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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.  

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