Wednesday, October 06, 2010
In honour of my 50 pound weight loss and the kick off to the next 50, I decided to re-post this incredible video that my friend found and posted on Facebook today.
If this guy weren't in a relationship, I might hunt him down. Way to go Ben - wherever you are. You were hot before you started losing weight, but happy looks even better on you! Congratulations!!!
I am a runner. I may not have aspirations yet for Boston or an Ironman, but I am a runner...and I'm on my way to losing my own 120 pounds!
Monday, October 04, 2010
I'm going to write this blog in reverse chronological order because my weekend definitely started out better than it ended (dietary wise).
It was a jam-packed weekend from start to finish:
AIDS Walk/Run 5K
Phone date with The Scientist
Post Show going-away party for my friend moving to Africa
Post Show Cast party for dinner and beverages
I just got tired again LOOKING at that schedule. So yesterday started with me dragging my butt out of bed after a late night on Saturday. By the time I got ready I was running late and didn't have time to make myself breakfast, so I ran to Dunkin Donuts on the way and picked up my usual egg white breakfast sandwich (good) and a cheddar cheese twist (not so good). I rolled in to our company meeting and wolfed down my breakfast during our talks about planning next year's theatre season. One of my best friends was there who I haven't seen in a while. She just completed her last round of radiation and is officially now cancer free! She was diagnosed with breast cancer just after New Years of this year and has been undergoing chemo and radiation for the past 7 months. Her hair is finally starting to grow back and she looks great - plus there is a new man in her life so things are really looking up for her. I wanted to hear more so I asked her out for lunch and she obliged. We picked a bar across the street that served up brunch and other bar fare items. I wasn't really hungry as I had just scarfed down a big breakfast, but I ordered anyway and ended up consuming a turkey burger and a huge plate of BATTERED fries. Seriously? But not all was lost - I would just take it easy on dinner...
Easier said than done. When I finally got to the theatre I was met by a panicked director who informed me that our theatre had been broken into overnight and some expensive equipment was missing. Great. Just what we needed. Without going into too many details, enough was missing and spirits were crushed enough that after an impromptu and heartfelt performance of one number in the lobby for the patrons that were waiting, we canceled the show. Not a great day for a cast party, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise that we had somewhere to go. Everyone banded together and arrived at the party for support and we all ended up having a really wonderful time together in lieu of our production. As it turns out, a lot of our cast would have had to leave right after our show because of other show rehearsals and work, but because we all got to the party earlier than planned, everyone was able to hang out and enjoy good food and good company. I knew I was in trouble when I walked in the door and smelled the gumbo and red beans and rice cooking on the stove and saw the chips & dip, olive dish and cupcakes on the table. And after the day/weekend that I'd just had, I let 'er rip! One glass of wine turned into half a bottle (at least), no snacks before dinner turned into consuming half of that olive dish, a huge amount of chips, cheese, crackers, a cookie and a cupcake (though I did also throw in a few handfuls of veggies), and just a small amount of gumbo turned into a full bowl of rice, red beans, gumbo and 2 chunks of French bread to sop up every, last, little morsel of good. I swear I ate like I had never seen food before. And this after already eating a hearty amount of food during the day! Ugh. I hate stress. Everyone says I'm SO good at dealing with it - but really, I deal with it by eating my way through it and that's NOT "good at dealing with it". Thankfully I stopped eating around 6pm and made it home by 7:30pm, so I had plenty of time to digest before going to bed which means I had a great sleep and woke up this morning ready to tackle the world - and get back on track!
So that was Sunday - in a nutshell. Saturday night after the show I was Exhausted (with a capital E) and absolutely did not want to go out to a party. But I knew I wasn't going to see my friend before she left for Africa so I dragged myself to the gathering. It was actually nice - my friends, who I haven't seen in months, were full of compliments (no one mentioned the weight loss, though I know that they could see something different about me and couldn't quite figure out what it was, so decided that it had to be my hair that looked so different :) so literally everyone at the party made a comment about my long, now dark, hair). I got a chance to see my friend who is moving - she's going to Kenya as the new director of an AIDS clinic over there for a whole year. My brother and I are planning a trip to go over to see her next September. It's going to be so awesome. She's living in a small village just north of where the Great Migration takes place, so I'm SUPER excited about going on safari in my new body next fall! So I finally managed to make it out of there at 1am, took a cab home and fell into bed.
Given that my friend is headed out to work in an AIDS clinic, Saturday was bookended by AIDS related events - a nice theme to the day since we're all working very hard to raise money and help people who are still contracting and living with the virus. So on to my official race report for the AIDS Run/Walk 5K/10K in Grant Park that kicked off this whole crazy weekend.
I woke up early to the sound of wind and rain...ugh - awesome. By the time I got my gear on it had stopped raining, but it was absolutely freezing, so what I had planned on wearing wasn't going to work because I needed a couple of extra layers. I still wore my shorter pants and a t-shirt under a tech jacket knowing that we were going to be getting race shirts there. I ate a good breakfast and headed out the door with plenty of time to get downtown. Well - maybe a little TOO much time to get downtown. I made my connections immediately and wound up at our designated meeting place an hour earlier than I needed to be. Because it was so cold, I headed over to a Dunkin Donuts and picked up a large hot tea to sip on and keep my hands warm. Eventually some members of my team arrived and we opted to go hang out in a nearby hotel lobby to stay warm (and also use their washrooms - which were beautiful and so much better than the PortAPotties on the route!).
I was a member of the Season of Concern Team this year - an association that provides assistance and financial aid specifically to artists living with AIDS. They are big in the Chicago theatre community and have season collection drives in which we collect money from patrons who attend our shows, usually over Christmas time. I've known OF various members of the team for a long time now, but this weekend was actually the first time that I met some of them face to face. It was pretty awesome. Here's a pic of our team (minus our runners).
It was really great that I had this experience before my race in November. I was really confused when we got there and didn't know at all where to go or what to expect. There weren't a lot of signs to direct you either, so I was glad to be able to follow other people around that knew where they were going. After we registered some more cash donations and picked up our Walker numbers (everyone was just 2010) we walked back across the Grant Park field (totally muddy) and stood in the huge crowd waiting to start.
There was a brief announcement and then the horn blew and we were off! I figured out that we were actually in a pack of people following the runners. We looked for our friends (one of whom is 6'3" who were in the running pack) and managed to see them take off from the starting line - thanks to her height! We cheered them on and then started to move forward in the group for our walk. It was SO SLOW!!! We weren't even walking at a 25 min/mile pace for the first block. Knowing that it was going to take forever to walk in this pack and being as cold as we were, my friend Eugene and I looked at each other and decided to run. We had talked about maybe running some of the race previously and I said that if he was game for it, then so was I. So off we went - we had to run on the grass to get past the mob of walkers, and my first trip-up happened when I realized that my feet were SOAKED from running in saturated grass. So we stopped and walked for a bit on the path until we cleared another large group. Then we took off again and got a good stretch in before I hit a wall and had to stop to walk again. I'm not sure why - I could have pushed through it, but I realized just how hard it was running around the walkers and without my iPod. Eugene also wanted to chat while we ran, and I just couldn't do it. He didn't quite understand that wheezing for breath is part of my running routine! He got ahead of me and then I lost him in the crowd, so I just slowed down and walked about a half mile before I was ready to run again and catch up to him.
When I did catch up to him we were only 2 minutes from the turnaround point! The second leg of the walk was right along the waterfront. Although the boats and the harbour were pretty the path was littered in goose poop, the wind had picked up again and it started to rain - MISERABLE!!! Dodging the poop made it too hard to run, so we agreed to walk the waterfront and run again for the last 1/2 mile once we were back up on Lakeshore Drive. We finally cleared the underpass to the Drive as a huge group of cheerleaders cheered us on. It was pretty cool. There were a lot of people who volunteered to "entertain" along the route which was a lot of fun. We broke in to a run just as the path veered upwards to a hill - oy! But I pushed through and ran at Eugene's pace to the finish line! We crossed the line at 56:34 - and given that we didn't start until at least 2 minutes into the time, I'd say we did pretty well for a walk/run.
Here's me and Eug at the finish line!
We grabbed water, a gift bag with some granola and Lara bars and some Gatorade and waited for the runners to cross the finish line. Like clockwork, they ran in under an hour and joined us to wait for the rest of the walkers. These girls are amazing - both of them are casual runners, but both are fit (and beautiful) and though they had never run together before they kept pace and finished the whole 10K at an amazing speed!
The walkers crossed the finish line 15 minutes later and we all headed for the meal tables. A steak sandwich and PopChips were on the menu with more water. It tasted good - though probably not worth the calories. I would have preferred a more substantial meal at that point, but my friends wanted to visit with some of the people they knew at the vendor booths, so I went with them. A view of the city and the event set-up:
The rain started again and I was tired, so we walked back to the train and headed home. I sat in a warm bath for about an hour to get warm again!
Here are some things that I learned for next time:
1. STRETCH!!! - although I stretched at home before the race, it was cold, so I should have stretched again before we started, and then I absolutely should have stretched more post-race. At home I have a whole 5 minute routine that I do after my runs. I never realized how important those 5 minutes were until I didn't do it on Saturday and I was in PAIN for the rest of the day and all day Sunday.
2. Race food isn't worth it - I consumed well over 600 calories in Lara bars, Gatorade, the post-race meal and other snacks while at the event. Though it may seem like none of those things "count" after you finish a grueling physical activity, the fact of the matter is that they do! I would so much rather have gone for a warm, sit-down meal with my friends after than to have ate standing up on a muddy field!
3. I need my music - right now, I'm not far enough along on my running journey to be able to do it without tunes. I depend on them to keep my spirits high, keep myself and my self reasoning in my head so I can talk myself through rough patches, and generally to keep time as well. I know a song is typically 3-5 minutes, so I know I only have to get through so many to run the whole race.
4. I am not a runner and a talker - I'm a runner, but it's still tasking for me to run, so my whole body, mind and breath need to be devoted to the task of running right now. I'm sure that will improve, so if we run together - I'll talk to you after the race!
5. I need to set my own pace - if I start too fast, I peter out quickly. And it's hard to manage pace around so many people. So again - I need to stay in my head and work myself through the patches that are harder for me instead of trying to keep up with someone else.
6. Nicer weather is better - nuff said - it was brutal running in the freezing rain :(
I am looking SO forward to my next race - but I'm also anxious about it. I know now that the 3.1 mile path isn't as long as I feared it would be. But I want to do well, I want to RUN the whole thing. It will be ok if I can't or don't - but I really want to accomplish that. So I have to pump myself up and really push myself with my running schedule for the next month.
But all in all - it was a great day. I'm really happy I did it. And I can't wait to do it again!!!
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.
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