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Spark to Wildfire

Friday, December 03, 2010

We hear a lot here about "spreading the Spark," but what does that really mean?

When I first got instructions from to "spread the Spark" it reminded me a lot of the theory of witnessing in Christianity. Whatever your beliefs, I found serious problems with witnessing to strangers, even to friends. God, or religion in general, isn't necessarily the most PC topic of conversation. You hear all the time "no politics or religion" when it comes to social situations, but it wasn't my need to be PC that made it so difficult, it was the hostility I often got from even approaching the subject. So when I tried to spread the Spark, I was nervous, but I tried. And guess what I got? Yep. Excuses and hostility.

I hear it all the time from other Sparkies who have tried to help people around them. Their coworker, sister, boss, or friend says, "You're doing great! I really need to lose weight too..." and the Sparkie takes that opportunity to tell them about Spark, about their successes here, about the wonderful support group and tools. And then they get shot down.

So how do you really spread the Spark?

When I started out on Spark, I didn't tell anyone outside of this little corner of the world what I was doing. I was nervous. I didn't want to own up to trying to lose weight if it was going to be just another failure in my weight loss attempts. "Just another diet..." I could hear them saying. I could almost see their eyes roll. I wasn't sure what Spark would mean to my life, I didn't know if it was the key, the answer, or just another fad-thing I was going to try. And I wasn't about to open my big mouth until I was sure it was legit....until I was sure *I* was legit.

A few months ago, though, I started opening up. Everyone was noticing my weight loss, and I was proud...I felt the need to spread my successes with friends and family. Soon, I started adding Sparkies as friends on FB, the ones I felt I'd really gotten to know on a deeper level and felt we could branch out as friends beyond the bond we all share here in our weight loss efforts. I started posting pictures of myself and my son at the gym. I'd rejoice about a great workout, a good Zumba class, or a race I completed. I didn't really think much about it, my weight loss attempt was just starting to become part of my actual life. My life, the new life I was building with the help of Spark, was becoming such a huge part of my everyday life that to hide that part from my friends, family, and coworkers seemed like hiding the largest part of myself.

But even though I wasn't thinking too much about it, apparently other people were. I've gotten countless comments from friends and family. Thumbs up on my workout reports. "You're an inspiration!"-type comments. It felt good, and, for a long while, it felt like it was all about me. Guess what? It wasn't.

What I've discovered in the past few weeks is the easiest path of least resistance in spreading the Spark is to simply make yourself an example. Share your joys and triumphs with friends and family and, all of a sudden, they realize that if YOU can do it, THEY can. It's funny, you don't even have to say those words (which always induce eye rolls) but they can hear them in their heads.

Last week, when I started Couch 2 5k, I finally allowed by C25k iPhone app sync with my FB account. Finally. I was ready to share. After each run, I posted an update to my account, and let my outside world know what I was up to. Here's what's happened in the past couple weeks:

* I've gotten some great real-life challenges from Sparkies, that spur me on even when I can't log onto Spark.

* A friend who moved away in July asked me how much weight I had lost, and when I told her 80 pounds, she said WOW! and then told me, "I'm using you as my inspiration to go back to the gym!"

* A family member commented on my run post (finishing week 2 of C25k) today that she had downloaded the mp3 podcasts of C25k and had just completed day 1 of week 1, all because I had shown her it was possible, and working.

And those are just the highlights.

Maybe the Spark Gods will be angry at me for saying this, but Spark, the real idea behind "The Spark" is far greater than this site or a book. The Spark is the fire I felt when I realized that this isn't just another try at losing weight. The Spark was the feeling in me that said, "This is different. This is your NEW life." In a world where we struggle constantly with depression, childhood obesity, diabetes, and other such illnesses, this Spark can be the start of a new life. (I'm not saying depression can be cured with diet and exercise, but there is proof that it can be better managed with least from what I've read.) Therefore, spreading the Spark can be the equivalent of saving a life.

So my Spark, that started with such a cover of doubt that hid any small smoke signals of any sort, is now flaming bright. And once others started to see the light, they started catching fire themselves. They caught the Spark...and it grew into a wildfire. Even at Thanksgiving lunch, we spent more time bonding over running and workout stories than we did recipes and the food on the table. We're all burning bright. And I can't take all the credit for that, but my sharing my story with friends, my opening up, has certainly allowed that fire to grow bigger.

So, here it is, Sparkies, my challenge to you. Figure out how YOU are going to spread the Spark in your life. And remember it doesn't have to be a big gesture or long talk. Sometimes, in most fires, the smallest ember sparks a tree nearby, and an ember from the fire that grows there, sparks another.

While the destruction caused by wildfires seems a rather depressing thought in terms of what we're speaking of, think of that fire as burning out the negative effects that years of McDonald's and Starbucks addictions have built in us. Think of it as burning out the bad habits we learned as children, in college, through pregnancy, or whenever. And think of the new green life, new healthy trees, that can grow in land fertilized by the nutrients fed to our body through whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, clean foods. You're building the best compost pile in which to establish new growth...healthier growth, bigger and stronger trees.

And once you have those fires burning, you can let them in on the almost magical nature that is the combined tools of What the people who started this have built is a comprehensive system that isn't tied to fad diets or quick fixes. It's the same old "D & G" (diet & gym) we've been hearing all our lives. And we all knew it was the one thing that truly worked in losing and/or managing weight (even if we didn't want to admit it). They've taken what seemed like a lofty idea, a very difficult goal, and broke it down into manageable steps. And they provided tools to make those steps easier. Research articles. Exercise routines you can do anywhere and at any fitness level. Simple input calorie counters to track calorie intake. Fitness minute trackers. And the most important part of all -- an online community of support persons who understand your struggles, have been where you've been, and know where you can go if you just keep trying. In my honest opinion, is just the right mix of user-friendly tools to build yourself a better life the right way, the lasting way. So once you have your fires burning, let them know that there is a place they can go to keep it stoked. Lead them here. Spread the AFTER you've already spread the Spark.

Are you hiding your Spark? I think it might be time to let it out. You never know what might grow from it...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KANSASROSE67 12/9/2010 5:26PM

    Fantastic blog! I think you are absolutely right!

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RUSSELLORAMA 12/5/2010 7:30PM

    That's funny that you were afraid of getting the eye-roll when you told people about your new healthier habits. I usually get it AFTER I tell people it's the same old "D & G" combined with a totally new attitude about my health and wellness. Folks just want the quick fix, I guess. But I am so glad that you are here pushing us and keeping us motivated as well!

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HEATHER_TEACHAH 12/5/2010 5:21AM

    you are SUCH A great example and I love your theory of 'spreading the spark.'
so glad that you're able to share your experiences not just here, but in real life, too :)

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EMRANA 12/3/2010 10:14PM

  I think this has been your best blog yet, and that's saying something.

You're totally right about being an example. I was thinking the same thing this week when another Spark member met me for lunch at work. When she tried to tell a co-worker of mine about Spark, the other lady resistantly said that she likes being round and brushed off my Sparkfriend. On the other hand, I can't count how many people have asked me what I'm doing and commented about my own Spark.

We all know what we need to do, as you say, the D&G. This community makes a real difference.

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NITELITE72 12/3/2010 9:35PM

    I agree 100%. It is not what you say...also because PC issues are not fun to discuss in mixed is what you do! Letting others look through the window at what you are doing and the changes you are making may be all it takes for them to take positive steps to change their lives also. I loved this blog. If I could have "extra liked" it, I would have!

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THENEWSHANNON 12/3/2010 7:23PM

    Perfectly said! This is slowly happening in my life, opening up just a little bit more and more. For once, it feels real this time. You just inspired me right now!
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_COSMOPAULATAN_ 12/3/2010 6:53PM

    I could not agree with you more. Being an example is the essence of spreading the spark.

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BTINTERNET 12/3/2010 4:23PM

    Nicely put!

The one time I have successfully spread the spark, it was talking about phone apps, of all things. :-)

You're so wise!

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KARVY09 12/3/2010 4:05PM

    Loved this. It's so true. All you can really do is live your life well and hope you inspire others.

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BRIAEL 12/3/2010 4:04PM

    I love this blog. It comes right to the top of my favourites. Thank you for posting it, it's an important message - spreading hope with action, rather than spouting the words "you should look at SparkPeople". We lead by example, and people around us see us succeeding with our goals, day after day, one foot in front of the other and they see much how much we grow as an individual as well as losing weight.

I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to reference your blog today in my own ... a base from which to explore how Spark and depression can work together to open up a path for the future! :)

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BYEFATNANNY 12/3/2010 3:43PM

    GREAT WRITING, great blog. I am inspiring - even if not everyone sees it....some have and that makes me feel good. emoticon

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX10 12/3/2010 3:25PM

    I totally agree. I've seen little fires spread from my tiny spark. emoticon

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What I'm Made Of

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sugar and spice, and everything nice....that's what little girls are made of.

So after a frantic phone call from my PT last night, in which she scolded me like a child for not coming to the gym last night (I did! She had already left!), she told me that the other person working would weigh me in. (For my insurance program, I have to meet with her once a month and get weighed in so they make sure I'm still losing weight.)

I got to the gym at my regular time, about a quarter to 7pm. (Which I've told the PT a dozen or so times...) I figured I'd change first, so I could workout right after my weigh-in...and that's when the trouble started. *lol* I realized in the locker room that I had forgotten my sports bras. I had 2 choices: 1) go home and give up on finishing C25k W2D2, or 2) do the darn thing in my regular bra and hope for the best. I picked 2. I was not giving up my running night! NO way! NO how! I put my bra on and said a little prayer, and apologized to my body for what I was about to do to it...and out I went.

Nobody helped weigh me in. The girl at the desk said the PT told her she couldn't let anyone else use it but the people on our insurance program and had refused to show her how to use it at all. That meant I had to figure it out all on my lonesome. For this machine, you have to input:

Male or Female (Female, of course! Thank goodness for an easy one! *lol*)
Normal or Athletic build (I chose normal, which may have been a mistake. *shrug*)
Height (5'8)
Age (29)
And then target Body Fat %...this one I forgot. I typed in 23 first, because it just sounded good. Then I tried 25 when I realized it wasn't giving me the same target weight as last time. Still no dice. I checked my notes (on my phone) from last time, and there it was -- she set my goal for 30% body fat. I entered it and stepped on.

Let me just say, I hated that scale for a moment last night. I knew it was going to be high. I was super bloated yesterday, have been for several days (TOM symptoms?) and it was almost bedtime, when I generally weigh the most! But there it went, up to 339.8...and I was good with that, until it decided to round up. Stupid effing machine! 340.0. LIAR! (I hate that effing number! *pouts*)

So, now for the results...

Last time's results, as read off to me by the PT:
Weight - 346 (I think)
Body Fat % - 53.3%
Pounds of Fat - 184.6
Pounds of Muscle - 161.6
Target Weight: 230
Pounds of Fat to Lose: 115

And then last night's results, as read from the print-out:
Weight - 340.0 (LIAR!)
BMI - 51.7 (Can't wait to be under 50!)
Body Fat % - 49.9% (YAY!)
Fat Mass (or, as she said, pounds of fat): 169.6
FFM (Fat-Free Mass): 170.4
TBW (The water in my body): 124.8
Target Weight: 243.4
Predicted Fat Mass at Target: 73 pounds
Fat to Lose: 96.6

Okay, so the target weight was a little higher this time. Not sure what that means...but let's focus on the important parts.

I went from a body fat percentage of 53.3% to 49.9%!
That means my body is less than half from fat! It's been a good thing to keep saying to myself over and over. This is a difference from October 23rd to now, so that's some good work there!

I went from having 184.6 pounds of fat on me, to having 169.6.
That means I lost 15 pounds of FAT in a little over a month! DANG! I love that number!

I increased my muscle mass too. Now she called it "pounds of muscle," but there wasn't anything on that sheet that said that. The only thing close was the FFM, or fat free mass. According to online research, this accounts not only for muscle, but any other composition of your body that is not fat - that includes your bones, muscles, connective tissue, even water. So what she called "pounds of muscle, really isn't at all"....I feel that's a little misleading. Still, it's fat free mass, and I like that! Mine went from 161.6 to 170.4, and since I'm hoping my bones aren't getting bigger, and my TBW (my water weight) actually showed me as being dehydrated for the day, I'm counting that as a gain of 8.8 pounds of muscle.

This is especially wonderful considering she said I was likely to lose muscle at first. Of course, my at first wasn't really my "at first," if you know what I mean. I just started the program in October, but I've been running this program of mine since April, and I've been ST along the it makes sense that my body is getting used to building muscle and eating fat. Take that PT! *lol*

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So, what am I made of? Well, mostly muscle and other fat-free mass (like bones and stuff!). I know it may sound strange to say, but knowing that I'm more healthy than fat is a HUGE deal. For years I've been carrying around more than double myself on my back and all over my body. My healthy part has been lugging around more than an entire duplicate of itself in just fat! Can you imagine making a double of yourself in fat and then carrying it around on your back all day? I feel the need to apologize to my body, or at least I did...until I realized that the only apology and amends it needs is what I'm doing right now, freeing my healthy body from the encumbrance of having another half of itself to lug around. I spent the last month dropping 15 pounds off that load, and giving it another 8.8 pounds to devote to carrying around the that load should be feeling a whole lot lighter right about now! No wonder this month I've felt so much lighter on my feet!

Another thing I learned from having to decode the riddle of the printout all by myself is TBW - or Total Body Water. From reading a decoder (*lol* reminds me of those ring decoders for mood rings) online, "It is important to ensure your body is not dehydrated, especially when exercising or dieting." (Source: - Body Composition Analyzer)

So they give you a little equation to do. Take your TBW, divide it by your weight, times that by 100, and that = your Estimated Hydration Level %. For women, it should be around 50-60% hydration. Taking my results from last night though, mine was 36.7%! EEP!! Now I didn't drink quite as much yesterday as I have been the past couple days, and I'm a little suspicious that the coffee midday may have drained some of that out of me. (I believe I've read that caffeine can dehydrate you, right?) Still, it reminds me that I MUST be more diligent about drinking my water consumption throughout the day. I've already had 1 glass so far today, and I don't usually start drinking water until about 11am or so, so I'm trying to correct that for next time.

And for all of you wondering how my night went after that, as far as my workout is concerned...

Well, I finished W2D2 of C25k. It was the hardest one yet. I kept thinking, "My heart isn't in it..." With the issues with my bra (OW! That hurt!! I now truly cherish the importance of my sports bras!!) and the issues with the PT and the scale, I was distracted. About halfway through I tried to get myself to focus, but my body was just sore (and, maybe part of it was the dehydration as well??...hrm...something to consider!). I did, however, finish. I did walking segments of 3.0 most times (though I did have to drop to 2.8 or so near the end because I needed the recovery so badly!) and ran at 4.5 speed during the running segments. I also loved the guy who hopped on the treadmill next to me and started doing intervals too. I may or may not have had the thought that he was only doing it because I was and he wasn't about to be shown up by the fat chick! *lol* He didn't start interval running until after I was in my first one, and he seemed to pull one out after almost every single one of mine. I felt like I was being chased!! Of course, his running and walking segments were both faster than mine, but he was pretty well built...I'll get there eventually.

After my run, I couldn't stomach the ST. (Oh, did I mention I spent much of the afternoon and all of the drive to the gym with severe stomach pain? I ate something that did NOT agree with me and I was feeling SO sick!) My chest felt raw where my bra had rubbed some. All the way home I thought about how I should have just done it anyways. I gave myself crap for about 10 minutes, I even used the F-word (no, not THAT one...Failure!). I said to myself, "I can't believe you couldn't even make it through a ONE DAY CHALLENGE in the Suck It! Challenge! You suck!" And then I remembered that in the same challenge, I also vowed not to beat myself up for whatever I considered my faults. I was NOT a failure. I ran sick and upset and pushed through the worst run yet, and I finished it (and actually did an extra 6 minutes of warm-up and cool down because my phone was giving me trouble and my stupid C25k program wasn't running right, so I had to reset it to fix it, and I walked the whole time I was getting it set...). So I reminded myself that I had NOTHING to guilt myself over. I could either chose to make up the ST later, or I could simply forgive myself and move on from there. My results from the scale show that I've been doing just fine, and I wasn't PERFECT on getting all my ST sessions (or even all of my cardio sessions) in last month. So, I forgave myself, and went home and took a long shower as a reward, and then ate dinner with my boys while watching The Santa Clause.

I'm putting this in the books as a good night. And reminding myself that more than half of me is made up of good, naturally healthy, wonderful things!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROCKINFOX 12/3/2010 3:41PM

    Way to go!!! And I've forgotten my sports bra before and had to work out in a regular bra. emoticon

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CHICAT63 12/3/2010 12:52PM

    Wow, double wow 15 pounds of fat. You totally ROCK of course you are doing things right - just frigging AWESOME. He,he, a little competition on the next treadmill but think of it Esther as you wrote he seems pretty built and you were doing the same thing - RUNNING & INTERVALS !!!! Woohoo.

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YOOVIE 12/3/2010 12:24PM

    You are kicking so much ass.

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HEATHER_TEACHAH 12/3/2010 7:58AM

    SO much progress! 15 POUNDS of fat GONE?! amazing!!!
you're doing so well w/ C25k. and as a fellow sports bra addict (ummm 34DDD here... hoping they shrink a size when I get remeasured in the US in less than 3 wks!) I KNOW that bra-burn is the worst. ouch.

so glad you're not beating yourself up too much, either. self-deprecation can SUCK IT :)

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CANOGAPARKGAL 12/2/2010 6:24PM

    And THAT's just the physical part of what you are made of. The emotional, spiritual and determination part can't be weighed on a scale, but it's there and going in a good direction - just like your body.

Keep blogging! emoticon

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NITELITE72 12/2/2010 6:00PM

    Incredible...all of it! emoticon

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MEGSFITNESS 12/2/2010 5:37PM

    Good job on your run! That took guts to run in a regular bra when you're already not feeling well. The closest I've come to doing the same was when I forgot my SHOES! Barefooted treadmill runs are no fun!

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_COSMOPAULATAN_ 12/2/2010 5:29PM

    You never cease to amaze me!

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LOTUSFLOWER 12/2/2010 3:43PM

    You are just amazing!!!

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ATROTTIER 12/2/2010 1:42PM

    Congrats!!! You did great last month and you are doing fabulous with the C25K training!! Whoo-hoo!

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DOWNTOWNJEN 12/2/2010 1:37PM

    Loved all the numbers - esp the fact that the fat % was going down and the non-fat% was going up! I have to find one of those scales. It's a HUGE accomplishment that your ratios have changed. Keep it up!

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BRIAEL 12/2/2010 1:30PM

    Awesome job on gaining muscle and losing fat, and huge congrats for "just doing it" even without your sports bras and feeling icky. That's the way to go, girlie! Good job, keep it up! :)

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RIGBY31 12/2/2010 12:09PM

    I love your body analyses... and congrats for fighting through your workout. (btw... my new sport bras came in the mail today and wow, the ladies are firmly in place now!)

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READINESSISALL 12/2/2010 12:07PM

  Heck yes!!!!!!!! You are incredible! That body fat percentage drop is AWESOME. You rock!!!

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FLWRCHLD97 12/2/2010 11:50AM

    emoticon numbers! You are ROCKIN' it!!!

WOOT WOOT!! emoticon

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THENEWSHANNON 12/2/2010 11:15AM

    Love the numbers - way to go! It's so helpful to see the success in a variety of ways, isn't it?
I've got C25K W2D2 on my schedule for tonight, actually. Can't wait!

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SLFRISBEY 12/2/2010 11:09AM

    YEA!!! So glad you got C25K W2D2 done! I fell off the running wagon and need to start over... I like week one, if I could just progress :) You make me think I can! You ROCK!

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MRSSIBRAT 12/2/2010 11:08AM

    Im proud of you girlie!! losing that body fat is a huge thing! and so is running even when you didn't want to! You are awesome!

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ADVENTURE-GIRL 12/2/2010 10:39AM

    Congrats on your weigh in. Great job on the running, despite not feeling well or missing your sports bra.

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BBDAZY18 12/2/2010 10:27AM

    Keep up the good work! Its definitely paying off.

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HEALTH-E-CLARE 12/2/2010 10:25AM

    C25K W2D2 COMPLETED!!!! That is a victory in it's own right, let alone how great your numbers are doing.

Keep up the amazing work, and I'm proud of you for not giving up on the run, and forgiving yourself by spending time with your family.

Have a fabulous day today.

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MAMADWARF 12/2/2010 10:14AM

    you are made up of determination, stamina, optomism, good spirit and success. Hooray for you!

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ATREAT4ME 12/2/2010 10:08AM

    I am so proud of you! You persevered. You are made up of strength, integrity, and true grit. You're amazing!

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SUCK IT! Entry Card and Day 1 Challenge

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

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emoticon 1. Pick any 5 things to measure that you will measure again on New Year's Day. Post those current measurements here. it can be everything from how many modified pushups you can currently do, to a 5K time, to a bra size, I don't give a crap. Personalize it.

A. Length of Time Running @ Speed: 90 sec @ 4.5
B. Weight: 338.4
C. Jeans Size: 26-28
D. Morning Workouts/Week: 0
E. Fruits/Vegs per Day: 3ish

emoticon 2. Declare yourself. Do so by choosing one or more of the following.

A. Make your declaration of independence from imminent failure, guilt and pressure. Write a paragraph, a statement or a blog about how you will do your best, and not hate yourself if you fail.

I, Esther, do declare that I am, from this point forward until the end of 2010, releasing myself from guilt, pressure, and the risk of failure. I will remember that each day is a new day, each moment new. I will remember that no one gains 80 pounds back in a month without seriously attempting to or having some sort of physical conditional or malady. I will remember to celebrate my accomplishments by sharing them with all my Sparkies, but also by giving myself something small or big, even if it's just a self-manicure or a foot massage. And I will take the time this month to remember that laying down the guilt upon myself for supposed missteps, is a selfish act of punishment toward someone I love very dearly. If a friend or loved one made a tiny mistake, I would forgive immediately, so I should do the same to myself, instead of beating myself and dragging the family down into my misery. I will love me, and I will remind myself of that each and every day.

B. Post a current body shot if you have not already posted one, or at least an updated one you can use as a before picture. This isn't a long challenge, only 4.5 weeks- so you may not make alot of progress in a body shot- but the goal here is to not backtrack in December, right?

Always post a monthly picture. I did my WTF? pictures last night, but I need to do a more public version as well. Waiting for my new yoga pants to get here first...

C. Post an awesome profile picture of yourself, if you don't have one.

Reminder to myself: I'm going to do a photo shoot with myself this weekend and have fun with it, pulling in props and/or Christmasy fun!

D. Put up your ticker. This is IMMENSELY helpful. it shows where you are now, which can be tough to admit, but its courage that makes all the difference. You know that's the truth.

I always do pounds lost, because it means more to me and reminds me of what I have accomplished. I need that reminder much more than what I still have yet to lose.

E. Redo your sparkpage with flair and determination. Freshen it up. We're done with the tired same old same old.

Did last night! YAY!

emoticon 3. Make the decision that no matter how many times you fall in December, you wont wait 24-48 hours to make up for it. Make sure your next act, after falling, is standing up straight. Immediately. State one victory you have already had today.

I pushed myself through the midday blues and munchies by allowing myself a small cup of coffee. I may make this a regular thing, if it works. Less calories, a special treat, and I can still work off the caffeine. (Plus, I'm always falling asleep around 3pm...this might help!)

emoticon 4. Tell me what you are absolutely going to do right today.

I WILL go to the gym.
I WILL complete C25k, W2D2.
I WILL follow that cardio with ST.
I WILL choose between solo-ST or pilates.
I WILL not guilt myself if I don't choose pilates.
I WILL go home and eat something healthy.
I WILL wrap the few presents we have before bed.
I WILL be in bed, ready for sleep, by 10pm.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROCKINFOX 12/3/2010 3:33PM

    Rock your December!!! emoticon

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ATROTTIER 12/2/2010 1:35PM

    Love it!!! Best of luck to you this month!

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RUSSELLORAMA 12/1/2010 10:38PM

    Yay! emoticon

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ATREAT4ME 12/1/2010 8:01PM

    Wowsers! What an awesome challenge. Way to go Esther. I love your enthusiasm.

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November Recap - December Goals

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Weight Calculations:

Weight November 1st: 347.2
Weight Goal for December 1st: 339.2
Actual Weight December 1st: 338.4*
Weight Lost in November: - 8.8 pounds

* And a note to myself, I woke up so bloated this morning it HURT and my rings wouldn't go on my fingers. I don't know WHY the bloat...I drank a ton of water yesterday. Hopefully it goes away SOON! (I've gained 3 pounds of bloat since Sunday... *pouts*)

Body Measurements:

Waist: 48 - 47.5 = .5 inches
Hips: 59 - 59 = no change
Thigh: 25 - 24.75 = .25 inches (x2!)
Upper Arm: 15 - 15 = no change
Neck: 15 - 15 = no change
Calf: 22 - 21 = 1 inch (x2!)

Total inches lost in November = 3 inches
Yep, that's it. 3 measly inches. How does someone lose over 8 pounds and yet only loses 3 inches? Well, let me tell you. My body has been reshaping itself for months now, but no month more than this one.

* My stomach apron (oh, I hate that term!) has flattened out some and is making it's move northward.
* My calves are finding more definition.
* My ankles have lost their bulge.
* My wrists and fingers are much smaller. Many of my rings barely stay on my middle and first fingers now. (They started out on pinkies and ring fingers!)
* From the side, you can tell my abdomen is flattening out. There is no longer the huge slope. For those of you who have had the pleasure of knowing - I now look down and can only see my boobs, no more stomach poking out below it.
* I've gotten a bubble butt of sorts, which irks me, but it's be the slow progression of a huge shelf butt to a higher, leaner, more structured bubble butt, and I have already started to notice changes in it in the past few weeks.

My biggest challenges with my body right now:
- my HUGE thighs. But I have a feeling running is going to help. ;)
- my stomach. I honestly have fears that I will ALWAYS have a huge stomach apron, a flat one that's just skin but hangs down to my knees. I have nightmares about it, no lie.

More importantly, what did I *do* in November? (I've got to learn to celebrate myself more!)

emoticon I attended my first Yoga class. (FUN!)
emoticon I got into Line Dancing classes!
emoticon I learned about overdoing it with Zumba, Line Dancing, Treadmill and ST in one night! And that night I learned what a severe drop in blood sugar feels like! YIKES!
emoticon I reminded myself that it is VOLITION that keeps me going, not some mythical magical power called "motivation."
emoticon I learned to increase my water intake. It does a body good to get even MORE than 8 glasses a day!
emoticon I fought with, and made up with the scale. I now know more what to expect before I step on in the morning, so it doesn't really scare me anymore.
emoticon I realized I was starting to like my face more. I'm learning to love my body as well.
emoticon I took the time and actually had a date with my husband, and while it was a crazy mess, I grew to love him more...and have all month. It's been a month of love and realization.
emoticon I hit the biggest bout of depression I've had in a very, very long time, and then realized I could pull myself out of it, one finger and toe at a time.
emoticon I had a few job interviews that went well, and I'm still waiting to hear on one, though I think the other opportunity may have died.
emoticon I started reading a self-help book, Winning After Losing, and started doing some of the exercises in it.
emoticon I met pilates, which apparently stands for Pain, Intimidation, Laughter, Anger, Tightness, et Soreness. MEAN! I haven't been back since, though there's another opportunity tonight...
emoticon I said goodbye to the 340s, told them where they could take theirs and what they can do with it.
emoticon I had a couple off days, and then I got right back up and started again...

...and then something magical happened....

emoticon I decided to try Couch 2 5k again, and I made it through day 1. Tonight will be week 2, day 2, and I'm so happy and already addicted! For November 2010, my biggest accomplishment will ALWAYS be, that I started to run. I couldn't before, and I can now...and that's HUGE in my world!

And along with that change, came others, emotional ones. I felt more connected to those around me, my support group, strangers, the world at large. It's like running freed my heart to love. I went from the most depressed I've been in 7 years in November, to the most serene I've been in the past 11 years. I don't know how, and I don't know why, but I'm basking in the glow.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
And now it's December.

My goals:
emoticon $400 - savings
Save up another $400 bucks for Vegas and buy my ticket. (I'm waiting to hear from the job prospect, which I should know about next week. Don't know what will happen if I get the position, so I'm holding off another week, even if it costs me another 30 bucks or so.)

emoticon Under 330
My weight loss goal is really simple this month. I want to be under 330 pounds. That's 8 more pounds if you go from today's weigh-in, but only 5 if you go from Sunday's. Either way, it's doable. If I do make this I will buy myself a Wii Fit balance board.

emoticon C25k Week 3 +
Get to at least week 3 on C25k. I'm still nervous that I'll have to repeat weeks like I did last time I tried this. It took me a month or more to get week 1, day 1 completed, so why would I ever assume it's going to be smooth sailing from here? Next week makes me nervous already.

emoticon Find/Set Races
I'll let you in on a of my 2011 goals is to do at least 11 races before the year is out. I want to start early enough so I don't have a race every weekend. Plus, I'd love to be able to do a couple out of state races this upcoming year, so I need to start planning now.

emoticon 1000 + Fitness Minutes
1000 for the month. That's just a little over 30 minutes a day, but I'll be taking Sunday's off. So I'll have to make it up with some longer sessions (heck, Zumba is an hour-long class!). I think this is totally doable. (I'd love to hit 1500 though, secretly.)

emoticon Enjoy!
I'm going to try to remember this month to enjoy everything. Whenever life gets hard, I want to step back, remember what's good, and move from that place instead. I'm going to start that by really savoring my trip to DC. While I could think of all the things that make me nervous/sad and/or scare me (like being on my own for a week in DC), I'm instead going to love that I won't have anything tying me down...I can go at my own pace, where I want, when I want. I can walk out of my hotel room at 3am if I want to, I don't have to worry about someone watching the kids or someone missing me.

emoticon 14 ST sessions (and consistency!)
I have to work on getting consistent with my strength training. First of all, my routine takes forever! I'm going to ask the PT about that. I just don't have an hour or more to spend on ST 3 nights a week. Second of all, I'm doing something wrong because my elbows have been killing me. I opted out of my planks and pushups on Monday because I really don't want to injure myself. Still sore. *shrug* There are 4 weeks in December, I do ST 3 times a week, plus I need 2 more ST sessions this week....that all = 14 ST sessions this month.

emoticon 1800 Calories a Day, 1 Cheat Day a Week
So I've been having some difficulty with wanting to eat more (probably from the running). So I'm going to try to stay as close to 1800 calories I can for 6 days of the week, while letting myself go even slightly over my range on one day each week. Maybe this will get me through the week by remembering that if I want something, I can have it on cheat day, as long as I can fit it in. I don't know...but the past two days have NOT gone well. More than actual hunger, I've been THINKING about food almost constantly. It's driving me nuts! So I've got to have some channel for that. Maybe it will help, maybe it won't, either way, trying to stick to 1800 calories a day will be a good thing to grasp onto. I need to stay in that habit if I want continued success!

So, November went relatively well, and I have high hopes for December as well. I just want to enjoy the last of this AMAZING year, a year that changed my life, a year when *I* changed my life! This is a big year for me, so I'm savoring it. I'm already thinking ahead a bit, but I don't want to put all my hopes in 2011. What's the saying - The problem with diets is Mondays? The problem with New Years Resolutions is midday January 1st. Instead of pinning all my hopes on NEXT year, I'm going to SAVOR the last precious month I have in 2010. I'm going to use it to form a good solid base for the next year too, by building and learning and growing. A month is plenty of time for learning and adventures, and I'm not about to waste 31 days just hoping for the ball to drop!

Make December COUNT!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROCKINFOX 12/3/2010 3:44PM

    Awesome goals and emoticon

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READINESSISALL 12/2/2010 12:05PM

  Your monthly recaps are SUCH a great tool. It makes me so happy to see your progress every month--you always kick so much booty! You should be REALLY proud of those 3 inches! The areas you lost from are not easy places to lose! Great job!!!! Hugs!

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RUSSELLORAMA 12/2/2010 12:57AM


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BTINTERNET 12/1/2010 7:29PM

    Awesomely awesomeness!

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MAMADWARF 12/1/2010 5:41PM

    you are doing great! *I too have the tummy thing going on. BOOOO! I am always lifting and moving and thinking how awesome it would be if it was gone. I try not to dwell....* Lets rock december!

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_COSMOPAULATAN_ 12/1/2010 5:17PM

    You aren't the only one who is feeling bloated. I apparently have gained 3 pounds since Sunday? WTF!

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BRIAEL 12/1/2010 4:36PM

    Love your plan, love seeing your monthly achievements and commitment to your healthy future.

Awesome girl, keep it up! :)

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ATREAT4ME 12/1/2010 4:05PM

    Excellent plan, Esther. I am so happy that you're running these days. I'm completely understand when you say you feel more connected. I've been walking the same trail at lunch for years. Another person in this building had the same schedule. He just nodded hello to me for the first time ever last week when he saw me running. LOL!

I love that you're not pinning your hopes on some ball to drop. Instead you are taking the bulls by the horn. You are making the positive action that you need to build the future you want. Woohoo.

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SARAWALKS 12/1/2010 3:36PM

    emoticon plan! Celebrate 2010, create a foundation for 2011! emoticon
and you are SO inspiring to all of us! Yay Esther! You get the emoticon

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BARBARAROSE54 12/1/2010 3:15PM


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SNEELY0610 12/1/2010 3:03PM

    emoticon Post! You did a great job in November and your goals for December sound great and very do-able.
I know what you mean about the fear of always having a stomach apron, I have that same fear (after 2 vertical c-sections I know that I'm going to have something there.) I've just decided to worry about that when the time comes and for now enjoy losing the weight.

Hope you have a very successful December!

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX10 12/1/2010 2:52PM

    Reading your accomplishments and goals is so encouraging. You are doing GREAT.

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SUGIRL06 12/1/2010 2:39PM

    Awesome job in November and awesome goals for December!! And I love your acronym for pilates!!! So true...

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HEALTH-E-CLARE 12/1/2010 2:32PM

    I plan on joining you in December! It will be the best month yet.

As for the food, I highly suggest chewing gum, it has flavor and gives your jaws a workout. I've been having killer mid-afternoon cravings, and yummy flavored gums have squashed it.

Congrats on all your sucesses in November. Can't wait to see what December holds for us!

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DC Challenge - With a Little Help From My Sparkies

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Okay, here we go. I thought about all the things I wanted to say today in a blog, and then it all went out the window when I realized I hadn't put my DC plans into action yet and I'm running out of time.

So, here's the deal. I leave Sunday, around 11am for Washington D.C. for work training. I'll be there for a whole week. I'll be in class from 8:30a-4:30pm every day, but I have my evenings to myself. While I did check and discovered the hotel has a gym and a small indoor pool, I want to get out at least a few nights and catch the winter/fall air while taking in some sights. I've never seen DC at night, and I hear it's beautiful. I'll admit, I'm a bit worried, as Hubs keeps remarking to me that the crime rate is terrible there and I'm likely to get mugged and die while out on a run, but I have to keep telling myself two things that generally work for me 1) just be safe, people do it all the time and you don't hear about 10 people a night dying while on a run or walk in DC and 2) you're just not that special.

Okay, let me take a second to explain that last one, because I've gotten crap for it before. You see, when I was a kid I used to be afraid all the time. If I was told there was a 1 in a million chance I would get hit by a bus, I'd be terrified that I'd end up being that one. Well, I don't know if someone said it to me, or I just came up with it myself, but one day I decided I couldn't live my entire life in fear. So I started telling myself, "You're not that special." In other words, what are the real odds that I'm going to be that one in a million? (I know, I know, the odds are 1 in a million! *lol*) But, what are the odds? Is it more likely that I'll get hit by a bus today walking outside, or is it more likely that I'll be fine. So anytime I get scared to do things (go to NYC alone with a friend, go on a plane, etc.) I tell myself, "You're just not that special." Now what happens if I happen to GET that special and something does happen? Well, what can I do about it now? I'm not going to not live just so I don't die. That's just stupid. So I take as many precautions as I can, I am safe as possible and then I just do it. For this trip I bought a small wallet I can slip in my pocket. If I still don't feel safe, I'll tuck the hotel key and some cash and my cellphone in my bra and off I'll wouldn't be the first time I went for a walk/run with stuff in my bra! (In fact, I do it all the time.) I'll walk with my head up. If I notice someone, I'll make sure they know I see them, but then look away as to not be threatening. And if I get nervous, I'll hum, or sing, or whistle. It's much better to be thought of as crazy than to be thought of as the perfect, silent victim. I'll walk tall and proud, head up, taking care to know what my surroundings are, and whatever happens, happens.

Okay, so onto the challenge. I kept thinking to myself, other than the general monuments and museums, I don't know much about what's in DC. I certainly don't really know my way around (though I've been Googling with street view for weeks, virtually walking around the city so I'll feel more comfortable once I'm there). And wouldn't it be more fun if I didn't feel so alone?! (Being alone also scares me...less and less lately, but I'm not a hugemongous fan).

So here's where you come in. In the comments below, I want you to leave me 3 things:
1) A direction. Left, right, straight.
2) A number of blocks or miles (in tenths...I'm not walking a marathon here!).
3) A song.

And, let me say, number 3 is super important because Esther's playlist is boring the crap out of her. Help me breathe new life into it, and attach your name to my playlist, so I can use you as inspiration to continue.

The idea is for me to walk out of my hotel, and follow the directions I'm given in order to get somewhere...take a Spark tour of the city, without any of you even realizing where you're leading me. Of course safety will have to come into play. I may have to divert directions if I reach a dead end or a freeway ramp or something, but it might be a little fun to try. (And thankfully, my phone has Google maps and GPS to get me back to the hotel safely.)

One final thing...if you know the DC area, feel free to suggest to me:
* good restaurants
* good walking/running paths
* good parks
* cool free stuff to do

So, Sparkies...what do you say? Do you want to take me on a tour of our nation's starred city? I promise to take pictures and report back where all I best I can.

Here's your template:
Direction: (Left, Right, Straight)
Distance: (in Blocks or tenths of a Mile)
Song: (please give artist name too so it's easier to find on iTunes!)

Here's hoping this works!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SLFRISBEY 12/1/2010 2:00PM

    Direction: Straight
Distance: The Reflecting Pool (rnning towards Lincoln Memorial)
Song: Firework- Katy Perry

I LOVE LOVE LOVE DC... If I didn't live in Chicago I would totally look into moving there. It's beautiful! I went this spring with the hubs and we went on a little jog one morning. It was really early but I have never felt so exhilarated as when we jogged toward Lincoln from the Washington Memorial along the reflecting pool. It's a long stretch but I felt strong and powerful! Go for it! You're awesome!

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SUGIRL06 12/1/2010 9:09AM

    There is a book shop/bar/restaurant near Dupont Circle that was interesting (and yummy food) that I went to with a friend when I was in DC. And suggestion for dining while in DC, find a whole foods and hit their buffet for quick easy, healthy meals! I don't know where your hotel is but there is a Whole Foods on P street between 14th and 15th. I was so excited when I discovered it was around the block (literally) from my hotel! Anyway, have fun in DC!!!
PS. My favorite running song is Air Force Ones by Nelly. Just a very upbeat song!

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ATREAT4ME 11/30/2010 10:26PM

    Direction: Left
Distance: .75 of a mile
Song: Walkin' After Midnight by Patsy Cline

I hear you can get Bolivian food in DC. Would love to see a picture of a Bolivian restaurant. Suggest you have the spicy pork if you get a chance. Empanadas are great too, but often fried. The only time I've been to DC was one afternoon and it was barely enough time to walk the Mall and see some of the Smithsonian. Highly recommend the Air and Space and American History museums. Nothing quite like seeing Old Glory close and personal.

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MAMADWARF 11/30/2010 8:55PM

    1. right
2. .8 of a mile
3. Foo Fighters: Gimme Stitches (Jan)
GO GO GO! You are that special. Hope the criminals cant see it! lol, you will be fine!

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TRENTDREAMER 11/30/2010 6:48PM

    * Straight
* 3 blocks
* Telephone (Lady Gaga)

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FLWRCHLD97 11/30/2010 5:53PM

    So here's where you come in. In the comments below, I want you to leave me 3 things:
1) A direction. Left
2) A number of blocks or miles (in tenths...I'm not walking a marathon here!). 0.5 miles
3) A song. Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin

Good luck, you can do it! We visited DC in 2008, very nice place. There are walking and jogging tours in DC:

I saw a lot of people running around the National Mall, it's pretty at night too!

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BTINTERNET 11/30/2010 5:15PM

4 blocks
Don't Talk Just Kiss by Right Said Fred

The safety of this plan is in direct relation to the location of your hotel. If you're down by the Convention Center, head towards the Verizon Center and Chinatown - there'll be lots of people. If you're down in the business district, head towards Dupont Circle or K Street or GWU or Georgetown.

Bring layers - the weather has been freakish lately. (Yesterday there was frost, today I went out without socks or a coat....)

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SWEETS86 11/30/2010 4:12PM

2 blocks
Disturbia -Rhianna

Have Fun!!

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LOOKY-LOU 11/30/2010 3:24PM

    Oh, you have to tell me how this goes!

Direction: Right
Distance: Just one block (so you can fit in another)
Song: Raise Your Glass - Pink

Be safe and have fun!


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KARVY09 11/30/2010 2:40PM

4 blocks
Let Me See - Morcheeba

Make sure you get to Dupont Circle, a beautiful place at night with lots of cute little coffee shops. The area around the mall is safe and you can do that walk to the Lincoln Memorial at night without a problem (there are plenty of tourists and police mulling around). There are a lot of dangerous neighborhoods, but I'm willing to bet that you won't see any of them.

You wanna try something new? Ethiopian food. The best I've ever had is in DC:
R>Beer? Go to the Brickskeller. I bet you can find something you like:

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XTMONT 11/30/2010 2:13PM

    Direction: Left
Distance: 3 blocks
Song: All Fired Up by Pat Benatar

Have fun! My sister lives out by Dulles Airport but I haven't seen the city in years!

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SEEHOLZ 11/30/2010 1:41PM

    Direction: right
Blocks: 7
Song: Marchin On OneRepublic

I'm the same way... I used to be afraid to walk down the block in the dark..

I've come to realize that safety is about awareness and making reasonable choices. Maybe look up some running routes beforehand, bring your phone, some maze and keys and look around yourself...

While I've never run in DC ( been there but didn't run)I've run in Zagreb Croatia, Prague, Dublin, Cologne, NYC, San Francisco...and some smaller places with scary dogs.. I stay on main streets and hope that I'm not that special either.

Have fun in DC... enjoy it!

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WATCHMEGO2 11/30/2010 1:37PM

    Direction: right
Distance: 4 blocks
Song: Ridin' solo by Jason Derulo

Hope you have a great time!

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SARAWALKS 11/30/2010 1:35PM

    I too lived about 5 min. from the DC line in Maryland for 5 years...used to take metro into DC all the time and wander by myself. I was usually in daylight. But I think in certain areas you'd be OK at night. Good advice in previous comment. I didn't carry a backpack, I felt that was inviting trouble too, & always kept cash hidden on my body.
I LOVE Washington Cathedral. Parks in general are not so safe, but the cathedral close is like a park and is probably just fine. There are people who stay there in the guest house year round (in fact I have stayed there). It was built exactly like a Gothic cathedral and is fascinating to learn about and to view, no matter what time of day. check out the hours. FREE.
I would be careful walking on the streets near there but there used to be a pretty good Mexican restaurant nearby. also if you walk south toward the middle of DC, or take a bus down Michigan Ave., you will be in Georgetown - touristy but fun! LOTS of good restos here.
The mall is a must and you will love the museums. this is also pretty safe.
You can walk from the mall up to the Capitol building, and to the left of that is Union Station which has lots of shops & restos.
In the area to the left of that are other restos and some pretty cool Irish pubs, fun any time of year. Probably not too dangerous in this area but still, stick to your fast walking/whistle a tune plan & you should be fine.
I should mention that I was raised to be a fraidy cat also. But when I moved to DC alone (separating from hubby, going to music school) I got over it. I too just decided it was not worth it to be afraid. You will be fine!
Oh yes, Bethesda is another fun area but maybe a bit hard to get to without a car.
emoticon and have a great great time! I know you will! emoticon emoticon

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CRAZYK8S 11/30/2010 1:18PM

    Almost everything is free in DC! My brother lives in DC and I used to live there. My number one advice to avoid any um...trouble...keep your electronics put away. Don't talk on your phone while walking around etc. Unless they (your electronics) are an easy target you will be left alone. And stick to areas with lots of people (but this is pretty easy in DC). And you are right about the chances being really slim!

I suggest the cathedral...I love that place, but depending on where you are staying it might be hard to get to.
You're going down - sick puppies

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MNGIRLIE 11/30/2010 1:12PM

    Direction: Left
Distance: 2 blocks
Song: Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)

What a fun thing to do. I really had a hard time only suggesting one song. I'm a music pusher so if you ever need more suggestions come my way!

If I was in DC I'd totally go see the Smithsonian!! I hope you have a great trip!

P.S. I traveled alone for work for a long time. I carried (and still carry) a small key chain thing of pepper spray with me. It helped me feel a little safer. Luckily I never needed to use it.

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BECKYB73 11/30/2010 1:08PM

Super Bon Bon by Soul Coughing

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KT-NICHOLS-13 11/30/2010 1:04PM

    What a fabulous idea ...

Direction: left
Distance: 5 blocks
Song: Flo Rida Club Can't Handle Me

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BRIAEL 11/30/2010 1:02PM

    What an incredible way to overcome fears. Awesome girl! :)

Direction: Left
Distance: 3 Blocks
Song: FPI Project - Back to my roots

I am now looking forward to reading your "done it!" blog. Have a safe and happy time in DC. :)

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RAVENSONG37 11/30/2010 12:43PM

    Direction: straight
Distance: 3 blocks
Song: Firestarter by Prodigy

Sounds like a great challenge Es...I hope you have a wonderful time in DC!

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