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Playing the Part

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I've spent the past two days playing different roles. Student, yes. Professional, yes. But also the parts of tourist and fitness lover and explorer. It's not the I've split myself, but more that I've allowed myself to enjoy every part of myself while I'm here. Yesterday I spent my lunch walking around with a group of young New York lawyers, enjoying the part of me that is passionate about the system of which I'm a small part of. I engaged that part of me that believes in justice and doing what is right, the part of me that is interested in the world around me and the things that are cast on a larger level that affect me in some way. Today for lunch, I wanted my secret, quiet ME time, so I'm spending it here...with my blog and my lunch and the TV background noise.


Walking with young NY attorneys to visit the US Supreme Court building.


See me? I'm so cool! *lmao*


Surprisingly, it didn't seem imposing...and I think that has something to do with my renewed self-confidence. More on that later...

Later that evening, I got the urge to go shopping. I asked another girl in class if she was interested in joining me, and off we went to conquer the challenges of the metro system and a long walk to find a different kind of "mall."


It was a challenging walk, but fun. I felt content with myself. I didn't question myself. I even talked to her about Spark and my 81 pounds lost since April. I was open and not shy. I was myself without making apologies or excuses. I felt in control of myself, even if I wasn't in control of all my surroundings, and it's amazing how that seems to eliminate a lot of the fear associated with traveling.

I was talking to RAVENSONG last night about my experiences here, and I told her that my self-confidence seems to have made me a "new" person in a way. I don't worry about what people will think, I worry only about what I want to do and where I want to go. If they want to be a part of that, that's awesome! I love sharing my experiences. On the other hand, if they chose to do their own thing, I no longer automatically attribute that to their dislike of me. I no longer jump to the childish, "They don't like me!" position. Instead, I recognize that their wants and desires do not have to be reflective of my own for us to share our lives or become friends.

On one hand, this is completely about me. I want to be myself without apologies, so I allow and understand when others want to do the same. But, in other ways, I think that this has helped to make me a better friend. I don't attribute negative feelings and associations to people without their approval. I'm more understanding, more forgiving that their life is not mine, and I don't take offense, meaning I'm more open to continuing a relationship instead of hurrying to end one in the fear that I will be injured as a result.

So, while I'm playing the parts set out for me, there's a big difference nowadays. I'm all of me in every part. I bring myself to every role I've set out to take on. And wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I'm fully engaged in being myself in that moment.

It's been a big learning experience...one I hadn't really expected.

Plan for the night:
Air & Space Museum
W3D2 of C25k
and whatever else I might have the feeling I want to do... I love the freedom of that statement!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RAVENSONG37 12/10/2010 11:16AM

    This is really incredible. I love opportunities to learn about ourselves. I think they happen more easily when we take ourselves out of our "normal" surroundings and we are more aware, more open. Kudos woman!

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ROCKINFOX 12/10/2010 10:05AM

    Sounds like you're having boucoups (right spelling?) of fun! Isn't confidence great? It makes you feel like a new person.

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BAYBELIEVER 12/9/2010 11:04PM

    Sometimes when I read your blogs I feel like we are walking this journey at exactly the same pace and having the same experience! No, I am not in Washington, but I know exactly what you were talking about with changing and learning to do more of what you want and not being upset/offended when others choose to do otherwise. Kudos to you! And for having such a great attitude about it! I have felt a little lost at times with those new feelings but am finding my way! Enjoy your trip and have a safe trip home.

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RUSSELLORAMA 12/9/2010 1:35PM

    emoticon

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MAGPIE17 12/9/2010 1:15PM

    You look so happy!! You definitely should be you without apology, and I'm glad you're doing it! Hope you enjoyed the museam last night!

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EMRANA 12/8/2010 7:32PM

  Loved reading about your confidence! Glad you're having a good time in D.C.

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX10 12/8/2010 3:48PM

    Sounds like you are having so much fun. And you sound strong...awesome! emoticon

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CHICAT63 12/8/2010 3:33PM

    Have fun, ah, the joys of travelling for work it does have its perks. You have plenty of ME time.

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MRSSIBRAT 12/8/2010 2:51PM

    you are awesome! I love to see your self confidence

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MAMADELIGHT 12/8/2010 2:15PM

    I love, love, love the second picture. You must make it your profile picture. You look gorgeous.

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EUPHRATES 12/8/2010 2:14PM

    emoticon

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_COSMOPAULATAN_ 12/8/2010 1:54PM

    You are blossoming Esther, right before our eyes. W3D2, kill it!

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_TRIXIE_ 12/8/2010 1:32PM

    Oh, E, I just LOVE reading this blog! You seem filled with a quiet confidence. I am just super proud of you and how far you've come. This blog really does speak for itself.

Enjoy the Air and Space Museum tonight! I've always wanted to go!

P.S. -- great job on the C25K program, too! :)

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HEALTH-E-CLARE 12/8/2010 1:28PM

    I knew you would have an amazing time, and am glad to hear that you found someone to run around the city shopping. There is always safety in numbers.

Good luck with C25K.

Love your pictures too! Your smile is amazing!

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READINESSISALL 12/8/2010 1:15PM

  emoticon blog!

My two favorite parts:
1. "I want to be myself without apologies" [GOOD! You're too wonderful to be apologizing about any part of who you are! :)]
2. "I'm all of me in every part. I bring myself to every role I've set out to take on. And wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I'm fully engaged in being myself in that moment." [That's an incredible life lesson, beautiful words to live by, and an amazing accomplishment.]

Keep up the great work! Enjoy the rest of your time in DC!

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SARAWALKS 12/8/2010 1:06PM

    emoticon
and is that by any chance the old Post Office building mall?
or maybe Union Station?
I miss DC! Throw your arms around it for me! emoticon

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ABETTERCHERYL 12/8/2010 12:51PM

    I love this blog. And I love DC. I lived there for four months when I was doing an internship in college. It's such an amazing town because there is so much to see and do and they are all within walking distance of the metro. It's awesome. I'm so excited that you are already on week 3 of C25K already!

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The Long Journey

Monday, December 06, 2010

Well, I made it to DC, after a bit of drama. It seems no matter how many times I travel, I always fall victim to the issues that can arise when travel is involved. So here's what you've missed:

Sunday


We headed to Charleston with about an hour to spare before my flight. I used to arrive the 2 hours suggested before take-off, but it's really unnecessary in an airport as tiny as Yeager. If you can't get through security and to your gate in 30 minutes you've got some major issues. I bought myself a biscuit at Tudor's after I realized I hadn't eaten at all yet. (And somehow made it through security with a plastic knife! *lol*) While I waited for our plane to arrive (which they said would be about 40 minutes late) I ate my biscuit and enjoyed every bite of it. With some wiggling around of the airlines, US Airways borrowed a flight from United and got us on the plane about 10 minutes after our original departure time.

The flight went well too. I felt reasonably more comfortable, and have about 4-5 inches left to get rid of before I can see the end of my seat belt extension use. I read Dracula and just tried to enjoy what I could of the downtime. We got in with only a little turbulence, and I was excited that I could see the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial from the plane before we landed. And that's where the easy-breezy trip ended.

I stood next to the baggage belt where our bags were to come in and watched everyone else get their bags before realizing mine was not there. The woman told me to wait and then told me about 15 minutes later that she had no clue where it was. I spent about an hour and a half crying on the phone to Hubs and getting pretty upset before checking the baggage claim one last time before heading to the hotel. Found it! (Dude said, "My bad, I left it on my cart." *smacks forehead*)

At the hotel I spent an hour and half arguing with the people at the front desk, trying to convince them that I just didn't have the $1200 they wanted me to pay personally for my hotel room. My WORK is supposed to pay for this, but for some reason they said they didn't have what they needed to charge them for it. *smacks forehead* I had to call my boss at home and she had to call my supervisor, who then had to go into work on a SUNDAY and fax a form to them 3 times before they cleared me for my room.

By the time I got to my room I was hungry and angry and TIRED! So what did I do? Went out to take a walk. I couldn't help it, I had bottled up tension and I just wanted to be free for a few seconds without a million worries in my head. I walked down to find where my training would be (I always try to do a test run) and then walked The Mall for a bit. It was WINDY...I mean like CRAZY WINDY! But it was pretty!




The Castle is my favorite!! SO pretty!

I got to my room about 45 minutes later SO HUNGRY and ordered some Chinese food. Yes, I over ordered, but I figured I could eat on it the rest of the week. After eating I realized just how tired I was, and I laid down to go to bed about 7:40pm. I figured I'd just sleep through and get up early to get my workout in before my training. Woke up at 10pm wide awake! *lol* No worries, went to bed just a couple hours later and slept HARD!


Monday
I got up at 5am. I don't know why, the hotel gym doesn't open until 6am (stupid rule, if you ask me!). I thought about running outside at The Mall, but then I went outside in my gear and totally chickened out. It was SO cold, and the WIND was brutal! (This is a recurring theme. *lol*) I went back inside and waited impatiently for 6am. I was in the gym by 6:05am. *lol*

I got my run in. C25k Week 3, Day 1. I was SO nervous. I set my 3 minute runs to 4.2, just to be sure I'd make it through, but started to think it might have been unnecessary. It went well, and I was super proud of myself! Just me and the tiny thing next to me...I think I ran more than she did. :) I'm hoping for an outside run either Wednesday or Friday, but it all depends on the weather.

I ate some scrambled eggs with a little cheese, a piece of sausage, and some whole wheat toast with butter and grape jelly before grabbing coffee and a banana and heading off to training. All went well, and I was super happy when he announced we'd be getting an extra long lunch. An hour and 45 minutes! Plenty of time to get a walk in!

I wanted to go to the Smithsonian, but I had my bag and a protein bar, and they don't allow food, so I moved on to my second goal - The Washington Monument. I didn't make it the night before. I gave up because I was SO cold. The wind was still brutal, and it was the longest and most difficult mile I've ever walked! OW!! Of course, on the way back I felt like I was getting pushed from behind!


When I came here in 8th grade, this is one thing we didn't get to do because the line was long and it was pouring, so we stayed on the bus and went somewhere else instead. I just wanted to see it again, up close. I don't think I got the full experience, because I didn't know how long the walk back would take me and I wanted to hurry...and before I leave I want to walk from the Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.


See! WINDY!!


I kept laughing. It felt like it was trying to keep me from the monument. I feel like I've been fighting things beyond my control for the past 2 days! Driving me crazy, but shows myself my persistence!


The Castle, again.


I just like this picture. I look proud, and I was. I did what I wanted and it felt really good! My legs are sore, but they better get used to it! I'm loving the exploring, and I fully plan on hitting up the Air & Space Museum tomorrow!

As for tonight...there's a possibility of dinner tonight with a friend. Other than that? Nothing. Blissful nothing! Workout - done! Exploration - done! Food in the fridge, if needed. I don't want for a thing! (And if dinner falls through for any reason, they've got food downstairs tonight through Wednesday..)

Love you all! Hope you're making yourself proud and fighting against all that tries to stand in your way!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SARAWALKS 12/8/2010 10:15AM

    emoticon the photo! Walking on the mall is so fun, I hope the wind dies down a bit, but you will triumph! The stuff in the castle is great too. Yes, National Gallery is emoticon even if you're not that into art...
enjoy enjoy enjoy! emoticon

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NEWYORKORCHIDS 12/8/2010 9:17AM

  I love the proud picture of you! Enjoy DC - hopefully you'll be able to make it to the art museaum if that's your thing - it's gorgeous.

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MAGPIE17 12/8/2010 9:11AM

    You look beautiful, hon!

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SUGIRL06 12/7/2010 8:18PM

    At least they found your bag! Looks like a nice walk although I know what you mean about the wind! It was windy and cold up here in NJ too. Icky weather! Way to go for getting that walk in!
~Ang

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DETERMINED_SOUL 12/7/2010 3:36PM

    You are doing well, keep it up!

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RAVENSONG37 12/7/2010 12:23PM

    great job Es! You are doing it up proper!!!

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SLFRISBEY 12/7/2010 10:08AM

    So glad you're loving DC! Go to the Natural History too so you can see the Hope Diamond. I can't go to DC and NOT stop in there! :) Keep having fun!

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MRSSIBRAT 12/7/2010 7:09AM

    love the pics! you look so cute! and that is so stupid the gym didn't open untill 6! the gym at the hotel I work at is open 24/7

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TIGERJANE 12/7/2010 12:18AM

    Sounds like an awesome trip! Hope you get more time to sightsee and enjoy yourself :)

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EMRANA 12/6/2010 10:44PM

  You look lovely in your photos! I'm glad you're getting time to explore. I lived in the Washington D.C. area before immigrating to western Canada and there's lots to see and do. Have fun!

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NITELITE72 12/6/2010 9:17PM

    I love your amazing determination!!

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_COSMOPAULATAN_ 12/6/2010 8:58PM

    You are SOOOOOOO beautiful!

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JEAN_WIKE 12/6/2010 8:48PM

  Thanks for the photos - I've seen photos of Washington, but yours seem friendlier and more personal.

Ha ha, better watch out, one day someone will be referring to you as "the tiny thing".

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ATREAT4ME 12/6/2010 8:30PM

    You should be proud. YOU are turning upsetting events into tiny matters because you're not giving up. YOU are making the difference in your own life by choosing to go for a walk instead of stuffing your GORGEOUS face. YOU are a positive force! I am so impressed, inspired, and in awe of you. And the pictures are amazing. I bet your mother and Hubs would love to have a framed print of it. I've looked forward to your blog all day. I'm so, so happy for you! WTG Esther!

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NIKNAK1980 12/6/2010 7:49PM

    It's awesome that you were able to explore and have fun all while taking care of your body at the same time!! Your persistence is very obvious and admirable!! Very inspiring blog! emoticon emoticon

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RIGBY31 12/6/2010 7:40PM

    Working the wind-swept look to the max... you're beautiful! Nice you get to rush here and there to sight see, fitness too... enjoy your trip.

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DOWNTOWNJEN 12/6/2010 7:07PM

    Right ON! Keep on keepin' on - it always leads to some cool new experiences.

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MNGIRLIE 12/6/2010 6:59PM

    I'm glad you didn't lose your bag!! I would have been upset too! That's always a big fear of mine, to lose a bag.

Thanks for sharing the pictures of your sightseeing. The trip sounds wonderful so far.

And yes, in that picture you do look very proud. You look very proud and beautiful.

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MAMADWARF 12/6/2010 6:43PM

    Im so proud of you for keeping it together! i would have been so upset too! And? By the way? You are beautiful.

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LINDA! 12/6/2010 6:35PM

    Very nice pix!!!

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CANOGAPARKGAL 12/6/2010 5:53PM

    So inspiring in so many ways. You are doing GREAT. Glad you got to see DC close up like this.

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX10 12/6/2010 5:39PM

    Minus the few hiccups it sounds like all is going well. I'm so happy that you are having a good time. emoticon

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KARVY09 12/6/2010 5:12PM

    Gorgeous photos! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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Weigh-In and Weighing On Me

Sunday, December 05, 2010

emoticon
Weigh-In Day

Last Week: 335.8
Goal this Week: 337.2
Actual Weight: 334.8
Loss/Gain: -1 pound

emoticon
Starting Weight: 466.6
SP SW: 416.2
Current Weight: 334.8
SP Total Loss: 81.4
Total Loss: 131.8

So you'd think I might be a little peeved, but I'm really not. All week my weight fluctuated high, from 336 to even 339 at the doc's office. And what's all that about? Did I eat horribly? No, though I did go over my calories once, maybe twice, but I wasn't so bad that I was ashamed of myself. Did I refuse to work out this week? Uhm, no again. I finished week 2 of C25k and did 2 days of killer ST that I was super proud of, plus a Zumba class!

Still, the stress of this week, and the few bad decisions I made, I earned that 1 pound hard, and I'm proud of it!

Stress is a real diet killer...so is lack of sleep, which I can attribute to the last 2 nights. Last night I FINALLY got to sleep at 3am. I went to bed just before midnight. You see, I don't know if you guys have this problem, but ever since I was little I can't sleep the night before big events. The night before Christmas is completely out, any time I'm nervous about something too. So I spent the past two nights tossing and turning in bed, playing all the scenarios in my head over and over again, telling myself everything I want to remember.

It's anxiety.
The plane.
The seat belt.
The snow.
The delays of flights I'm usually plagued with.
Getting through security.
My bag weighing less than 50 lbs.
A city I haven't been in since I was about 14.
A city I don't know.
A hotel I've never stayed in.
How to get to the hotel from the airport.
The late check-in time (4pm) when I get in a 2pm.
The lack of daylight in the evenings.
Finding my way to the training building.
Meeting new people.
Navigating the streets.
The crime rate.
Seeing something.
Being alone.
Being cold.
Being unprepared.
Lack of money.
The metro system.
Finding a grocery store.
Eating right.
Enjoying myself.
Wanting to run outside.
Being afraid to run in a foreign city.
Whether to listen to music, which I need to run.
Getting through training.
Getting up at 5am on Saturday.
Leaving in time to get to the airport.
Getting through security.
Delays.
Planes.
Seat Belts.
Boredom.
Alone.

Yeah, I could go on like that forever...and I did last night. It's annoying, but I can't get myself to quit. I'm one of those people who prepares a plan A, and then a plan B, C, and D to go along with that before I go anywhere or do anything new. Without a plan, I'm lost and scared. Without a plan, I'm afraid of what could happen.

On our trip to Florida a few years back I was teased relentlessly. I had a binder with us. It had all the information for routes to take, hotel reservations, local restaurants, attractions and costs, lists of what was scheduled for what day. I even made up little packets for the boys of the money they were allowed to spend each day. I thought it was brilliant. Everyone else thought it was excessive. I haven't really made one like it since. *sigh* (Of course, we get into a situation, and guess who everyone turns to for an idea of what to do, what plan B might be? Yep. Me.) I tried not to plan when I went to NYC with my friend in 2008. I had a panic attack on our first full day there. It was awful!

So, that one pound was so very much earned. And I'm thinking of getting sleeping pills for Christmas Eve! *lol* I may be stronger now, but I'm the same me with the same quirks. I'm not invincible or bulletproof at all. I'm just a more capable me (which does help with the anxiety, I must say...I kept asking myself, if I'm attacked, do I think I could punch someone in the nose or something? *lol*)


emoticon
Now, onto the plan for next week. This is going to be a little different, because I need flexibility. I don't quite know what I'm getting myself into and/or how comfortable I will feel, so I'll have to play it by ear.

emoticon Swim Some.
If the pool is adequate, do some laps. I miss swimming, so it'd be fun to cross train by doing some laps. I was never a swimmer, but I once spent an entire summer reading swimming magazines and trying to self-teach the perfect stroke. Honestly, I probably suck at it, but I love it anyways. Just have to be careful of the knee, because kicking can pop it out in the water.

emoticon C25k
I'm on week 3, and I'm hoping I get through it without any issues. I did get some new pants from Wal_Mart, which fit like a glove (not exactly flattering) so I've got that good feeling when I put on my new workout gear. I can use the hotel's gym for my training, but I'd really love to do another outside run. That, of course, will depend on how safe I feel and how cold it is. (I don't want to break a leg in D.C., thank you, so if I don't feel safe because of snow or ice or whatever, I'm not chancing it.) Part of me is just afraid I won't be able to finish Week 3 and will have to take a step backward.

emoticon Grocery Shopping
I'm hoping to find a grocer nearby where I can pick up some things to make. My room has a kitchen with stove and sink and dishwasher and full-sized fridge, so I have the opportunity to avoid the salt trap of eating out.

emoticon Dine Out
That being said, I would like to be able to go out just once and enjoy myself. It might not happen though, I'm not boss at going out alone...especially to a restaurant. *shrug*

emoticon Drink Water!
Going to stick to drinking water as much as possible, with some hot coffee thrown in for those cold mornings. This is kinda just a given.

emoticon Log Miles and Miles!
Finally, I want to build up my courage enough to really enjoy walking around the monuments (which I've been told are relatively safe because of the high tourist numbers) and around places like Dupont Circle. I've challenge myself to see how many miles I can log this week, and I'm hoping that I can start each day early enough for a workout before I have to shower, change, and get to training...and then log some more miles in the evening. Again, all will depend on how I feel about the situation/area.

So there's my vague plan for the week. Wish me luck! Maybe if I log enough miles and eat relatively well, I can surprise myself and come back from a trip smaller than when I left! That'd be really nice!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOOKY-LOU 12/9/2010 3:40PM

    I'm both a planner and an insomniac! Nice to know I am not alone! I am currently a mom who works part time from home in a real no stress self employed bookkeeping position. No stress! However, I can stay up all night if my son is upset about something someone said at school! I thought when I gave up the high pressure job, that would end...it doesn't! Maybe I will ask Santa for sleeping pills too!

Enjoy DC! Be safe...

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RAVENSONG37 12/7/2010 12:18PM

    I love your planning and thoroughness. It's a skill I'm still working on!! Keep being you, babe, cuz you are awesome!

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-SHIMMER-ANN- 12/7/2010 7:19AM

    Hey lady, guess who ALSO creates a binder for trips? My mom. Guess who we made fun of? My mom. I couldn't WAIT to go on a trip without her when I was an adult!! And then I did, and it SUCKED. NOW guess who makes a binder?!?! THIS GIRL!! LOL!!! They'll thank you later, and one lb is ONE LB!! Great job!!! You are looking GORGEOUS!!!

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ATROTTIER 12/6/2010 2:26PM

    Good luck & HAVE FUN!!!

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HEATHER_TEACHAH 12/6/2010 9:27AM

    your plan for this week sounds GREAT!! try not to let the new city/people/being ALONE intimidate you... I've learned that I really thrive being alone, who knew?! Its really freeing to know that you CAN run alone in a foreign city (but I only do so w/ one earbud in, just so I can keep tabs on whats happening around me) and I much prefer running outside to inside... so if weather allows it, try it! worst case scenario, you're too nervous and hit the TM anyway. nothing lost :)


stick w/ your plan, lovely, and enjoy the change of scenery! have fun meeting new people and strutting your smaller, more confident self around DC. Pretend like you own the place, and no one will know any different!
I know you'll miss your family, but enjoy ESTHER. I love her and know you will too :)

xoxox

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HEALTH-E-CLARE 12/6/2010 8:56AM

    It's going to be an amazing adventure. You have a great game plan for working out and eating, so no worries there.

If you are half as amazing IRL as you have been on Sparkpeople, meeting new people and training should be a breeze.

Please be careful if you are running/walking in a new city, espeically if you have your headphones in. I might suggest that if you do need them, only stick one in, so you can be more aware of your surroundings.

Have an amazing time and Congrats on the 1 lbs. A loss is a loss and is something to be proud of.

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CANOGAPARKGAL 12/6/2010 12:31AM

    I definitely wish you luck. Also, your planning will have something to do with the luck emoticon



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RUSSELLORAMA 12/5/2010 7:27PM

    Congrats on doing so well! It's definitely cool to have a plan, especially if you're going someplace you've never been. Hopefully, you won't be so rigid with it that you miss a chance at adventure or an unexpected pleasure! That's great that you have facilities to cook your own food. I'm on the road this weekend and we had one dinner out last night, but tonight we're cooking our dinner. It was WAY cheaper than paying the restaurant, plus we know exactly what we're eating. Have a great trip!

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BTINTERNET 12/5/2010 3:45PM

    Grocery is unlikely, but dinner out can definitely happen! :-)

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MNGIRLIE 12/5/2010 3:23PM

    I'm a planner too so I know how you feel! I've had binders for travels before too. My friends and family harass me for it, but hey... at least I know what I'm doing and how I'll get there!

I ate out a lot by myself when I traveled for work. I would always just bring a book and keep my nose stuck in it. I actually ended up enjoying dining by myself very much. I would get irritated when people would start to chat with me. Whenever I felt self conscious I would think, "These people don't know me and I'll never see them again."

I'd also go to the grocery store and pick up breakfast items like bananas and yogurt. Whatever you pick will be much more healthy than the hotel provide carbfest breakfasts.

Enjoy your trip!!

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JEAN_WIKE 12/5/2010 2:55PM

  I've had the same problem; I call it Anxiety Insomnia. Good luck and enjoy!

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NITELITE72 12/5/2010 2:02PM

    When I read this all I could think was, "I wish I planned things out like that...and was that organized!" Don't give yourself a hard time. It sounds like you have an idea of how you want to spend your days. It may not go exactly according to plan A, but you will adapt as you feel comfortable.

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ELSEEBEE 12/5/2010 12:38PM

    It sounds like you have a good plan for your trip! Being flexible is not always easy of this journey we call Spark. But one thing I have learned is to do the best I can, roll with the punches, and forgive myself and move on when I get home! Have a great time in DC! There's so much to see there and lots to do (especially walking!).

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CHICAT63 12/5/2010 12:13PM

    Planning is the key to the sucess I say, have fun in DC ! I am sure you will get to meet some people on your course that like you will want to venture out there. Hotel gyms can be fantastic, one hotel I stayed at in Toronto the pool was half-covered so half the laps were outside with the snow & all.

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SASXONTHEMOVE 12/5/2010 11:32AM

    Plan baby. If its what helps you sleep at night then do it! Don't let the thought of what others think stop you from doing something that will give you peace of mind.

I like your plan for this week. I'm not that organized a person (hence the going out a second time this weekend to get Christmas lights LOL, but when I travel I NEED to have a plan, too!

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WATCHMEGO2 12/5/2010 10:59AM

    When my husband and I went to Maui a few years ago I had the binder of all binders. I carried it with us in the rental car everyplace we went. I got teased relentlessly but I didn't care, I am a planner and that is just how I function. Every time we go away I have "the binder". I hope you enjoy your trip. take care.

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_COSMOPAULATAN_ 12/5/2010 10:39AM

    Damn... it's already W3 for you? Where is the time going???

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ATREAT4ME 12/5/2010 10:01AM

    I love your trip binder. Sorry I wasn't around back then to tell you what a cool idea I really think it is. I love planners and am envious of that talent. Opportunity favors a prepared mind! I love who you are, quirks and all. So please go to DC and rock that town with some common sense and a healthy attitude!

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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 SparkPeople.com 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 it...at 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 SparkPeople.com. 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, SparkPeople.com 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 sparkpeople.com 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 company...it 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.
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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.

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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!

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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!

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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 way...so 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 rest...so 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: www.doctorsweightsoluctions.com - 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.

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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!
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  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?
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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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