About Me

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Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Six years ago I decided (age) 42 would be my magic number. I stepped on the scale for the first time in a LONG time. It was a BIG number, it was a SCARY number, but mostly I knew I had to own that number. I lost 40 pounds, leaving the obese category behind. In 2014 I committed myself to working out HARD and a low sugar diet, losing more weight and gaining nice definition. Then life happened, and I lost momentum, gaining some weight back. My goals now are different, and include completing my first ever marathon at age 48. GULP! You can read about the next part of my journey here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I am Pandora, and Be My Guest

After an eight day vacation, we returned home mid afternoon.  I went for a short run (which was horribly painful), and before taking a shower made the decision to step on the scale.  Yes, yes. I know weighing yourself late in the day, after 8 days of indulging in salty, high fat food, is not highly recommended -- but I am Pandora, and must open the jar.
I knew I had gained weight, but I gained so much weight that my Fitbit scale did not recognize me.  Instead of reading CBY after the weight/fat %, it read Guest.  I found this incredibly comical (the weight gain was 10 lbs by the way).
The next day I went right back to what is "normal" eating for me, and by Friday I had lost the 10 lbs, plus more.  Now, clearly I did not gain 10 lbs of fat in 8 days, nor did I lose 12 lbs of fat in a week.  But the experience did reinforce a few things for me.:

1.  No matter how off course you go while travelling, if you get right back on track with your plan, there are really no worries.
2.  The scale is a great tool, but only in the context of long term trends.  10 lbs in a week? Nonsense.
3.  I eat food on vacation that I normally don't at home (ice cream, fried foods, pastry at breakfast), with no regrets about it.  But far too many times I ate so much that I felt physically uncomfortable, and that is never cool -- anywhere.  In other words, I  acted like a guest in my own body, disconnecting from it.  Fitbit got it right.

When you start out over 200 lbs, hitting a new "Decade" always gives a psychological boost.  On Saturday, I dipped below 160 for the first time in 23 years.  I am superstitious now that I need to document new lows with a photo, so even though I don't look different, here it is.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Opposite of Story

I believe in the power of story.  A good story can teach, inspire, persuade, explain, entertain. Through story we connect with each other. A good story is just plain fun.  But our stories about ourselves are our greatest stumbling blocks, so deeply imprinted that we confuse them with "truth."  In the Martha Beck life coaching community, there are countless great examples of how to turn your "sad story" into a story of success.  Facts are facts, but the story around them makes the difference between the tired old life done me wrong song, and the story of the hero's journey.  Playing with the exercise of rewriting your own story is truly powerful, and I highly recommend it.

But.  Lately I feel compelled to leave story behind, wherever possible.  A few weeks ago, I participated in my first triathlon (it was a run-bike-run because the pool was under construction). Not only was it my first triathlon but my first race of any kind (barring the compulsory stuff in junior high).  I never ran in my life before I was 40.  This is not an exaggeration.  I NEVER ran.  I was the kind of kid that liked to read books and watch Bewitched, not run and sweat.  In my twenties, I did a lot of yoga, walked, and lost weight but never ran.  I was planning to write a blog post about the triathlon, but never quite got around to it.  I just was not particularly interested in my own story.  

I came in last in the triathlon, and there are several possible stories to tell, considering that fact. One is a sad story about how this completely demoralized me.  Clearly, this story is false. Another is a story of triumph -- unathletic, nerdy girl discovers her hidden potential at midlife, re invents herself, and finishes a triathlon, despite the emotional struggle of being last.  I could tell this story, and give it the hero's journey slant, but I won't, because I don't connect to it in any way. 

I've become a lot more aware lately about how my own stories about my identity have held me back.  I have always identified as someone who NEVER QUITS.   If I had to walk 100 miles, I would, unless I dropped dead first. But I never thought of myself as someone who was strong. This made weight training difficult at first.  At some point I just gave up the story. I didn't pep talk myself.  I didn't repeat mantras.  I don't tell myself I'm strong. I just gave up the story of "not strong."  My workout record demonstrates I am strong, by most standards, but it's not a story I need to hold onto.  I am working on giving up the story of being "not fast," when it comes to running.  I don't need a story of being "fast." I don't need a story at all to become stronger, faster, and maybe someone who quits a little more often because some things need quitting.

I recently participated in a weight loss contest at work.  I didn't win, and didn't expect to.  I set a goal of losing 18 pounds and lost 14 (in 18 weeks).  I went from a size 12 to a size 6.  When you factor in weight training, 14 pounds can have a much bigger positive effect than you would imagine.  I have no story about this -- it's just something I did.  I don't have a good photo from the start of the weight loss contest, but the one on the top is fairly representative of where I was at the beginning of March, with "after" photo on the bottom (from July 16).

What is the opposite of story? I think it's just living life, one moment at a time.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Natural Timing

I am horrible at establishing regular practices.  I refuse to commit to a schedule for anything, except where absolutely necessary.  God help the person that tells me I "have" to do something.  I am not stubborn exactly, but a born contrarian.

We are pressured to live by "clock time", which is nothing but make-believe.  I hate clock time, with a passion.  But I fell in love with the concept of "Sojong" when I read about it in  "Living Beautifully," by Pema Chodron.  Sojong is a Buddhist practice of confession, traditionally practiced by Buddhist monks, and it is governed by natural time -- taking place twice a month, during the new and full moon.  Pema Chodron explains how Sojong can be adapted for the layperson, as a practice of self inventory, a practice of reviewing the previous two weeks -- not as an opportunity for self criticism but as an honest self assessment.

For me the question always is "How did I meet each day?"  When did I open myself to the moment?  When did I shut down?  I am not judging myself on much I weighed, or how many miles I ran, or if I completed tasks at work, or if I impressed other people, or if I was a "good mom", "good friend", "good whatever." Did I stay in the moment, or did I check out?  I don't want to check out.  Sometimes I write these thoughts in my journal, sometimes not, but I find that I come to the practice of setting intentions and self assessment more effortlessly when it is line with Nature's schedule, not the human calendar.

It's not that I think there is anything mystical or magical about the Full Moon, but witnessing the cyclical changes of nature, from the tiny to the massive, is very powerful.  Why would you want to be anything but tuned in to the unfolding universe around you?

Happy Summer Solstice.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Now We're Having Fun

Tonight TC (Trainer Cathy) asked me if I wanted to do a combination of chest and arms since I missed my arm workout on Monday. I said I wanted to do all the moves I like, it's gonna be Fun Night!

So here is what I did:
40 Bicep curls with wall squats
90 count Russian Twist with 10 lb weight
72 count triangle pushups (in real push up position, not from knees)
40 military style pushups
80 count plank, various style, mostly straight arm
chest flies and press with 20 lbs weights, with leg lifts
30 v shape curls with squats (increased weights to 15 lbs)
30 shoulder presses with static lunge

and a bunch of other stuff ...

Was this all fun?
Yeah, actually it was.  Almost as much fun as wearing size 6 jeans.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Watch Your Language

Four years ago, when I started losing weight, I set 3 progressive weight loss goals.  To reach a) 165, b) 150, and c) 135.  The numbers were simply lower weights I was at at various times in my life.  In 2010, I was 80 pounds away from 135 and I didn't focus on that number at all.  I took it one day at a time, one pound at a time.  The first 40 pounds came off relatively quickly, and then in the summer of 2012 I reached 165.  And stayed there for approximately 24 hours.

The first thought I had when I reached 165 was "Well I reached my first goal but it is going to be HARD, so HARD to get to 135."

With that one word I created my reality, and spent the next two years traveling the scale from 170 to 175 and down again,  When I bumped above 175, I felt fear ... I don't want to go back to where I was.  When I got close to 170, I felt fear ... I don't want to give up food as a crutch to go lower, it's too HARD.

I have no idea if I will ever be 135 pounds again, but if I am not it is not because it is HARD to get there.

Another word I'm relinquishing is SAD, as it applies to situations. People can feel sad, situations are not sad in and of themselves.  If I'm sad, then I'm sad. You can't unfeel a feeling.  If I call a situation SAD, I've created a reality that has nothing to do with truth, just with a story I chose to spin.  If I call another person's situation SAD, I've presumed to pass judgment on what is none of my damn business.

I've experimented with "positive mantras" -- "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people LIKE ME!!!" is the famous SNL example -- and truthfully I hate them with a passion.  Now I look for moments of Wordless Whimsical Curiosity.  You don't know what the hell is going to happen, but it just might be awesome.

We are so quick to slap labels on a future that is really wide open.  We might be amazed at what comes to us when we leave words behind.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cost Benefit

I post quite a bit on Facebook about working out, fitness and weight loss.  I don't question my commitment to healthier living, but by no means am I gung-ho.  There are plenty of times I feel waffly about working out. 
I am often tempted to cancel my strength workouts in particular. They are damn hard!  This week, after a long drive on Sunday (followed by a short, but relatively fast, run) I was really dragging, and wanted to bag both  my arm workout on Monday and chest/ab workout on Wednesday.  Why didn't I?
1.  I work out with a friend, and cancelling on on a commitment to someone else is harder than cancelling on yourself (not legitimate, but true).
2.  I love running, and while I appreciate the benefits of it -- fat burning, endorphin rush, etc -- I credit weight training with allowing me to really reshape my body.  The scale doesn't always reflect this transformation, but smaller clothes sizes do.
3.  When it comes right down to it, I don't spend *that* much time on working out.  My average is about 2 hours per week for strength, 3 hours for running, and then some weeks I toss in a bike ride, karate, and/or yoga (all of which are FUN).  I target 2 non-consecutive rest days per week.

Is transforming your body, and feeling fantastic in every way, worth 2 hours per week of pushing yourself?
I can't imagine saying "no."  I can't imagine saying anything but HELL YEAH.  At some point I'd like to add a third strength workout per week, but even if I never do, the benefits to my current routine are amazing. 

This is my Arm workout (thanks to my friend Cathy for documenting).   Most of the moves include both weight and cardio -- the arm moves are done concurrently with squats or lunges. I sometimes do a bit more and it usually takes about 60-70 minutes.  By the end of it I am a sweaty, shaky mess.

Cost = Low
Benefits = Astronomically High

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Go Your Own Way

Today I weighed in at 160, 55 pounds lost total.  My size 8 jeans are a little loose on me, and I am dead certain I will reach my goal of 155 by the end of our company weight loss contest (early July).  I get compliments, and compliments are nice, but nothing compared to this -- every day I look in the mirror and like what I see.  Truthfully I felt the same way 20 pounds heavier, because that feeling comes from the inside, not the outside. If other people like the way I  look, that's great.  If they don't, well ...s'es each, s'es own.

There are a thousand ways to lose weight, in terms of food and fitness habits.  Here are some of my habits, and if you want to lose weight you don't have to follow any of them.

I use myfitnesspal to track calories.  You don't have to track calories (although if you can't figure out why you aren't losing weight, tracking your food intake, at least for  awhile, is a great practice).

I don't eat pasta, bread or bananas.  They are very carb heavy and just not worth it to me, nutrition-wise.  I eat pizza on Fridays, because it is freakin' delicious.

I like to weigh daily.  The number on a scale never upsets me and I like to know where I am.  You don't have to weigh every day or every week, if it makes you anxious.

I treat myself daily with my favorites.  I drink wine, almost every day. I eat an Oreo almost every day.  I enjoy them, and I see no reason to give them up.

I eat meat and cheese.  I don't know if I want to live in a world without cheese.

I don't drink a lot of water.  I know I *should* but honestly at this point I simply don't care to improve that habit.

I workout a lot because I love it and it makes me feel fantastic, physically and mentally.  If you really hate exercise, you don't need to do any to lose weight.  However, it is probably worth it to try out a few activities to find one you like, because the human body was designed to move.

I am a numbers-oriented person. I love lists, spreadsheets, and graphs.  I use those tools to manage my weight loss initiative.  If you hate them, don't use them.

There is only one thing you *need* to do to change your outside, and that is change your behavior by changing your inside.  What is inside might surprise you.

Me, today.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Crazy Bullshit Part I

Today. For the first time ever.  In my life.  I wore a pair of size 8 jeans.  I've lost 54 pounds, and while this is not my lowest adult weight, my fitness level is as high as it's ever been.  Losing the first 40 pounds was fairly easy, now weight loss (and improving fitness) takes more serious commitment.

No way do I think a person's value is determined by a number on a scale, by the tag on their jeans, or by anything external.  No way do I believe that losing weight solves all your problems.  It solves none of them (except for some that are health-related), and in fact can make many "appear" worse, simply because of focus.  When you take away numbing yourself with food, you lose your "designated issue" (a Martha Beck term, I think) and can suddenly come nose-to-trunk with the elephant in the room. 

For so long I thought I would be ecstatic with a size 10, and I was pretty happy with it.  My goal is not to get skinnier and skinnier, and I don't have visions of size 2 dancing in my head.  Size 8 is merely a by product of 1) tracking reasonable portions of healthy food, 2) fairly intense workouts that I love, and 3) releasing the habit of clutching at old identities.

1) and 2) are pretty self explanatory, and you can read about various versions of them in about 1 billions books and magazines.  Very few weight loss books (albeit some) get to the heart of the relationship between mind and weight.  I was fairly intrigued reading the latest issue of the annual People "Half Their Size" issue.  The blurb is always about food plans and exercise, with a photo of the featured person -- usually jumping on a trampoline while adorable children, and handsome husband, gaze on lovingly.  Yes, I am exaggerating, and I begrudge none of them their fantastic accomplishments, but I guarantee each and every one of them struggled through a shitload of mental work and mining that was far more difficult than logging snacks and busting out squats and lunges.

Everything serves a purpose, even fat, and often that purpose is keeping you in your old, "safe", identity -- even if that identity sucks.  You may have assumed this identity based on casual remarks -- maybe from "bullies" but even as likely from family and friends.  You may have felt pushed into it, to fit into your family, or group of friends, or relationship.  "You be this, and I'll be that."  But maybe you don't want to be "this" anymore, maybe you want to be "that".

I always thought I wasn't the kind of person who could be  a size 8.
I always thought I wasn't the kind of person who could do 40 real push ups, run 9 miles, complete a workout that most adults (men or women) 20 years younger than me couldn't handle.
I always thought I was the kind of person who couldn't give up pasta and Diet Pepsi (this makes me laugh out loud).
There is no such thing as "that kind of person".
There are few true limits in life, and most of us struggle with limits we totally invent.
And that is crazy bullshit.

Me, today.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

And Yes, I Do Like Cheezy Poofs

"I'm not fat, I'm just big-boned." I've never said that as an excuse for being fat, but I've had people say it to me, about me. Here is an article about bone size and relationship to obesity (there is none).

Big Boned

 The fact is, although I am tall, my "frame" is on the small side. I took the wrist test in the article and the size of my wrist indicate small bones. My ring size is super small, and my feet are small as well.
 So what does it mean when someone tells you, "Well you will never be thin, you are just big-boned." It can translate several ways.

 a) "I like being the thin one in our relationship, and I don't want to lose my identity."
 b) "I'm afraid if you change you won't be my friend."
c) "I don't like seeing you achieve your goals, because it reminds me of how I am not achieving mine."

Another common comment, "Oh, you don't *look* --- pounds." Does this sound like a compliment? I think it actually translates into a,b,c as well.

Yes, eating disorders are real, and people can be too thin, but that situation does not elicit comments about "big bones".

The fact is, whether positive or negative, what other people have to say about your weight is irrelevant. Obesity is so prevalent in our society that no one even knows what "normal" looks like anymore. A healthy weight is based on several factors, none of which are other people's eyeballs.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday weigh in

When I was blogging consistently, I always had my official weigh in on Friday. Today I weighed in at 170.7 which is about 2.5 lbs lost since last Friday. Wow! Until I typed that, it didn't seem like a great loss, but 2.5 lbs in a week is pretty good. Original High Weight : 215 Current Weight : 170.7 Current Goal Weight : 150 I had a really solid week nutrition-wise, and am getting used to limiting sugar. I didn't work out quite as much as I would like to ideally but the two workouts with weights that I did do were really tough -- the first where I was training with my neighbor, who is super-fit, and athletic. I also hit the treadmill once at the gym. So to sum up -- good week!

Blogging for Fun, Blogging for Profit

Right now I am blogging for fun, but if you are blogging to build a business, please check this out.


Sarah Vermunt was in my Life Coaching Training cohort, and she is truly amazing!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What I've Been Up To

Years ago I stumbled across Martha Beck's book "Finding Your Own North Star". I loved everything about the book, and could not get enough of her writing. Fast forward to 2012 when I decided to enroll in Martha Beck Life Coach Training, where I learned amazing things and met fabulous, smart people. I am still not certain that life coaching will ever be my full time career, but I am having fun playing around with ideas about life coaching people who are struggling with weight loss and wellness, as well as parents of children with learning disabilities -- situations with which I am well familiar. At some point I will have my own website, but in the meantime, I have created a Facebook page where I plan to post all sorts of random thoughts. You can find it here.

Who Says Facebook

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Have Bag of Rice, Will Travel

When it comes to weight loss, I believe 90% of success is in planning. Willpower and motivation will never take you through the long haul. You can't "discipline" yourself into a lasting solution. For me, a key part of meal planning is making sure I have enough portion-controlled healthy food to last me through the workday, so I don't end up buying a wrap from food service, or inhaling a 1/2 pound of cashews. I also like to do things the easy way, and although I have mixed feelings about overusing disposable plastic products, the sad truth is that I find packing plastic containers for work a nuisance. So my go to lunch is now dumping a bag of brown rice into a bowl, and eating it with cottage cheese. I guarantee you this is the WORST looking lunch ever -- a sickening combination of white and beige. But it is "real" food, a decent source of protein, low in sugar, and for some strange reason, I actually like it. I get tired of other protein sources like roast chicken, but I never get tired of cottage cheese.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sugar Crush

I don't believe there is just one good way to lose weight. But I do believe that cutting back on sugar as much as possible can't fail you if you want to lose. For many years, I did not believe this. Why? Because I didn't want to give it up! It tasted too good, and quite honestly, I didn't think I was capable of cutting back, or eliminating the foods I loved. It was my addiction. And in the past few years, while I bounced around in my 10 pound comfort zone, I did indulge too much in sugar. In my revised diet plan, limiting sugar grams is my #1 goal. What that means is that I will be eating some foods very rarely, if at all. Some sound like "treats" and some do not. Nonfat Misto : only 60 calories, but at 8 g sugar, 20% of my daily allotment. Just not worth it. Biscotti : oh how I love them. Dry and crunchy is my thing. But at 14 g sugar for one (chocolate), fuggedaboutit Bagels : I will eat 1/2 whole grain bagel from Panera, at about 4 g sugar. Cinnamon crunch bagels (so delicious) are worse than a donut, at 31 g sugar. Yogurt : fruit yogurt is basically a dessert, and I can't fit it into my plan. Bananas : yes, fruit sounds healthy, but at 14 g sugar, I just don't like them that much to accommodate. Blizzard : actually I have not had one since I started losing weight, and may never have one again. The calories, fat and sugar far outweigh the taste, for me. Just not worth it. Pasta : this really isn't about sugar, or carbs. I just lost interest in it. It used to be something I thought I could not live without. I am allowing myself 6 oz wine per day, which I measure. That is my treat of choice. Today was a really good food day, with more than twice as much protein as sugar.
And because every weight loss blog needs a post work out sweat photo, here is mine. I sweat a LOT. Wow, I look horrible! But it felt great.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Restart 2014

I started this blog in 2014, knowing nothing except that the number on the scale was horrifying, and that if I kept going in the same direction I would be joining the ranks of the morbidly obese. Four years later, I still don't know much, except that nothing stays the same, and the more you learn the more you need to learn. What you need to learn probably doesn't have much to do with sugar grams or proper form for dead lifts, but more about your own self. Your own self can be damn scary. I will be posting more about my goals in the days to come, and my strategies, but I also see plan to transition to posts on broader topics as I delve more into Life Coaching -- thus the change of title to "Who Says".