shows self respect and self love.  It changes everything.  :-)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Baby Got Back

I'm not sure what you're thinking...but I'm really going to talk about my back.

For years, when driving on long trips, or even making my daily commute, I would try to lean back in the car seat and put my head on the headrest to get more comfortable for the long drive.  

It never worked.  It was never comfortable.  My back was fine; it was straight against the seat, but my head was tilted way back to try to reach the headrest because there was a lot of fat in my back pushing me forward.  I couldn't see the road well from that angle and it actually hurt my neck.  I didn't give it much thought, just made the decision to stop trying to do it since it was always less comfortable than just sitting straight up.

Then last week I did a good bit of driving and realized I was quite comfortable with my head on the head rest.  I got my "regular" back back.  Yay!  

For those of you who have never suffered from severe overweight issues, I hope my sharing of this type of thing helps you understand how every part of life is affected by obesity.  There are so many parts of daily living that you take for granted that people with severe weight issues have to struggle through, adjust around, etc. that normal weight people couldn't even conceive.  Like going on a long distance drive comfortably!

Anyway, as I near the transition from "obese" to "overweight" I am feeling so good and doing so many "normal" things; it's amazing.

For those who share my struggle, who are with me on this fitness journey, or mustering up the courage to begin....please know you are not alone.  There are a lot of us who get it...who understand...who lived it.  Get rid of any feelings of shame as quickly as possible and just make one positive choice today to take one step in the right direction.  Just one action can, and will, change your outlook.  

Take your life back.  You're worth it.

(Cute "Baby Got Back" video below just for giggles; if you receive this via email you'd have to click to come to the website to see the video)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Puzzling Out My Purpose

"You are a piece of the puzzle of someone else's life. You may never know where you fit, but others will fill the holes in their lives with pieces of you."
-- Bonnie Arbon 

I love this quote.  It reminds me that, while I seem to love being the center of my universe and focusing on me, me, me.....there are other people with whom I interact who are learning something from me.    It can be uncomfortable to stop and reflect on what, exactly, I am teaching through my words and actions, and to whom.

I am quite sure I have served as an example of "what not to do" a time or three in my life.  I'm sure I have filled in holes in some people's lives with a puzzle piece of sadness or anger or confusion or mistrust or doubt.  

I'd like to think I've also filled in pieces of others' lives with laughter, love, connectedness, friendship and warmth.  

I get so caught up in survival mode in life that I forget that that my life does actually intersect with others.  I generally feel pretty disconnected from people living out on an emotional island. I sometimes feel like my thoughts and actions don't really matter out in the world (except, of course, to my son where I am painfully aware I am being watched and serving as a primary role model...that's scary.)  Do you ever feel that way?

Well, you matter and so do I.  I sometimes forget this truth.  And then someone I don't know and have never met will send me an email telling me they joined a gym, or made themselves get on their treadmill...because something I wrote on the blog inspired them.  That's pretty humbling and it makes me want to make sure that the pieces of me that are placed into someone else's puzzle going forward are light and not dark, positive and not negative; I want to increase love and hope in the world, not decrease them....and I am reminded that I get to choose.

I don't know how I am perceived and I can't control those perceptions.  What I can control are my own choices. 

Maybe my job is to remain authentic, to speak from the heart, to keep it real, and to try to make more next right choices than next wrong ones....and let God take care of how those puzzle pieces all fit together.  

Friday, February 10, 2012


I've been thinking about being human, and how part of that human experience is realizing life is filled with contradictions.

I'm definitely a walking contradiction.  So I wonder why that is, where it comes from, and if it's something I need to change.  I spent a while navel gazing on this one (you know, staring at my navel, maybe picking out a little fluff, while deep in thought) and arrived at the undeniable truth.  It's okay.  It really is.

I long for, and crave, close hugs and physical touch and can also occasionally find myself recoiling from touch, even the hugs from my son.

I believe that God made the universe.  And I believe in evolution.  (Don't ask, but it makes perfect sense to me.)

I believe in predestination, and I believe 100% that you are responsible for your own choices and journey.

Sometimes I will run away from you, but when you turn to go I'll grab your hand and hold on.

I'm fiercely independent and self sufficient and incredibly needy.

I can simultaneously manage a highly technical career and taking classes/getting certifications/going back to college, be a homeowner and a landlord, be a mother to a wonderful, active child and all that entails, and be a friend to many people who I connect with, but I become paralyzed when faced with piles of laundry, a washer, a dryer, an iron and a closet.

I can crank up the contemporary christian music on the car radio to sing out loud and as soon as someone cuts me off I stop singing, call him a %$*^&%!!!!  and then resume the song.  (ouch.)

I want so much to be around people, laugh, share, talk, just "be" and yet I isolate, by choice, most of the time.

And I believe with all my heart that people come in to my world for a reason, a season, or a lifetime (and I'm totally okay with that) and yet I am so reluctant to let the non-lifetime ones go.

I don't think flushing out the root of my walking contradictions is even important.  I think what's important is that I embrace them as all part of who I am, and that it's okay, and that if I say something I believe with all my heart today, then change my mind tomorrow, that's okay, too.

My life has been called the "Carly Coaster."  I used to try to make it stop, and stay within the confines of the "right track" so I wouldn't get hurt  Now I just invest in better airbags and in really good, non judgmental friends who ocassionally set me back on the tracks after I derail.  :-)

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I have a GOOD blog for this morning!

If I reflect back on how I have been making my life changes, it's been a slow and steady (albeit zig-zaggy) process.  I talked about one component,  "Incrementality", last June.

But something else that strikes me is that I have made the best, most effective and lasting changes, NOT by focusing on the BAD choices I have made, or was then making, but by focusing on how to ADD a GOOD thing.  (How's that for a run-on sentence?)

Let me explain.

Before I started this journey, I was eating fast food all the time.  It was quick, easy, sent me into a numbing coma-like state and kept me from feeling.  Instead of reprimanding myself for those bad choices, or focusing on how I had to eliminate the "bad" from my day (i.e., don't go to McDonalds), I focused on how I could add a "good" into the mix.

So I made a rule.  I can go to McDonalds like always, and I didn't have to eliminate ANYTHING from what I would normally have.  I did, however, have to add in ONE good, healthier choice to the meal.  If what I wanted was a Big Mac and Fries and (yeah, diet soda...what can I say?), I could still have that.  In addition, I would have to add a salad.  I decided that I was going to have one fruit or vegetable (vegetables were preferred over fruit for the nutrition but if they didn't have veggies, I'd have fruit.)  And I had to eat the healthier item first.

It didn't take long before I realized the healthier choices were filling me up and it was definitely making me feel better physically.  In a short time, I would order the Big Mac and the salad and forego the fries.  Not because I was supposed to get rid of the bad, but because adding in the good kind of nudged out the bad all by itself.

I decided to add water.  Water is essential to good health, good skin, etc.  So I decided to get in 8 glasses of water each day.  In doing so, I automatically found myself cutting down on diet sodas and coffee!  So I didn't focus at ALL on "diet soda and artificial sweeteners are "bad") but rather tried to fill more of my day with beneficial things.

Once those things were in place, they automatically pushed out so many of the choices that got me in trouble in the first place!

I think by focusing on the "bad" or the "negative" it reinforces our predisposition toward low self worth and self punishment. I think, for me, the best things in life are accomplished with "good", positive messages, positive reinforcement, positive changes and reinforcing my worth and value.  And, as old Martha says.....that's a GOOD thing.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Who I Am

As I grow closer to my goal there are so many freaking changes going on it's sometimes overwhelming.

One change is the extra attention I seem to be attracting from the opposite sex.  All of a sudden I have apparently become interesting at work as men who have been in the building for years are now stopping me in the hall to say hello, or chatting with me as I get coffee (where the same guy hasn't spoken to me ever that I can recall.)  Funny how when your body improves, so does some people's perception of your intelligence, character and worth.  Hmmmmmm.

This is a big stumbling point for me, or I should say, had been in the past.  Getting attention in this way is not something I know intuitively how to navigate.

It's like giving a 12 year old the keys to a car and saying "go out there and drive on the highway."  He has no idea how to drive it, and would likely totally lose control the moment he started going too fast.

Well, welcome to my navigation of the opposite sex.  I have no idea how to drive this newly developing "me" and in the past, when I got to this point, drove right off the road into a ditch.  Getting out of that ditch took years!

Words like "you are beautiful" are like an intoxicating drug.  I haven't felt beautiful most of my life.  I remember a relative telling me repeatedly when I was young "you would be so pretty if only you would lose weight."  My self perception was truly horrible most of the time.  And I guess I created my reality based on those misperceptions.

I'm realizing that when I get certain kinds of attention, it reaches a place inside of me that has been deadened for many years - a place I turned off for self protection.  But I MUST navigate this correctly this time.  I'm not willing to get caught up in another relational nightmare.  I'm just not.  So in order to keep myself grounded, I think, I need to stay firmly focused on who I am, and what I want, and not let the attention shadow me (to a point where I get lost underneath it.) No freaking way.

So who am I?

  • I am a christian.
  • I am a comedian.
  • I am a dork.
  • I am awkward at receiving attention.
  • I still am afraid of bullies.
  • I can shoot first, ask questions later.
  • I am sensitive. 
  • I am smart.
  • I am strong.
  • I am weak.
  • I am a lover first, but will fight to protect my own.
  • I am not naive but sometimes wish I still was.
  • I am vulnerable.
  • I am flawed, but believe in the power of grace and mercy.
  • I am forgivable.
  • I am lovable.
  • I am a lot more but don't want to reveal everything out on a blog.  :-)
And what do I want?
  • To be loved for who I am, not "in spite of my defects."
  • To be respected.
  • To be valued.
  • And of course, lots more, but those are integral.
I can't lose myself in this "unveiling" process.  I am going to work through this next phase as hard emotionally as I do physically.  I. Will. Not. Derail.  I won't.  For the first time in my life, I'm going to come out on the other side physically fit/attractive AND with a strong, healthy sense of self.  And though I am becoming receptive to attention, I'm going to allow my brain room at the romantic table along with the rest of me.  I'm going to reason, and judge, discern and apply all I have learned.  I will not make the same mistakes again.

I am Carly, and I approve this message.   <----that's who I am.  ♥

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Another Milestone Behind Me (pardon the pun)

Well, well, well.  There are some things I know that I AM, and some things that I know I am NOT.

For instance, I am NOT:
  • Super obese
  • Morbidly obese, or
  • Severely obese
Nope, this chick is now officially run-of-the-mill, ordinary, garden variety, simply "obese."

I started this trek with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 45.9 which is the "Super obese" category.  In this category, many people require special-made caskets when they die because they cannot fit into a regular one.  Granted, I was only a few pounds into the category, but that is, most definitely, where I started. I blogged about it a little here:

I have gone through 3 complete obesity categories and have landed in the 4th and final.  My BMI is 34.4.

If you'd like to calculate your own, here's a link:  WebMD BMI Calculator

Can I just say how proud I am of myself?  I have worked hard on this zig-zaggy ride, but I am staying the course and steadily getting where I want to be.

In 33 more pounds, I will no longer be obese AT ALL.  I will just be "overweight."  I know overweight (allegedly, according to a piece of paper) people who I think are simply gorgeous and completely fit.  I am sooooooooo close to getting there.

So that's my next "number" goal.  I'm not all that worried about it, either, because I know I'm going the distance this time.  Yup, I really am.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Food As Fuel

I have heard for years that food should be viewed as "fuel" for the body.  While that is a very logical statement, when you're talking to a food addict, "fuel" isn't even on the radar.

To people who struggle with food issues, food can be:

  • comfort/solace (mashed potatoes, mac'n cheese?)
  • escape (hard to focus on feelings when knee-deep in Ben and Jerry's)
  • fun (thinking about, buying, preparing, decorating, arranging, eating, socializing)
  • a numbing agent (to dull feelings)
  • a sleep aid (carb coma, anyone?)
I don't think most folks with obesity issues are thinking "Hmmm, and what kind of fuel does my body need right now? Protein?  Perhaps a complex carb?"  If my experiences mirror those of others, we weren't really thinking at least for me, I wasn't in touch with my body and what it needed.  I wasn't in touch with my own heart and mind and what it needed, let alone the body.  In fact, the real me was lost deep underneath so much fat I was quite out of touch with anything my body was telling me.

Now as I start fine-tuning this process of getting fit, there are always new things to learn.  One I am working hard to understand is how my body uses food as fuel.  Questions I am trying to figure out include:
  • When should I eat the complex carbs (potato, brown rice, etc.)
  • How MUCH is okay per day?
  • When and how much protein? Fruits? Veggies?
  • Should I have whey protein before my workouts to fuel them, or during, or after? 
  • What about at night to help me sleep and help the body heal/build muscle?
There is an overwhelming amount of information out on the web and weeding through it I realize I need a guide...someone who's followed the path and figured a lot of this out already to help me cut through the b.s. and get to good. solid information.  (Thankfully, I have a friend who is helping me.)

But even then, there is trial and error because everyone's body is different and we all react differently.  Here are some basics I know:
  • If I try to work out without complex carbs in my system, I'm going to tank.  I knew this, and last night I just forgot to have a potato or brown rice.  I just had some chicken and an apple (it was late getting home from work.)  This morning, I was shaky, dizzy and had a hard time finishing 3 sets of exercises which I did last week rather easily.
  • If I don't have enough fat in my diet, I am hungry ALL the time and NOTHING will satisfy it.  If there is no fat in my day, I can pig out on nonfat dairy, veggies, chicken, fruit and almost immediately after eating them I'm STILL hungry.  Real hunger.  Stomach growling hunger.  But if I add some olive oil onto the salad, or stir some coconut oil into the smoothie...I feel much more satisfied.  
  • Timing matters.  WHEN I eat carbs really matters.  WHEN I eat oils, proteins, fruits, etc.  I haven't gotten any of it down to a science, but I'm going to start a journal and try to keep track at least of days that are hard, days I feel dizzy and reflect back on what was missing.
I guess the real bottom line is.......somewhere along the line, food has become fuel to me!  I am always asking "What's in it for me" before I eat.  Is there enough nutritional content, have I already had too much protein, can I add fats or not, etc. so I can be properly fueled.  Wow.  That's just crazy right there!  :-)

Don't get me wrong.  I love food.  Thinking about it, shopping for it, finding recipes, cooking it, sharing it, looking at tastes, textures, colors and presentation.  All of it.  But I do it all now with an eye on what I actually need rather than what I am compelled to have.  It's amazing.  

I'm discovering a freedom from worrying about food and getting food into its proper place - to fuel my body so I can go out and have energy to do all the things I had put on hold for decades.  


Sunday, January 29, 2012


I have had these comfy cozy pj's for a long time.  Although I have purged lots of clothes over the past few months, this is just so comfortable I have held on and held on...not wanting to let go (more about that in a minute.)

So this morning every time I tried to lean to pick something up, the whole top would basically flop off of me!  I really have no choice...this is just not wearable any longer.

This prompted me to head to the bedroom and reassess the rest of my clothes.  Holy moly....there is now another huge trash bag full of clothes to donate.  And I don't mean getting rid of clothes that are a little baggy.  I mean things that look ridiculous if I put them on.

It was fun, exhilarating and freeing to purge out the old.

And it was also sad.

There are a lot of memories wrapped up in some of the clothes.  Really.  My trusty "tried and true" fat clothes that would cover me when I wanted to hide.  Or would always fit me in a pinch.  I can remember events I went to wearing certain things, or job interviews, etc.  The memories of the past, while not always pleasant, are comfortable in that I know how to navigate life hiding in those clothes!

There is also some fear.  I'm going into unknown territory.  No fall-backs?  No bigger clothes to run to? I've always kept bigger clothes in the closet in case I needed them.  This time, I won't need them.  I'm not going back.  And I have no freaking clue what that means, what I'm heading into, where this path is going to lead me.  I feel slightly off balance.

I've left my comfort zone completely behind me, yet I'm only halfway to becoming the person I think maybe I was always meant to be.  It's exciting, for sure.  And saying goodbye to the old isn't the easiest thing to do.  But I need to make sure the goodbye isn't an "until we meet again."

Because I didn't "lose" those 80 pounds (where they can be found again.)  I have gotten rid of them for good, just like the clothes I used to cover 'em up.  "Au revoir pour toujours"....goodbye forever old me!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

80 Pounds Shed

What does 80 pounds look like?  How's this:

That right there is 80 pounds in the form of eight 10-pound bags of potatoes.  That's how much weight I have lost as of this morning.

Can you imagine strapping a bag on each foot, a bag on each thigh, a bag on each arm, and one on either shoulder, then going about your daily business - like walking up and down stairs to do laundry, walking across a parking lot to do grocery shopping, then coming back and lifting the groceries to bring them into the house etc.?

I can hardly imagine it, either.  Except:  (1) That's exactly what I was doing...hoisting all that weight around and trying to function normally (no wonder I was always tired!) and (2) I still have 60 pounds+ to go.  So I have another extra 6 of those flopping around even as I type this!  Yikes!

Anyway, I'm pretty freaking proud of myself.  I stalled out for a solid 3 months (maybe 4?) last year, but I'm back on track and moving right along again.

I have decided to reward myself in this stretch of weight loss (from here until I reach 200 pounds.)  Every time I lose 5 pounds, I am treating myself to a flavored [skinny version] of a Starbucks coffee.  Later today when I take a break from working, I'm heading over for a Peppermint Mocha while it's still available.  Mmmmmmmm.  Success tastes REALLY good!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Something's Got To Give

My #^%!*@  scale feels like it has not budged in months.  Granted, in late summer and fall I was in a holding pattern of pigging out then half heartedly working out to a point where I gained nearly 20 pounds back.  Then lost it.  So as of January 1, 2012, I was basically right back to where I was in flipping August.  That's disheartening, but I own it and accept it and started a new "push" on January 1st.

I have been at THIS weight, though, for weeks and I am seriously working it!

I workout almost every day.  I have added personal training 3 times per week.  I have stepped up the cardio (treadmill, elliptical, exercise bike).  I will often walk 30 to 60 minutes even on days I'm at the gym with the trainer.

I am CAREFUL about my food.  I am not eating junk.  Okay, there was an unfortunate truffle incident, and some birthday cake, and....hmmmmm....maybe I'm in denial.  Maybe I'm overeating all the time and not realizing it....?

No, that's really not it.  I don't know what the heck it is, but here are some adjustments I am going to make going forward to help ensure my success.  Some of these things I used to do faithfully and have slipped, some are new:
  1. Drink my water.  I will have at least 80 ounces of water per day (fill up my 20 oz bottle 4 times.)
  2. My first meal (after working out in the morning) will be whey protein to help my muscles recover and kick off my metabolism.  When time permits, I will add berries into the shake as well.
  3. I will eat WAY more vegetables.  I may not be eating that much, but I have also cut way down on the vegetables.  I used to have 6 to 8 servings per day.  Now I'm around 3 to 4 most days.  I think my body needs them to speed things up and process everything else better. So more veggies.
  4. I had cut out just about all carbs.  For a couple of weeks I have had no bread (not even whole grain), no crackers, no potatoes, etc.  This is not helping my muscles any and it's not having the "more weight loss" effect I was hoping for.  So, I am going to incorporate complex carbs into every dinner and occassionally in my mid morning snack (granola, oatmeal, whole grain rounds with peanut butter, etc.)
  5. Log my food.  I have barely recorded my food lately and had stopped measuring in favor of "eyeballing" it.  Well my eyeballs are liars.  I tried eyeballing a cup of whole grain spaghetti a couple of nights ago and then used the measuring cup.  Whoopsies.....reality bites. lol
I can get so overwhelmed trying to do everything at once that things start slipping through the cracks.  I'd love a personal assistant to follow me through the day and remind me of the friggen details I need to remember.  But since I don't have that, I'm going to have to just keep remembering, writing, revisiting and keeping myself accountable.

I am on a mission here and this is no time to be sloppy!

The picture to the right is from an artist named Leonid Afremov.  It is called "December Winter Sunset" and I find it represents my mood.  Fairly calm but with a lot of bright passions and fiery determination!

He is my new favorite artist.  I just can't get enough of him, particularly his cities, at night, in the rain.  The colors are amazing.  He paints with oil using nothing but a knife.  Pretty cool eh?  Here is a link to Leonid Afremov's DeviantArt Gallery

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Golds Gym 2012 Challenge

Well, it's official. This morning I had my weigh-in for the "Gold's Gym Challenge 2012."  This involved wearing nothing but a sports bra and workout shorts and getting front and back pictures taken, getting weighed, and also getting measured.

As of this moment, I have 12 weeks to grunt, breathe, sweat, and work my way into as much fitness as I can jam-pack into a 12 week period safely, and with maximum effect.  It also means eating "clean."

I have decided that I want to win the local gym's 40-49 female category.  And so, well, I'm going to do it.  It's just the way it is.  I'm not sure if you've known me long enough to know the difference between "I really want to do something" and "I'm going to do it."  The former is like a far-off someday wish that has no real goals attached to it.  Like I really want to get my finances in order and a strong budget in place.  I really do want that.  But I make lame attempts at it.

This is different.  I have a plan.  I have a trainer.  I have knowledge.  I have friends.  And most of all, I have a belief that I am going to do it.  The worst case scenario, I suppose, will be working my butt off and not winning whatever is the local prize.  I'm still the big winner because I will have busted my butt for 12 weeks and be so much healthier than I am right now.  So why NOT go all out and go for it?  Still, I really do think I'm going to win.  :)

So that's that.  Right after I weighed in I hit the "Cardio Cinema" for a solid hour.  I love that room.  They play movies on a huge screen and it's dark in there so no one pays attention (or sees) each other.  I did the eliptical for 15 minutes and the treadmill for 45.  And I walked for 3 minutes, then jogged for 1 minute -- the entire time.

I realize motivation may become an issue over a 12 week period. Plateaus may happen, and knowing me, I'll figure out a way to discourage myself during the process.   That's where grit and determination will come in. I plan on maintaining a positive attitude and seeing this through to be best of my ability.  I want the joy that will come from knowing how hard I am working for it.  That's even better than winning.  I think.  I'll let you know.... ;-P


p.s. I stumbled on this and think it's a riot.  And it's funny because it's true.  Enjoy...

27 Tips For The Gym (funny)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

(Great Snack Find!!!)

Nutrition Facts:

Nutrition (without walnuts): 1 square = 47 calories, .7 g fat, 8 g carbs, 3.7 g protein
Nutrition (with walnuts): 1 square = 63 calories, 2.3 g fat, 8 g carbs, 4 g protein



  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Spray a 9 X 13 Pyrex dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Combine first 11 ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add the final 3 ingredients (4, if adding walnuts), and mix until incorporated. Spread batter into the Pyrex dish and bake for 30 min.
  5. Makes 24 squares.

 Jamie's Pumpkin Protein Bars Recipe. PDF (12.9 KB) - Jamie Eason's LiveFit Recipes: Pumpkin Protein Bars

I tried these and they are AWESOME.  I used the Splenda Brown Sugar blend (couldn't find the Xylitol type) and I used pecans instead of walnuts.  But mmmmmm so good!!!!

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