Thursday, September 30, 2010
A few weeks ago I celebrated walking into Lane Bryant and buying the smallest size they had on the rack. At the time, I couldn't believe that anything fit, but I accepted it and skipped joyfully out of the store thinking that I had just gotten away with something HUGE.
The fact of the matter is that I DID get away with something HUGE. Me. And Lane Bryant is one of a number of stores right now that are also getting away with something HUGE - lying to the women (and men) of America about how big we really are.
Tonight, as a gift to myself for losing *almost* 50 pounds (the scale will tell me tomorrow whether or not I have to wait one more week) I ventured to the basement and pulled out my skinny clothes suitcase. Now, let's be honest here - my "skinny clothes" are all roughly size 16-18 with some venturing as high as a 20 and my "goal dress" in a size 12. But seeing as how I recently fit in to the 16-18 categories at the store, I thought I'd break out the bag and re-discover just what I had stashed away almost 5 years ago now. It was like a blast from the past. Most things I forgot that I even owned at one point in time. A lot of it still has tags on it. Some of the items are truly my favorite pieces of clothing, including a red plaid jumper that my grandmother made for me in highschool. Better believe I'm going to be busting that out again come Christmas! (I love that fashion recycles itself every few years). But try and try again, item by item, everything in that bag is still about one size too small for me, despite the numbers on the tags.
My rationale - corporate America has got some serious explaining to do.
How can it be that in just 5 years, the actual, physical size of a "Size 18" has ballooned to what used to be considered a 22? And who are we really fooling anyway? I held those "Right Fit" jeans that I just bought three weeks ago in a size 20 (and already need to go back for an 18) up next to the Venezia (the old brand of Lane Bryant Right Fit) jeans from 5 years ago, also in a size 20, and the difference is appalling. The new jeans are clearly made from a stretchier, lighter weight fabric that has more give to allow for more curves - translation: it allows my big, fat behind to pretend like it's something that clearly it's not.
I've lost weight before. A few times. My suspicions were already aroused. It made me wonder why in the world the last time I fit into a size 16-18 I was 30 pounds LESS than I am right now. The scale isn't wrong - the measurements are. And that's downright mean. Get a girl's hopes up and break them down like that. So I'm packing the bag back up for the time being. Instead of it being my 50 pound reward, it is now going to be my reward for completing my Weight Watcher Challenge (hopefully around Christmas) - because now that I've seen what's in that bag again, I know there are some things in there worth working for!
But back to this "Vanity Sizing" thing for a moment - it infuriates me. Wake Up America! We, as a society, are literally bursting our britches. And it's NOT ok. It's NOT ok to fool us into thinking that we are smaller than we are. It's NOT ok to continue to allow a whole country to live in such denial. And it's NOT ok to continually de-standardize sizing charts to sell more clothes. Tell it like it is - WE ARE A FAT NATION. Period. I was on the bus the other day and I looked around me and I swear to you there was not one, single person on that bus (including me and the bus driver) who was not morbidly obese. I wanted to cry. What are we doing to ourselves? We are killing ourselves for capitalism. Is it really worth it? Sell more, eat more, waste more, take up more space. It's disgusting.
I almost want to take all those clothes back to the store. Problem is I've already worn most of them. And, sadly enough, it still excites me that the number on the tag says 14/16 - even though I know now that's a bunch of bull.
At the end of the day, however, this journey is still about how I feel, and not the numbers on the tags, or the scale, or the tape measure. It's just depressing that everyone here on Spark is doing this, fighting against "the man", for a healthier existence when quite clearly we are still shouting into a void. It's not easy being unsupported in your efforts, especially when the force you are fighting against happens to be the whole country and the almighty dollar. But - it all starts with a tiny Spark right? We are making movement. Slowly the brushfire is spreading. And bit by bit, person by person, voice by voice, we WILL make changes in this nation's outlook on health, well-being, and the obesity epidemic. Today it all starts with me, and a suitcase of "skinny clothes."
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The SparkPeople blogosphere is awash with fall challenges and with the cooler weather every single one of my Spark Friends seems to be gearing up for the holidays and rocking out a challenge to kick of the start of this crazy season.
So I want in. But I'm not going to do the WTF Challenge. I wanted to create my very own challenge that is very near and dear to my heart and very personal.
Before SparkPeople for me, there was Weight Watchers, and WW, and WW, and WW - over and over and over again. I have joined and quit at least 6 different times since I was about 8 years old. And for me - WW always yielded the same results - slow - if any - weight loss, starvation, fatigue and yoyo-ing on the scales until eventually I would get tired of it and give up. Clearly the program was not for me. The first time I joined I was counting food exchanges, then Points, then eating as much as I wanted as long as it was on the Core list. Nothing ever clicked - except that I hated Weight Watchers. I hated the meetings. I hated the system. I hated the food. But most of all I hated everyone else who had any amount of success doing the one thing that I seemed completely incapable of doing - losing weight.
Thankfully, Weight Watchers DID bring me one very valuable thing - a friend named Paz who exuded confidence and success. She had lost her weight on the program and was happy to take me under her wing and talk to me personally after meetings. I looked up to her, I idolized her, I wanted to be her. But I still didn't understand how she made the program work for her. Until one day I found out her real secret. I was talking to her about how unhappy I was and how depressed I was with my eating habits - and like I had no real control over what I was doing to myself. She nodded, and I saw the empathy in her eyes. She REALLY knew what I was talking about. And then she referred me to a place called The Awakening Center - a group of therapists that work specifically with eating disorders. She gave me the name and number of her therapist and said I should check it out, even if I only went to the group sessions, it would be a valuable experience. It took me three weeks to work up the nerve to call the number. But after I did, my life changed forever. I credit her, and Weight Watchers, and myself and all of my failed attempts for the person I am today. Happy accident maybe - but thank God it happened.
Fast forward through 5 years of therapy and I realize now that Weight Watchers was not to blame. Were I to do the program again now with everything I know, I'd likely be successful at it. Alas - I'm never going back - lifetime status or not. The WW logo will always be a scar on the face of my weight-loss efforts and for me, it would just be more symbolic of my current efforts and breakthroughs to wash the big "WW" from my life completely.
So that's what I'm going to do. One by one, I'm going to work through my old WW weigh-in books, and one by one I'm going to destroy them so I never have to look at them or at the person I was then ever again. I actually found my weigh-in book from when I was 13 years old. On the inside, under "Personal Goals" it says: To look better in my clothes so that people won't tease me. Oh my god - I just want to take that 13 year old me and hug her and tell her that it's all going to be ok. I remember the pain. I remember what I was going through at that point in my life. It was horrible. And now - I can't erase the past, I can't erase the pain, but I can get rid of those damn books and I can lose the weight that I was attempting to lose at that time, but FOR GOOD this time.
So that's the challenge. Lose the weight - destroy the WW weigh-in book.
Here's the first one:
This book spans the period in my life when I had just moved to Chicago, was having bad marital problems with my ex-husband, was still unable to work because of my Visa status in the U.S. and when, finally, thankfully, I met Paz. 25 of the most tumultuous weeks in my life. I'm so ready to say good-bye to them for good! My starting weight was 265.4 - exactly what I weigh right now. The lowest weight achieved over 25 weeks was 249.2. I still can't get over that I yoyo-ed like this for 25 weeks. Wow. This time, I'm going to give myself not even HALF of that time. I want to see 249.2 by the time I visit the scientist in Germany at the end of November. 9 weeks - 16.2 pounds. That's just under 2 pounds a week. I can totally do this. I have to. I've got 3 more books to go and a lifetime ahead of me to live WW free!
Disclaimer * I do not want to offend anyone who swears by Weight Watchers for their weight loss. To each their own. I respect WW and their programming. But if you're interested in having more of a conversation with me about why I don't like the program, I'm up for a good debate :) I'm a SparkPerson now - and as far as I'm concerned, this is where everyone needs to be. I'm also very open to talking about my therapy and about the Awakening Center and receiving counseling catered towards eating disorders. It has honestly changed my life. And it's an arguable first step for anyone who has issues with their weight and food.
Monday, September 20, 2010
In addition to it being the first full weekend of shows for me at the theatre, I had a jam-packed weekend of activities planned, making for a very busy couple of days this past weekend!
After a decent performance on Friday night of "Sunday In The Park With George" I opted to head home early so that I could have a clean start on Saturday's activities. For those of you who don't know this Sondheim musical, it's a fictional telling of the life of the French painter Georges Seurat who created the masterpiece "Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte" that hangs in our very own Art Institute in Chicago. The play is all about "Color & Light" as Seurat started the Pointillist movement that uses coloured dots side by side to create a larger colour palette. The eye optically fuses the coloured dots together to make a new colour in the brain. This is exactly how televisions, computers and digital cameras work today. Seurat was ahead of his time and essentially set up the artistic science that drives our pixellated world today. I really like this show. Not something I can say about every show that I work on, but something about this one is special. Unfortunately, the critics trashed us this week, so that makes for a poorly attended run, which is really sad because I think this play needs to be seen. Alas - you can't please everyone. I'm proud of the work we've done on this one and so we'll plod on and play to small houses until the end of October. Here's a picture of our fantastic cast recreating the painting in a real-life still:
Up early on Saturday and out to help with Chicago Canine Rescue Foundation's Annual "Mutt Strutt". I love this event every year - lots of time with the puppies and puppy-parents. CCRF is a no-kill shelter and I love the work they do. I try to swing by when I can with supplies and will walk dogs if I have the time. I don't get over there often enough - trying to figure out how I might be able to work dog-walking into my running schedule. But anyway - for now I sign up to do these big annual events when they come up. I was scheduled to work the kid's area this year, replete with face painters, midway-type games and a huge air castle shaped like a big dog. I was excited!
So I showed up and met our volunteer coordinator at 9:30am. She greeted me and another girl and immediately said "so we actually need two people to dress up as Blue's Clues and Clifford The Big Red Dog - would you girls be willing?" WHY NOT? Since I was the shorter one of the two of us, I opted for Blue while she jumped into the Clifford costume. And then I started to panic. I have charactered in the past. I played Dino (the other big, purple dinosaur) a couple of times when I used to work at Canada's Wonderland. But Dino was the only character I COULD play because the other costumes were too small for me to fit into. I remember being so upset about it at the time because charactering is so fun - especially when the kids come running up to you to give you huge hugs and high fives. What if I didn't fit in the Blue costume? Well - only one way to find out. One leg at a time, then the foam body piece, and the big giant head - and TADA! It fit!
It wasn't the most comfortable thing in the word for sure. When I charactered in the past, you'd wear a sweat-wicking body suit under the costume that we changed out of every 30 minutes, and a bandanna to stop the sweat from getting in your eyes (nothing more terrifying for young children than to see a headless character while you try to wipe the seat off your face!). On Saturday I arrived in jeans and a t-shirt, which is what I ended up wearing under the costume. They didn't have bandannas, so I ended up wearing my CCRF hat backwards under the head to keep my hair out of my face and a handle on the sweat. Those costumes are bloody hot. But it was worth it for sure - having children call out "Blue!" from 15ft away and then come running at you for hugs and pictures is priceless. I even got to pose with a couple of doggies. One doggie mom said - "This is totally going to be my Christmas picture this year!" - haha, awesome.
But not one hour later, it started teaming down rain and the event got called early. We were supposed to walk in the doggie parade, but it never happened. I was so disappointed. There is a scheduled rain date of October 24th now, but I can't make it that weekend as my parents are in town. Too bad - I could have been better prepared the next go round and would have rocked that costume big time! I just hope that it doesn't rain on that day too. These guys need and deserve the money that they raise from this event - so I hope the next go round is a success!
Yesterday started early again with a company meeting for the theatre, followed by another show (our best yet) and then a quick change into my workout clothes and a cab ride back to my hood for the "Party In Pink" Zumbathon for Breast Cancer at DanceSPA! I was exhausted, but really excited about this event. I had plans to meet Kathy (LOTUSFLOWER) and her sister and cousin, who all live close-by in the suburbs. I got out of the cab and walked down the street (pretty early still for the event) and saw Kathy right away with her cousin parking their car. I ran up to the vehicle like a crazy-person waving. It was so cool to see a fellow Sparkie in person. I recognized her immediately. She looks so wonderful! We exchanged hugs and introductions before heading inside. My Zumba instructor Christa was so excited that I had brought people with me - the studio was already packed with tons of people and other Zumba instructors from the area. There was definitely a buzz in the air. Here's Kathy and I pre-sweat:
I've never done a class that big before. Normally I'm up at the front (cause I'm short) but we had to settle for spots at the back. Christa lead most of the class, but 3 other instructors got to strut their stuff as well and each lead for a song. Christa is definitely hard core I figured out as Kathy said her class in the burbs is a lot more tame than this one was. We were SWEATING by about the third song in - so many people in the room that the A/C was having a tough time keeping up! But we propped open the doors and kept rocking it anyway. So much fun! At the end of the hour, names were drawn for door prizes, silent auction gifts and the 50/50 draw. We had fruit and veggies and punch and just hung out to chat for a bit and cool off. A couple of after-shots of Kathy and myself:
I am so excited to run the Hot Chocolate 5K in November with this awesome group of women. I have figured out that meeting Sparkies is such a great experience and I am SO grateful to have someone so wonderful so close to home. She has been such an inspiration for me and she is so supportive of everything I do. Thanks Kathy!!! You rock!
I ended the night last night with a nice hot shower, a delivery of Peapod groceries for the week and a dinner of tilapia, baked potato, sugar snap peas and a glass of wine. YUM! I deserved it! I crashed half-way through a movie and just dragged my butt to bed. Slept like a baby last night (slept a little too long this morning...whoops - but it felt great). New week today. Looking forward to my run tomorrow morning and my swim on Wednesday.
I love that my life is so full of colour. Colourful friends, colourful activities - it's going to be a colourful fall! My favorite time of year.
Friday, September 17, 2010
My first gain this week :( Boo hiss. It's only 1.4 pounds. It's not going to kill me - but it's been a wild ride having never seen that scale go up yet on this journey. But today it did. And it sucks even more because I worked my BUTT off this week with exercise. Back to Zumba on Saturday, a 20 minute run Tuesday, swimming Wednesday and another 20 minutes of running this morning. I'm actually wondering if maybe it's BECAUSE of all the additional exercise that I gained. It's possible, but I doubt it. TOM's in town which always sends the scale in weird directions, my eating this week has been off with opening the show and being out of groceries in the house, and let's be honest - I had a HUGE loss last week, so how could I really expect it to go down all that much this week? It still smarts a little.
But on the flip side of things - I'm smaller! Took my measurements last night for my 5 month Sparkversary and I'm down in almost every category! Not a huge surprise since I bought much smaller clothing only a week ago, but here's a look at what I've accomplished in inches since April:
April - 53"
September - 47"
Lost - 6"
April - 58.5"
September - 52"
Lost - 6.5"
April - 17"
September - 15.25"
Lost - 1.75"
Bust (Rib Cage)
April - 48"
September - 42"
Lost - 6"
April - 33.5"
September - 27"
Lost - 6.5"
April - 20.75"
September - 19.5"
Lost - 1.25"
April - 20.5"
September - 16"
Lost - 4.5"
If I add all these up and multiply the limbs by two, I have lost almost 45" off my body. Wow. 45" and 45 pounds. That's pretty outstanding. Definitely makes me feel a little better about my "up" day.
I'll be back on track this week for sure, so the scale better watch out cause I'm ramping up for another big number next week! Just watch me! :)
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Back in the pool tonight after four weeks away and it's like I never missed a day! The water felt SO good tonight, my bathing suit was a little looser and I still managed 55 laps in 55 minutes. I'm beyond thrilled. How I have missed that feeling!
It still astounds me that I am capable of missing exercise. Me - the same girl who swore a year ago that I would never love any form of physical activity - craving the pool like I used to crave bacon cheeseburgers. The times they are a changing.
Of course the pool had to welcome me back heartily with a mouthful of water that choked me up for a minute or two. But you know what? I missed that too! Haha.
Now it's on to improving my time. I know I'm going to be sore tomorrow but I'm looking forward to my rest day. A 20 minute run and a 1.5K swim in two days - I deserve it!
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