Friday, November 5, 2010

Freezing My Skinny Tail Off!

Today, you cannot tell that I have lost almost 55 pounds, because I am wearing jeans, socks, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, a jacket, a bathrobe, and slippers, to make up for the several layers of fat that have been gloriously compromised during 2010. In about eight weeks, I will celebrate a full year of commitment to life style change, and a CHANGE it certainly has been. I look at pictures from this time last year, and I just can't believe the difference that loosing this weight has made in my life. I won't say it has solved all my problems, or been the magic cure for everything; however, it sure does give you something very positive to cling to when things aren't going so well.

Seriously though, now that the temperature is dropping, I am finding that I get cold much faster than I did last winter. Layering fashionably is a challenge with my closet in it's fluctuating condition. Try looking put together in a size 14 pants (now way to big), a size large t-shirt, and an x-large sweatshirt. I had a fairly functional summer wardrobe, but my winter clothes were mostly very large. Big sweatshirt I can get away with, but over-baggy pants are more of a challenge. Oh well. This problem is a good problem to have, and I'm finding, with a little work and creativity, I have put together 4 or 5 decent casual outfits, and a few dressy ones, for going out in. Who cares what I look like in the house?

I wanted to do this post, because it's been awhile since I just did a blog on how the weight-loss process is coming along. Ironically, about 10 days after I posted about my plateau, I was able to break through and lost 2.8 pounds. Last week I dropped 0.6, less than I'd hoped due to the curse of the moons and tides, but I'll see the weight come off next week, so it doesn't matter. I also dropped a point this week, since I am so close to 151 pounds.

151 POUNDS! I really cannot believe I'm talking about ME. I don't always recognize myself when I walk past a mirror. I have a collar bone and shoulder blades. I have correct proportions. My husband can pick me up and throw me over his shoulder (but I told him if he was gonna go all Indiana Jones on me, he'd better carry me over the threshold first!). I am going to need to put size 8/10 clothes on Santa's list for Christmas. So yes, there's been a whole lot going on in life outside of Weight Watchers and and the LLS marathon (alas, another blog), but this Thanksgiving is going to find me thankful for a great many things—including not being mistaken for the turkey!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Me, Myself, and I Have No Idea What I am Doing!

On October 30th, I got to go trick-or-treating with Buzz Light Year and his Inter-gallactic Bunny Buddy. We would knock on neighbors' doors, and folks would melt like chocolate at the sight of my travelers from outer space. The Buzz Light Year Costume had taken a bit of alteration as my son is still small for his age. I'd put scrunchies around his ankles to keep the pant legs from falling over his shoes, and I'd folded the long sleeves into his jacket. I'd also made sure he'd been to the potty before he suited up, because getting to the porta-star in that get-up would have created an inter-gallactic incident.

My next job, was dressing up my daughter. Initially, I had planned for her to be a clown. I had a great blue curly wigg, some cute clothes to miss-match, a couple different shoes. She would have been adorable, but alas, her majesty had strong objections. I got her dressed, and she looked down at her mis-matched shirt and shoes, threw her wig on the floor, stomped her foot, and announced, “I NO PRETTY!!!” Now I do not normally cave-in to such tirades, but since it was supposed to be a fun evening, I consented to her opinion. I just didn't assume she was old enough to have an opinion. After a brief dig in the play clothes box, she emerged with her Easter headband and said, “I BUNNY!”

There. All that settled, and we were off, and we had a great time. These challenges are always interesting, but somehow, I feel much more qualified to handle them than some of the fund-raising issues I have faced in the last month. Have you ever felt like a fish out of water? Well, that's precisely what I have felt like the night before each one of my three fund raisers so far. Six weeks ago, I was a brave little marathoner-wanna-be with my notebook and my cup of coffee, thinking of brilliant ideas to change the course of LLS fundraising as we know it. Now, after a largely unattended yardsale/bakesale fundraiser, a piano recital for three, and a Denny's benefit night with my anxieties carefully tucked into an awesome looking two-piece suit, I confess. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.

However, I am cluelessly trying very hard. And, lest I sound too downcast, let us recount the positive. My first fundraiser caused me to have some very good thoughts about all the folks around me that I am so thankful for, and my second fundraiser found me seated behind a very handsome grand piano and playing my favorites for some favorite ladies. Thanks mom, grandma, and Mildred for attending. In regards to my third fundraiser, well, I won't say practice makes perfect, I'll just suggest that prayer and planning come highly recommended.

When I called Denny's four weeks ago and booked their family room for a silent auction event, I had no idea how involved the whole evening would become. First, I got flyers out about the event, and then I started scavenging my own home for possible auction items. The next Saturday, I took my flyers to the mall and started canvassing businesses for donations of gift cards and small merchandise. In this endeavor, I will thank heaven for the generosity of individuals, because aside from Sears, most said their hands were tied by the corporate office. Donations I did receive, came from people who were willing to purchase items from their place of employment and donate them personally.

On Friday, a week before the event, I received a phone call from Denny's asking if I would be willing to come in at 2:00 and meet with a manager about the event. I thought they just wanted to meet me (I had arranged the event on the phone) and get some paperwork; however, when I arrived the next day (mercifully, dressed to the hilt because I was going straight to my piano recital fundraiser from there), I realized I was there for a MEETING. The manager ushered me to a table, where another manager and a district manager waited with their laptop computers and calendars. I had to pitch my whole event right there.

Nerves and all, I blundered through, and in spite of having no idea what I was doing, I left an hour later with Denny's totally on board. They let me post a large poster board sign, flyers, a tip jar, and table tents for the entire week previous to the event. In addition, they sent e-mails about the event to the 2,600 people on their mailing list. I no longer felt like I was in the effort alone. Not only was Denny's a great fund raising partner from start to finish, but once again, family and friends rallied around with auction items, ideas, encouragement, and helping hands.

So how did it go? Well, that's coming in another blog. I am very close to having a final total for the event, but I'm not quite there yet. Suffice it to say, it went better than the first two fund-raisers. Trick-or-treating with the kids did make me think that my approach has been all wrong though. I need to follow Olivia's sage advice. (Olivia is a fashion savvy, little girl piggy, on children's television). Olivia's Rule-of-life #14 is that there is no problem that the right costume can't solve. What I need is the right costume—maybe Hello Kitty?--and then a super-cute candy/money bucket. Then when people open the door, they'll listen to my LLS pitch, and throw all of their available funds into my super-cute bucket and wish they had a Hello Kitty outfit like mine. Naw. I think I'll stick to prayer and planning. With my luck, folks would just call the police. =)

Monday, November 1, 2010

God Bless the Broken Road

I know you're all waiting to hear how the Denny's fundraiser went, but I'm still waiting on a couple of totals to come in. In the meantime, please excuse the delayed drumroll and backtrack a couple of weeks with me . . .

I dreamed about the years I spent
On diet flukes
Hoping for the day my pants
Would fit like Daisy Duke's.
But now I've lost that fifty-some
I think my skinny brain's gone numb
Cause I've signed up somehow to run
Clear to Timbuktu!

I think about a little girl
Every hill I climb,
I think about what she's been through
When I improve my time,
For we all run this marathon
So she's not alone on the path she's on,
She's the hero of this song!
The one who's fighting through.

Cause every hard fought mile
Leads me to where you are,
Heroes who've gone before,
They are like morning stars,
Leading me on my way
Past aching legs and arms,
This much I pray is true,
God bless the broken road,
That finds a cure for you.
(borrowed from “God Bless the Broken Road”, Rascal Flatts)

About two weeks ago now, I had the incredible experience of my first cross-country seven mile run. I had been keeping up well with the mileage, but I needed to know that all that running around and around the track, was actually helping build the endurance I would need for the open road.

The Thursday afternoon I was scheduled to run seven miles, it was so beautiful outside, that it wasn't hard to get adventurous, strap on my gatorade laden backpack, and set-off on a pre-mapped seven mile course. Over the course of the next hour and a half, I ran into obstacles of all kinds—steep hills, sidewalk cracks, catwalks with four flights of steps, and stretches of road that seemed to never end.

Finally in the last two miles of my adventure, I came around a corner that changed my direction almost directly west. The sun was about an hour from setting, and in the distance the mountains were bathed in amber light. The beauty charged me—propelled me forward. I felt like I was running on a street of gold, like I was getting a sneak peak into a glorious part of my eternal future.

About a mile later, I was home, and getting home had rarely felt so good, because of all the work I'd finished getting there, and because of the people waiting to welcome me. In that way, running and coming home are briefly prophetic, short sooth-sayers of what waits for us at the end of our last mile. When I cross the yellow tape near the River Jordan, I will be ready to give up my sneakers for a barefoot wade through the cool waters. On the other side, I will meet the author and finisher of my faith, Jesus Christ—otherwise known as the Great Physician. Jesus, keep Caden in your capable hands. Teach us your goodness through sickness and healing. God bless the broken road.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Plateau is Official

This Monday, my first real weight-loss plateau in 45 weeks of Weight Watchers became official. Did you know that a plateau actually had a definition? I didn't until a meeting a few months ago in which the leader actually gave the formula for a plateau. You take four weeks worth of weight-loss (or gain), add them together, and then divide by four. If the result of that equation comes out to be less the 0.5 pounds a week, you are in a plateau.

This definition was very helpful to me, as when you're on a weight-loss journey, it's easy to have the paranoid delusion that you're in a plateau every time your weight-loss slows down. Now, am I bemoaning my state? Surprisingly, no. I'm relatively unconcerned for the following reasons.

1)It's my first plateau in nearly a year of commitment. I think that's pretty good, and I know I'll eventually get past it.

2)I'm training for a marathon! I don't think its coincidence that I've been training for four weeks and that the plateau has occurred over the last four weeks. In order to give my body what it needs to accomplish all this running around in circles, I've increased my lean protein to nearly half my daily points. There's going to be a serious exchange of fat for muscle going on.

3)I am five pounds away from being a healthy weight! Even if I only lose 5 pounds between now and the marathon, I will enter 2011 with a healthy BMI!

4)I have breached the single digits. Now, I know I have expressed great disgust for enemy-of-the-state Nutri-system woman (you know “LOOK AT ME! I'M A SIZE 2!!! bimbo); however, much to my surprise, I have slipped quietly over the size 10 line, and though I seem to be in a holding pattern as mostly a size 10 individual, I bought a winter coat last month that was a size 6! I was elated! Also, a friend gave me some clothing this week, and among the goodies were three dress suits—a 12, a 10, and an 8. I buttoned and zipped all three. Granted, I probably would have ruptured a kidney if I'd tried to sit down while wearing the size 8, but I zipped it never-the-less!

5)Victories aren't always about the scale, or even a dress size. Victories can be about keeping your commitments to healthy eating; they can be about sticking to the exercise you've decided to do; they can be about running 25 to 30 miles a week right through the holidays to pay it forward.

That's what I consider this marathon—paying it forward. I have been tremendously blessed this year. I have had victory over a monster that has haunted me since pre-adolescence. Caden hasn't even had a chance to get there yet. I am running every step of every mile, hoping that if enough of us run enough steps and enough miles, people will be moved to dig deep and give to a cause that could guarantee Caden a future that includes teens, and twenties, college, family, and a legacy that includes a senior citizens discount! My little weight-loss plateau doesn't matter a bit, but a plateau in funds for leukemia research could mean EVERYTHING for this little girl. Bring on the hills! I'm running onward and UPWARD!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Exer-wise

Guess what? Today is day one of the blog-a-thon! I have so much to write about since my last entry, and since I don't want to miss remembering a single, juicy detail, I have decided to make this week the BLOG-A-THON! The reason I haven't written for nearly two weeks now, is that I was having to exercise some exer-wisdom. I used to be the type of person who just kept stubbornly plowing through, trying to achieve that PERFECT result, even if I was absolutely exhausted. Well, as it turns out—life ain't perfect, and neither am I.

Soooo. As much as I wanted to get all this writing done last week, and catch up on the mountain of laundry in the basement, and canvas businesses for silent auction donations, and keep my household fed and happy, and teach my son his school lessons, and run my scheduled 27 miles; I had to LISTEN to my body, when it screamed at me: HELLO! I'M POOPED! REST, WILL YOU?

Consequently, I got everything in the above list done last week, except the blogging, and I purposed to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. I even took a couple of naps and canceled a couple of planned events. I won't be doing Caden or the LLS any good if I have to drop out of the race because I'm in a self-induced coma.

I wish, wish, wish, I had learned this lesson much sooner; however, my troubles as an OGER-achiever are as old as my eating problems. I remember studying myself into a state of hysteria in high school. I would look at the list of homework I still had to complete, and the tests and quizes I still had to study for, and I would be reduced to a sobbing sponge on the bedroom floor. My mother would encourage me to go to bed for a few hours and get up early to finish, but I would stubbornly persist—not wanting to go to bed until the work was done.

Later rather than sooner, I discovered that she was so right. Whether it's sleep, or a situation, or a job; we all have the potential to reach a point where we're better off stopping, clearing our heads through rest or a change of pace, and then coming back to the object of focus when we are no longer distracted by our own fractured thought processes.

The weekend of my first fundraiser, I had done all of my required running, with the exception of Saturday's long run. I knew there was just no way that one more thing was going to fit into my Saturday, so I instead planned to do something unusual and take care of the run on Sunday. I was supposed to go eight miles.

Well, by the time I lived through Saturday—taking Wade to work, unloading my bakesale/yardsale from the van, sitting in the hot sun for six hours, loading every back into the van, waiting for a jumpstart, unloading van, eating fried chicken, bathing children . . . yeah, you get the idea, I was done. Saturday night, my daughter woke me up four times out of a deep, tired sleep. When the alarm went off, it was lucky to survive the blow. I was NOT getting up. Other than church, all I did that day was sleep. I just had to listen to my body.

Monday dawned about fifteen minutes after my children dragged me out of bed, but I felt much more rested and ready to go. Later that day, I went to the track and had a phenomenal run. I had planned to push for seven miles, but I felt so good at the end of 49 laps, and ran an extra 7! I'm extremely thankful, that after all these years of denial, I am finally learning to be flexible and listen to my body's signals of fatigue, anxiety, and hunger—and learning not to mistake them for what they are NOT: weakness, vulnerability, and failure.

Perfectionism, at its heart, is selfishly motivated. It has just taken me SO LONG to figure this out (DUH!). Perfectionism isn't about the people around you, and how they are going to benefit. Perfectionism is about how great you hope the people around think you are. We all need to regularly check the motivations behind our goals—especially if we claim that our goals are about other people. Someone asked me this week what my time goal was to finish the marathon. My response was that I didn't have a time goal; I just want to FINISH! I want to finish for Caden and the many others suffering from blood cancer. They are in a marathon of their own, and they don't have any choice but to finish their race. I pray that in God's strength and some exer-wisdom, I will persist through pain, unexpected obstacles, and utter impossibilities, to FINISH the race!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fried Fundraiser

Today, I ate my first piece of fried chicken in the year 2010. I guess it seemed to fit the occassion. After all, I was nice and crispy, why shouldn't dinner be?

This week was absolutely jam packed with activities--regular life, marathon training, finalizing fundraisers, and getting ready for today's bake sale and yard sale behind Great Clips. Everyday felt full, and last night I was up until 11:30 making peanut butter blossoms, popcorn balls, and carmel apples. It took considerable effort to stay awake, since my 6 mile run that afternoon had really proved challenging. I think I'll save that for another blog though.

This morning the alarm went off at 6:30, and I peeled my eyelids off my eyeballs, got dressed, and made coffee. At 6:45, my grandma arrived. She had graciously offered to watch my children during the fundraiser. It was a good thing too--as about 11:00 last night, I had realized the children and the yardsale stuff would not both fit into the van simultaneously. As it was, I had to drop my hubby off at work before I could put the last of the baked goods in the passenger seat.

At 7:45, the sun was just coming up, and I was parked behind the Great Clips, unloading my van. I had already discovered that though I had dutifully shoved in everything on my list, I had missed obvious conveniences--such as my cell phone. By 9:00, I was also wishing I had brought my sunglasses, a hat, and some sunscreen. Though the air was cool initially, the day was quickly becoming the "cold soda" type and not the "hot coffee" type. Unfortunate, as I had just prepared a large pot of coffee to sell with my cookies.

Yes, I was the only one to drink the coffee. The morning wore on, and by 11:00, I had had less than five people visit my sale; but those who had stopped, had purchased some items, so it wasn't a complete loss. Still, I got a bit more pro-active with the coupons that Great Clips had given me for a dollar off a haircut and a dollar to the LLS. For a while, I ran across the parking lot when I saw folks park and handed out the coupons. Then I'd sit in my camping chair. And then I'd open the back hatch of my van and sit in the shade for a while. I repeated this curcuit several times over the next few hours until around 1:20 when I started putting things back in the van.

Ironically, that's when quite a few people decided to stop and look through the boxes I had already started to pack up. It was a few minutes after 2:00, when I sighed a happy sigh (because it hadn't been a bad morning), and got behind the wheel of the van. When I turned the key, nothing happened. Apparently, the combination of my shade breaks, and the extra long load-up had drained the battery dry. And no cell phone. And no cables.

Can I be tired now? A kind employee of the Great Clips let me call Grandma and Wade. Wade made a few calls, and pretty soon, he let me know that my mom and dad were on their way to give me a jump. In the meantime, I sat on the curb and waited. That's when I noticed the sunburn. It was the last thing I expected in the middle of October! The sun had almost moved to the other side of the building, so I found a small spot of shade and waited until my parents arrived. Dad had the van running in no time, and pretty soon I had picked up my husband and headed home.

Before long, all of us--including grandma--were gathered around a KFC supper, and sunburn and all, I just felt HAPPY. I hadn't made a huge amount of money, but it was a start. I had enjoyed talking to people about a good cause, and I had enjoyed doing something that was bigger than me. I felt happy to have had a husband who would cheerfully help me out of a bind. I felt happy to have a mom and dad who would still come to my rescue even though I was thirty-two. I was touched by my grandma's gift of her time, as the day certainly would have been much longer with two kiddos to chase; and there's nothing like coming home to two little people who run to you for hugs like you're the best thing they've seen all day.

When is the last time you were just thankful for well-being? For being loved? For the meal on the table? For the smiles of your children? So often, I have been guilty of the letting my day be ruined by the one forgotten thing, the car that won't start, the sunburn. Learn a life-lesson alongside the fried fundraiser, and in spite of the sunburn, don't forget about the beautiful sunshine behind it all! Bring on the aloe vera!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Shoes, New News

"SHOOOOOOEEEEEE! SHOOOEE ON PEEEESE!" I hear this several times a day from my daughter, Maggie, who is more enamored of shoes than I thought any two-year-old could be. She loves her shoes, and your shoes, and anybody's shoes she decides look interesting enough to wear. She will take them on and off to infinity and get tremendously upset if she is unsuccessful in her attempts. For that reason, I spent the month of July hunting through thrift stores for glitzy little girls shoes. I picked them up for a dollar here and there, and then packaged them individually for Maggie's birthday.

Unfortunately, the shoes I found myself needing last week were not the kind I could pick up at the thrift store. I've been staying right on track with the training schedule, and had made plans to do the group run last Saturday, but by Wednesday night, I knew I was going to have to make some adjustments. I was having a lot of pain under my right outside arch, especially when the support of my tennis shoe was removed, and I suspected that my now nearly two-year-old Nikes were in need of replacement. The only way I made it through my 6 mile, one hour run on Thursday, was by wrapping the foot in an ace bandage to give it some support. The next morning, I saw some light bruising, so I decided resting the foot until I could replace my shoes would be prudent.

Fortunately, our TNT group had plans to meet at the Fleet Feet store this Tuesday, so I did some shopping around, and then, having informed myself of my options, I went to the meeting. The group enjoyed some good information on shoes, nutrition, and running gear and clothing; and afterwards, as I observed their prices to be fairly reasonable (and they handed out coupons!) I explained the troubles I'd been having, and asked for some help. About 20 minutes later, I left happy with comfy new running shoes and a great pair of in-soles. Did you know a good pair of in-soles should last as long as three pairs of running shoes? I sure didn't!

So yesterday, it was back to the track to pick up where I'd left off. I ran 5 miles yesterday and 4 today. Tomorrow, I need to run 6 miles, and this weekend I'll be taking on my first 7 mile run. I feel like I can do it, and I get oddly excited everytime I face a new challenge. I think I'm actually more nervous about my first fundraiser on Saturday.

Though I may have taken a four day sabatical from running, I was not idle on the fund-raising front. After my meeting with Kimberly last week, I kicked my efforts into high gear and started making phone calls. As of today, I have four events definitely planned, and I am excited about each one! Here they are, in chronological order.

This Saturday, October 9th, I'm doing a bakesale and yardsale behind the Great Clips in Cherrydale. Many thank to the manager there, Janet Cash, for being so willing to share her back lawn with me, as well as hair cut coupons for a dollar off a hair cut and a dollar to the LLS. I'll be setting up a yardsale, and selling coffee, cocoa, peanut butter blossoms, caramel apples, and popcorn balls. Yum! The trick will be, not to eat the goods!

Two weeks from Saturday, I will be giving a benefit piano recital at Pecknel Music here in Greenville. I'm not a concert pianist or anything, but I do think anyone who comes will have an enjoyable 45 minutes or so of pleasant listening. I've been playing most of my life, and it will be fun to share some of my favorites for a good cause. The recital will be on the 23rd at 3:30.

On Friday, October 29th, there will be a silent auction in the Denny's family room. There should be some great items for early Christmas shoppers--including giftcards to local stores and restaurants, $300 off coupons to Hyman Photography Studios (look for their display in the mall; they do INCREDIBLE WORK!), and a couple antiques as well. The auction will begin at 6 and close for bidding at 7:30. What an opportunity!

Finally, for the BBQ lovers, there will be fundraising evening at Mutt's BBQ in Greer on December 9th (Thursday) from 5-8. Come and dine! All tips and a percentage of the evening's take will benefit Caden and the LLS.

And that's just the beginning. I'm excited about doing some gift wrapping at Macy's during the holidays, and participating in other TNT volunteer events. I've never done anything like this before, but I'm finding it extremely enjoyable and fulfilling. It's fun to do something that is not about you. It's great to draw your children's attention to how lucky they are to be healthy, when so many are NOT.

I did find out that Caden's necklace has more than 40 beads on it, and those 40 beads represent more than 100 treatments and procedures. She didn't start the necklace until after she had been sick more than a year. I am touched by this child's bravery. I am rebuked by her smile. If I had been through so much, would I still SMILE!? For that reason, I think of Caden at the end of every training mile; I push hard until everything hurts, and then I smile.

I sincerely hope, though I know Christmas is coming, and I definitely know what it is to be economically pressed--that people will be touched to give well, perhaps until it hurts, and smile. Say a prayer for Caden please, everytime you lace on your shoes.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Caden's Cause

This is the letter I will be sending shortly, and the posting currently on my fundraising website. Thanks in advance to all of you who will read and care.

Dear Friends and Family,

As many of you know, this has been a big year for me. Back in December 2009, at nearly 210 pounds, I decided that it was time to take serious steps to get my weight under control. Consequently, I started a weight-loss blog (sarahjinright.blogspot.com “Shankspeare Gets Skinny”) and on December 28, 2009, I joined Weight Watchers. I had no way of knowing how much that decision would change my life. Now, nearly ten months later and 50 pounds lighter, I am profoundly thankful to be fit and healthy.

But this letter isn't about me and the success I've been blessed with. This letter is about how I want to celebrate that success, and how I would like to ask you to celebrate with me. A couple weeks ago, a friend here in Greenville presented a tremendous opportunity to me. She had signed up to run in a marathon with T.E.A.M.-in-Training. This organization trains regular people to participate in endurance events—half marathons, marathons, and triathalons—in order to raise funds for cancer research and for families affected by cancer.

Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Caden. She is six years old, and to the Greenville T.E.A.M.-in-Training, she is a hero. For quite some time now,Caden has been battling leukemia. Around her neck, she wears a necklace that falls to her waist; the necklace is strung with tiny beads. Each bead represents a procedure that Caden has undergone. After five times passing through the same procedure, Caden no longer gets a bead for that type of procedure, yet still the chain grows. Two of the beads have pictures of little girls with curly hair on them—one bead for each time that Caden has lost all of her hair.

Today, I signed up to train and run a marathon for Caden, for her family, and for the research that will help hundreds of cancer champions like Caden. To have lost 50 pounds and to be approaching a weight that I can live with for a lifetime is a great accomplishment, but nothing compared to the GIFT of a LIFETIME. Please keep Caden and her family in your prayers as they struggle with the day-to-day fight against the ravages of leukemia. Please consider supporting me as I celebrate the gift of health by running a race to support those heroes who run a race everyday with no guarantee of a finish line. Please give generously to create a future with a cure.

I hope to have all funds raised by December 1st; however, I can receive donations right up until marathon in January. Just remember to donate before December 31st to assure that your gift will be tax deductible for 2010. Thanks to the many, many of you who have read my blog this year, and who have supported me with your love, encouragements, and prayers. I am blessed to have each one of you in my life.

With my sincere thanks,
Sarah

P.S. If you would like to support Caden and the January 8, 2011 marathon, you may either make a donation on-line through Paypal at
http://pages.teamintraining.org/sc/wdw11/sjinright,
or you may send me a personal check or money order made out to LLS (Lymphoma and Luekemia Society). Please do not make checks out to me!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Lean

You know, Kermit the Frog got a lot of props for singing "It's Not Easy Being Green," but if it had been Miss Piggy, and if Miss Piggy had spent the last 15 years dieting (she's done with that now, thank goodness), I think the whole song would have come out something a little more like this.

No, it's not easy being lean,
Having to spend each day the shape of a carrot stick
When I think it could be nicer being a muffin, or a cupcake, or fritter
Or something much more plumpy like that.

It's not easy being lean
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary shoppers
And people tend to pass you by because you're not
Standing out in a Sequined fashion by Thick Madame
Or some other hot plus-sized designer.

But lean is the shape of good health
And lean can be cool and friendly-like
And lean can still be big hearted,
And broad smiling, and amply blessed otherwise . . .

It seems lean is all there is to be
If you watch TV, and it could make you wonder why--
But I've done it, and I'm lean, so I'll say it's lovely
And I'm pretty sure it's what I want to be.

Well, o.k., it's not that bad being lean--in fact, I'm liking it a lot--but I will say, it's not easy STAYING lean. It's definitely a trick of balancing the cosmos some weeks. Last week was my first full week of marathon training, and I now have 15 miles under my currently size 12 belt. The drawback: BIG APPETITE. I've already confessed my late night session at the binge bar, but a couple days later, I started to realize that it wasn't just failed self-will going on. I was burning some serious calories, and I was going to have to make some adjustments.

Tuesday's meeting was not exactly blue skies and sunshine. I had gained 3.4 pounds. In one week, I had gained what it had taken me almost four to lose. Sick and wrong. I tried not to let the number get to me, and to stay rational. First of all, I did eat a surplus of food, and I didn't exactly eat smart. There was pie. There were cookies. There were dagwood sandwiches. Secondly, I feel leaner this week--not necessarily lighter--just leaner; so I think I may have put on a little muscle as well.

Regardless, I projecting a swing in the positive direction at next week's meeting, because I'm already making adjustments. Mentally, I accept that my weight loss may slow (though not stop) because I'll have to take in enough nutrition to stay fueled for the challenge of marathon training. I also talked to my enthusiastic friend Eunice at Weight Watchers, about what I might do to counter my cravings. She suggested doubling my servings of lean protein each day, for four total servings. I'm giving it a try, and so far, so good.

Other news on the marathon front, I am officially SIGNED-UP. I got my fund raising packet last night, as well as my group run shirt, and best of all, I got to meet Kaden and her family. What struck me the most, is that their family is just like ours. Kaden's mom--Sommer--looks to be my age. Her husband doesn't look to be much older than Wade. They also have a son. Same family unit, different circumstances; but I couldn't help thinking, IT COULD BE US.

And if it was us, I would be unspeakably thankful for every single person who would pin on a number and run a ridiculous distance for the sake of my child and the research that could save her. It is going to be my tremendous priveleged to be involved in this effort!

No, it's not easy being green, and it's not easy staying lean, and it's not easy training to run a marathon. But borrowing words I saw printed on a TNT (team in training) t-shirt: You think running a marathon is hard . . . TRY CHEMOTHERAPY!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oh Be Careful Little Teeth What You Chew!

Last week my son and I were working on school, and we were finishing up our Bible time with some songs. The last one we sang was "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see," and we had been through all the verses (little ears what you hear, little mouth what you say, little hands what you do, etc). Just when I thought the song was over, my four year old belted out a verse that I hadn't thought of: "OHHHHHH, Be careful little teeth what you CHEEEEEEW!" At the time I laughed, but I've thought about it many times since then.

Indeed, I thought about it last night, as I found myself approaching the edge of the Binge Fringe. Probably due to my much higher level of activity, I have been hungry all week. Last night I only 12 flex points left, which is unusual for me on a Thursday night. All day, I had fought the urge to eat everything in sight, so at dinner I had eaten a mountainess green salad with lean chicken breast on top. About an hour later, the hungries hit again, so I ate 2 ounces of leftover chicken and put a pan of roasted asparagus in the oven. I ate the whole pan (about 2 cups!) and went on with the evening. I was already at 23 points.

So, as God and Judy are my witnesses (she and I were talking on the phone when I put the asparagus in the oven), I TRIED. At 10:30, I lost all self control. In thirty minutes, I finished of a serving of leftover pizza, 2 cups of 1% milk, 2 oatmeal raisin cookies, and a turkey and cheese sandwich. In half an hour, I had eaten an entire day's worth of points (about a thousand calories). Did I go to bed guilt-ridden and full of remorse? Weeeeell, no, not actually. I was happy as a fat cat. But did I want a repeat performance today? Absolutely not.

After my trip to the binge fringe, I was at 43 flex points, which is a good trick, since I only have 35 to spend each week. Now on the fair side, after my 4 mile run today, I have racked up 15 activity points (which I have not eaten), which reduces my total to 28 flex points. I also plan to run another four miles on Monday, so that will buy me another 5 activity points. I'm going to try to make the cosmos balance between now and next Tuesday's meeting, and I will be talking to a trainer post haste about some nutritional suggestions that can balance my Weight Watchers lifestyle and my marathon preparations.

Speaking of the marathon, I did hear back from the co-ordinator, and I will be getting signed up in the next week. In the meantime, I am staying right on top of the training schedule. Today was the first time I have ever run 4 miles in my life, and it was awesome! I didn't look at the clock at all until I was done, and I was very happy to discover that I had completed the session in 40 minutes. The extra mile had not slowed my average time per mile down at all. Next week's training schedule is as follows:

Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: 3 miles
Thursday: 1 hour run
Saturday: 6 miles

I will admit, I'm a little intimidated by Saturday's run, but what's the journey without the regular presence of new challenges? This week I also have to draft my support letter, and get a mailing list together. So don't be surprised if you hear from me about giving to the Luekemia and Lymphoma Society. It's a very worthy cause that is helping a lot of people, and searching diligently for a cure. I am choosing to celebrate my weight loss by giving me time and energy to something bigger than myself. I feel so fortunate to be fit and healthy! Please DO consider celebrating with me by making a donation to LLS!

I'll have my fund raising website up and running soon (Paypal). Donations can be made there or checks made out to LLS (Lymphoma and Luekemia Society) and can be given (or mailed) to me to turn in. Send me a private message if you would like my address. In the meantime, I promise to be careful what my little teeth chew--even though they probably deserve to chew a little extra with all my running around in circles!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Marathon Time

I think I must be a little crazy, but I suppose that's a foregone conclusion. In anycase, this week, I'm signing up to run in a marathon! But wait? Hasn't this year already been a marathon? Well yes, but I needed a new physical challenge to help me finish this year out well, so when a friend here in town contacted me last weekend about being involved in a T.E.A.M.-in-training race to raise money for the Luekemia and Lymphoma Society; I was instantly excited.

Nevertheless, I did take a few days to consider the what the committment would mean. Obviously there's a huge time committment, a huge physical committment--and then there's the fundraising. In the end, I decided to sign-up. The time I put into the project would be well spent. After all, I have to exercise anyway, I may as well be burning calories for a cause. Physically, I'm at a good place to face the challenge. I've been consistently active since January, and though it does look as if our family is going to be passing through some changes (another blog; another day), exercise has never done anything but HELP ME COPE with the stresses in my life.

And fundraising? Well, let's put it this way. If the girl scouts can bring home the bucks selling calories, I should be able contribute to a good cause burning them! I don't have all the details on the race and the needs yet, but expect future posts that will include information on T.E.A.M. in training (in case somebody else out there wants to get involved), the Luekemia and Lymphoma Society, my progress in the training process, and of course, the little girl that our Greenville team in paired with to support. Her name is Kaden. She is six years old, and she is battling luekemia. I can't wait to tell you some of her story!

My race date will most likely be January 8, 2011, and I am already on track with the training schedule this week. I ran 2 miles Tuesday, 3 miles Wednesday, 3 miles today, and on Saturday, I'm scheduled to run four. Please keep me in your prayers as I take on this new challenge. After all, I don't want to end up like the original runner of the marathon. He ran 26.2 miles to deliver news of a victory to his king. When he got where he was going, he delivered his message, and then . . . oh, dear. Never fear though, it would take more than death to make me miss a free breakfast, which there will be--the morning AFTER the race!

Which is why I will always be a Weight Watcher. Because there is always free breakfast somewhere.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fifty Big Ones!


Today was the big day, and I was antsy. For the last three days, my scale has stuck fast on 157 (I NEED it to say 156!), and even though I had stayed within my flex points, exercised, and had not had more than 20 points a day for the last three days; the needle on the scale was not moving in a favorable direction. If I thought getting down on my hands and knees, and BLOWING, would have improved the situation, I would have done it.

After all, there was practically a family reunion happening at the Tuesday meeting. My hubby was off, so he and the kids were coming along. I'd also invited my family to come, and I knew my mom and my grandma were going to be able to make it. On Monday morning, when the scale still read 157, I nearly called the whole thing off, thinking we'd have to wait another week; but in the end, I didn't. I knew as soon as I canceled the get-together at the scale, I'd wake up and have miraculously lost 3 pounds.

Instead, I just told everyone I'd call them Tuesday morning and finalize plans. Well, it was a good thing! Tuesday morning, the previously recalcitrant scale read 155. We are a go! Repeat. Houston, we are a go!!!

The morning felt ETERNAL. My meeting was at 12:15, and I was ready to go at 8:00. All I could do was carry on with my scheduled activities and wish time would move quicker. I put my sneakers on and expended some of my excitement-related hyperactivity pounding the pavement. I ran 2 miles, fed the kids breakfast, showered, and then took them out for their walk. By 9:15 we were ready for the school bell to ring (I'm home schooling my son in K4), and for about and hour, I was distracted by catechisms and reading lessons.

By 10:30, I was pacing around the living room, trying to focus my energy on something constructive. Little Wade was cutting and pasting, so I was left with time to kill. Laundry. Make-up. E-mail check. Is it time to leave yet?

It's no wonder we got to the meeting 30 minutes early, but mom and grandma must have been as excited as I was, because they were there early too. I felt like I was winning an Emmy. Mom brought flowers from she and dad, and Grandma brought me a coffee cup that's going to inspire me many a morning. My WW leader and friend Eunice was waiting for me at the door, and having already pottied and removed all my jewelry, there was nothing left to do, but stand on the scale.

The moment had come, and my hands were shaking as I stepped up on the scale. And waited. Suddenly, there was a smile on the receptionist's face as she announced I was DOWN 1.2 pounds for a total loss of 50.4 pounds! The moments that followed were pentecostal. I totally did the happy dance, and I was not alone. Eunice and mom and grandma and the kids all got in on the action, and daddy even got some of it on video.

So what IS a milestone? What do you visualize when you hear the word? Well, for me, I remember the hard part of a run--the part when I'm feeling tired, but I'm getting close to where I want to be to finish. To make it, I pick out a close-by marker, and then I purpose to make it that far. Then I pick a new marker, and I run there. I don't ever STOP there, but goal by goal, marker by marker, I make it to the finish line. Today was a milestone and a place I am very happy to reach, but by no means, am I going to stop. I've still got a finish line to reach.

Can I do it? Well, let me tell you what Grandma's coffee cup said.

"Dream it. Believe it. DO it!"

And I will! Thank you Lord, for this wonderful milestone! video

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Running in Circles

"When in trouble,
When in doubt,
Run in circles,
Scream and shout!"

I am not sure to whom I should attribute this fine adage; however, it seems to fit my current affinity for running perfectly. First, let me set your minds at ease. No, I have not relapsed into my panic attack phase. Praise be to my Heavenly Helper, I have only had brief visitations of anxiety lately. Truth be told though, a return to exercise probably does have a little bit to do with this happy fact. Speaking of exercise, today's saying--albeit trite--describes a great experience I had at the track last week.

The track has been a real God-send. You see, I have discovered something about myself. I am not a home exerciser. I will always find something else "more important" to do, and I am very easily distracted. Even if I've started on a planned workout, I will give it up at the drop of a hat. Inevitably , one of the children wakes up; or the phone rings; or the washing machine starts clunking in the middle of the spin-cycle, and threatens to take off of it's own accord, if I don't go down and balance the load.

Consquently, I started looking for another way to get out of the house and exercise. The aerobics classes earlier in the year were wonderful, and I may try to get back to them eventually; but right now, I can't afford to pay for classes. I needed something close, and preferably free. That's when I found out my Alma Mater had an indoor track on the third floor of their new gym (well, new since I went to school), and Alumni could use it for free. This gym is about two minutes from the house. Problem solved.

So how does the adage fit in, you ask? Well consider. "When in trouble . . ." Back in December, I was at a turning point. I was either going to resign myself to the weight gain that just kept happening, or I was going to REALLY lose the weight. I was on the edge of an obese lifesyle and health problems galore. I'd call that trouble.

"When in doubt . . ." Stress. Stress is a big contributor to a lot of bad things. For me, patterns of emotional eating, insomnia, negative thinking, and panic could all be traced back to stress in one form or another. Honestly, I believe that if it had not been for the presence of regular exercise--and God--last spring, I would have succumbed to my anxiety problems a whole lot sooner. On the days that I had an aerobics class scheduled, in the thick of the day's battle, I looked forward to the exercise like it was cake and ice cream.

Why? Well, I think, perhaps, the following elements had something to do with it: removal from the scene of the stress, an increase in seratonin uptake resulting from the exercise, and mental solidarity. I had to leave home to go to aerobics; home was where I was caring for six children under the age of four, five days a week. When I got done with the exercise, no matter how hard the day had been, I felt 95% better and able to go home and enjoy the evening (until I had to think about the morning). As for mental solidarity, I was caught in a multi-tasking vortex. To be able to involve myself in something that required my complete and singular focus, was extremely theraputic.

So this is where we get to "running in circles." Somewhere along the way, I discovered that I enjoyed running. For any of you folks out there who believe whole-heartedly in the doctrine of cessation (basic jist: certain spiritual gifts such as propheticism, speaking in tongues, and miracles, no longer apply) I'm about to blow a whole in your catechism; because me LIKING TO RUN is a modern-day miracle. I'm telling ya', it rates right up there with Mary's face showing up in pizza pan. If you don't believe me, ask my high school P.E. instructor.

I hated running. I hated running because I was already awkward, and running around panting and sweating did not exactly improve the self-image issues going on. I hated running, because we had to run around the outdoor track. In the center of the outdoor track, boys were playing sports. I hated running, because my sports gear was not up to par, and stuff bounced. Stuff bounced while the boys were playing sports and occassionally looking--boys that I had to see next hour in U.S. History.

There you have it. Me, liking to run, is a MIRACLE. I actually LIKE to run around and around and around the track. I like to see how many times I can do it, before I have to call it quits. I like to plan how I'm going to go farther next time. Granted, there are no boys playing sports while I run (but even if there were, they'd be down three stories) and let's just say that sports gear for women has improved a lot in the last twenty or so years.

Now we get to the "scream and shout" part. On Thursday last week, I ran three miles in thirty-two minutes. For me, this is an accomplishment. Again, I have to transport myself back to high school. P.E. was not my favorite subject. In other subjects, I could study hard and do well; in P.E., it didn't matter how hard I tried, I just didn't excell. In fact, I outright flunked tennis. I had a depth perception problem that had not yet been diagnosed (hence, much of the awkwardness, tripping on sidewalk cracks, falling off curbs, etc), and I could not hit that stupid ball to save my life!

Then there was the President's physical fitness test. To get the award, you had to run the mile in 8 minutes 30 seconds (I think). I tried and tried, and finally, on the last day, I did it. I'll never forget my P.E. teacher, standing there with the stop watch, jumping up and down. I was so excited. But I couldn't do a pull-up--one stinking, lousy, good-for-nothing pull-up. So there went the award. No screaming. No shouting.

Thursday, when I got done running my three miles, I was having a private party on the third floor. Then, who should I see three floors down, doing the same thing she'd been doing almost twenty years ago--but my former P.E. teacher. Suddenly, I really DID want to scream and shout. I wanted to yell "Hey down there! Check it out!"

Sigh. Alas, I wanted to continue using the gym in the future, so I restrained myself and kept the party private. On the way home, I contemplated next Tuesday's meeting; I fully anticipated reaching my fifty pound goal! Apparently, something good actually can come from running around in circles. Who'd have thunk?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So, so, so, SO CLOSE!!!

It was 6:00 on Monday, and I was about to weigh in. Last week I weighed-in at 157.8 puonds, which left me only 1.8 pounds to lose before I reached that milestone of 50 pound lost. I had been a very good girl all week, and true to my Week 3 commitment, I had re-evaluated my activity and started running again. I had only used 7 flex points. As Monday approached, I felt like I had a good chance at success, but you just can't know until your staring down that little black box.

Well, here I must confess a certain level of cowardice. I'd walked into my meeting wearing my lightest cotton dress, but when I saw an available scale, I just kept on walking. Maybe I'd go to the bathroom just one more time. After all, it's not fair to get weighed with your last glass of water sloshing around in there. And then it got ridiculous. As soon as I found myself locked behind the bathroom door, I dug through my purse for a ziploc bag (yes, I have a ziploc in my pocketbook; if I was weighed WITH my pocket book, it would set me back 20 pounds).

Anyway, into the ziploc bag went everything non-essential that I could decently remove--my watch, my wedding rings, my earrings, my necklace, and my sunglasses (usually propped on my head). Yes, I sincerely hope I am not the only Weight Watchers members who is this pathetic, but if they had a locked room in which you could remove it ALL, stand on the scale, and have your report print at the front counter; I would be using that little room every week.

Alas, denuding myself of extraneous bling still did not get me quite to the mark. This week I have to lose 0.6 pounds to reach my next goal of 50 pounds. I know I can do it!!!

In the meantime, I need to know what my next goal is, so I don't slow down after the victory dance is over. I know I'd like to see myself running 3 miles, two to three times a week, and I'll also be doing some callistenics along with my husband. Other than that, I just need to keep up all the other good things that I've been doing all along--eating well, blogging, evaluating, and yes, even forgiving myself when I mess up. I just need to start over again at the very next opportunity.

After my 50 pound goal, I will be pressing on towards 149.9. I do not believe I have been anywhere in the 140's since pre-adolescence, and since I didn't have then, things that I do now (hem, skirting TMI here, for my guy readers), I feel like getting into this new realm is going to be a real accomplishment. I'm considering lifetime at about 145 . . . but I won't know for sure until I get there, so no total commitments yet.

For this week, I hope to blog at least twice, because I had big non-scale victory while I was running last Thursday. I'm finding that those victories are just as significant as the ones I have on the little black box. And usually, I can enjoy non-scale victory dances, with all of my accessories ON!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cowboys and Indians

Have you seen the dust cloud billowing from my general direction? Well, if so, let me explain. Please hark back to the last time you saw an old western. Enter cowboys, steerhands, wagon train, etc, over horizon stage left. Enter Indians, squaws, teepees, and other steriotypes, etc, stage right. Stage left and stage right descend upon one another. The shooting and whooping are deafening. Soon, there is a large dust cloud filling your TV screen, with nothing to distinguish the two sides but muskets and feathers, except perhaps a lucky glimpse of John Wayne somewhere in the midst.

The dust cloud has pretty much been my post-vacation life until this week. Enter "US" stage left--in weary van, with weary drivers, and weary children--on August 17th, late. The first set of Indians was already in place in the form of an invasion. I won't go into pain-staking detail here, but suffice it to say that it took me almost two weeks, 14 cans of Raid, 4 pounds of baking soda, 5 vacuum bags, a jug of detergent, and unknown gallons of water to fix the problem. I had left my house immaculate, so I was not expecting to have to come home and do it all over again.

Enter other Indians in pompous parade, epic style. There was the pile of medical bills, a Medicaid mix-up, and the surprising absense of a particular piece of mail. There was a room that needed to be emptied, taped, tarped, painted, untarped, untaped, and filled--before we planned to start homeschooling on September 6th. Then, five days after our return, my mom ended up very ill and in the hospital. Poor mom! She was there a week before it was all over. The day after mom's surgery, Maggie had another seizure, and it was off to see our friends in the ER. The kids had regular physicals, Wade and I had the dentist, and Maggie had the neurologist and another MRI. Yes, the dust was impressive, and John Wayne was nowhere to be seen. (I suppose this is a relief since The Duke's appearance would have exceeded dust cloud, and rated in the "supernatural event" category, but I digress.)

Anyway, all that to say, the Cowboys and Indians came and went, I kept my trusty tracker by my side at all times, and all was not lost among the choking chaos. As I mentioned last week, on vacation I managed to lose 0.6 pounds. During the week of hospital and doctor dashes, I miraculously left behind 0.2 pounds. Going into the third week, I wasn't sure what to expect of my body, since I didn't seem to be going anywhere fast, but I dropped another point, and used a flex point here and there when I was hungry. Last Tuesday, I lost 2.4 pounds!

Hence, this week I am naturally hopeful that I will be able to lose the 1.8 pounds between me and the big FIFTY POUND victory! It's getting so close, I can almost touch it! This week is week 3C (Week 1C was the week of the pesticides, Week 2C was the week of hospitals and doctors, in case you're wondering). I was supposed to re-evaluate my activity level, and I certainly did. I have discovered that I am a terrible home exerciser. I plan to do it, but I just don't. I have to get out of the house. Consequently, I've found a local gym with an indoor track that I can use for free year round. Perfect! Tuesday, I ran 2 miles, and walked my third in about 40 minutes. Thursday, I pushed hard, and ran 3 miles in 32 minutes. A 10 minutes 20 second mile is a new record for me, and I can't wait to go again next week.

This coming week (starting Tuesday) I will be sending a couple extra blogs your way. I need to lay out what my plans are for the last 17 weeks of this year, and I need to talk about where I am in this whole process anyway. There just doesn't seem to be as much to write about--but that's because this is a process and not a destination. In a process, you're bound to re-visit goals, challenges, failures, and victories; because everything is a cycle. I starting to realize it's how you cope with the cycle that matters.

So how am I coping? Pretty good overall, I'd say. I only had one true black out. I woke up in the middle of the dust cloud, surrounded by the din of stress, hormones, and circumstances--and in front of me lay three carcases: an Angus 1/3 pound burger box, a french fry bag, and a forlorn and empty milkshake cup. DID I DO THAT?! Well, bless my heart!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Giddy-yap

Well, you're probably wondering why my two week vacation was only 3 days long, huh? Arg. It really was two weeks long, I promise; however, my return home derailed the blog train, and now I feel hopelessly behind in that department. Consequently, I shall acquiesce to circumstance, and take a lesson from past scrap-booking endeaveors. I shall summarize high-lights and move onto present events.

First of all, to satisfy morbid curiosity—yes, I returned home victorious. I missed two meetings while we were away, but regardless, I hosted my own Monday morning motel meetings with my family gathered round. Yes, much to my husband's chagrin, the little pink scale traveled with us all the way to Maine and back. I continue to maintain that a sense of accountability is the ounce of prevention that's worth a pound of cure with me (of course the pound of cure doesn't count on weigh-in day). Along those same lines, I did indeed, maintain. Upon my return to Greenville, I weighed in having lost 0.6 pounds.

So what were my other lessons and highlights during the road-trip of the decade?

Highlight: I fit beautifully into my bride's maid dress. It was even a touch big on me. I won't ever have to look at those pictures and regret what I looked like on that special day.

Lesson: If there is a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN at a wedding reception, get your skinny butt in the line. If your butt is not as skinny as you want it to be yet, get in line anyway! Tomorrow is another day, and pretty sure there is not a chocolate fountain in it.

Highlight: Having your husband ask you where the new you was on the day you got married, and being able to assure him that you were really in there all the time. Duh. Like he didn't know!

Lesson: A plan can get you through about anything on target—even three hour stop-and-go traffic trying to get over the George Washington Bridge in New York City.

Highlight: Enjoying family, and still feeling comfortable enough with your new lifestyle that you don't feel uncomfortable doing what you need to do to take care of yourself at meals.

Lesson: Tracking and planning the 95% of the time that you CAN, will make up for the 5% of the time when chaos, mayhem, and leftovers make tracking and planning impossible, impractical, or at the very least, no fun.

So there you have it. On August 17th LATE, we returned home. I was refreshed and without regret and I was ready to Giddy-yap into the final 17 weeks on 2010. Of course, that's when the Cowboys and Indians showed up and started to kick up a real dust cloud, but you'll just have to read about that next time, won't you?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pre-Wedding Points--Day 3

Friday was the day before the wedding, and it promised to be extremely busy from beginning to end. I started the day with my planner, trying to make the best plans I could for success. I knew I would not have time for my usual mid-morning snack, so I ate a little more at breakfast, choosing my food carefully so I'd make it to lunch without being starved. I had a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a hard boiled egg. Coffee, of course, goes without saying.

After a morning of decorating and running errands up and down stairs, I arrived back at the hotel for lunch with a big appetite. I allowed for my full six-point lunch, and packed a Fiber One bar for a snack later on in the afternoon. I had determined to keep most of my day normal, even if the evening marked the beginning of the time I'd cordoned off to begin using my flex points.

So what is normal for me lately? Having recently reached my 45 pound goal, my Weight Watchers leader suggested I go ahead and drop my next point. That left me with 21 points a day, and staying within those boundaries is a lot more challenging than I sometimes expect it to be. After a week of frustration, I decided I needed some mental markers to help keep me on track during the day—even if my tracker wasn't with me at all times.

My mental markers are something like the following: Breakfast—2 points; Mid-morning snack—2 points; Lunch—5 points; Mid-afternoon snack—3 points; Dinner—6 points; Before-bed snack—3 points. Of course, these markers are flexible, but they really help on a busy day, and I'm enjoying a lot more success. I don't get surprised so often with fewer points than appetite in the evening.

On Friday evening, I enjoyed a Routin' Tootin' Rehearsal Dinner with all the trimmings. The theme was western, since the bride and groom eventually hope to move out west, and I didn't hear anyone complain about the spread. I sure didn't! My tastebuds danced from my sloppy joe to my coleslaw to my baked beans. I even ate a cupcake! From Friday evening to Saturday evening, I put aside my own journey to walk beside a dear friend as she began a new journey of her own, and successful journeys—as any ex-dieter can attest—are not begun with hopes of a quick sprint to the end, but rather with anticipation of a slow and prosperous sojourn!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Continental Quandaries--Day 2

The continental breakfast. This hotel/motel innovation is both a blessing and a bane—a blessing, because it means one does not have to dress one's entire family and schlep out to Burger King for breakfast, all before a decent cup of coffee. The bane of the continental breakfast comes when one considers the bombardment of the buffet. Normally, I eat very few of my points before noon—on average, about four. This moderate commitment feels fairly impossible in the face of a line-up of toast, English muffins, bagels, danishes, bear claws, muffins, cereal, eggs, sausage, french toast sticks, and a Belgian waffle machine. Again, a plan is very helpful.

Without a plan, I never would have made it past the continental breakfast on Thursday morning. I had made plans to meet two of my friends for coffee at Starbucks on Thursday morning, and I was going to use my two points from breakfast to have a Light Frappacino. This of course meant, that I needed to pass on all of the goodies on the breakfast buffet. I filled my coffee cup, sat with the family, and resisted the urge to deviate from the plan so early in the vacation. My Frappacino tasted a little better because of it, I think.

After meeting my friends and having a wonderful visit, I went back to the hotel
and enjoyed being with my family. At noon, I prepared the meal I'd planned (we had a small kitchenette) and ate accordingly. While the children napped, I took advantage of the fitness center. For 35 minutes I ran like a crazy woman, and made it almost 3 miles. With nearly 350 burned calories banked, I'd racked myself up an extra 7 points. Those points came in handy about 10:00 that night when I was genuinely hungry, and needed to eat a few extra points to get me through. Because I'd stayed active, I didn't have to feel bad about finishing that can of low calorie soup alongside a glass of milk. So far so good.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Skinny on Vacation--Part I

There's nothing like a long vacation to make you appreciate home sweet home! We had a wonderful time traveling to Virginia for Andrea and Paul's wedding, and staying with vacationing with family in Maine was incredible fun. If you're wondering why you haven't heard from me during all that time, it's because though I could construct blogs in my word processor, I was blissfully disconnected from the internet, so I've been saving them up. So here it is, the skinny on how I managed to stay skinny on, even on vacation.

Day 1

In all honesty, as I write, today is not Day 1, it is more like Day 5. Our grand exodus from home took place on Wednesday night (August 4), and the beginning of the week was chalked full of preparations. One can't exactly leave for a two week family sabbatical without some heavy fore-planning. On the same note, one cannot leave on a two week out-of-towner without some serious contemplation in regards to eating and activity—at least not if one desires to return home without extra pounds as souvenirs.

My goal for this vacation has simply been to maintain my weight. I want to enjoy the vacation, and I definitely had every intention of eating wedding cake on my friend's big day. After all, it would be a crime for the Matron of Honor NOT to sample the cake; however, I was determined to track like an angel right up to the rehearsal dinner at 6:00 on Friday. But Friday is Day 3; let's stick with Day 1.

Wednesday, I'm pretty sure I earned some activity points with all that packing and hauling luggage out to the car, but I didn't track or eat any activity points there. That's sure to be a plus. By early afternoon, I had everything packed into the car except the family and the cooler. On Monday and Tuesday I'd taken care of grocery shopping, and I had taken special care to plan for foods that would keep the family and my tracker happy.

When we arrived at our hotel early Thursday morning (we didn't crash until 3am!) I had only eaten 21 points since Wednesday at 7:00 am. Success during this very LONG day was attributable to two things—products and planning.

First of all, I had things in my cooler that were going to help me be successful—water, diet sodas, fiber one bars, Weight Watchers Multi-grain Crisps, fat free yogurts, whole grain pitas, hummos, and hard boiled eggs—just to name a few. Secondly, I had rationed my points during the first part of the day (up until we left) to just what was necessary to stay well fueled with filling foods. I'd had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a three point salad for lunch, and a fiber one bar when I needed a boost in the middle of loading the car.

Secondly, before we left, I took time to plan how often and how much I was going to eat as we traveled. We pulled out at 4:10 in the afternoon, and my tracker pulled out with me. My plan was already written out, to help me stay true to what I WANTED while we traveled. At 5:30, I ate 6 points for dinner in the form of an egg salad pita and an apple. At 7:30, I had my Multi-grain Crisps and a Diet Dr. Pepper. At 10:30, I had one oatmeal raisin cookie and a fat free yogurt. My final three points—a fiber one bar and ½ cup of 1% milk—I held onto for right before bed, so I wouldn't be kept up by the hungries. For the notorious highway munchies, I went armed with a bag of baby carrots.

I won't say I wasn't tempted by gas station goodies, and the aroma of French fries during McDonald's potty stops, but because I had a plan, it was much easier not to sabotage myself in those situations. Mentally I won some battles too, because when I started to have those negative thoughts of deprivation, (you know, “But you're on VACATION! Don't you deserve to have some fun in the form of a big fat greasy burger and a large fry . . .) I was able to make a pretty quick comeback. I was able to remind myself that what was better than the big burger and fries, was not having to pack my big jeans because my life is run by an uncontrollable cycle of food and guilt. Yep. This vacation, I'm running the show—not the value menu!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Interpretation of the Walmart Parable

So this it--what it all MEANS . . .

She went with her son and her daughter while the good man was not at home . . .
1) Get a weight-loss buddy if you can, because it makes the journey easier and more enjoyable. However, if you can't find a buddy, bite the bullet and do what you gotta do.

She, behold was out spending money . . .
2) Don't guilt yourself over the money you have to spend on the program and the products you need to be healthy. Be as frugal as possible, but as I recently discussed, health PROBLEMS cost money too!

She ran her mouth, she made applesauce, she waited . . .
3) Carefully consider the distractions you allow. It is very important to make time for other and to be flexible, but don't get railroaded constantly. If you're not healthy, you can't be there for others; and too much flexibility means you will nearly always fall short of your goals.

Her trip seemed clandestine . . .
4) Even if your weight loss journey seems like a long-shot, DO IT ANYWAY!


She made applesauce . . .
5) When your journey sends you a situation you can't control, do your very best to turn it into something as positive as possible.

She pulled out of the drive at 6:00 . . .
6) Better a late start, than no start at all!

She blocked out visions of what might happen . . .
7) When your journey sends you opposition, don't let your imagination run away with you, and keep on going.

She held on frantically to the donkey's ears . . .
8) Hmm. This is deep. Beyond me. Maybe it has something to do with a Wii game I don't know about yet.

She bought the laxative . . .
9) Preserve regularity in yourself and your loved ones at all costs.

She redirected her cart, creating a strategy . . .
10) When the journey sends you a curve ball, and a soccer ball, and a dodge ball, and a volleyball--get a plan and stay alive!

Sufficiently mortified for the entire month of August . . .
11) Even if the plan is a flop, be humble enough to try again.


He did not close and lock the stall . . .
12) Stall locking good. Closet eating bad.

He stood with his undies around his ankles.
13) There is no lesson here. This simply should not happen.

The juice had been shelved near the wine . . .
14) Success is often found in the most surprising of places.

She tapped her foot and judged while she waited . . .
15) Don't judge another person's weight loss situation. You may not know everything you think you do about their journey.

She lined up her six different orders . . .
16) Do what you have to to succeed, and get it right. Don't apologize for the details that make things turn out well for you in the end.

She endured the glares of people in line behind her . . .
17) Be strong enough to endure misunderstanding. Most of the people who don't get it won't be around when you get where you're going anyway.

She rolled it ALL to the car . . .
18) Adversity equals exercise. Give yourself some activity points!

She replayed the scenarios, and began to draw lessons from each disaster . . .
19) Learn and succeed on the foundations of history.

She blogged about it when she got home . . .
20) Join your Weight Watchers leader on her soapbox and "TRACK! TRACK! TRACK!"

So this is the interpretation of my Wal-mart parable. I hope I can apply some of these helpful (or not) thoughts as I prepare to embark upon our family vacation. My next blog will involve some vacation resolutions, as I really want to come back home having maintained my 45 pound weight loss. I hope I don't suffer from withdrawal next Monday. It will be the first time in 33 weeks that I've missed a meeting. Hopefully, you'll be hearing from me regularly, although with internet access being sketchy, I may have to write entries and then post a few at a time as I'm able. Yep. Gonna stay skinny on vacation even. Wanna come?

The Walmart Parable

In the New Testament, one of Christ's disciples-to-be, responded with a note of cynicism, when informed that the Messiah was currently dwelling in nearby Nazareth. He--Nathanael--said, "Can anything GOOD come out of Galilee?" Well last night, I had to go to Wal-mart, and my sentiments toward the trip were quite similar. I needed more than my customary one or two light items, I was alone with the children, and I was leaving later than I'd planned. Indeed, could anything GOOD come out of a trip to Walmart? Well, here's the parable (and the interpretation thereof) and I leave you to decide.

Once, in the city of Greenville, there was a foolish woman who went to Walmart with her son and her daughter while the good man was not at home. He, behold, was out making the money. She, behold, was out spending the money in preparation for family vacation. She, behold, also needed to fill some WIC vouchers.

The foolish woman tried to leave at 3:30 so that her son and her daughter would not be tired and cranky, and also so that they would be home in time for dinner. Alas, the phone rang at 3:30, and the foolish woman ran her mouth until nearly four. It was now quite clear that they would not be home for dinner, so she altered course, and prepared dinner first. At 4:15, she sat her son and her daughter to the table. They then proceeded to take an hour to eat a slice of pizza.

Between five and five thirty, the foolish woman's foolishness was pressing upon her. Her trip seemed to be clandestine. Her neighbor stopped with more apples than would fit comfortably in her refrigerator. She was still waiting for the children to finish, so why not make applesauce? Then a friend called and asked to stop by briefly, so she waited.

The foolish woman's 2000 Ford donkey pulled out of the drive at 6:00, then onto the freeway, and then into rush hour Woodruff Road traffic. Traffic was so horrific, the donkey lurched from light to light, while the foolish woman held frantically onto the donkey's ears and blocked out visions of what might happen if she rear-ended someone two days before their vacation.

They finally arrived at Wal-mart unscathed. Moving quickly with her cart, the woman breezed onto the laxative aisle, only to find that the small size of the medicine she needed to assure her son's regularity was completely out of stock. This left only the $10.00 bottle to consider. Grumbling, she tossed it into the cart and moved onto the diaper aisle and then into the grocery department.

When the cart was laden with Miralax, diapers, 3 gallons of milk, eggs, and cheese, the woman's son started doing the potty dance. No, he simply could not wait. Groaning, the woman re-directed the cart toward the bathroom, already creating a bathroom strategy in her mind. You see, it is not permissible for one to bring one's buggy into the bathroom once it has groceries in it. The woman's daughter had footy pajamas on, and thus could not stand or walk on the floor, and thus her necessity to remain in the cart. A conundrum ensued.

The outcome of the conundrum found the foolish woman standing in the door of the bathroom, with her cart wedged half in and half out of the entrance, shouting instructions at her four-year-old son, who then pretended to forget everything he ever knew about independent bathroom going. He did not close and lock the stall door. Rather he greeted every woman who walked by the open door. He did not believe his mother when she assured him that these toilets were not self flushing. Rather he stood outside the abandoned stall with his undies around his ankles and his hands over his ears.

Now sufficiently mortified for the entire month of August, the foolish woman carried on. Thirty minutes later, the woman had all of her groceries except juice. The new super-Wal-mart management had surreptitiously placed it next to the wine. Victorious at last, the woman marched into a line--behind four other people with a zillion groceries and even more issues . . . or so she judged as she tapped her foot and waited.

And she was judged accordingly. When it finally got to be her turn, she lined up her six different orders on the conveyor belt--four WIC, the diapers out of one account, and the other groceries out of another. On the second order, the computer rejected her Cream of Wheat. Ten minutes later, the manager told me her she could not have the Cream of Wheat on her WIC order, even though it was marked WIC on the shelf, and was the same box pictured on the WIC pamphlet.

Too tired to battle any longer, the woman moved the Cream of Wheat to her regular order, endured the glares of the people in line behind her, smiled and thanked the cashier and manager and rolled it all--groceries, pocketbook, kids--to the car. On the way home, she replayed the scenarios in her head, and began to draw possibly helpful lessons from each disaster, and thus, yes, something good did actually come out of Walmart.

So yeah, this is when all ya'll "disciples" get to ask me what in the world I'm talking about, and what it has to do with weight loss. "The Interpretation of the Wal-mart Parable" is coming up next!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pinching Pennies on Plan

This weekend, we had just finished a trip to the grocery store, when my four-year-old son pointed to the gas cap on our van, and asked "Dad, do you put gas or money in there?" My husband and I exchanged glances, and I mumbled under my breath, "Just tell him gas or we'll be paying the big bucks to get the contents of his piggy bank siphoned out of the gas tank." Technically though, the answer was both gas AND money, and that got me thinking.


You all know why it took me so long to join Weight Watchers, as that was recently discussed; however, I think for a lot of people it has to do with money. There's that registration fee, and then the weekly or monthly cost. Let's put it into perspective though. If not Weight Watchers, than what? A gym membership? That's not free. Or maybe some miracle gizmo or pill off the shopping channel? In the long run, by the time you try something new every couple of months, because the last thing just didn't work, you probably would have paid less and weighed less on plan. And that pesky registration fee? Weight Watchers runs specials all the time that take care of that little problem.

The other thought that occurred to me, is that staying overweight for an extended period of time can lead to any number of health problems--diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholestorol, etc. Seeing a doctor isn't cheap. Even with good insurance, there are usually co-pays. And what about the medications, or God-forbid, trips to the emergency room or hospital stays? You definitely don't get those for $40.00 a month.

Still, budget issues are very real. You don't have to tell me that. Our bacon was severely trimmed when I stopped working the beginning of this month. First, I had to get past the temptation to drop out of the program to save money. No, I concluded quickly, the program is helping to keep me healthy, and I'm just going to look at it like a pill. I was fortunate not to have to take an anti-depressant after my health episode, but just as a side note, those things cost $25.00 a month to fill anyway.

Next, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that it was very possible to stay on plan with a diminished pantry; it just not might be as diverse and interesting for a while. I had to decide I was going to be happy with FULL and HEALTHY; albeit, not tremendously tasty. I suppose that's comparable to being happy just wearing your same old shoes for a while, even though they technically need to be replaced.

And yes, it is possible to be FULL if you concentrate on what you need (filling foods) and not necessarily what you might want. For instance, what about those five or more servings of vegetables and fruits we're supposed to have everyday. Fresh produce can get pricey. Well, try this. It's been my saving grace the last couple of weeks. Look for sales on canned fruits (light syrup or water) and vegetables. If you shop around, you can usually get a sale or generic brand for 50 to 70 cents a can. Those cans usually have about three 1/2 cup servings in them. Open three or four different items, put them in storage containers, and use them to round out your meals. The veggies especially are mostly 0 points for one serving, and they can help add substance to an otherwise cost effective--though perhaps not point effective--meal. Anotherwards, you can have 8 points worth of cheap pizza, a 1/2 cup of green beans, and a 1/2 cup of sweet corn, and still not be hungry in an hour.

In any case, don't look at a budget crisis as an impossible obstacle, but as a new opportunity to practice creative problem-solving. Hey, even if times get better, you may have learned some tricks that will save you pennies later on!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sarah Suess on Diets

While caught in the midst of my adipose arms,
I found myself victim to growing alarms--
For my feet had gone missing, as well as my toes,
So what was left walking, one just cannot know.
My chest was abreast with my belly and chin,
And where my thighs ended, my buns did begin--
Oh yes, I concluded, I must not rest quiet,
Now was the time to try out a diet.

So first I tried counting (they say it's the thing),
I counted the carbies in EV-ER-Y-THING!
I counted the fat grams in chips and blue cheese
And stayed far away from transfat disease.
I counted rogue calories just with a look
And shucks, if I couldn't, I had a handbook!
If it was a food here on God's green earth
I knew just precisely how much it was worth!

I lost ten and gained twenty on each of these diets,
So help, I concluded, I'd just have to BUY it.
Henceforth I was off the the GNC store,
To consider the supplements, smoothies and more,
And in months that followed, I went with my whims,
I tried diet patches; I tried Dexatrim;
I gambled with Stacker—a carb blocker too--
When you're desperate, there isn't much you won't do.

Then, since I was sampling all I could swallow,
It only made sense, liquid diets should follow.
Did you know with an adequate dose of Green Tea
You could lose umpteen inches and get on TV?
And Slim Fast they say, is the way to lose weight
If you won't gag on flavors that taste like fish bait.
And finally, finally—if you'll just try it--
You can lose half yourself on the lemonade diet!

But if drinking stuff just isn't for you
You can eat cheese and sausage and get skinny too.
Dr. Atkins you see, before he dropped dead,
Promoted ketosis, moving weight loss ahead.
While psyching those fat cells right out of their stores
Cholesterol partied and started some wars
The kidney stones rallied; and cancer cells cheered,
But hey, I lost weight, so it can't be too weird.

Three months later; however, I gained it all back,
I had to admit, I was all out of whack
So I went on vacation to get out of the trench
I flew out of country and tried eating French.
For you see, there's no place quite like Paris to dine,
And they all stay skinny just drinking red wine.
Antioxidants practically flee from the tables!
At least, that's the rumor from localized fables.

From France I flew to South Beach like a goose
Where I balanced protein with liberal cous-cous,
You really should try it now, if you can fly it--
The New South Beach Mediterranian diet.
For here's a great balance of old and of new,
You can even have pasta and bread past Phase 2!
But oh, did I mention, you have to be rich,
To stay stocked in ricotta and omega-3 fish.

So tired was I of the shopping and cooking
I saw Nutri-system and found myself booking.
I pulled out my Mastercard, sealing my fate
But wouldn't it ROCK; they'd FED-EX me my plate!
That chick on the TV said she was size two,
So surely this gig would be my answer too
But after 12 weeks (and my free week. Whoopee),
I wasn't a two, nor was likely to be.

Oh forget all these diets, and programs, and gimmicks,
I'll go to Gold's gym and I'll run and I'll kick
And I'll sit-up and push-up and jump-up and knee-up
And eat a good dinner and responsibly throw-up.
On alternate weeks, there's bananas and rice,
I've heard special K and grapefruits are nice,
And it may seem extreme, but I've thought about marrying
My trainer, who's also a strict vegetarian.

So I've gone to extremes! Oh what can I say?
Hear me when I tell you, it's just not the way.
I can say with relief, inner me is now out
But a diet's just not what the journey's about.
Learn from moderation; stay active; stay whole;
Don't eat but the portion that's there in your bowl.
For health is a lifestyle, a way you must be,
Where health is a choice—a choice made by ME.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Credit Where Credit is Due

Very rarely do I sit down to blog and have little or no idea what I'm going to blog about, but today is one of those days. I am just determined that July is not going to turn into another month of me having very little to say, because there is so much going on right now. Today's blog is simply going to have to be a little bit of stream-of-consciousness.

This weekend, the kids and I took a road trip with some friends, to surprise a friend in Virginia. We are in her wedding in a few weeks, but she and the groom had two showers this weekend, and we thought it might be fun to show up unannounced. It was an excellent surprise, and overall, I did great with points. I stayed active even though I was out of town, and I saved my flex points for the wedding showers. I even took my own lettuce along.

My downfall came on the trip home, when I hadn't been able to pack food as carefully, and we were on the road for 12 hours, and we were left at the mercy of gas stations for nurishment. Yes, pretty sure I used all of this week's flex points on Monday. Add that to the arrival of my monthly friend, and the scale was not kind at Tuesday morning's weigh in.

However, the scale was also not cruel in the outrageous degree. I had only gained 1.2 pounds, and I'm fairly sure after standing on the scale this morning, that it's gone already. The victory over the last month has really been in maintaining. I have had health problems. I have had major life changes. The life changes are far from over. And yes, now my little girl is passing through some difficult times and she needs her mommy. Still, at my June 21st weigh in, I weighed exactly the same as I did yesterday. Sometimes the biggest victories are in the moments when the waves of life hit you in quick succession, yet they don't push you back.

I can't take personal credit here. In fact, I think it's time to hark back to one of my earliest blogs, in which I invoked the help of Almighty God in my journey to lose this weight. Let's give credit, where credit is due. To put it in the words of one of my favorite old hymns, "Jesus led me all the way." Now people may roll their eyes here, and say, now what does faith have to do with the size of your hips? Everything.

Weight loss is a journey that starts on the inside and shows up on the outside. In Hebrews, we read "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Somehow, I don't think the writer was make a direct reference to the universal pool of dieters who were and would be throughout all time; however, the general principal definitely applies. Faith is the inward force that, heavenly directed, addresses the thoughts of the mind and the attitudes of the heart, that then express themselves in tangible actions.

The mind says, "But I'm a good, albeit round, person who DESERVES that brownie sundae."
Faith answers, "You are precious in My Sight, and it would please Me if you did not get heart disease and pass into eternity prematurely."
The heart says, "But I've had a terrible, no good, very bad day, and I really need three quarters of this pizza to FEEL BETTER."
Faith answers, "I made today, and I know all about it. Look to me for your emotional needs, and not that greasy wedge of cardboard!"

No doubt, I could fill pages with like conversations; however, nothing serves as a better testimony to the truth, than the actual TESTIMONIAL. I could not have lived through the last six months without knowing that I would not walk through a single step of my journey alone. On the mountain tops, when I reached yet another goal--either in my choices or on the scale, I looked out from the mountain top and rejoiced "I will lift my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help." And in the valleys when, due to circumstance or choice, nothing went as planned, I remembered "though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with His Hand!"

I thank God for the victory He has given me in weight loss, not only because of the weight loss, but because during this season of challenges (my own anxiety, my daughter's illness) the tremendous experiences of the last six months offer so much reassurance. HE IS ABLE! And I? As I know from Philippians, "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Humble Enough to Be Rescued

"Humble Enough to be Rescued." This phrase is the one with which I was confronted when I started to argue with health professionals about their strong suggestions for me to make lifestyle changes after my recent nervous breakdown. “But, but, but,” I said, “But people are DEPENDING on me. I can't just drop everything because I'm having a health problem!” Yada. Yada. Yada. And that's when I was put squarely in my place. Just be humble enough to be rescued.

And it did take humility to accept where I was, to walk away from commitments, to let other people field jobs that I took pride in doing, and to admit that I HAD LIMITATIONS. The humility to be rescued? This was not my forte. As a damsel, if I happened to be locked in a tower with a dragon at the door, I had it under control. When the knight showed up, if I bothered to page him, I was bound to tell him to stand aside, because I had just a few good ideas about how to get this job done.

As a damsel of 32, it seems I still have quite a few things left to learn. I had more than a dragon at my door, I had a whole nest of them, and they seemed quite determined to stay. Some I could expel by choice; some I would have to patiently starve; some I would have to leave entirely to others. Again, in the midst of it all—the breakdown, my closing business, my gambit of emotions, my daughter suffering a seizure—I drew encouragement from my weight loss experience.

After all, isn't “humble enough to be rescued” exactly where I was the first time I walked into a Weight Watchers meeting? All on my own, I had tried it all. I had counted calories, fat grams, and carbs. I had taken pills, elixirs, and vitamins. I had done aerobics, strength training, and karate. I had prayed, addressed the heavens, and made deals with the evening star--all to no avail. In my mind, Weight Watchers was a last ditch effort for people who had failed in every other way. When I went to my first meeting, I was admitting defeat. And yes, I was asking to be rescued.

Well, so far the rescue has turned out pretty doggone good, since as of my Tuesday meeting, I am down 44.2 pounds, and I am very excited that in 2.8 more pounds, I will be 10 pounds from my lifetime goal, and in a position to apply as a Weight Watchers receptionist. I am starting to feel excited about the possibility of helping other people like I have been helped, and if you're out there reading, don't make the mistake I did. Weight Watchers is not a last ditch effort for people who have failed in every other way. What Weight Watchers can be, is the first ditch effort of people who don't want to have to fail in every other way.

So whether you're a duke or a damsel, and whatever your dragons may be, don't be afraid to be humble enough to be rescued. Join the human race. Truth is, everybody's been there or going there, and anyone who says otherwise is lying! And don't forget the upside to this adventure tale. The upside to being humble enough to be rescued, is that you have the opportunity to realize how many people in your life love you enough to come running when you call for help. Now there's a shot in the arm!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Masquerading as Wonder Woman

Sadly, despite all my good intentions for June, I hit an all time low when it came to blog entries, success and sanity. So readers, forgive me, it has been a month since my last blog-fession. I promise to try to do better in July. If I had to offer an excuse for June's absenteeism, I would say only this. I kept waiting for it all to turn funny. You've probably noticed by now, making hard things funny is how I deal. Well, weeks kept passing, and I still wasn't laughing. I'm still not.

The truth is, I've been masquerading as Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman finally crashed. The descent from the heavens totaled her wardrobe, and as it turns out, you can't replace red spandex just anywhere. Walmart certainly doesn't carry it. But seriously (SEE, here I am trying to be funny again), I have always been an extremely goal oriented person. In fact, I have been called the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” by some; however, an individual can only go great-guns for so long, before the body decides to put the breaks on.

That, all considered, is exactly what had happened to me on the Tuesday, June 8th, when I ended up in the Emergency Room with all the classic symptoms of a heart attack. I felt absolutely ridiculous when they sent me home with a clean bill of health and instructions to rest. I felt even more ridiculous when the Adavan that they gave me in the ER to help me rest, sent me to a different planet for the next 24 hours—a planet on which I probably could have purchased red spandex. According to my mother, I spoke Spanish to her all the way home.

And it didn't end there. My two year old daughter sat on my lap that night and fed me dinner. My son asked me what I was doing out of bed every time I emerged from the bedroom. I received replies to e-mails that I do not recall sending. I wept over the deaths of tiny insects. On Thursday, I returned to my usual schedule, but all was not well. My church sent me meals for two nights, which was a tremendous boon, as suddenly the construction of a simple salad seemed like rocket science. What was WRONG with me?!

Well, the truth was a whole lot harder to swallow than the Adavan had been. Fact one: I had experienced a nervous breakdown. Fact two: I had developed an anxiety related problem that was not going to disappear simply because I wanted too. Monday morning, I reported to the doctor for my ER mandated follow-up, and I left thinking, “well that was all very nice, but now I need some practical suggestions!” You see, though I was profoundly glad she did not want to medicate me just yet (and there's not a thing wrong with that), her primary three suggestions were 1) change professions, 2) take a vacation, and 3) get some regular counseling until you're through this.

YEAH RIGHT! But with another appointment scheduled in two weeks, and being a chronic people pleaser, I hired help for the following week and planned a stay-ca-tion. During that stay-ca-tion, I made an appointment to see her recommend counselor. Two out of three isn't bad. At least when I went back, it would look like I was being a good little mental case. By the time the Tuesday rolled around that I was scheduled to see the counselor, it had been two weeks since the ER, and I thought I was doing SOOOO much better. But then.

Then it all shattered again. As soon as I started to talk about it—watching six kids for the last years, keeping up with the house, a husband with a full-time job and in school full-time, financial strain, and all the many other things that I felt were spinning out of control—I just lost it. Suddenly, I was right back where I was two weeks ago. I felt like someone was sitting on my chest. My heart hammered my back bone. My hands were clammy. My arms were weak. My breath was short. My head was absolute static.

The counselors conclusion was excruciating for me. I would have to give up my child care business—MY KIDS. I could not continue doing what I was doing and expect to recover; in fact, his prognosis for me if I continued was grim. I would be in a state of shut-down by the end of July. I needed to make a change, and I needed to do it quickly. I can not express to you the feeling of failure that hung over me as I left his offer. I was failing my customers, failing my husband, failing my children. I couldn't quit. I just couldn't.

But I did. Partially, because I didn't have any strength left to fight, but also partially because I knew this. If I didn't get better, I would fail entirely—in mind and in body and in spirit. And if I failed in those ways, I really would fail the people that mattered most to me.

Well, as you can imagine, it's been a hard month for Wonder Woman. I'll be staying on the ground for a while, but everything has worked out, and I am gradually feeling ever so much better. I am starting to find the humor in things again—starting to feel a bit more myself. The changes have all been for the good, and what I know for sure now, is that I am NOT the only one who has passed through this valley. I hope that talking about it will help someone out there. I am learning to catch myself in the negative thought processes that cause my anxiety, and turn the tide for the good—and that's something I definitely want to talk more about in the weeks to come— the positive thoughts we need to stay afloat in the midst of our anxieties, be they job related, child related, spouse related, check-book related, or yeah. Food related.

But actually, here's a positive thought, and one that was a shining light through all these trials and tribulations. Through it all, the one thing I could say that I had not failed at was my weight loss. I still stuck to the plan. One week (the week of my birthday—that's another blog in the making) I even gained about four pounds, but I did not give up. During a time when everything seemed dark, I could hang on to that one thread of success. That was important.

So. A couple days ago when I was wandering around the mall with my daughter in the stroller, and I saw this great set of gold-wristlets that looked like they could definitely deflect a few bullets—be proud of Wonder Woman. She kept on walking.