Monday, December 26, 2011

Cutting Myself Off

Tomorrow I am cutting myself off. The eating must stop. At least the kind of eating I've been doing. The holidays have been killers this year. I feel like I have been perpetually too full since I came home from the hospital with my newborn son on November 23rd, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. I did fairly well controlling my intake for about a week, and then the fatigue from being up around the clock to nurse Noah blurred my senses, and I started to eat for all kinds of reasons that felt vaguely familiar. I had a sensation of dajavu as I ate because I was bored, because the TV was on, because I'd eaten a meal so fast I forgot to taste, because I was lonely, because the food looked good, because the food was there, and because no one was looking. Surely if no one was looking, it didn't count. Those are the kinds of mindsets that had me at 210 pounds in 2009, and desperate to lose weight. I've heard it said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, so here I am to learn!

Currently, I have no concrete plan, other than to get back on the weight watchers program that I came to know so well in 2010. That I have no plan yet is significant, since I am the kind of person who has a list for everything. So what's the problem? Well, YOU try having a new born who eats every two to three hours, a busy five year old boy and three year old girl, home schooling, keeping house, doing laundry, and having a house on the market--all at once--and see how effectively you construct a list. Heck. If you can do all that and manage not to lose your list paper by ten in the morning, I want to know your secret!

Today, my only goal was to open up my old blog, and be reminded of how it all started. What I saw there, was that I really didn't have a well thought out plan back in 2009 either. The blog was a way to clarify--to start on a journey that didn't have concrete direction. So that's the plan. I'm going to start reading the old blogs, make one change at a time, and slowly return to the lifestyle habits that transformed me from a 210 pound-sedentary-size 20, into a 146 pound-active-and-athletic size 8/10.

So what's change #1? I'm going on a goody-fast. Although I do also plan to get back on the scale and back on Weight Watchers tomorrow, I don't expect perfection out of myself this week. My schedule with a hungry newborn is very challenging, but I know that cutting all the sweets, cookies, and desserts out of my life for the next month will likely accomplish two things. 1) It will automatically diminish the amount of points I'm taking in and leave me more points for good filling foods. 2) I know for a fact I've developed some sugar addiction issues that are only going to go away if the sweets do, so

Adios chocolate, stocking stuffers, cookies, left over Halloween candy, stollen, pumpkin pie, coffee cake, ice cream, baklava, pecan pie, whipped cream, ginger snaps, brownies, syrup, cheesecake, doughnuts, danishes, fritters, hot cocoa, fudge . . .

You get the idea. Until I regain some self control, yep, I am cutting myself off.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From Becky to Reba

Well, I'm very behind on introductions, but there's someone I would really like all you readers to meet. She's a friend and reader of mine, who back in January, decided to start a journey of her own. Everybody, meet Becky!

Now, Becky is my 2011 hero, because she has set out to do something that I know isn't easy—she's out to find her skinny jeans. I know she's going to be successful; in fact, I am saving my very own collection of descending jeans (size 20 to current) to pass on to her. I'm excited to go back, share some of her story, give you a link to her blog, and get you to cheer her on, just like you've done for me!

A couple weeks into January, I got a message from Becky. She'd been reading about my crazy life for a year, and somehow I hadn't scared her away. She was done letting the scale's needle of doom write her story for her. She was ready to be healthy and in control. Yes, deep down, she was ready. However, Becky and I are kindred brains. Just as my brain had required a few weeks to warm up to the idea of a lifestyle change, Becky's brain also needed some coaxing.

Consequently, we had our first meeting in the Valley of the Shadow of Caffeine and Sugar. Starbucks was a nice neutral locations, with no commitments necessary, outside of a frappacino. We talked and LAUGHED for a long-time, more and more convinced that our stomachs might have been separated at birth. I recognized the fear in Becky's eyes, the ice-cold gripping fear of FAILURE. Well, ok, maybe the “ice-cold” part is an over-dramatization of the frappacino, but I did remember all too well, the cynicism that had gripped me as I'd begun my endeavors the year before.

When we left the Starbucks, Becky's only two assignment for the next 10 days were 1) to think about all the positive changes that weight-loss would bring into her life and 2) not to go into oh-my-goodness-I'm-starting-a-diet-in-10-days-!- mode and eat like her life was coming to an end. This mandate perhaps gave way to our best laugh of the day, because she looked at me wide-eyed, and said, “YOU! Get OUT of my head!”

And I knew that was what she was thinking, because that is exactly what I would have been thinking. Ten days later, she arrived at my house to do our first Wii Weight-in. She had already cut way back on sodas and dropped three pounds. In the eight weeks since, she has started a blog, burned up a whole bunch of calories at twice weekly Zumba class, learned a bunch, and lost 22 pounds! Before I know it, she's gonna be ready for my jeans!

So, hop on over to, and watch Becky melt into Reba. This time next year, the twin brains, and their tamed twin stomachs, are gonna rock twin skinny jeans!

So What Now?

You're going to think I'm crazy, but if you've been reading my blog for any period of time, and it has taken you this long to come to that conclusion, you're a little slow anyway. Why will you think I'm crazy? Because after the day of the big race, and after I had schlepped (o.k., so it was a fast schlep), and after I had hung out in the hot sun waiting for all my buddies to finish their events . . . I was still up at 5:30 am the next morning; because I just HAD to see the sun come up over Myrtle Beach one time before I went home.

Indeed, after my race, I had found myself stumbling toward the TNT tent in somewhat less than a straight line. I was a bit dehydrated, and in all honesty, it took me about an hour to drink, eat, and rest enough to start feeling excited about what I had accomplished. I started making phone calls and texts, and just enjoying the activity going on around me. For more than an hour, I sat on the barrier near the finish line—observing others as they finished, and waiting for Cathy and Easterlan to finish walking 26.2 miles.

The next morning, as I watched the sky blush with the approach of the sun, I started to consider what would be next for me. This year I've lost more weight than I ever thought possible, I've become more healthy and active than I ever dreamed, and though I've faced some emotional and psychological issues along the way, I'm emerging a stronger person. What is it I want to do next? How do I make it all stick?

Now, I don't know how many of you ever looked at your high school grammar teacher and said, “When am I ever going to use this in real life anyway?” Well, that moment is about to come, if you consider the subject from the teacher's point of view. The first year I taught grammar, I had a cracker-jack 7th grade. They were all SO smart. I knew from day one, if I didn't stay on top of my game, they were all going to make fools of me. The thing that surprised me, was that as I TAUGHT the grammar, I LEARNED the grammar on a more dimensional level.

Oddly enough, I think that's my answer here too. I've lost the weight. I've run the race. I'm learning to live with the occasional panic attack. Now, I want to take what I've learned and help as many people as I can, to accomplish the same goals in their lives. I know what it is to transform on the outside, but I also know that the transformation starts on the inside. I want to be a friend and a mentor, to people who will in turn succeed, and to become friends and mentors themselves.

The sun rose that morning, weightless, into a clear blue sky. I left the beach enlightened, and with a renewed sense of clarity. In my bag, I had seashells for my children. This is my 100th post. In my bag, I have seashells for my children.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mile by Mile: the Half-Marathon

Mile One—And the runner's are off! As I past over the starting line, my MP3 player was streaming “We are the poets/we are the dreamers/we are the soldiers,we are the screamers; we want the fallen to rise again . . .” The song choice was random, just the next thing in the playlist, but so appropriate. Surrounding me were people of all walks of life, ages, and sizes—an ocean of differences and likenesses, cresting the same challenge. The first mile was all emotion and awe of the race. My heart rate climbed, first from excitement and then from exertion.

Mile Two—So much to see! The pack thinned just slightly, and I struggled through the first twinge of hard work that comes at the beginning of a long run. The twinge was more mental than physical, because I knew I still had so far to go. Part way through this mile, we rounded our first ninety degree curve to head east toward the long stretch of Highway 17. The sight was inspirational—a rainbow of runners stretched out into the distance as far as I could see.

Mile Three—Water station! Every two miles of the race, volunteers line the side of the road and filled tables full of cups with water and Power-Ade. Then, as the river of runner's swept by, the volunteers held cups out to our sweaty hands. We took what they gave us greedily, chugged it down, and tossed the cups aside. The first water stop was just one of many mile markers during the race, and at that point I began to pace myself according to water stops—two miles running, and two miles of intervals.

Mile Four—Don't eat the power gel! Around the beginning of mile four, I started to feel hungry, so I pulled out my Espresso Flavored Power Gel. Uuuuuuh. First mistake (and learning experience) of the day. I hadn't trained with power gel, and apparently you're not supposed to try anything new on race day, so I should have stuck with fiber one bars. My insides rebelled for the rest of the race, but they didn't stop me from keeping on, keeping on. The race was about endurance, and gastric pain was now just part of the enduring.

Mile Five—Starting into mile five, I had good news from the time clock. Having done so much training at the track, it was really hard for me to gauge how I was doing pace-wise. As I approached the end of my fourth mile, I saw a time clock on the side of the road that read 37 minutes and a few seconds. I knew then that I was keeping a good pace—a normal pace for me. My mind set at ease, I settled in and really enjoyed the fifth mile. For a while I kept pace with 70 year old Aldrick Smith who had been running marathon events for many years. We exchanged encouraging words and after a while, went our separate ways.

Mile Six—Three minutes waiting for Jon. Arg. At the five mile station, I just had to stop and use the Port-a-Jon. My time was still less than 10 minutes per mile, so it broke my heart, but my body was making it clear that it was not running another step without a potty stop. Of course, I had to wait my turn, so by the time I rejoined the race, the clock was at nearly 52 minutes. I increased my pace, hoping to make up some of the lost time.

Mile Seven—Up and back. As we approached the end of the Highway 17 stretch, I pictured the race map in my mind, and I knew we would turn temporarily west and double-back east again, until we got to Ocean Boulevard. The neat part about this portion of the race is that as you ran west you could see all the runners on the other side of the grassy median heading east. At one point, I was touched to see a husband and wife who looked to be in their late 60's, meet in the median, kiss, and check on one another's progress. They spoke briefly, then she continued east and he continued west. They were together in purpose, even if they weren't at the same point of the race. I think there's a deeper lesson in that somewhere.

Mile Eight—Celebrity runner! The sun was up now—warm and golden—but a flamboyant sea breeze kept us cool. I zipped my runner's vest to keep it from catching the wind and resisting my forward motion. The last thing I need was a “sail” pushing me in the wrong direction. To the contrary, when I reached the water stop, I was feeling the need for some wind in my sails. So. God bless the person who handed me my Power-Ade as I stepped into mile nine and said, “Go Liz Taylor! You can do it!” Let me tell you, that did it for me. If I could run eight miles, sweat like a pig, be red in the face, and still have someone think I looked like young Liz in my running gear and sunglasses; by golly, I could finish this thing!

Mile Nine—All about finishing now! We had made the big turn north onto Ocean Blvd, and between the buildings and businesses, we caught glimpses of the ocean. We were now running parallel to the beach, and it was hard not to think how easy it would be to detour into the sand and sunshine. The road was lined with spectators and well-wishers, and at one point, I had someone hand me a business coupon attached to a string of red Mardi-Gras beads. I knew I'd be taking that home to Maggie!

Mile Ten—Getting close! I knew that mile nine and ten would be my last two mile stretch of solid running, and believe me, I was starting to count MP3 player songs on my fingers. I knew that at my pace, approximately three songs would play per mile. I had to focus on the music, to keep my mind off the muscle pain that was beginning to break my concentration.

Mile Eleven—Gluttimous Panimous, Calfimous Strainimous! It is very fair to say that my backside has never hurt so much in my entire life—and that includes the season of life that involved the board of education on the seat of learning. My legs were lead; my calves were rocks. My belly was reliving the gel. My thoughts were becoming disconnected, but I saw the left turn sign for the half-marathoners, and my mind acknowledged the home stretch.

Mile Twelve—A painful blur. I turned every small corner, willing the department of transportation signs to be the red flag announcing mile 13. And then there was pain. Yep, pain. Not much else to report.

Mile Thirteen—As I approached that longed for red flag at mile thirteen, I had begun to tell myself that I could just ease off for the finale, but then I saw the time clock. It read 2:04:04. And I knew that I could finish this race in 2:15. I had to try. So I started to push. My legs refused to register a faster pace than the music, so I started to “chase the rabbit.” I would pick a runner 10 feet in front of me and push hard to catch up, and then I did it again and again. I wasn't even seeing people anymore. I knew that because one of my “rabbits” was Aldrick Smith from Mile 5, and I wouldn't have even realized I passed him, if he hadn't cheered me on.

IN THE SHOOT! Suddenly metal barriers thinned the run-way from the size of the whole road, to a black carpet pointing the way to the finish line. Vaguely, I saw the people lining either side, cheering us on! I felt like the shoot went on forever, but finally I saw the finish, and I willed my legs to keep chugging forward. Somehow my arms shot into the air as I passed over the line. Through a fog of exhaustion and finality, I looked down a saw the finisher's metal dangling from my neck—sparkling in the sunshine. I had run a good race. I had finished the course. Now where was the water table?!

Off to the Races!

O.k. So we fell asleep to pixie-dust dreams, but both Larissa and I slept like it was the night before the big test. The alarm went off at 4:15, and though I'd set an alarm for a five minute snooze, there wasn't going to be any snoozing this morning. I dragged off the covers and made a b-line for the coffee pot. My brain was in high-gear, but my body wasn't moving fast. I hoped that would change before the race gun popped at 6:30.

At 5:00, we met the Team-in-Training Group in the Lobby, enjoyed a light breakfast, and took lots of pictures. I got my first stretch in, because I was really worried that I would FORGET to stretch in all the excitement. Around 5:30, we all boarded a shuttle that took us to the starting line.

I have never seen anything like what I saw when I got off that bus. There were people everywhere, and the air was laced with excitement. I walked over to the bag check with another runner named Lucy. She was with TNT, and she was also doing her first half marathon just like me. After bag check, Cathy, Easterlan, and I exchanged good luck wishes and headed to our separate starting lines.

The next fifteen minutes were super-charged. People were prancing in the chill air, getting in last minutes stretches, glancing at their watches. Finally, the countdown to the starting cannon came. In a moment, thousands of sneakers launched forward, finally released to do what they had come to do.

The Show's on the Road

Friday morning, February 18th, found me restless and out of bed 7:15. For the past three nights I'd dreamed crazy anticipatory dreams, all tinged with doom. I dreamed I'd lost earrings. I dreamed we got to the race and couldn't find a place to park no matter how long we looked. Yes, it was time to do this thing. My suitcase was packed, and I was ready to get going. I had done all I could to prepare, and I was ready to find out what I was made of.

By ten o'clock, I was leaded up on thick coffee. The dishes were done, we'd taken a family walk, and my bags were out on the porch. Around 10:20, a gray Prius pulled into the drive, and I got to meet walking Coach Cathy for the first time. We'd been e-mailing a bit, and I already had the idea that she had a great sense of humor. She'd warned me that she drove slowly; I'd written back that as long as I didn't have to feed her goldfish crackers and wipe apple juice off her chin, she could drive as slow as she wanted to. A few minutes before her arrival, she texted me not to forget the goldfish and apple juice. Yes, we were going to get along fine.

Also riding along with us was another new friend to me, Easterlan Rumer. Myrtle Beach was going to be a “first” for both of us—only she was walking the full-marathon. And I, I was secretly hoping to come away from this race a runner. After nearly six weeks of power-walking and resting my knee, I had started to feel stronger again. I'd gradually worked back to running by alternating power-walking with running in intervals, and in the final week of training, I was running strong three and four miles at a time. I was going to try to run.

Soon, the bags were loaded. I had kissed Wade and my little people. Now came the adventure. In the hours that followed, Cathy, Easterlan, and I visited, laughed, and talked about the race. The weather was beautiful, and unlike last year's MB marathon that was canceled due to snow, we were supposed to have a gorgeous day in which to sweat! By the time we drove over the city limits, I was extremely excited about everything to come. Enthusiasm replaced all the anxiousness that I had felt over the past weeks.

When we arrived, it should be noted that no nightmare was allowed to creep into our adventure. We promptly found parking. I had left all my earrings at home, so that I could not lose one. Our first destination was the runner's convention, and I was about to get an education. I learned about sweat-wicking clothing and headbands; I learned about enery drinks, gels, and chews; I learned about cast away hand warmers; I learned about runner's socks and body glide. I learned that I was runner 4775.

We left the convention officially registered for the next day's event. We had our race bibs, our timing chips, our shirts, and our free Myrtle Beach towels. With our luggage now increased, we checked into the Sheraton and found our rooms. Cathy and Easterlan were on the 8th floor, and I was on the 9th. Off to meet my roommate, Larissa!

I was the first one to arrive in the room, but Larissa was only about five minutes behind me. She was a very pleasant person, about my age, and also running the half-marathon for the first time. She was in Myrtle Beach with family, but wanted to stay with the group in the hotel. We both had just enough time to get settled, before heading off to the Team-in-Training Pasta Party!

What a racket greeted us! All the mentors and coaches were standing in the doorway of the Ballroom blowing whistles and clanging cowbells. They were already cheering us on! The room was dim-lit and comfortable, and we were seated at round tables that made getting to know folks easy. We got to sit with the Landreth family, and I enjoyed getting to see Caden again. Her father was running his first marathon the next day, and he was also the inspirational speaker.

Back at the room, my belly was full (maybe a little TOO full), and I started to lay out my clothes for the next day. We would have to be up EARLY, so I didn't want to have to think too hard about what needed to be done before I headed to the lobby to meet the group. I tried on my new socks and pants, and I experimented with different layers of clothing. I hooked my race bib and my MP3 player to my light-weight belt. I laid out my gloves, my headband, and my sunglasses. I read a few chapters of the Psalms and thanked God for bringing me to this point.

I was as ready as I was ever going to be, so I crawled into bed and fluffed the pillow. About that time, Cathy sent me a “Goodnight John Boy” text, so I knew they were headed to bed as well. It was 9:30. As I drifted to sleep, I felt like I was a part of something really good, with a lot of good people, for a really good reason. Now that's the way to drift off on the night before the big race.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Locked in with Leslie

Alternate title: Snowed in with my refrigerator. Seriously, enough with the wintery weather already! On December 23rd, the family piled into our aging van and headed to Virginia for the Christmas holiday. We'd been anticipating the trip for some time, and since Wade and I spent the whole week prior to departure nursing sick children, we both just felt thankful to be leaving according to schedule.

While I was looking forward to getting out of town and enjoying a change of pace, I had a plan in place to ensure that my training would stay on track. True to those plans, I dutifully set out on the afternoon of the 24th and walked 5.5 miles. It was COLD, but not to cold for Nordic-track woman. My pace kept me toasty, and I had great optimism that I could get a vacation in, and my mileage too. Enter blizzard.

Shortly after the wrapping paper had settled on Christmas day, the flakes began to fall. All the next day, the snow fell with a fury. When we ventured out with the children to “play,” I couldn't see the end of the street 0.3 miles away. The next day, the sky was a clear, icy blue; but the sun couldn't beat off the freezing temperatures, and we were hemmed in by 13 inches of snow. We didn't leave the house for three days, and the roads still weren't great when we headed home on New Year's Day. That first walk was the only walk I got all week.

Upon returning to South Carolina, despite being unable to walk, I felt very refreshed and ready to get back on track. I walked four days that first week back and also did a day of cross-training. I planned to carry the New Year's good start into the next week. Monday brought eight more inches of snow and a week of impossible cold. Thursday, we finally saw Walmart. My sanity was slipping. I had done 17 miles of in-home walking with Leslie.

So do you know Leslie? I'm talking about Leslie Sansone—the brilliant creator of the in-home walking system. She is great . . . in measured doses. And then that laugh starts to get to you. And you start to imagine that her fellow walkers look annoyed at her comments. And you start to feel that her jokes should have been written out of the script. And you start to feel that LESLIE should have been written out of the script. And you start to imagine reaching into the TV screen with your bare hands and . . .

Well, you understand. I know you understand if you know Leslie. Then there's that other personality—the very charismatic personality with the swinging door and the inside light. The personality full of food that, if you just tossed it into the microwave and heated it, would perhaps make you feel less cold every time you looked out the window and saw all that blasted white stuff. I honestly don't know how people live up north without getting fat. I think I would eat all winter long, just to stay warm, like a bear getting ready to hibernate!

Fortuitously, the snow has melted and absolutely none is in the current 10 day forecast. I am hopeful that we are done seeing the white stuff fly, because I've only got four weeks left until my Myrtle Beach half, and I don't want another week of Leslie's walking asylum. I'm also in the throes of my final fund-raisers, so I really don't need life to be any more complicated than it absolutely has to be. REALLY, this whole marathon and raise-funds-for-a-good-cause-experience, has been positive overall; BUT, the next time I act interested in such an (ad)venture, would my friends kindly beat me up! Or at the very least, chain me to the television with Leslie until I come to my senses . . .

The Marathon That Is My Marathon

Ha! Didn't I warn you there was a part two? An extenuation of the roller-coaster that is my life?! So yes, it's almost the end of January, and Wade finally (repeat for emphasis: FINALLY) made it to his physical last Friday. I will save all the gory details for the official report now filed in Raleigh, North Carolina. Suffice it to say, it has not been the Pelham Road Recruiting Office's finest hour. But I digress . . .

As December began, a couple of things happened. First of all, Wade's chances of active duty enlistment seemed to fade. Six weeks later, it's all a possibility again. What a ride.

The second bit of excitement was subtle, yet effectual. I developed either IT band syndrome (tendon that runs from the knee to outer thigh) or common runner's knee. I am still not entirely sure which. December 3rd, I was doing a simple six mile run, and by the end of the third mile, I was running through excruciating pain in my left knee. Typical of me, I pushed through the pain, but as I gimped down the track steps to my car, it was clear to me that I was done running for the week. Early the next week, I visited the chiropractor. Sure enough, my femur was out of place, so I got a painful relocation for my trouble and gave the knee a rest for most of the week.

The next Monday, I tried to run again and didn't make it a half mile. My saving grace? I could still walk—FAST. For some reason, power walking didn't bother my knee at all, and I could still clock a twelve minute mile at the track by transforming myself into Nordic-track woman. I simply now had a decision to make about my mind set. What was my attitude going to be? I could still finish this half-marathon; I would just have to finish it walking. After putting in more than 150 training miles, this was more than a little disappointing, but it was still FINISHING.

I'm finding that a lot of the lessons of my marathon seem to translate into real life. This whole situation with the military has morphed into something we really didn't expect, but we still control the decision about what our attitude will be as we meet each new challenge. My husband and I agree that we have never felt so blind going into a New Year, as we have felt this year. We have no idea whether things will work out with the military or not. If it doesn't, we don't know what the alternate plan will be. We don't know if we'll be here, or if we'll move. We're also learning to care for a child with epilepsy.

Newsflash: Life is a marathon. It's an endurance race. It's planning, so you're strong to meet what's not planned head-on. It's being faithful in the little things, so the long days don't catch you totally off guard. It's forgetting to be disgusted that you had to get up early, because you're caught up in the beauty of the sunrise. It's laughing when you lose track of what lap you're on. It's asking your coaches for help when the obstacles seem to great. It's trusting God when you're absolutely at a loss. It's being human, or else, you just don't qualify.

The Best Laid Plans of Moms, Marathoners, and Military Wives

How ironic it is that one of the great consistencies in our lives, is CHANGE. Yes, with great reliability we can always expect change to come. I have waited almost four months to make this post, mostly because I kept waiting for plans to finalize before I made my report; however, as I am STILL waiting for all the details to settle into something solid, and as the events of the last three months have had great effect on some of my choices, I will just go ahead and attempt to describe the mayhem.

About the time I signed up to run in the Walt Disney World marathon, my husband walked into a Navy Recruiter's office and started the enlistment process. The economy has been hard on so many families, and in our situation, my hard working hubby had finished his degree only to find that jobs were hard to come by. Though I was sick over the thought of my husband being away for any extended period of time, I was extremely proud of him for being so willing to do whatever it took to take care of us and meet upcoming school bill obligations.

I expected the process to move quickly; in fact, I wondered if we would spend Christmas without him, and in the months of October, fund-raisers and training kept my mind occupied and my stresses constructively vented. By November however, we started to realize that our destiny as a military family was not to be a speedy one. Paperwork had been finished (or so we thought), but there always seemed to be a missing document, or a line they'd forgotten to have us sign, or a schedule snafu. Wade's physical had been scheduled and rescheduled at least four times.

Sigh. It was a time for me--the mom, the marathoner, and the future military wife—to set priorities. Delays meant that Wade would be with us for Christmas, and for this gift, I was ever so thankful. However, my training schedule was getting much more demanding, and fund-raising was intense. I'd already moved my event from the January Walt Disney Race, to the February Myrtle Beach Race. As I looked over the adjusted training schedule, I knew that if Wade went to boot camp after the New Year, the time involved in the weekly and weekend runs would propose a two fold problem. First of all, I would be functioning as a single parent for a while. I would have to get a sitter four times a week just to train. More importantly, if daddy was going to be away, my children would need their MOM.

With these situations on the horizon, I switched to the Myrtle Beach half-marathon after Thanksgiving. Though I felt a bit disappointed, I also had an amazing sense of accomplishment. The previous weekend, I had run ten miles! My life was so different than it had been a year ago, and granted, my life probably will be drastically different a year from now; but because I have taken control of something in my life that used to be such a wild card (my weight), I can be sure of one thing. Wherever this military momma is one year from now, she's gonna look good standing next to that uniformed man!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weight Watcher Woes

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, I did something very brave. I thought it would be the bravest thing I did all day. I threw away the last two slices of the pecan pie. First, I was having one slice everyday; Sunday I had graduated to two. Yes, the pie had to go, and it was o.k. if I didn't finish every last piece. Indeed, I was very brave.

And then I went to my Weight Watchers meeting. Now I admit, I was a little excited. For weeks, there had been a buzz about some updates to the program, and I was eager to know what was coming about. What I found, and what I did not expect was a revamp of the entire program. It was like being a new member--like starting over. Foods had different points values; the amount of points I could have was more (but not really, because all the food was worth more points). Despite it all, and despite some pre-meeting worry, I went home up-beat and determined to try.

Now before I launch into a diatribe of my misgivings, I feel it is important to emphasize that I tried the new Points Plus program for three weeks. Even though I had to look up and re-calculate everything, I tried and used the new program. I attended meetings. Rather than feeling supported, more and more I felt betrayed. To clarify, I did not feel betrayed by the leaders; all those ladies, I have grown to love and appreciate. I felt betrayed by the company itself. We TRUSTED Weight Watchers, and I feel they have taken advantage of that trust.

In addition, the change came at a very bad time. It was the Christmas rush for heaven's sake! I do not want to have to re-figure out a lifestyle (because it's NOT a diet) in the three weeks before Christmas. I have got enough to do! If you are sensing frustration, that's exactly was was boiling under the surface by the end of the third week, when stress over the new program and my third cookie baking day converged.

One dozen cookies later, I took responsibility for my own actions, and I also took my life back. I went back to the old program, and that is right where I have happily stayed for the last month. There have been bumps and struggles, yes. Christmas eating happened, and since I'm still training for an endurance event, I have to eat most of my activity points to stay strong, but at least I'm maintaining because I feel in control again.

I suppose if I was to put my finger on the one reason I'm truly upset over the changes at Weight Watchers, it all comes down to control. The old program really empowered the member to be in control of choices and environment. But nobody gave us an opportunity to choose or be a part of the changes at Weight Watchers. We all just had to act happy when it was "unveiled." New members used to be able to manage nicely on the entry level packet they received upon joining; whereas, now you have to lean HEAVILY on their "guides" and the points calculator. That is not CONTROL; that is DEPENDENCY. Dependency is a big problem you see with other weight loss programs, like Nutri-system or Slimfast. If a program won't work simply outside of its products; it does not give its members the independent ability to be successful.

And speaking of buying products, here we come upon a second problem, an ethical problem. People were not discouraged from buying old products before the change came about; in fact, these items were pushed out the doors in the guise of sales. Now with food items, there is no problem; however, with items such as old dining guides, cookbooks, and scales, there is absolutely a problem. Members should have been warned that these materials would not be valid in a matter of weeks, or either that, Weight Watchers should have offered to replace materials brought in for exchange, that had been purchased in the weeks before the change-over. Anything other than this, is a breach a trust.

Yes, I know that there is a lot of new "science" behind the new program, and actually, I do believe the new program will probably work just as well for new members as the old one did. However. Weight Watchers has overlooked the very important science of TRUST. I think it will take quite a while for old members of the Weight Watchers program to overlook the violation that took place in December 2010. I myself will probably return to the program eventually, to lose that last five pounds and maintenance, but for now, I'm going to do what the program taught me to do--be in control. Me and the old program are eloping.

Back with Cookie Cravers Anonymous

Somehow I didn't imagine myself back here again--back to that dark place inhabited by metal folding chairs, where shadowed faces are looking into mine as I confess: "Hi. My name's Sarah. And I'm STILL a cookie craver."

That's where I was last December, when almost every cold afternoon and evening involved cookies and hot cocoa, but I guess I really expected that with a year's presence of WW in my life, I wouldn't go back to being a CC. When it came time to do the Christmas baking this year, I found out differently.

Now, it is quite normal for me to do some moderate cookie baking at Christmas time, but having passed through a season of economic hardship, I had decided that I would do more baking than usual, so that I would have a little something to share with all of our family and friends. Consequently, I made a list of nine different types of cookies, and the Monday before Thanksgiving, I started working.

Woe is me! If I had only known that my lofty cookie list would extend one big baking day into THREE. On that first Monday, I got up at 6am, and started running the pre-cut sugar cookies through the oven. Those were the easy ones. While those were baking, I mixed up two other batters. By four that afternoon, I had sugar cookies in four darling designs, two recipes of chocolate chip cookies, two recipes of gingersnaps, and a pan of butterscotch blondies. I was done. Best of all, I had managed to eat only two cookies the entire day. Not too flabby (I mean shabby, subliminally). It might also be helpful to note, that my Weight Watchers meeting was the next day, and some secret place in me wanted to be able to report my almost demi-god resistance of that many cookies at close range. I had looked Medusa in the face, and not turned to stone.

Alas, Medusa's gaze must have had a delayed effect, and alas, I must be mortal; because after my Tuesday meeting, I went back to baking, and that's when I started over-sampling the goods. The valley of the shadow of baking chips and gloppy beaters was just too much for me! There was no place to turn where cookies were not cooling. Because my daughter was snitching cookies every time my back was turned, I'd been forced to surround the living room coffee table with the three foot high extendo yard, and put the cooling racks in the enclosure. So there they were, in the MIDDLE of everything.

Still, the baking was not concluded. Yet on my list were the peanut butter blossoms, the mint-chocolate chip cookies, the white chocolate lemon biscotti, and the mint-chocolate biscotti. With Thanksgiving only two days away, I decided to post-pone the final recipes until closer to Christmas. Yes, this seemed like a good plan. I was exhausted with baking anyway, and truthfully, rather disturbed at my lingering weakness for cookies. Have them in the house seemed an impossible temptation. I was right where I was a year before. I had to have one everyday with my cup of tea. Granted, most days I managed to keep it to ONE and not FOUR, but still, a habit was re-forming.

That habit, in conglomeration with left over pecan pie from Thanksgiving, ate away at my resolve in the days following the holiday. The cookies were calling me; the pie was guilting me. Poor, poor pecan pie. I was the only one eating him up. If I didn't eat him, who would? What a terrible waste . . . .

But wait, wasn't this exactly where I was a year ago? Eating leftover food off my children's plates because after all, children were starving in Africa? No problem though, I was going to my meeting on Tuesday morning, and I would just get right back on track.

And that's when Weight Watchers, the one place (outside of church) I had come to expect dependability and stability, threw me a huge curve ball. Sigh. Cookies anyone?

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Well, on the weight loss front, the entire months of November and December were kind of a wash, and it all started with a bad case of Sinu-uptitis. I probably let myself get over tired in October. I was training four times a week, and I did three fund raisers. Whatever the cause may have been, the week after the Denny's fundraiser, I got a nasty head cold and sinus infection.

The first week of being under the weather, I was fairly reasonable about the whole thing. I was sick. I had to take some time off, rest, and medicate. I'd be back doing my thing the next week. But I wasn't. As I headed into the next week, I couldn't have run if I'd wanted to. My head felt like a bowling ball that was getting ready to roll away, and I was starting to get really up-tight about

ONE) being behind on my training schedule, and
TWO) laying around, wanting to eat more, and not being able to compensate for the extra with exercise.

Yep, it was a bad case of Sinu-uptitus.

And it came at such a bad time. With birthdays, Thanksgiving, and an anniversary looming on the horizon, I was not feeling my usual fortitude in relation to tracking well and sticking to my guns. Indeed, I was all geared up to eat happy (and happy is an emotion; you can eat emotionally just because you're happy). Though I did manage to maintain my weight during my bout of sinu-uptitus, I gained almost five pounds the next week.

What could I have done differently? Well, honestly, I'm really not sure. We all get worn out sometimes. We all get sick sometimes. Rarely are we able to control the timing of illness. We just have to start doing what is normal again when we feel better . . . if life lets us. Holidays, however, have a way of throwing a kink in normal; especially since normal is, after all, just a setting on the dryer. (haha.)

I think if anything, what I could have done a little better with Thanksgiving (and Christmas) is a little less giving up on the week, and a little more salvaging the day. What I mean is, I really reverted back to some bad dieter's habits. What used to happen went kind of like this:

Start diet Monday
Mess up on diet Wednesday
Scratch the rest of the week
Start diet Monday

When I started Weight Watchers, things improved a bit, and we progressed to this:

Start new week after Monday morning meeting
Have a bad start on Wednesday morning
Start again Thursday

Eventually, rather than throwing away the potential for an entire week, or an entire day, I learned to move on immediately to the next snack or meal. The days didn't have to be perfect--just consistent efforts. The Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, I let the old habits take over; and those habits stayed king of the hill until the next Monday night. Not good.

If I think about it, the line of reasoning that leads to this kind of eating, really doesn't make sense; though somehow it is given veracity in relationship to food. Think about it. How stupid would it be if you got pulled over for speeding on the way to work in the morning, and after you got a ticket, you pulled back onto the road and said, "Well, I messed up, I guess I may as well speed for the rest of the day and drive slower tomorrow!"

That really, REALLY makes NO sense! So. I guess the next time I see tasty occasions coming along on the heals of sinu-uptitus, I'd better get my head on straight and work on the anti-binge-otics right away. List those obstacles, make a plan, and feel good about what you eat--and what you don't!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Being Normal

Four days after my last post, I finally broke through the top of the BMI barrier. I weighed in at 147.6 pounds and officially entered the healthy weight category. That week, I got on my Wii balance board, and it glibly announced, "That's Normal!"

I've never had to deal with normalcy before, and honestly, I'm not sure quite what I'm supposed to do with it (other than do a dance that I'm pretty sure doesn't qualify as normal). For most of my adult life, I've shouted from the rooftops, that "normal" is just a setting on the dryer. I think this statement rings half true, and half compensation for all the other abnormalities in my life. To say that I've had my share of idiosyncrasies since adolescence, is an understatement.

In the tenth grade, I showed up for my first day of summer school wearing a self-selected dress that, for loudness of color, earned me the nickname "Miss Tahitian Treat" for the rest of the school year. I wore large mini-mousish bows; I had a propensity for mis-matched plaids; I penciled an entire Star Trek novel into a three ring binder (now aptly burned); and Spock was my hero.

After college, my wardrobe had improved, but I still earned my laurels in the unorthodox by teaching English classes outdoors, in cemeteries, at Starbucks, in the dark, in large slippers, and occasionally, incognito. I also walked the outskirts of the teacher's house property barefoot, reading Tennyson out loud. So yes, "normal" was just a setting on the dryer. It was not who I was, and not nearly as interesting.

Well, unfortunately for me, the time came when the fiction had to hit the fan. One cannot wear two plaids together, reading poetry in your bare feet in the south inevitably leads to fire ant incidents, Spock's ears are fake, and individuality is rarely truly appreciated. There was also nothing at all normal about the realization that at this time last year, I carried around the cumulative weight of both my children (57 pounds) ALL THE TIME! No wonder I hurt. No wonder I was exhausted.

No wonder "normal" finally feels like an o.k. way to be! My overall risk for diabetes and heart disease just diminished substantially. The journey to normal has been worth every past hurtle, and will be worth every future obstacle. I am excited to help others find their way to normal . . . well mostly. I just can't resist. Live long and prosper, ya'll.

I'm BAAAaaack!

My apologies to everyone for dropping off the face of the planet. I got hit with the proverbial meteor shower of events. Fundraising and training (still going on BTW) wore me out--not to mention my husband's b-day, my mom's b-day, Thanksgiving, my anniversary, cookie baking and other Christmas preparations!

Happy New Year! I have so much to write about that, rather than bemoan how behind I am, I will just whet your appetite for some of what's coming and move on to the good stuff. Soon to come are comments and digressions on cold weather blues, lurking cookie addictions, being more flexible than I ever wanted to be, how I almost-was-still-might-be-a-military-wife, the marathon that is my marathon, the blizzard that snowed me in with the refrigerator, a good whine about weight watchers, and finally, learning from some history.

Also, I intend to stretch myself this year and learn to add pictures, gadgets, and slideshows to this blog. My husband has promised to be my tutorial instructor. I can't wait to post pictures of the last year--what a dramatic change! I am profoundly grateful for this journey!